Background: HIV/AIDS can have a disastrous effect on household food and nutrition security, an example includes stunting in children. However, stunting and HIV/AIDS are highly gendered phenomena that need to be explored in order to get an in-depth understanding of the interrelationship. This study was therefore aimed at investigating gender dimensions of the impact of HIV/AIDS on stunting in children under five years from HIV/AIDS affected households in Zimbabwe.
Methods: The study uses a large scale nationally representative cross-sectional dataset of 13 854 Zimbabwean households for the year 2019. To test hypothesis 1, the study employs binary choice models (Probit and Logit) since the outcome variable household HIV/AIDS status is dichotomous. To test hypothesis 2 and 3, the study employs the Propensity Score Matching (PSM) approach to circumvent the self selection problem in the creation of treatment and control groups for households affected by HIV/AIDS and those that are not.
Results: The results revealed that household HIV/AIDS status is independent of the gender of household head. On the other hand, the results for the PSM estimates show that the probability of the household having a stunted child under five years is higher for households with an HIV positive member compared to those without. In addition, female headed households with an HIV positive member are more likely to have a stunted child under five years compared to male headed households under similar circumstances.
Conclusion: Overall, the results provide evidence of a higher risk of stunting among children from households affected by HIV/AIDS. The study offers three major findings. Firstly, the study finds no significant association between gender of the household head and household HIV/AIDS status. Secondly, households that have at least one HIV positive member are more likely to have a stunted child under five years. Lastly, female headed households with at least one HIV positive member are more likely to have a stunted child under five years compared to male headed household with similar HIV/AIDS status. The findings have important policy implications towards improved integration of HIV/AIDS status, household head gender and child nutrition services in affected households.