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DUT Tackles Gender Dynamics And Women’s Vulnerability To HIV/AIDS

DUT Tackles Gender Dynamics And Women’s Vulnerability To HIV/AIDS

Understanding the interplay between people as a result of gender identity and interrogating specific gender dynamics that renders women vulnerable to HIV/AIDS will be the topic of discussion at the Durban University of Technology’s Hotel School Conference Room on the Ritson Campus in Durban, on Wednesday, 14 May 2014.

The discussion is organised by the DUT HIV/AIDS Centre. Professor Deevia Bhana from the School of Education, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, will talk on Gender dynamics and womens’ vulnerability to HIV. She teaches and conducts research in the areas of gender, sexuality, masculinity and HIV/AIDS. Prof Bhana is also the co-author of a new book: Towards Gender Equality South African Schools During the HIV and AIDS Epidemic (2009), and of several recent articles, including Male Teachers Talk about Gender Violence: “Zulu Men Demand Respect” (2009) and “They’ve Got All the Knowledge: HIV Education, Gender and Sexuality in South African Primary Schools” which was published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education (2009).

According to the DUT HIV/AIDS Centre, research has reflected that women are disproportionately represented in HIV/AIDS prevalence rates. This could be attributed to the socially constructed rules that govern what is acceptable male and female behaviour. For example, women still do not have the power to negotiate condom usage with their male partners in heterosexual relationships. DUT’s HIV/AIDS Centre has seen a need to empower women about their position in society and in relation to HIV/AIDS vulnerability and gender as important in addressing perilous masculinities that deem men to require sexual services from women.

“The status quo of this disease (HIV/AIDS) states that women are one of the groups identified as a most ‘at-risk’ group. Government has not paid enough attention to the men who have sex with men (MSM) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) communities because of the mainly heterosexual HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Alcohol and drug abuse have also been identified as another factor that has received little attention as a ‘driver’ of the epidemic. These are all important factors which are also relevant to our student population at DUT. As far as medication is concerned, we continue to make great strides towards improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS through anti-retroviral treatment. There is progress in trying to find a cure, however as social scientists, we cannot make comments about progress with regards to finding a cure,” said Ndumiso Ngidi, DUT’s Project Officer at the HIV/AIDS Centre.

South Africa has also made great strides in the HIV/AIDS research. The country is among the top HIV/AIDS research countries in the world, and this is reflected through the number of publications produced each year (in South Africa). The recent Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)report has highlighted specific groups as key populations in the epidemic. The report also highlights an increase in prevalence rates in South Africa. This suggests that HIV/AIDS is a virus that affects anyone regardless of race, gender and sexuality. For this reason, the South African government, through Health South Africa, has opened up a platform for girls and women’s empowerment as one of the systematic areas in tackling the virus.

Details of the seminar are as follows:

Date: 14 May 2014 (Wednesday)

Time: 12pm

Venue: DUT’s Hotel School Conference room, Ritson Campus

To RSVP, please contact Richard Mnculwane on 031 373 2260 or email: mthokozisim1@dut.ac.za

– Noxolo Memela

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