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Women & HIV
HIV Prevalence in Adult Females
In the adult female age groups, the least affected are the females aged above 50 years with prevalence rate of 12.9%. The females in the reproductive ages have been severely affected by HIV with prevalence of 29.4%. Women in the age group 25 – 29 (41.0%) are next to age group 30 -34 (43.7%) followed by those in the age group 35 – 39 (37.8%)
Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections

The prevention of STIs is one of the National Strategic Framework’s core technical strategies for preventing further transmission of HIV. Not only are HIV and other STIs transmitted sexually, but STIs are also a co-factor in the transmission of HIV. The relationship between HIV and other STIs in the Botswana epidemic is well documented. Prevalence is reportedly high among female patients with vaginal discharge (40–60 percent). Recently Ministry of Health commissioned a study that sought to understand the complexity of partner tracing and notification.

National Condom Distribution

Condoms have played a decisive role in HIV prevention efforts in many countries.  Both male and female condoms are a main component of comprehensive strategies to reduce risks of sexual exposure to HIV. Due to gender norms and inequalities, young girls and women are regularly and repeatedly denied information about, and access to, condoms, and often they do not have the power to negotiate the use of condoms. However, reported condom use is appreciably high in Botswana.

The National Operational Plan for HIV Prevention identified the issue of improving condom access to the population as one of the priority areas that need to be addressed and complement prevention methods already in place. The condom access issues require a strong promotional aspect to create demand by providing knowledge on the importance and correct use of a condom.

Gender Equality

Women generally carry a heavier economic and social burden of the impact of HIV/AIDS than their male counterparts. Due to historical and cultural factors, women are generally the caregivers for the sick and those orphaned by the epidemic. At the same time, women living with HIV/AIDS more often than not suffer two types of discrimination. Discrimination based on their gender and as PLWHA. Thus the issue deserves special attention. Gender inequality no doubt aids the spread of HIV/AIDS. It reduces women’s control over their lives and increases their vulnerability to HIV infection [UNDP Bots Report, p.14]. Thus systematic gender inequality is a major factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The right to Gender equality means that all forms of discrimination based on gender should be prohibited. In the context of HIV/AIDS, it means ensuring access to health care, equality before the law and the modification of cultural and traditional practices that disadvantage women. It also means that concrete measures should be taken to ensure the respect for women’s autonomy in issues such as control of their sexuality and sexual activity.

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