Ewen Gallic: ewen.gallic[at]univ-amu.fr
Avner Seror: avner.seror[at]univ-amu.fr
Young women in Sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic: they are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men of the same age and account for 64% of new HIV infections among young people. Many studies suggest that financial needs, alongside biological susceptibility, are the main causes of the gender disparity in HIV acquisition. While the literature shows limited understanding of the link between poverty and HIV, there is some new robust evidence demonstrating that women adopt risky sexual behaviours as a way to cope with economic shocks. There are a number of reasons why economic shocks could lead to STIs and HIV acquisition. The main reason lies in the fact that the low access to formal well-paid jobs and productive assets make women in Africa prone to use commercial and transactional sex as risk-coping strategies. Such strategies may be attractive given that women can raise money quickly and earn up to three times more compared to other occupations. In addition, there is extensive literature showing a large positive premium for unprotected sex for women engaging in commercial sex. Determining whether economic shock is a missing piece of the HIV puzzle is critical since economic shocks are common and women do not currently have formal risk-coping strategies in Africa. In this presentation, I put together new evidence from recent and ongoing research conducted by our team at the Centre for Global Health Economics at University College London that include a systematic review and empirical analyses of the impact of several economic shocks on risky sexual behaviours of women in Africa.