The World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and the fundamental drivers of these conditions. Some of these social determinants include employment, education levels, housing, social support, availability of resources, and social norms. Many of these conditions play a role in the prevalence of HIV in young women in South Africa. There are several determinants that I believe are very big in this health problem, including education levels, employment, social support, and availability of resources. For this post I want to discuss gender inequality and gender- based violence because they go pretty much hand in hand in my opinion and they can make up a big chunk of why there is still so much HIV incidence still occurring in South Africa.
In many parts of the world, HIV is being successfully treated with antiretroviral therapy and pre- exposure prophylaxis, including in many parts of Africa as well. South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world and accounts for one third of all new HIV infections in Southern Africa. While there are many initiatives put in place in South Africa to help alleviate the spread of HIV, young women between the ages of 15 and 24 still made up about 37% of new cases of HIV in South Africa in 2016. (avert, 2018) While there are many initiatives that are put in place, there is still gender- based violence that contributes to bringing new HIV cases to South Africa. With already much of the population being infected already, it is even more important for women, especially of childbearing age, to be aware of their HIV status and of the people they engage in sexual activities with. In South Africa, there are reportedly 86% of people who are aware of their HIV status but of those people, only 65% of them are receiving treatment. (avert, 2018) This leaves plenty of room for men who want to get back at ex- lovers or men who just want to assert their self- proclaimed dominance on women to spread HIV to those unsuspecting women. Even counting out these men, women still have to worry about current lovers and even husbands who know their status but keep it hidden, which can be just as worse.
“HIV and AIDS in South Africa.” AVERT, Avert, 29 May 2018, www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/south-africa.