W6 Activity: HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa

The global HIV/AIDS epidemic affects many people worldwide and specifically is a large problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health organization, “Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region with 25.8 million people living with HIV in 2014.” It also accounts for 70 percent of the global total of new HIV infections. Most children that are infected are by their HIV positive mothers during pregnancy or breast-feeding. The HIV/AIDS epidemic impacts not only those who carry the disease but also their communities both socially and economically. Many of these areas are affected by many other infectious diseases as well as food scarcity. It also impacts the ability of these areas to grow economically. There have been advancements in understanding of the disease s well as its’ transmission and treatment, despite the lack of cure for the disease. Government and health organizations have made efforts to fight the epidemic and further understand it. However many areas effected still do not have access to adequate treatment, prevention, or care. In Brodie Ramin’s article Anthropology Speaks to Medicine: the case of HIV/AIDS in Africa, he examines the impact that the anthropological approach has on evaluating this major problem. He observed that the sexual behaviors associated with sub-Saharan society, influences the epidemic and spread of HIV/AIDS. African women are often forced into sex trade or sexual interactions with older men for favors due to their socioeconomic status. Government instability and political violence also leads to little government or health organization interference. Thus, furthering the cycle and spread of the disease.

Ramin, Brodie. “Anthropology Speaks to Medicine: The Case HIV/AIDS in Africa.”McGill Journal of Medicine, July 2007, 127-32. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2323482/.
“Global Statistics.” Global Statistics. Accessed August 12, 2016. https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/global-statistics/.
“HIV/AIDS.” World Health Organization. Accessed August 12, 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs360/en/.

3 thoughts on “W6 Activity: HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa

  1. There are several anthropological lens through which they looked at the problem, each of which seemed to add a new and important and dimension to solving the HIV/AIDS crisis. Seeing the spread of the disease as related to particular cultural practices, those in particular that maintain the devaluation of women, allows us to understood that Gender-based interventions or those that are sensitive to issues of gender may be more effective than gender neutral practices. Moreover, the anthropological analysis observes the structural conditions like instability or poverty or conflict that expose people greater risk of HIV infection. This insight enables various actors to find leverage points in the system that can have strong, long-lasting impacts on the epidemic. The particular point about women preferring men of higher status even requires more than one lense. Of course, a culturally-specific expression of gender roles gives way to this, but it is also important that a critical approach would note that this sort of vertical relationship between men and women is propped up by the fact of poverty and womens’ disproportionate rates of it. The analysis adds perspective that would have undoubtedly been overlooked through a conventional biomedical lens. It is important to use other disciplinary approaches to untangle some of the complexities of problems as massive as HIV/AIDS.

  2. Your post is well-worded and very informative on the issue of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a horrible disorder that unfortunately affects those in developing countries afflicted with poverty more so then those who are affluent in developed countries. In the paper that you cited, “Anthropology speaks to medicine: the case HIV/AIDS in Africa” Ramin uses a biomedical and socio-cultural anthropological approach to discuss the issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa. As you said, Sub-Saharan Africa is mainly a patriarchal society where women are disproportionally impoverished. It is easy to trade sexual intercourse for favors with men who are more well off in order to help their desperate situations. Taking the ethnomedical approach, we can see that since many women with HIV/AIDS live in rural areas and are battling poverty, they don’t have access to the medical help and treatments that they need.
    Applying anthropology helped to better understand this problem since anthropologists are able to look at social, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to the issue. Using the biomedical approach alone can often overlook these factors that are very important to the treatment and prevention of the disorder. For example, the biomedical approach would have overlooked the patriarchal structure and disproportion of women in poverty that forces them to sell their bodies in order to make ends meet.

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I found your post on HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa to be very well written, interesting, and informative. The statistics that you gathered from the world health organization were eye opening and I was very surprised at how heavily concentrated this area is affected by HIV and AIDS. I think that there are multiple different ways that this epidemic can be viewed as in the reasoning behind why this disease is so prevalent in this area and how to go about spreading awareness to the people of this area to prevent it from continuing to be such a big issue. One thing that is particularly of interest in this area as a component to contributing to this widespread of disease is the economic status of the population in this area. As you mentioned, many individuals in this area are affected by poverty, which makes it very difficult for those who are diagnosed with this disease to receive and access the type of medical care and treatment that they need. I think that anthropology could beneficial to study this epidemic in this particular area due to the fact that anthropologists take social, economic, and multiple other factors into account when studying a certain medical outbreak in an area, which I feel pertains to this situation and useful information could be gathered by studying it.

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