AIDS, sex, and culture: global politics and survival in southern Africa
"AIDS, Sex, and Culture" is a revealing examination of the impact the AIDS epidemic in Africa has had on women. Moving from her own story growing up in South Africa, anthropologist Ida Susser, looks at the AIDS epidemic in Africa in terms of its impact on a particularly vulnerable--both biologically and socially--group: women. She touches on global inequalities underpinning the AIDS epidemic, the impact of social conservativism in the US that has caused a reduction in support of certain AIDS prevention programs in favor of abstinence instruction, the logic of Mbeki's AIDS denial, recurrent stereotypes of the "Dark Continent" and women's fights for access to the female condom. She brings together broad discussions of global conditions and political and economic shifts with discussion of the experiences of women on the ground in areas ranging from Durban in KwaZulu Natal to rural settlements in Namibia and Botswana. Although Susser discusses the historical, social, and cultural context and the affects of HIV/AIDS and globalization, her focus throughout is on the lives of individuals. The book includes a chapter written by Sibongile Mkhize at the University of KwaZulu Natal who tells the story of her own family's struggle with AIDS.
Ultimately, Susser argues that, despite the high rates of HIV/AIDS in southern Africa and the widespread problems poor women confront, we can identify what she terms "spaces of hope"--that is, venues in which women are making positive changes to improve their situations. We can, as well, locate community and international movements working successfully toward the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
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