Master thesis ‘You cannot eat a sweet with a paper on it’

Sexual autonomy, gender inequality and HIV
Case study at four HIV clinics in the North-West province in South Africa

Mariëlle, T.W.G Lunenburg, August, 2009

South Africa is one of the countries, which has to handle a large proportion of people infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Approximately 28 % of the 48 million citizens is infected with the virus (National Department of Health, 2008), which means a total of approximately 13 million inhabitants. Finally this HIV infection will become the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This HIV epidemic therefore has social, political, economic and demographic consequences for the whole South African society (Van Dijk, Van den Dries, Tempelman and Vermeer, 2008). Today, HIV can be treated as a chronic disease with Antiretroviral Therapies (ART’s). An ART programme includes antiretroviral drugs, counselling and support services for HIV positive individuals. It is important for infected persons to be tested and to follow the ART’s the rest of their lives as it reduces the spreading of the HIV virus and can extend the life span of a patient. Various Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) provide ART’s in the battle against the HIV epidemic. The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) offers ART’s, tries to fight the gender inequality and wants to empower women in Southern Africa. The AIDS office of the SACBC, which is based in Pretoria, has got more than 150 HIV treatment programmes in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland (SACBC, 2009). The target group of the AIDS office is the black population in Southern Africa. This religious-based organization is focusing special attention on women and children.

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