March 1, 2004
Married African Women at Higher Risk of HIV
Married African women who are between the ages of 15 and 19 have higher rates of HIV than sexually active unmarried women of the same age in the same areas, according to research presented by officials from UNICEF and other U.N. agencies on Saturday at the conference, the Times reports. Although many people believe that having a monogamous partner in marriage can protect against HIV infection, married women in many parts of the world have a high risk of contracting HIV, Dr. Paul DeLay of UNAIDS said. The research, which was conducted in Kisumu, Kenya, and Ndola, Zambia, found that there is a greater age difference between married teenage women and their husbands and unmarried sexually active teenage women and their partners. According to the officials, married teenage women often contract HIV from their husbands, who usually have become infected before marriage. The research shows that HIV prevalence is higher among married men, compared with the boyfriends of teenage women. Dr. Catherine Hankins, chief scientific adviser for UNAIDS, said, "The striking finding here is that among 15- to 19-year-old girls who are sexually active in these two settings, the fact of being married carries significantly higher risk -- in part because of the increased age differential between spouses and in part because condom use in marriage has not been promoted." The officials said that the research shows the "inadequacy" of programs that focus on abstinence among teens as the primary method of preventing HIV transmission, according to the Times. "Common HIV/AIDS protection messages are often inappropriate for married adolescents who seem to have been a forgotten population," Hankins said (Altman, New York Times, 2/29).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.