Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among females in two metropolitan areas of Brazil: lessons to be learned

Paula Miranda-Ribeiro, Centro de Desenvolvimento e Planejamento Regional (CEDEPLAR)
Andrea B. Simão, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Andre J. Caetano, Centro de Desenvolvimento e Planejamento Regional (CEDEPLAR)

The objective of this paper is to analyze female vulnerability to HIV/Aids in two Brazilian metropolitan areas, representative of two different regions of the country. Data come from SRSR (Reproductive Health, Sexuality, and Race), a survey conducted in 2002 with females 15 to 59 years-old in Belo Horizonte (state capital of Minas Gerais, in the Southeast region of Brazil) and Recife (state capital of Pernambuco, in the Northeast region of the country), as well as 83 in-depth interviews with females 18-59 in the same municipalities, conducted between October and December 2007. Interviewees were selected according to profiles generated by Grade of Membership (GoM). More details regarding the methodology can be found in Miranda-Ribeiro et al, 2007. According to the survey data, knowledge of sexual transmitted infections (STIs) is practically universal. Yet 8% of the respondents in Belo Horizonte and 16% in Recife did not answer correctly the question “Can AIDS be cured?” When asked if they used the condom with their last partners, around half of them said no. Interestingly, only 22% of the females in both sites consider themselves highly or moderately vulnerable to HIV infection. What is behind vulnerability then? The analysis of vulnerability to HIV/Aids among 18 to 59 year-old women, based on GoM, suggests that vulnerability has multiple faces. In other words, there are several profiles of vulnerable women with completely different characteristics. For instance, some of them have had multiple sexual partners in the 12 months prior to the survey, whereas some have had only one partner but have not used the condom. Therefore, the understanding of vulnerability to HIV/Aids requires a theoretical framework that deals with several possibilities, including gender relations.

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Presented in Poster Session 3