The Gender Dimension of Living with Hiv Treatment Durgs: Challenges and Opportunites of Anti Retroviral Users at Zewditu Memorial Hopital

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Addis Ababa University


This research mainly focused on men and women who are living with the life long HIV treatment drugs (ART). It has taken a gender lens to identify the socio-cultural and economic challenges and opportunities they encounter in an effort to fulfill the requirements associated with ART. The requirements under which participants were examined include adherence, monitoring health status, nutrition, Khat and alcohol use and safer sexual practices. In-depth interviews and focus group discussions were the major source of data collection tools and a small scale survey was also conducted. Accordingly, findings revealed that poverty, fear of stigma and gender based violence influence the adherence condition of women to greater extents than men. It is also found out that women’s household responsibilities and men’s difficult working environment challenges their ability to monitor their health status to the level ART use require. With regard to fulfilling the nutritional requirements of ART, beyond the general limitation of access to sufficient food, gender related norms are affecting men and women differently. Men are more challenged by their inability to prepare and serve their own food while women give priorities to feed other family members. The study has found out that the use of Khat and alcohol by men taking ART is at the minimal level. But rather starting ART has become the cut off point from such addictions and related risky and violent behaviors. Findings on meeting the requirements of practicing safe sex revealed that women’s lack of sexual negotiation power further exposing them to re- infection and contracting drug resistant HIV strain. Regarding identified opportunities; free provision of ART, food assistance targeting poor women, financial assistance for some men in the formal sector and family acceptance and support for adherence are the major ones. In general, the study has shown that gender based differences can influence the challenges and opportunities of meeting the requirements of ART from a variety of directions



Gender Studies