Gender Inequality and AIDS

Kathleen Beegle, World Bank Group
Berk Ozler, World Bank Group

Gender inequalities in, among other things, education, income, property ownership, and power, are often cited as factors that fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic. One specific pathway through which inequalities can impact the spread of HIV/AIDS is transactional relationships where young/poor women receive gifts from older/wealthier boyfriends which imply concurrent relationships as opposed to serial monogamy. Such relationships, combined with the penetration of global consumer goods into poor countries, imply that income inequalities between genders might exacerbate the epidemic. While this has been hypothesized, testing it empirically requires data on both this specific inequality and HIV/AIDS. Using data for Thailand, this study examines the relationship between gender inequality and patterns of the AIDS epidemic (i) by constructing appropriate inequality measures that reflect economic inequalities between young women and older men, and (ii) by utilizing HIV and welfare data at the local level in a single country.

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Presented in Session 154: Gender, Sexual Behavior and STDs