, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 729-750
Date: 15 May 2011

Environmental Change, Risky Sexual Behavior, and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Linkages Through Livelihoods in Rural Haiti

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Abstract

Local natural resources are central to rural livelihoods across much of the developing world. Such “natural capital” represents one of several types of assets available to households as they craft livelihood strategies. In order to explore the potential for environmental scarcity and change to contribute to perpetuation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we examine the association between declining natural capital and engaging in risky sexual behaviors, as potentially another livelihood strategy. Such an association has been demonstrated in Kenya and Tanzania, through the fish-for-sex trade. To explore the possibility of this connection within rural Haitian livelihoods we use Demographic and Health Survey data, with a focus on rural women, combined with vegetation measures generated from satellite imagery. We find that lack of condom use in recent sexual encounters is associated with local environmental scarcity—controlling for respondent age, education, religion and knowledge of AIDS preventive measures. The results suggest that explicit consideration of the environmental dimensions of HIV/AIDS may be of relevance in scholarship examining factors shaping the pandemic.