HIV and H2O: Tracing the Connections Between Gender, Water and HIV


West, Brooke S., Jennifer S. Hirsch, and Wafaa El-sadr. 2013. “HIV and H2O: Tracing the Connections Between Gender, Water and HIV.” AIDS and Behavior 17 (5): 1675–82.

Authors: Brooke S. West, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Wafaa El-sadr


The health consequences for HIV-affected families of insufficient access to safe water and sanitation are particularly dire: inadequate access complicates medication adherence and increases vulnerability to opportunistic infections for persons living with HIV. The gendered nature of water collection and HIV care--with women disproportionately bearing the burden in both areas--presents an unrealized opportunity to improve HIV outcomes through investments in water/sanitation. We synthesize the literature on HIV and water/sanitation to develop a conceptual model that maps the connections between women's double burden of resource collection and HIV care. Drawing on theories of gender and systems science, we posit that there are multiple paths through which improved water/sanitation could improve HIV-related outcomes. Our findings suggest that the positive synergies of investing in water/sanitation in high HIV prevalence communities that are also expanding access to ART would be significant, with health multiplying effects that impact women and entire communities.

Keywords: water and sanitation, HIV, Antiretroviral therapy, Sub-Saharan Africa, Gender

Topics: Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Health, HIV/AIDS, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa

Year: 2013

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