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Understanding the gender disparity in HIV infection across countries in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys
Authors: Magadi, Monica Akinyi
Source: Sociology of Health & Illness, Volume 33, Number 4, May 2011 , pp. 522-539(18), DOI:
Topic(s): Gender
Women's health
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: MAY 2011
Abstract: Abstract: Women in sub-Saharan Africa bear a disproportionate burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, which is exacerbated by their role in society and biological vulnerability. The specific objectives of this article are to (i) determine the extent of gender disparity in HIV infection; (ii) examine the role of HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) awareness and sexual behaviour factors on the gender disparity and (iii) establish how the gender disparity varies between individuals of different characteristics and across countries. The analysis involves multilevel logistic regression analysis applied to pooled Demographic and Health Surveys data from 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa conducted during 2003-2008. The findings suggest that women in sub-Saharan Africa have on average a 60% higher risk of HIV infection than their male counterparts. The risk for women is 70% higher than their male counterparts of similar sexual behaviour, suggesting that the observed gender disparity cannot be attributed to sexual behaviour. The results suggest that the risk of HIV infection among women (compared to men) across countries in sub-Saharan Africa is further aggravated among those who are younger, in female-headed households, not in stable unions or marital partnerships or had an earlier sexual debut. Keywords: gender disparity; HIV infection; sub-Saharan Africa; cross-national variation; Demographic and Health Surveys