Feature story

New book sheds light on women and men’s access to care and experience of care-giving in African countries

07 March 2011

A new book publishes research that sheds fresh light on the lives of women living with HIV in African countries and their experience as recipients and givers of care.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2011, the French national agency for AIDS and viral hepatitis research (ANRS), launched Les Femmes à l’épreuve du VIH dans les pays du Sud: genre et accès universel à la prise en charge (Women and HIV in the south: Gender and universal access to care).

It gathers the works of over 15 researchers and explores different aspects of HIV care including equality of access to care, the experience of men and women within health care systems and the significant role of women in the management of infection within the family.

While women living with HIV appear to have better access to health care and other services than men living with HIV, the analysis highlights that their specific needs and experiences, including as mothers, are not sufficiently addressed within HIV programmes.

Women also remain poorly supported in specific areas such as access to contraception and medical care for HIV-related women-specific pathologies. Also burden of care management within families affected by HIV all too often relies wholly on women.

The book also challenges the view of vulnerability traditionally ascribed to exclusively affecting women. Rather, the researchers posit, men are also subject to forms of social vulnerability that limit or delay their access to HIV testing and counselling and care.

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy (Director of the ANRS), Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Pasteur Institute Paris) and Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, have written the preface to the publication.

Published in the ANRS collection “science sociales et Sida”, the book is edited by Alice Desclaux (Aix-Marseille Paul Cézanne University, IRD UMI 233 and Centre for Research and Training in clinical management, Dakar), Philippe Msellati (IRD UMI 233, Yaoundé, Cameroon) and Khoudia Sow (Aix-Marseille Paul Cézanne University, IRD UMI 233, and Regional Centre for Research and Training in clinical management, Dakar).

The book was launched at ANRS in Dakar on 7 March, the eve of International Women’s Day 2011, during a meeting co-organized by the ANRS, UNAIDS and the IRD (the French Research Institute for Development in southern countries). Over 100 participants took part in this meeting, including researchers, representatives of international institutions, health authorities and civil society. ANRS in Cameroon and Burkina Faso also launched the book on the same day.