Tuberculosis and gender
WHO/Europe, 2007: fact sheet.
Gender dynamics are key factors affecting an individual’s risk of becoming infected with and
developing tuberculosis (TB), his or her access to health information and health-seeking behaviour, and ultimately the outcome of treatment. In addition, gender shapes people’s coping capacities and the social consequences of TB. Not only does gender influence the risk of contracting and developing TB; at each step towards successful diagnosis and treatment, structures and barriers defined by gender create disadvantages that are specific to women or men in different contexts.
The term “gender” refers to the social constructions of being male or female, in contrast to the predetermined biological characteristics of the sexes. Unlike the essentialist and unchangeable view on femaleness and maleness created by considering biological sex, gender emphasizes the hierarchical ordering of society and the imbalance of power between men and women.
Although globally more men than women are diagnosed with TB, the gender differences in TB
notification rates reported from many eastern European countries are greater than expected. These findings raise questions about the validity of the reported data and highlight the need for further research.