Interpreting the AIDS Epidemic

Jenny Trinitapoli and Alexander Weinreb

in Religion and AIDS in Africa

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195335941
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979080 | DOI:
Interpreting the AIDS Epidemic

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This chapter argues that AIDS in Africa, like illness in religious societies in general, is interpreted both religiously and biomedically. The chapter identifies five core characteristics of AIDS that shape its interpretation in SSA. It then describes scholarly and African perceptions of the risk environment, local understanding of divine judgment, and differences between proximate and ultimate causes of infection. Outside western biomedical discourses, proximate causes tell us how someone became infected, and ultimate causes provide explanations of why. The chapter ends by reviewing two general issues that also shape how AIDS is understood. The first is local views about the origins of HIV—there are a range of narratives. The second deals with the relationship between attitudes to AIDS and attitudes to fertility.

Keywords: biomedicine; risk environment; divine judgment; fertility; proximate causes; ultimate causes

Chapter.  9723 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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