A new study on AIDS in Argentina reveals the ways in which gender inequalities persist:
The immense majority of women diagnosed with HIV in Argentina in the last two years were infected through unprotected sex with their stable partners, a new report says.
“In some cases, they are couple who have been together for years,” Maria Eugenia Gilligan, an activist with the Argentine Network of Women Living with HIV, told IPS. “The age range has even expanded, and we are finding more and more women over 60.”
The sheer failure for partners with a history of sexual activity to get tested before having consensual sex with somebody suggests that the issue of sexual health, and of women’s sexual health in particular, is not something that at least some Argentine men are taking into consideration. But the inequalities in the report are not limited to simple sexual health. The report provides us with insights into the ways in which domestic violence continues to play a role in and shape the daily existence of women:
For 60 percent of those surveyed, the diagnosis was “totally unexpected.” One 51-year-old woman said that after being faithful to the man she lived with for 11 years, she couldn’t believe she had been infected.
Official statistics suggest that up to half of all people living with HIV in this country do not know they are infected.
“We almost always see the same thing. The women didn’t know (their male partners) had the virus,” said Gilligan, who added that violence “is one factor that increases the vulnerability of women by making them reluctant to demand the use of condoms, as a precautionary measure.”
Taking this data into account, along with other more quotidian inequalities mentioned in the report (such as the fact that less than half of the women work outside of the home), and it becomes clear not only that Argentina is facing a serious issue in terms of educating its population on sexual health generally, and AIDS specifically; it is also continuing to contend with the very real consequences of its own particular gender inequalities that unfairly affect women in many aspects of life beyond sexual practices.