This essay attempts to compare and contrast the social determinants affecting health in both Namibia and Australia. These factors result in unfair and avoidable differences in the status of health that can be seen in one country or between countries. In effect, this has contributed to more profound agony for women in these countries who are the vulnerable group. In that regard, this essay attempts to compare and contrast the effects of economics and gender and sexuality on women in Namibia and Australia.
Definition of Terms
HIV/AIDS- HIV is the virus which attacks the immune system, which is the natural defense mechanism of the body against illness. AIDS refers to the symptoms experienced at the very last stage of HIV infection
Economic determinants- this refers to the income and financial status of individuals which brings about difference in the quality of healthcare services.
Gender and sexuality determinants-gender is defined as the social or cultural distinctions associated with a certain sex while sexuality refers to the sexual attraction and interest to others. All these factors influences the provision of healthcare services.
Sterilization-this refers to the medical procedure carried out intentionally to leave a person unable to reproduce.
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)- this refers to the combination of medicines used to slow down the rate at which HIV multiplies in the body.
Status of HIV in Namibia and Australia.HIV infections and effects have significantly impacted these two countries in several facets regarding the social, economic, and political aspects. It is from this background that this essay seeks to explore how these two countries have experienced changes caused by the effects of HIV/AIDS. This essay also tries to highlight the steps, which have been taken in these two countries in an attempt to adapt and deal with the effects that HIV has had on the pillars of these two nations. With its population estimated at around 2.4 million, Namibia is one of the countries most affected by HIV with roughly 178,000 cases reported in the country (WHO 2014). This high infection rate is attributed to unprotected sexual contact and mother-to-child infection occurring during birth. According to AFAO (2017), it is estimated that 25,313 people living with HIV in Australia. 68% of these HIV notifications attributed to unprotected sexual contact between males (Grulich et al., 2015). Converse to the situation in Namibia, Australia has a low prevalence rate of HIV among women.
Impact of Social Determinants
The WHO (2014) established that 73% of the infections in Namibia are among young women in Namibia. This is primarily because of the high prevalence of risk factors For instance, according to a report by the UNICEF (2007), women are mostly left out in the principal economic activities in Namibia. This means that women do not take part in most of the important commercial events. As a result, some of the women have resorted to prostitution. This has consequently increased their exposure levels thus the significant number of HIV infections in women. LaFont and Hubbard (2007) unravel how women are treated and considered for various job opportunities in Namibia. This is due to the deep-rooted gender and sexuality issues against women where they are regarded as the weaker gender. Sexual harassment also contributes heavily to the high infection rate of HIV among women. The entrenched unaccommodating attitudes towards women and the restricted sexual autonomy of women and young girls have reduced the ability of women obtaining education and training on how to prevent HIV infections thus resulting in the high infection rates.
The Australian Government (2017) asserts that women workforce participation is an economic necessity for the growth and future prosperity of Australia. The government projections also indicate that women involvement will increase in the future because of economic initiatives which have been put in place to improve women participation. This has significantly increased their ability to seek for quality healthcare services and education concerning HIV infection.
It is argued that despite women being disciplined to participate in market work and other economic activities, they are still stigmatized because of the family status and this trend has been observed to be common in underdeveloped countries. However, gender and sexuality issues do not play a massive part in the Australian situation. The government creates enabling conditions for more women that strengthens their economic security and reducing their vulnerability to poverty and gender violence. As such, the women are not left with the choice of engaging in behaviors that put them at risk of infection. In essence, this has contributed to the very low infections level among women in Australia.
The Australian Government (2017) is aware of women vulnerability to sexual and gender discrimination which exposes them to HIV infection. In that regard, it has put in place several measures which will significantly reduce the gender gap in workforce participation which will result in additional women getting and keeping jobs. By leveraging the untapped economic potential of women, Australia stands to reap more in the healthcare sector as women will afford to seek information put measures that will reduce the chances of contracting HIV.
