Transactional Sex among Young Women in Post-Earthquake Haiti: Prevalence and Vulnerability to HIV
Carol Ann Daniel, Ph.D; Carmen Logie, Ph.D.

Vulnerability is a concept widely used in HIV research to describe individuals who experience elevated exposure to HIV acquisition. Yet there are no uniformly accepted measures with regard to understanding vulnerability and its application with individuals who are in actual situations of risk for HIV. To explore the relationship between vulnerability and HIV risk we used a framework developed by Watts and Bohle (1993). The framework allowed us to account for the specific ways that internally displaced women who exchange money or other consumptive goods for sex experience increased vulnerability to HIV acquisition. Material exchange for sex (transactional sex) is widely understood as a significant driver of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for women in Haiti. However the mechanisms and conditions that contribute to internally displace young women’s engagement in transactional sex, and experiences of transactional sex are not well understood. We examine the types of pressures that lead internally displaced women to engage in transactional sex, their capacity to cope with HIV risks and the potential consequences. Our analysis suggests that material exchange for sex underlies sexual relationships among many ID women and that their motivations varied from survival needs, parental pressure to help support their household, and peer pressure to satisfy their socio-emotional needs. Yet not all internally displaced women who engage in transactional sex are equally vulnerable. A complex system of interrelated micro and macro-level social and economic factors accounted for why some internally displaced women are more vulnerable. By highlighting the differences among young women, this paper demonstrates that HIV prevention interventions need to be contextually targeted to address ID women’s particular level of vulnerability.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jssw.v5n1a6