Establishing and explaining the link between poverty and HIV/AIDS : a South African case study.
The epidemics of poverty and HIV/ AIDS, whether individually or when combined, pose major threats to development both in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. However, it is when these epidemics coexist that major devastation occurs. As such exploration of the relationship between these two epidemics has been the focal point of most research on either poverty or HIV/ AIDS. Through mainly the use of literature based research, studies have indicated how poverty and disease, most specifically HIV/ AIDS are related. Since most of these studies have been literature based, this has resulted in a lack of sufficient empirical evidence arguing for the existence of this poverty-HIV/ AIDS cycle. Providing such evidence forms the main objective of this study. This study uses data collected by the 1998 South African Demographic and Health Survey as well as existing literature on the link between poverty and disease. For purposes of this study, analysis is restricted to women in their reproductive ages (15-49) . The results indicate an increased risk of HIV infection among the poor due to poverty related characteristics of low education and low knowledge of the means of avoiding HIV infection as opposed to the non-p oor. Moreover the poor and the less educated people were found to be more likely to not use condoms than the non-poor. The results do not , however, provide reasons for these relations and as such further research is required. One possible explanation was financial dependence on their partners as it was found that women who received money from their partners as well as tho se who came from households where hunger was a common phenomenon were more likely to not use condoms because their partners disliked condoms than those who didn't receive any money from their partners. The results also hinted on the intricacy of the poverty-HIV/ AIDS relation whereby it was not only low socia-economic status that increased susceptibility to HIV infection but also high socio-economic status. This was indicated by the high odds of non-use of condoms due to low perceived risk of HIV infection among the non-poor and the White population (a race with the minority poor people). These results also hint at the prevailing stigmatization of HIV/ AIDS as a disease of the poor despite efforts by prevention programmes to destigrnatize this disease.