The Gay White Disease for the Female Philippine Prostitute

Posted: September 13, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

In Weber and Fore’s piece examining four differing areas of what they call “intersecting systems of inequality” within health/race/ethnicity there is a somewhat small section titled Intersectionality and the Social Construction of Health Disparities: Case Examples of HIV/AIDS. Here is where we will focus our relation between the articles overall concept of HIV/AIDS and that of FSW (female sex workers) in the Philippines.

Related Article: A multilevel analysis of the impact of socio-structural and environmental influences on condom use among female sex workers.

Weber and Fore make a beautiful point that diseases become stigmatized. You can easily do this right now, close your eyes, and picture what an individual with AIDS/HIV looks like. It doesn’t make you racist, sexist, or anything other than someone who is the product of a socially constructed concept.

“Women were invisible in the [AIDS/HIV] epidemic. In many studies they were merely seen as ‘vehicles’ or ‘vectors’ of the disease, not its victims.”(206)

This statement leads us right into the conceptualization of stigmatizing female sex workers of the Philippines. The idea of exoticism and youthful, inexpensive sex servants is what intrigues thousands of non-Philippine citizens to bring in economic success to an illegal trade. Women, rather vehicles, of the pleasure market are not only serving the buyers of their trade but are also serving as vehicles to transport HIV to clientele. This exact concept is what Weber and Fore were attempting to bring to the surface, that women are NOT vehicles. These FSWs are not just another common statistic of a HIV positive prostitute, they are women with families and children and lives. They are the faces of the socially constructed concept of sex-worker.

If anything this small portion of the Weber/Fore article has made me think more about the background and history of the Philippines—mainly of the women’s history—then that of the statistics that represent them.

Each year organizations and groups work to better the lives of FSW and to lower their risk and the risk of others (their sexual partners and their children) for contracting and sharing HIV/AIDS.

The White House commemorates National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with a multi-agency event to discuss the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women, and gender related health disparities, and the way these issues affect women’s lives both domestically and globally. March 14, 2012.



Weber, Lynn and M. Elizabeth Fore. “Race, Ethnicity, and Health: An Intersectional Approach” Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research, 2007, 191-218.

*”gay white disease” was a quote from the Weber and Fore article in the HIV/AIDS section in reference to the common perception of AIDS in the early 1980’s within the United States.


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