For this week six activity, I decided to research the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The first reported case of AIDS in the country was in 1983, but it was believed most cases were not reported until the late 90’s. It has been estimated that over 5.6 million people have HIV/AIDS in South Africa, which is the highest number of any country in the world (Avert, 2013). There has been a sharp rise in the number of reported cases in recent years, yet because of new treatments and clinical centers the life expectancy has risen by 5 years. Many factors have contributed to this epidemic that is plaguing South Africa, but one of the biggest factors that is facilitating the spread of the disease is the lack of education materials about AIDS prevention being given to the public and the lack of government health care support in past years. Leaders in the country impeded much of the prevention measures by doubting the science behind AIDS medication. Also the lack of education on AIDS given to the general public has been a huge facilitator in the prevalence of the disease. Only recently have large scale educational prevention campaigns been launched in the country, and they are still not informing everyone. Dr. Robert Thornton, a anthropology professor at the University of Witwatersrand, has been doing a study on condom use in South Africa and how it affects the spread of AIDS. His work looks at how the people of South Africa view sex and condom usage in the cultural context. The people see sex as a natural behavior, something that is just a fact of nature that isn’t actually a learned behavior, while using a condom isn’t seen as being natural, but as part of their learned “culture” and in that way, condoms aren’t seen to them as a necessity for sex. Dr. Thornton argues that by integrating condoms in as a fact of nature, as something that is needed to have sex, that AIDS prevention could dramatically rise.
Avert.org, “HIV and AIDS in South Africa”, 2013, http://www.avert.org/aidssouthafrica.htm
Thornton, Robert, “The (un)natureless of condoms, and the ‘nature-culture’ binary” Aug. 2, 2013,http://robertthorntonza.blogspot.com/