Endangered Womanhood: Women's Experiences With HIV/AIDS in China Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Women in China are increasingly affected by HIV/AIDS. Current AIDS studies have examined the HIV risks faced by this gender group, paying inadequate attention to women's actual experiences with the disease. This oversight has inhibited our ability to understand the impact of gender on women's capacity to respond to HIV/AIDS in their postinfection lives. Based on a qualitative study on illness experiences of HIV-infected people, this article examines the interactions between HIV/AIDS and gender roles in the Chinese context. It was found that traditional gender norms have played a key role for HIV-infected women in their efforts to tackle this disease and to make sense of their daily lives. HIV infection has created a conflict between women's intention to fulfill their conception of "womanhood" and a decreased ability to do so, which, in turn, has adversely affected their self-perceptions and well-being. To avoid worsening the inequality women experience, therefore, we must also work on the socioeconomic conditions, for example, through delivering comprehensive care to affected families and developing a gender-sensitive welfare policy, so that the gender imparity that permeates this epidemic can be challenged and transformed.

publication date

  • August 2008