A bird's eye view on the vulnerability of the young girl to HIV infection - a synergy of research

27 May 2008

This research was motivated by the fact that 49.3% of the South African youth between the ages of 15–24 is infected with HIV and that the infection rate among girls is 5 times higher than among boys. This fact implies that South Africa will have more than 17 times as many deaths among 15–34 year old women between the years 2010–2015 as men. HIV/AIDS amongst women in South Africa is not only an issue that impacts on the women’s reproductive health and the health of her baby, but has become a social, economic and cultural issue which can severely batter the very foundations of our communities and government. The above facts and the impact thereof have contributed to determine the proactive approach and focus of this research, namely, the vulnerability of the young girl to become HIV infected and the contextual factors that contribute to her vulnerability. The preliminary research has indicated that the research that was previously done on the topic, was done on an ad hoc basis without being consolidated or linked to other research findings which means that a clear, holistic picture of the status and vulnerability of the young girl to HIV infection, is seriously lacking. To be able to get an overview of the status and vulnerability of the young girl in a time of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, the aim of this research was to construct a detailed but holistic picture from the different studies that were done on the topic. The latter could serve as a valuable point of departure for further studies, community programmes, education programmes, etc. To be able to provide such a total picture, the results of the different studies were studied, analyzed, integrated and synthesized. When viewed holistically, research results provide a different picture. This study makes it possible to view the current knowledge on the subject at a glance by means of a summarized diagrammatical presentation and a detailed text.