The Feminization of HIV/AIDS in Yunnan, China

Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2016

Department 1

Center for Global Education


The feminization of HIV is a global phenomenon in which more women are becoming HIV-positive. This not only has tragic consequences for those women but also signifies how HIV transmission in China is changing. Increased sexual transmission has given HIV the ability to move from at-risk groups, such as intravenous drug users and commercial sex workers, to the general population. Despite China’s improved health policies and programs about HIV, this situation poses a serious public health issue allowed to perpetuate because of societal problems surrounding gender. These problems are compounded by socioeconomic inequality brought upon by economic change. While much research has been done on HIV in developing parts of the world as well as HIV and gender, few case studies based in Kunming have been done.

The goal of this study was to examine similarities in participantsand trends in their responses based on gender. Seventeen HIV-positive individuals were interviewed with the help of Sunshine Homeland Project. Interviews revealed a stronger relationship between socioeconomic status and individual health with HIV than between HIV and gender. Even so, gender issues were recognized but the personal implications of them were not. These issues therefore need to be publicly recognized and addressed in order for there to be sustainable change. Participants’ thoughts on emotional and mental health did reveal gendered expectations and experiences. Women were far more likely to experience depression, especially right after diagnosis. This highlights the need for greater psychological support in addition to standard anti-retroviral treatment, particularly for women. The lack of knowledge and availability of resources for HIV patients is also a serious issue that must be improved along with steps toward social equality for there to be any lasting change.


This paper was written during the author's study abroad experience as part of the SIT Graduate Institute - Study Abroad Program. It is part of the Independent Study Project Collection.

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