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Women need good jobs to help avoid the sex trade and high HIV rates

Harold Mandel's picture
The sex trade

Research has found there are links between women deciding to trade sex for security and associated high rates of HIV.


There generally seems to be an association between economic hardship and increased rates of many serious illnesses. Researchers have recently focused on changes in sexual behavior which are associated with increased rates of HIV among women who are not employed.

A link exists between unemployed women who trade sex for security and increased rates of HIV

Phys.org reports researchers have found a link exists between unemployed women who trade sex for security and increased rates of HIV. Dr. Kelly Austin, who is a Lehigh University assistant professor of sociology, says that the proportion of female HIV cases in those between the ages of 15 and 24 is impacted significantly by unemployment. This is particularly true in Sub-Saharan African countries.

This study has found a link between poverty and unemployment in young women to transactional sex with men who are older. Although older men are generally more capable financially to provide for these women, they are also a great deal more likely than their younger male counterparts to be HIV positive.

There is more transactional sex in women who are not employed

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There is a greater possibility of concurrent sexual partners, transactional sex, and having "sugar daddies" in women who are not employed. Transactional sex deals with non-marital, non-commercial sexual relationships wherein there is an exchange of money and gifts. The rewards associated with transactional sex are used to get food, clothing and other necessities which these women feel they must have to provide for their families and to buy things such as cosmetics and sanitary pads.

There is also a greater chance for women in undeveloped nations to become victims of sex trafficking when they are not empowered economically. This also leads to higher chances of becoming HIV positive. Women searching for work are often promised a good job and are instead trafficked and prostituted by manipulative and powerful people.

Dr. Austin has noted that employment of young women did not necessarily lower their risks of getting HIV in this study. He thinks this may be due to the extremely low paying jobs which are made available to young women in underdeveloped nations.

The significance of financial insecurity due to unemployment has been observed to add to the burden of HIV

This study has been published in the journal International Sociology. It has been found that young women in their late teens and early twenties are particularly susceptible to HIV infection in nations which are developing. The significance of financial insecurity due to unemployment has been observed to add to the burden of HIV among young women in these nations. These women often turn to risky sexual encounters to get money for their needs and the needs of their families.

There is often a saying that money can't buy you happiness. Although it is true that even the extremely wealthy can be hit with serious injuries from accidents, devastating illnesses, relationship problems and other hardships nevertheless overall the risks are less in the very wealthy. Furthermore, even when hit with tragedy the cushion of a comfortable lifestyle among the very wealthy can certainly make it easier to cope with such problems.

The association which has been found between poverty, unemployment and HIV speaks for itself that being poor and financially unempowered is one of the most horrible states of human existence imaginable. Initiatives must be made to help poor people get good paying jobs and become financially empowered.