n Law, Democracy & Development - Gender-specific HIV policies and programmes at South African workplaces

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



The concept of gender is relevant in understanding how HIV/AIDS is spread. This is because of women's social and biological vulnerability to HIV infection. What is meant by gender has reference to roles which males and females respectively are expected to play within a particular society. There are commonly accepted expectations with regards to male and female behaviour, characteristics and roles within a particular society. These expectations also define how males and females are expected to interact with each other. These expectations and respective roles and characteristics are not cast in stone and have the potential to change and be re-invented over time as the social mores of the community change in order to reflect surrounding socio-economic and other circumstances. These roles are learned. Consequently altered roles related to gender can be adopted and learned by society in general. Since commonly accepted expectations with regards to male and female behaviour are of prime importance in the spread of HIV/AIDS, the relevance of this malleability and potential for the characteristics and expected gender roles to change over time lies in the fact that these potential changes can influence the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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