HIV/AIDS and the Breakdown of Marriage among Women in Rural South Africa

Cara Margherio, University of Washington

While the prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa have increased over the past twenty years, the marital rates have simultaneously declined. In this study we examine how HIV/AIDS influences the desirability of marriage to women in rural South Africa. We conducted focus group discussions with 63 women living within the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance (AHDSS) site in Mpumalanga Province, northeastern South Africa, an area with some of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world. Our preliminary analysis suggests that although HIV/AIDS is likely one factor contributing to the breakdown in marriage in rural SA as it is not seen as necessarily protective from HIV or other diseases, other more significant factors are socio-economic, the inability and perceived unwillingness of men to support their families and changing attitudes towards migration and long-distance relationships.

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Presented in Session 85: Union Formation across the World