HIV/AIDS and 'othering' in South Africa: the blame goes on.

Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa.
Culture Health & Sexuality (Impact Factor: 1.55). 02/2006; 8(1):67-77. DOI: 10.1080/13691050500391489
Source: PubMed


In order to explore the relevance of social concepts such as stigma and denial to the transmission of HIV, this qualitative study sought to examine cultural and racial contexts of behaviour relevant to the risk of HIV infection among South Africans. A cultural model was used to analyse transcripts from 39 focus group discussions and 28 key informant interviews. Results reveal how cultural and racial positionings mediate perceptions of the groups considered to be responsible and thus vulnerable to HIV infection and AIDS. An othering of blame for HIV and AIDS is central to these positionings, with blame being refracted through the multiple prisms of race, culture, homophobia and xenophobia. The study's findings raise important questions concerning social life in South Africa and the limitation of approaches that do not take into account critical contextual factors in the prevention of HIV and care for persons living with AIDS.

    • "All eight said that foreign men had sex with South African women, causing the disease to spread quickly. Blaming of the foreign other is common elsewhere (Petros et al. 2006) and another attempt by the respondents to make sense of the epidemic within their familiar social milieu. "
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    ABSTRACT: South Africa, like other sub-Saharan African countries, is in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. Older women, here defined as aged 60 years and older, while at lower risk of infection than those aged 20–50, are amongst those deeply ‘affected’ by the epidemic. In rural areas, older women, who have always played central roles in social reproduction in South African households and families, bear the brunt of care giving for the sick and dying. For this reason, it is important to explore how these women understand the epidemic. In South Africa, the prominence of traditional healers and medicine alongside biomedicine has led to multiple ways of perceiving, explaining and treating illness. This paper explores the various discourses older women in rural South Africa employ to make sense of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in their daily lives. The aim is to better understand how these women construct the epidemic and how this knowledge can be used to benefit education and treatment endeavours in similar contexts. This paper draws on interview data collected as part of the Gogo Project conducted in the Medical Research Council (MRC)/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit. Sixty women between the ages of 60 and 75 years living in the rural Agincourt sub-district participated in three in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The respondents in this study relied on a variety of discourses to make sense of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They displayed a high level of knowledge based on biomedical education, however, they expressed ideas, often simultaneously, that seemed to contradict this education. Their ability to employ seemingly contradictory discourses represents the need to place the epidemic within familiar ‘explanatory models’ that are based on these women’s life experiences and local knowledge.
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    • "Culturally grounded research can help reduce negative effects on communities and inform development of appropriate interventions. In the last decade, much has been written about how stigma has contributed to the spread, detection, and management of HIV disease (Herek, Capitanio, & Widaman, 2003;Kinsler, Wong, Sayles, Davis, & Cunningham, 2007;Petros, Airhihenbuwa, Simbayi, Ramlagan, & Brown, 2006;Poindexter & Shippy, 2010;Takahashi, 1997). Stigma has been discussed as a series of interrelated components and processes by which certain identities are devalued and defined as deviant from those considered normative (Goffman, 1963;Link & Phelan, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Theories about health behavior are commonly used in public health and often frame problems as ascribed or related to individuals' actions or inaction. This framing suggests that poor health occurs because individuals are unable or unwilling to heed preventive messages or recommended treatment actions. The recent United Nations call for strategies to reduce the global disease burden of noncommunicable diseases like diabetes requires a reassessment of individual-based approaches to behavior change. We argue that public health and health behavior intervention should focus more on culture than behavior to achieve meaningful and sustainable change resulting in positive health outcomes. To change negative health behaviors, one must first identify and promote positive health behaviors within the cultural logic of its contexts. To illustrate these points, we discuss stigma associated with obesity and human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. We conclude that focusing on positive behaviors and sustaining cultural and personal transformations requires a culturally grounded approach to public health interventions, such as that provided by the PEN-3 model.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Health Education & Behavior
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    • "VCT services enable uninfected people to remain so and enable those infected with HIV to plan for the future and prevent further transmission of the retrovirus. Petros et al. (2006) state that culture and racial attitudes determine the perceptions of individuals who stigmatise those who are HIV infected or who have AIDS. Nqojane (2009) suggests that VCT may also play a role in the de-stigmatisation of the pandemic. "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012
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