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Women's Self-Perception of Autonomy in the Context of AIDS

Kim Deslandes, Université de Montréal

Central among the factors influencing vulnerability to HIV infection are systems and structures of gender. For this reason, since the late 1980s women have been the focus of much work on HIV/AIDS. Particularly, health educators and community activists have concentrated on women for education about prevention, mostly promoting condom use. Yet this approach disregards the possibility that, in the context of the AIDS epidemic, gender relations might evolve and thus that individual strategies of prevention might expand beyond the narrow range offered by family planning. Little attention has also been given to the interaction between perceptions of individual autonomy and individual HIV risk, and their impact on behavior. To better understand the changing meaning of gender empowerment in the context of the AIDS epidemic, we evaluate the relationship between perceptions of individual autonomy, perceptions of individual risk, and AIDS-related behaviors by using longitudinal data from a large-scale survey in Malawi.

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Presented in Session 96: Influences on women's reproductive lives