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Cultural Factors and Interventions for HIV Treatment

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Alarming statistics also show that almost one in three women aged 25-29 and over a quarter of men aged 30-34 are living with HIV. Cape Town registers the highest number of HIV infection of children aged below the age of five. The scourge has left many children orphan and many households in poverty (Avert). This necessitated the country to take drastic measures to try and curb the spread of this disease. Many programs have been initiated by the government and the most notable one is the HIV counseling and testing campaign (HCT). This campaign has had a positive impact on the availability and uptake of HIV testing and treatment. Many factors come into play in South Africa that have contributed greatly to the problem of HIV and AIDS (Avert). These factors especially cultural factors have had a significant contribution to the spread of HIV and AIDS. In order to address this problem it is important to look deeper into these factors so as to design culturally appropriate remedies that would help in ensuring that the HIV and AIDS problem is addressed properly. Gender dynamics refers to the relationships and interactions between and among boys and girls, men and women in the society. These are informed by socio-cultural ideas about gender and the power relationships that define them. Depending on how genders dynamics are manifested, they can challenge or reinforce existing norms. Gender dynamics construct masculinity and femininity should mean. These basically describe a real man and a real woman. Societies are responsible for creating these differences. Gender disparities and double standards have widely been acknowledged as one of the most pervasive factor affecting behavior of the youth. Past research has indicated that boys experience comparatively greater social pressure than the girls to endorse gendered societal prescriptions such as the strongly endorsed health related beliefs that men are independent, self-reliant, strong and tough and are often socialized to engage in sexual activity so as to express their masculinity (Pradhan 64-65). The most dominant norms of masculinity that is, the most traditional beliefs about manhood adopted by men, predicted the highest level of risk taking and of involvement in behaviors such as sexual activity (Pradhan 64-65). The women on the other hand are gendered to be passive. Femininity to them is being a good wife and a good mother at that. Therefore they do not engage in risky sexual behaviors as their counterparts. This is what the society has made them believe as concerns femininity and therefore very few will go against this (Pradhan 64-65). In the book we see this young man Sizwe actually gendered in this way by the society. He has a number of women whom he has already slept with. To him to be a man is all about having wealth: which is evident from his ownership of the shop and having women apart from Nabiswa whom he is not sure if he will marry. Many men are also seen to exhibit this kind of behavior in this village (Steinberg 1-20). The resultant impact of gender dynamic s is power inequality with women being seen as weak and men being seen as stronger. With this in mind the men are able to forcefully have sexual intercourse with the women without their consent. This coupled with the irresponsible sexual behavior of men has put women at risk of getting HIV (Pradhan 64-65). This is because the men have multiple sexual partners and end up contracting the disease and spread it to