How Namibia and Australia has Changed due to Presence of HIV/AIDS
Considering, that women have been the most vulnerable group in these two countries in relation to HIV infection and its effects, the governments of these countries have put up strategies seeking to improve the status of women. Razavi (2012) states that the World Bank has devoted some of its resources to tackle the issue of gender inequality across the world. According to Nair (2010), one extreme measure initiated in Namibia in response to the increasing prevalence of HIV infections was forced sterilization. This became one of the controversial measures adopted by Namibia in order to prevent the transmission of HIV infection during childbirth.
According to Angula (2010), one of the measures put in place to empower women and reduce transmission of HIV was enhancing their economic ability such as the Third National Development Plan (NDP3) implemented in Namibia (WHO 2014). This has been done by educating women to take advantage of available natural resources to make a living thus reducing the chances of them engaging in transactional sex.
HIV has continued to be a significant concern for most countries. According to Dalzell (2017), the infection rate in Australia has plummeted as a result of the rollout of the free antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication in the mid-1990s. Additionally, as a way of elevating the standard of women in Australia, the government is increasing the percentage of women involved in most of the necessary economic activities. For this reason, women have been widely engaged in commercial activities giving them more economic power. In essence, this reduces the spread of sugar daddy culture and transactional sex.
In conclusion, it has been established that there are several social determinants which come into play in relation to the spread of HIV in both Namibia and Australia. Economics and gender and sexuality play a huge role in the infection rate of HIV in a country. As it has been established, women in Namibia are more vulnerable since they do not take part in making crucial decisions affecting their economic power. In effect, this leaves them with the option of engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
Gender and sexuality issues have also been associated with the high impact that HIV has had on women both in Namibia. Conversely, women participation is higher for women in Australia. As a result, chances of them engaging in risky behaviors are reduced. Additionally, with economic power, women can also access education about how to reduce HIV prevalence in Australia. These countries have made changes in response to HIV. For instance, both these countries have sought to elevate the economic impact that women play in the contemporary world. On the other hand, Australia widely promoted the use of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) as a way of reducing the ravaging effect of HIV/AIDS on its population.
AFAO (2017), HIV Statistics. [Online] Retrieved from: https://www.afao.org.au/about-hiv/hiv-statistics/Angula, M. N. (2010). Gender and climate change: Namibia case study. Heinrich Boll Stiftung. 1(1), 1-50.
Australian Government (2017). Womens Workforce Participation. [Online]. Retrieved from: https://www.pmc.gov.au/office-women/economic-security/womens-workforce-participationDalzell, S. (2017). AIDS epidemic no longer a public health issue in Australia, scientists say. [Online].Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-10/the-ends-of-aids-as-a-public-health-issue-in-australia/7580852.
Grulich, A. E., Bavinton, B. R., Jin, F., Prestage, G., Zablotska, I., & Koelsch, K. (2015, February). HIV transmission in male serodiscordant couples in Australia, Thailand and Brazil. In Seattle, Washington: 22nd Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.
LaFont. S., and Hubbard. D. (2007). Unravelling Taboos: Gender and Sexuality in Namibia. Retrieved from http://www.lac.org.na/projects/grap/Pdf/unravellingt.pdfNair, P. (2010). Litigating against the forced sterilization of HIV-positive women: recent developments in Chile and Namibia. Harv. Hum. Rts. J., 23, 223.
Razavi, S. (2012). World development report 2012: Gender equality and developmentA commentary. Development and Change, 43(1), 423-437. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2012.01743.x
UNICEF (2007). Namibias Women and Girls: Reaping the Benefits of Gender Equality. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/namibia/UNICEFNam_SOWC_2007_suppl_final_draft_women_and_girls.pdfWHO (2014). Analytical summary - HIV/AIDS. http://www.aho.afro.who.int/profiles_information/index.php/Namibia:Analytical_summary_-_HIV/AIDS
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