A Woman's Role

Women and AIDS

Noticias de LLEGÓ, 1990, LEGÓ Records Box 47, Benson Latin America Collection, the University of Texas at Austin.

This news clipping from the ​​Noticias de LLEGO  titled “Women and AIDS” emphasizes the role of women as “educators and caretakers”.This clipping is from an LGBTQ+ journal that was more focused on Queer communities when it came to outreach and education. In this narrative, women are given value based on their relationship with others and not as individuals. It highlights women as an important resource for educating their families and communities. They are seen as passive entities who seem distanced from the issue despite seeing such high rates of transmission. The article yields that due to their lower social status women do not actually know enough about AIDS to educate others. However, it only sees women as a resource instead of the at-risk community they are. While the article does offer some helpful information, its small size and placement in a corner of the journal only highlights how overlooked this issue was. It was accepted as a disease that affected queer communities but due to the social stigma surrounding women and sex, it had yet to be widely acknowledged as part of the feminist movement. 

1974 Housewife

Horacio Villalobos, Housewife, 1974, U.S . National Archives and Records Administration

In their article, "Stigma: A Health Barrier For Women With HIV/AIDS" featured in the Journal Of The Association Of Nurses In AIDS Care they focus on the social stigma that surrounds women when they are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The authors focus on the gendered nature of sexually transmitted diseases. There is a sense of purity often associated with women and sex. Such social constructs such as the idea of virginity being disproportionately more important in female partners is one example of this. This view of sexually active women as being unclean, dirty, and morally corrupt feeds into the stigma against female sexuality. When accompanied by the diagnosis of severe diseases such as AIDS, there is a whole new level to these prejudices.

In survey responses, women were much more afraid of the societal consequences of contracting the disease than the disease itself. This study was focused on European American women in the 1990s. Women stated that the quality of public life was often more important to them than the medical symptoms that came with having AIDS, including death. Much of this comes from a lack of awareness in women that contracting AIDS is even a possibility. With it often being presented as a male homosexual disease, little has been done to educate women on the subject. There is also very little data and intervention models tailored to female groups.