'Triple jeopardy or manifestations of gendered social exclusions?' : a study looking at cervical cancer policy and women living with HIV in South Africa.
Mthembu, Sethembiso Promise.
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Worldwide, it is poor women who are at greatest risk of cervical cancer. These patterns are resonated in South Africa where black women, particularly in rural areas are at heightened risk for cervical cancer. The rate of morbidity and mortality due to cervical cancer has increased and in the year 2000, deaths as a result of cervical cancer in South Africa exceeded maternal deaths. This increase in morbidity and mortality has been associated with the emergence of HIV and AIDS. Cancer of the cervix was listed as an HIV-related opportunistic infection and an AIDS defining illness by the Centers for Diseases Control in 1993. This research documents the challenges of implementing cervical cancer services in the context of HIV. It explores structural, gender, societal, social exclusion and practical barriers to implementing these services. Methodology: The study was conducted using qualitative methods of enquiry which employed in-depth interviews to collect data from participants. Interviews were held with government officials, Section Nine institutions, non -governmental organisations working in the fields of cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS. Results: The study found that South Africa does not have a comprehensive policy to address cervical cancer in women living with HIV neither does it have plans to enact such a policy. It found that cervical cancer was a marginalised disease. It also found that cervical cancer does not always form part of health priorities as it falls outside women as mothers‟ brackets. The study found that the social status and the level of participation and active citizenship of women living with HIV might be one of the reasons for lack of prioritisation of cervical cancer policies. Conclusion: Cervical cancer is a marginalised disease because it affects women outside of their reproductive roles, can be defined as an STI and it affects women who live in the margins of society. Cervical cancer marginalisation could be linked to the discourse of lack of political will, advocacy and action in relation to women‟s health. Policies need to be nuanced from the perspectives of women living with HIV.