There are many different anthropological perspectives that can be used to look at many aspects of our world. In this class, we have talked about five of these perspective, which are the epidemiological theory, the evolutionary/ medical ecology theory, the critical medical anthropological theory, the interpretive theory, and the feminist theory. The epidemiological theory asks the question, at the population level, how do we get rid of this problem? Looking into this theory, we see that if focuses on things like determining where a disease started and how humans can intervene in the outbreak of the disease. The evolutionary/ medical ecology theory considers how the human body is designed to be healthy and then eventually die through evolution, as well as how we co- evolve with our pathogens. The critical medical anthropological theory causes us to question what inequalities and political, economic, or social power lead to better or worse outcomes for certain groups of people. The interpretive theory looks at how people interpret events and how the way we look at things like health and disease impact our behaviors, health outcomes, and our feelings about the experience and its outcome. The final theory which we discussed is the feminist theory which focuses on how gender impacts a situation and if someone is being treated a certain way that creates different social inequalities.
Considering my topic, which is looking at the incidence of HIV of young women in South Africa, there where some theories that weren’t so hard to rule out. The evolutionary theory could be used to talk about the evolution of HIV, but it could take away from this as a problem for woman and focus just on the actual disease. This is also part of the problem with the epidemiological theory because it again is more about the disease rather than the people impacted by it, even though this theory does also look at the role of people in the spread of disease. I would not use the interpretive theory because it focuses on how the interpretation of the event. While this is important to consider this, I don’t think that it really helps to explain how unequal the HIV incidence is between men and women in South Africa.
There are several of these perspectives that I believe could be used to help describe my topic. At this point, I am mainly divided between the critical medical anthropological theory and the feminist theory. After giving it more thought, I believe that the critical medical anthropological is the best theory to use for my subject matter. The main reason that I chose this theory is because it looks at more than just gender as a reason for poor outcomes. Even though gender does play a large role in the unequal incidence of HIV between men and women in South Africa, other things could play a role in this incidence. Some of these things include the education level available to the women, the power they have in government and their economic status. Even though these could also be described using the feminist theory, but using the critical medical anthropological shows how the incidence of HIV stems from not just gender itself but other social aspects as well.