Activity 6 – The Social Spread of HIV/AIDS – Claire Walker

Considering the prevalence HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia, especially in women, it is hard to choose just one or two social causes of the disease. With that in mind, one thing that impacts a lot of people, especially adulterants, is a lack of sexual education and use of protection. A study done in the capital, Addis Ababa, showed that only 24 percent of people use condoms during sex. Condoms will not always stop the spread of HIV/AIDS but it makes it 67 percent less likely to be transmitted to an uninfected partner (Taffa 2002). This study, much like others, probably only included the wealthier parts of the city. When I experienced Addis Ababa, almost half of the city was populated with homeless people (or so our guide told us), if those people are not being counted in studies than that percentage is probably much lower than 24 percent. In a country where HIV/AIDS is ravaging the population there needs to be more education and protection availability to at least slow the spread of such a devastating disease.

One of the largest social determinants of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia is the inequality between the genders. Women in Ethiopia have very few social or economic rights, but one of the main jobs of women, especially in the countryside, is to care for the sick and dying (Bates 2004). The life of women is already very stressful, which lowers the immune system, but putting them directly in the line of infection makes women even more susceptible to HIV/AIDS. Also, added onto all the inequality, violence against women is very common. During studies by the WHO multi-country study, it was discovered that a terrifying 59% of Ethiopian women experienced sexual abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. When it comes to healthcare, Ethiopia is already one of the lowest because of the extreme poverty with in the country, even in the larger cities healthcare is only a fraction better than the rural areas. The average Ethiopian has little to no access to healthcare. Only 8% of abused women in health seek medical attention after the event and only 15% of Ethiopia woman seek continuous health care in general. Ethiopia also has about 900 thousand children have been orphaned due to parents dying of HIV/AIDS. In order to at least slow the spread of HIV there needs to be serious reforms about the rights of women and their children. Without that, violence and a lack of sexual control will continue to spread HIV/AIDS like wild fire.

There also the very obvious reasons for the spread of disease in a third world country. Factors such as lack of clean water and poor nutrition have huge effects on how vulnerable the body is to disease. Most of the Ethiopians with HIV/AIDS are the lower class or homeless population. With no access to sanitation or available health care people will continue to die or get infected by HIV/AIDS. Also when the people do not even have enough for basic necessities such as food and shelter, how are they expected to pay for anti-viral medication?

Ethiopia’s current social and economic standings make it the perfect environment for HIV/AIDS to thrive and kill thousands of women.


Bates, I., C. Fenton, J. Gurber, and D. Lalloo. “Vulnerability to Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS Infection and Disease. Part II: Determinants Operating at Environmental and Institutional Level.” THE LANCET INFECTIOUS DISEASES 4, no. 6 (2004): 368-75. Accessed August 13, 2015. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(04)01047-3.

Taffa, N., K. Klepp, J. Sundby, and G. Bjune. “Psychosocial Determinants of Sexual Activity and Condom Use Intention among Youth in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.” SAGE Journals 13 (2002): 714-19. Accessed August 13, 2015. doi:10.1258/095646202760326480.

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