HIV, poverty and women

Int Health. 2010 Mar;2(1):9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.inhe.2009.12.003.


This review examines the interactions of financial status and HIV and its implications for women. MEDLINE and Google scholar were searched using the keywords 'women', 'poverty' and 'HIV' in any field of the article. The search was limited to articles published in English over the last 10 years. The first section of the article tries to establish whether poverty or wealth is a risk factor for HIV. There is credible evidence for both arguments. While wealth shows an increased risk for both sexes, poverty places women at a special disadvantage. The second section explains how the financial status interacts with other 'non biological' factors to put women at increased risk. While discrimination based on these factors disadvantage women, there are some paradoxical observations that do not fit with the traditional line of explanation (e.g. paradoxical impact of wealth and education on HIV). The final section assesses the impact of HIV in driving poverty and the role of women in interventional programmes. The specific impact of poverty on females in families living with HIV is less explored. Though microfinance initiatives to empower women are a good idea in theory, the actual outcome of such a programme is less convincing.