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

Lori M. Hunter, University of Colorado at Boulder
John P. Reid-Hresko, University of Colorado at Boulder
Tom Dickinson, University of Colorado at Boulder

Natural resources are central to rural livelihoods across much of the lesser developed world and, as such, resource scarcity may drive households to diversify livelihood strategies. We examine the association between natural resource scarcity, change, and the potential for rural women to engage in risky sexual behaviors. We do so to contribute to recent scholarship examining transactional sex as a means of acquiring necessary goods (e.g., Bene and Merten 2009), and also to examine the potential for environmental scarcity and change to contribute to perpetuation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We use DHS data from Haiti and vegetation measures from satellite imagery. In all, the research adds to an understanding of how environmental change may shape population dynamics through its: 1) focus on Haiti, a setting outside sub-Saharan Africa although also impacted by HIV/AIDS and 2) its focus on livelihood decline as a potential driver of HIV/AIDS vulnerability through risky sexual behaviors.

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Presented in Session 57: Environmental Impacts on Population Dynamics and Health