Apr 27, 2007
Inequalities and HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Socio-economic inequalities produce different outcomes of HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa’s demographic groups-Africans, Whites, Coloured and Indians, with Africans being the most infected and Whites being the least infected. This disproportionate distribution of HIV prevalence rates reflects on the cleavages and inequalities born of disparities in wealth distribution and education levels, among other things. Most Whites, for example, have high socio-economic status as compared to most Africans hence they are more likely to be less vulnerable to HIV than the latter. Thus, such views that the HI-virus is not a virus of equal opportunity underscore the notion of differential vulnerability to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as produced by socio-economic inequalities. Basically, HIV infection is conditioned by people’s behaviour but this behaviour is a function of, and is profoundly influenced by individuals’ socio-economic positions. It is in these contexts in which are found aspects of material deprivation versus material satisfaction, possession of power versus powerlessness, and working conditions all of which impact on people’s freedom of choice about lifestyle, and all of which may induce vulnerability or invulnerability to HIV infection. Material deprivation for example, negates the poor’s health and renders them powerless against HIV. So, the presence of HIV/AIDS is not simply the emergence of a new virus but an issue of social and structural changes creating conditions of vulnerability, conditions that open spaces for the virus to gain entry. Inequalities open such spaces.