Through Our Eyes Women's Perspectives on Love, Sex, and HIV Prevention in East and South Africa

Understanding the Urgent Need for Long-Acting HIV Prevention

In eastern and southern Africa, young women and teenage girls are up to five times as likely as young men to become infected with HIV, despite improvements in testing and treatment.

Understanding women's needs, preferences, and behaviors is critical to designing prevention products that are affordable, readily accessible, and fit into their everyday lives.

The following films feature interviews with 12 women living in Kenya and South Africa. They described to us, in their own words, the cultural and economic barriers that hinder their ability to protect themselves against HIV infection.

About IAVI

IAVI is a nonprofit scientific research organization dedicated to addressing urgent, unmet global health challenges including HIV and tuberculosis. ​

Our mission is to translate scientific discoveries into affordable, globally ​accessible public health solutions for the people who need them most.

Our global footprint includes a clinical research network in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in India; research laboratories in Delhi, London, and New York; a staff of dedicated advocates, scientists, and R&D experts on four continents; and more than 100 academic, industry, government, civil society, clinical, and community partners in more than 25 countries.

IAVI is committed to understanding the needs of the communities we serve as we design prevention products.

The only way an epidemic has ever been eliminated or eradicated in human history is with a vaccine. We need one to end AIDS. Until then, we need to maximize treatment availability and access to affordable, long-acting innovations to prevent HIV infection.

Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, President & CEO, IAVI

Through Our Eyes: The Need for Long-Acting HIV Prevention

Run time: 4:36 minutes

Through My Eyes: Learning to Live with HIV

Joyce is a 22-year old Kenyan woman living in Nairobi. Born HIV positive, she was first diagnosed at the age of 17 following several bouts of illness. Today, she enjoys a healthy life thanks to daily antiretroviral treatment and the loving support of her boyfriend, who is HIV-negative. Getting to this point has been a long journey marked by disbelief, frustration, and isolation.

Run time: 2:26

South Africa Through Our Eyes

The cultural and economic realities of preventing HIV as a woman in South Africa are illustrated through the experiences of three women from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and three women from Gauteng, South Africa. These interviews demonstrate how cultural expectations of women, limited economic opportunities, and a lack of agency in sexual relationships limits women's ability to prevent HIV.

In the rural areas, it is tough for a young girl, a woman. Men have power over women, over girls. But young girls in the rural areas do not realize that they are being raped. They don’t know. They lack knowledge.

Ntombikayise, 22, Umlazi

Run time: 32:08

Kenya Through Our Eyes

Three women living in Nairobi, Kenya, and three women living in Homa Bay, a fishing community in Western Kenya, discuss the realities of preventing HIV in this 30-minute film. These women’s journeys and struggles to achieve economic independence and sexual health demonstrate the specific cultural and economic conditions that contribute to limited choices for HIV prevention.

Let's say I have five children. My children and I are likely to sleep hungry, while the woman who is HIV positive and has two children will be given 4 kgs of rice, maize, flour, or even sugar. So you will wish to have it, so that you are like the other person.

Lydia, 22, Nairobi

Run time: 31:08

HIV Prevention Through the Lens of Women's Empowerment

In this short film, women describe the cultural and economic barriers to sexual health and empowerment and how they attempt to address HIV in their communities despite these challenges.

It’s cool for a guy to have more than 10 sexual partners, but if a lady has more than one sexual partner, they think that you don’t have morals.

Lufuno, 21, Soweto

Run time: 4:23

HIV and Men’s Worldviews

This film explores how men’s perceptions contribute to women’s HIV risk, making the case for public health engagement with men.

In this area, boys are very competitive, especially when it comes to sleeping with the girls in this area. So when they hear that you bedded a certain girl, they would also want the same thing. Most of the youth will not care. If they successfully talk a girl into sex, they will not care about using protection.

Alex, 22, Nairobi

Run time: 5:24

Thank You.

This film was made possible through the generous support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.