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The cultural meaning of AIDS and condoms for stable heterosexual relations in Africa: recent evidence from the local print media.
[Unpublished] 1989 Mar. Paper presented at the Seminar on Population Policy in Subsaharan Africa: Drawing on International Experience, sponsored by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), Committee on Population and Policy, with the collaboration of Departement de Demographie de l'Universite de Kinshasa, Commission Nationale de la Population du Zaire (CONAPO), Secretariat au Plan du Zaire, held at the Hotel Okapi, Kinshasa, Zaire, 27 February to 2 March 1989. 27 p.This paper draws on the authors previous research experience in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and articles in local newspapers and journals from Central, Eastern and Western Africa. To research the AIDS epidemic in terms of: 1) problems for fertility that condoms pose 2) the association of condoms with promiscuity 3) economic pressures that induce women to contract lovers and men to enter polygamous relationships 4) the importance of fertility and 5) the association of AIDS with promiscuity. There is great concern for the uninfected children of parents who die of AIDS. Women are generally being blamed for spreading the HIV virus to their partners and being promiscuous making all her children suspicious as products of illicit unions. The father and his kin often repudiate these offspring. Questions are raised as to where these children will go and, what is the economic and social effect of their geographical mobility? Young women, school girls in particular, now comprise one of the groups at high risk for contracting the HIV virus because private schools expose girls to older, wealthier, married men. Parents may begin growing reluctant to send their daughters to school to avoid the AIDS virus, while encouraging them to marry early, leading to higher fertility rates and low interest in contraception. Yet secondary schools are the best arenas to introduce condoms and AIDS education because the girls are highly motivated. The use of condoms in Africa is controversial because they prevent fertility and suggest promiscuity. 2 major philosophies are common among health manpower: 1) minimizing the demographic impact of AIDS in light of continued high fertility rates, or 2) emphasizing the crisis brought on by death and destruction. Government efforts to publicize the AIDS epidemic and the utility of condoms as a prophylactic are doing the greatest service to women and society by providing them with credible elements of ambiguity and deniability.