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Volume :34 Issue : 4 2006      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

Gender Issues and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: The Kuwaiti Women Experience

Auther : Hadi Ridha / Maria Julia

Abstract: In the Middle East, limited research has been conducted on HIV/AIDS. In Kuwait in particular, the number of Kuwaitis with HIV/AIDS is ignored. Little information concerning morbidity and mortality rates of the disease is available, and the perception is, as in most Arab countries, that AIDS is an imported infection that comes mainly from foreigners. A statement issued by the Arabian Gulf University asserts, however, that the Middle East is no longer immune to HIV/AIDS, and health officials admit that they no longer can rely on closing drawbridges. The latest World Health Organization Report estimates that 70% of the cases in the Arab world are sexually transmitted through heterosexual contact. HIV/AIDS is not only a biological condition, but also a social, political, and a cultural problem. Explanations for the rapid increase and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in women are a complex mix of biological, sociocultural, and economic related factors. The authors examine these recognized factors and use them as a conceptual framework in exploring Kuwaiti womens awareness, knowledge, and, to a certain extent, experience with HIV/AIDS. The theoretical framework on Comprehensive Health Seeking and Coping Paradigm (CHSCP) adopted from Lazarus and Folkmans Stress and Coping Paradigm, and Schlofeldts Health Seeking Model (1984) served as overriding frameworks to identify relevant variables and guide this assessment. An exploratory study was designed and a snowball sampling technique utilized. The authors used the method of interviewing to collect data that would provide examples to illustrate Kuwaiti womens diverse levels of awareness, perceptions, and knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Data were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Results enlighten levels of understanding of HIV/AIDS among Kuwaiti women, and help in dismissing generalized perceptions and misconceptions of Kuwaiti women as detached from HIV/AIDS issues. Based on the results, designs of scientifically informed policies and development of programmatic gender sensitive strategies for education and prevention are offered.

Key words: HIV/AIDS - Kuwaiti Women - World Health Organization

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