VULNERABILITY TO HIV: YOUNG GIRLS AND THEIR PERCEPTIONS
Piotr Gebala, Rita Magalhães
Palavras-chave:HIV, Vulnerability, Girls, Orphans
HIV / AIDS is a phenomenon that is usually discussed in the context of prevention and treatment. In the field of prevention, the literature points to the existence of several factors that expose mainly women and girls to a high risk of acquiring the virus. In addition to biological and psychological factors, girls' vulnerability is exacerbated by social, economic and cultural factors, especially when inserted in socio-cultural contexts, where the relationship between both sexes is marked by inequality and lack of information. The study was carried out by researchers at the Catholic University of Mozambique as part of a project funded by PEPFAR (the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). The study approach was quantitative and involved 281 girls, 13 to 21 years old (20% of whom were orphans), from three secondary schools in Chimoio, in central Mozambique. The survey measured the level of vulnerability of the stakeholders and found that only 6% have satisfactory resilience, while 94%, to varying degrees, can be considered vulnerable and, per se, exposed to the risk of HIV-AIDS infection. The results revealed weaknesses in the quality of the girls' knowledge about infection and gender equality, as well as the existence of risk behaviors related to an active, early and intergenerational sex life. Additionally, it was found that both girls who feel they have no one to talk to about sexuality, and those who are orphans, have a higher vulnerability index, possibly due to a precarious social condition.