AIDS in the Shadow of Biomedicine

Inside South Africa’s Epidemic

Isak Niehaus

AIDS in the Shadow of Biomedicine

Isak Niehaus

Distributed for Zed Books

320 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9781786994738 Will Publish December 2018 For sale in North and South America only
The Bushbuckridge region of South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world. The disease arrived in the early 1990s and spread rapidly. By 2008 life expectancies had fallen by twelve years for men and fourteen years for women. Since 2005, public health facilities have increasingly offered free highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treatment, offering a modicum of hope, but uptake and adherence to the therapy has been sporadic and uneven.

Drawing on his own extensive ethnographic research carried out in Bushbuckridge over twenty-five years, Isak Niehaus reveals how the AIDS pandemic has been experienced at the village-level. Most significantly, he shows how local cultural practices and values have shaped responses to the epidemic. For example, while local attitudes towards death and misfortune have contributed to the stigma around AIDS, kinship structures have also facilitated the adoption and care of AIDS orphans. Such practices challenge us to rethink the role played by culture in understanding and treating sickness, with Niehaus showing how an appreciation of local beliefs and customs is essential to any effective strategy of AIDS treatment.

Overturning many of our assumptions about disease prevention, the book is essential reading for practitioners as well as researchers in global health, anthropology, sociology, and epidemiology as well as scholars interested in public health and administration in the sub-Saharan region.
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