© 2018

Gender and HIV in South Africa

Advancing Women’s Health and Capabilities


Part of the Global Research in Gender, Sexuality and Health book series (GRGSH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxx
  2. Courtenay Sprague
    Pages 1-32
  3. HIV, Gender and Health in Black South African Women

  4. Capabilities for Black South African Women: Gender as a Structural Health Determinant

  5. Moving from Evidence to Action

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 355-404

About this book


This book addresses the ongoing problem of HIV in black South African women as a health inequity. Importantly, it argues that this urgent problem of justice is changeable. Sprague uses the capabilities approach to bring a theory of health justice, together with multiple sources of evidence, to investigate the complex problem of HIV and accompanying poor health outcomes in black South African women. Motivated by a concern for application of knowledge, this work discusses how to better conceptualise what health justice demands of state and society, and how to mobilise available evidence on health inequities in ways that compel greater state action to address problems of gender and health. 

HIV in women, and possible responses, are investigated on four distinct levels: conceptual, social structure, health systems, and law. The analysis demonstrates that this problem is indeed modifiable with long-term interventions and an enhanced state response targeted at multiple levels.  This book will be of interest to academics and students in the social health sciences, gender and development studies, and global health, as well as HIV/health activists, government officials, policy makers, HIV clinicians and health providers interested in HIV.


gender studies health justice human rights social justice social science women in south africa health inequity South African health policy Global Governance Human Security Social health inequalities gender health inequalities structural health determinants AIDS and women qualitative research methods gender-transformative interventions intimate partner violence Global South studies

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of MassachusettsBostonUSA

About the authors

Courtenay Sprague is Associate Professor in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security & Global Governance, and the Department of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Boston, USA. She holds a joint appointment with the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Gender and HIV in South Africa
  • Book Subtitle Advancing Women’s Health and Capabilities
  • Authors Courtenay Sprague
  • Series Title Global Research in Gender, Sexuality and Health
  • Series Abbreviated Title Global Research in Gender, Sexuality and Health
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-55996-8
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-71941-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-55997-5
  • Series ISSN 2523-7683
  • Series E-ISSN 2523-7691
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXX, 404
  • Number of Illustrations 10 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Social Justice, Equality and Human Rights
    Development and Health
    Gender Studies
    African Politics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Gender and HIV in South Africa is an ambitious and important book, written meticulously and with great empathy. … it presents an excellent overview for those who seek to understand Black women’s vulnerability to HIV, offering the kind of information and context (historical, political,

and legal) that is particularly useful for actors such as NGOs and policymakers working at the intersection of health and gender justice.” (Kathleen Rice, Gender & Development, Vol. 27 (3), 2019)

“The study’s multi-method approach and the engagement with key questions, drawing on a diverse range of knowledge sources—including pairing of large, quantitative datasets with empirical and original qualitative research—are particular strengths of the book. … Sprague invites researchers to extend themselves, to draw on the richness of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary dialogue in researching the complex landscape of HIV and gender.” (Tamara Shefer, The Lancet, Vol. 19 (2), February, 2019)

“This work is groundbreaking and urges the reader to reflect on the structural links between gender inequalities, HIV, health, and social justice. Readers cannot avoid re-thinking how they approach these issues. … This book should be read by everyone in the fields of justice, health equity, gender, and HIV. … it should be read by all health practitioners and policymakers because it challenges us to reflect on health care, women’s capabilities to realize health, and health equity.” (Samantha Willan, African Journal of AIDS Research, Vol. 17 (3), 2018)