Zimbabwe Women Have Limited Access To Antiretrovirals
HIV-positive women livingin rural areas of Zimbabweare experiencing increasingly limited access to antiretroviral drugs, somenongovernmental organizations said recently, IRIN News reports. According to the groups, women inrural areas also tend to be more marginalized than women in urban locations.Research conducted by the Zimbabwe Women'sResource Centre Network found that although most women in the country who need antiretroviralaccess live in rural areas, three-quarters of women taking the drugs are fromurban areas. In addition, the research found that women in rural areas oftenrely on herbal remedies, according to IRIN News. "Rural womenwho need" antiretrovirals "find themselves in a quandary becauselevels of income for a rural household tend to be low," Tariro Kutadza,coordinator for the Zimbabwe AIDS Network in the Mashonaland West province,said. The financial costs associated with antiretrovirals go beyond the priceof the drugs, Kutadza said, adding that the high cost of transportation tohealth centers means that many low-income women often take antiretroviralsinfrequently or not at all.
Women living in rural areas who are able to access antiretrovirals sometimeshave difficulty taking the drugs, according to IRIN News. "Ihave noticed that some men, particularly those that think that they are notinfected themselves, discourage their wives from taking" antiretrovirals,Kutadza said. Betty Makoni, director of the Girl Child Network and chair of Ray of Hope, said that some women hide the drugs fromtheir husbands. "As a result, women resort to taking" antiretrovirals"when the men are not watching, for instance, when they go to search forfirewood or water, and in some cases they leave the pills in the custody ofother women," Makoni said.
In addition, stigma and discrimination often prevent people from receiving anHIV test or accessing treatment, Kutadza said. Makoni added that girlsparticularly are vulnerable to the virus because they sometimes become sexuallyactive at a young age and are not empowered to make decisions because of a"rigidly patriarchal" social structure. "There is much need forsocial structures to impart information to poor rural women and girls so thatthey know their rights as far as getting tested and counseled, how to gettreatment and the best way to deal with husbands and partners who insist onunprotected sex," Makoni said (IRIN News, 1/15).
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