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Measuring Gender Disparity in the HIV Pandemic: A Cross-National Investigation of Female Empowerment, Inequality, and Disease in Less-Developed Nations



Current research recognizes that the HIV pandemic uniquely impacts women, as they are socially and biologically more vulnerable to the infection. However, present measurement strategies focus on assessing the level of HIV infection among women, rather than inequality in the distribution of HIV cases by gender in less-developed nations. In this study, we compare the cross-national determinants of the level of female HIV prevalence to the determinants of the percentage of HIV cases among women. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions suggest that the predictors of female HIV differ across the two measures, where aspects of female empowerment and female access to health resources are more influential in explaining the distribution of HIV cases across gender than the level of female HIV prevalence. These results suggest that analyzing the distribution of HIV cases by gender is a more appropriate way to measure gender disparities in the HIV pandemic. Therefore, future research should be cautious to consider the implications of investigating levels of HIV versus the distribution of HIV cases across populations.