W6 Activity: HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa

I found an article by Brodie Ramin that explains the value of anthropology in the medical understanding of HIV/AIDS, and analyzes the culture surrounding sub-Saharan Africa, which is where the largest concentration of people living with HIV/AIDS is in the world. This area of Africa, while having the largest concentration of AIDS, also has one of the lowest treatment rates in the world, which is around fifteen percent. Ramin’s research shows that this epidemic is exacerbated by political instability, economic crises, sexual social behaviors and, concomitant disease epidemics. One of the main focuses of the article is the sexual behavior linked to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is observed that because of socioeconomic status, African women are often involved in sexual favors, or are incorporated in the sex trade completely, which provides additional means for the virus to proliferate. Because of the political instability, there are virtually very few health regulations, which also feeds the epidemic. Another result of the governmental instability is political violence, which is characterized as gang formation, black market activity, and sex trade. This violence, in turn, causes more strain on the general population’s socioeconomic status and political stability, creating a destructive cycle. Observing this trend, Agencies like UNAIDS, and WHO have identified poverty as a common factor among many of this region’s problems. They believe relieving the area of its poverty is the best way to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. By restoring socioeconomic status, many Africans will no longer be involved in the sex trade, the government can gain stability, and health regulations can be enforced. Because of this anthropological analysis, society in sub-Saharan Africa can move forward. The medical society will use information from this study by Ramin, and others like it, to view the HIV/AIDS epidemic more accurately, and research a solution more efficiently.


Brodie Ramin. Anthropology speaks to medicine: the case HIV/AIDS in Africa. (McGill Journal of Medicine 2007) 10(2) 127-132

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