Some time ago a couple of articles, one in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and the other in Pediatrics, were published which demonstrated that in Africa more female babies than male babies were born infected with HIV . There could be two reasons for this: first that female foetuses were more susceptible to HIV infection than males, or secondly, that just as many male foetuses were infected but that they perished before being born, resulting in spontaneous abortions.
The latter reason appeared to be the case and would tie in with a study of elderly patients which suggests that men with particular genotypes may be less likely to survive.
I cannot find any further reference to this study of HIV infections leading to a higher birth rate of females but it seems to me that there are huge implications because of the resulting distortion of gender balance in the normal population.
Already in many African countries, women are having to shoulder the burdens left by war and AIDS.
In Swaziland, many farms have been left in the hands of women as a result of the world's highest HIV/AIDS infection rate. Until last year women were not allowed either own property or open a bank account.
In Mozambique, 30% of households are headed by women but although poverty has declined by 18%, in the female households it has declined by only 4%.
In Kenya, women are more likely to be illiterate (leading to ignorance) and living in poverty and this increases the likelihood of HIV infection. Cases in four districts had doubled to 20,000 and most of them women. Only 30% of women believe HIV could be avoided.
And of course, if there is a disproportionate number of women in the population, in some societies this could lead to an increase in female genital mutilation, in order to ensure the “attractiveness” of young women to the fewer potential husbands. A very full report on FGM can be found on the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) website. IRIN is part of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.