Global Health Justice

November 11, 2022

Food insecurity is driving women in Africa into sex work, increasing HIV risk.

By Seyma Bayram from NPR

There are many underlying causes  that can reduce the burden of HIV if addressed timely. HIV can be spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, and other body fluids. Among the possibilities are:

  • Sexual contact with someone who has the HIV virus without using a condom
  • A needle exchange or syringe exchange that results in an infection
  • When an HIV-positive mother gives birth to a baby or breastfeeds
  • Persons who exchange sex 

In Sub-Saharan Africa, food insecurity forces women into sex work, especially in rural areas where the population is already malnourished. People are unable to sustain farming and agriculture due to drought, flooding, and heat waves. 

J’s story tells of how she traded sex to feed her family, so she got infected with HIV. Taking a closer look at J’s story, we can see those of millions of girls and women worldwide who are forced into the sex industry and infected with HIV in order to feed their families. 

In Uganda, three-fourths of the population live in rural areas, and 28% of households suffer from food insecurity, according to the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP). Additionally, ICAP researchers found that women in sub-Saharan Africa who received direct food support reduced their risk of contracting HIV by 64%.

“We know that food insecurity is a key driver of HIV acquisition risk and worse HIV health outcomes, and as a result, many medical organizations now view alleviation of food insecurity as part of core medical care for people living with HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Sheri Weiser, co-founding director of the University of California Center for Climate, Health and Equity. 

Read the full article here

Comment by Assem Suleimenova