Professor Trent Newmeyer
Sociology of AIDS
June 21, 2004
Impact of Culture on the Spread of HIV/AIDS in Kenya
a national culture is not a folklore, nor an abstract populism that believes it can discover the people’s true nature….a national culture is the whole body of the efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to describe, justify and praise the action through which that people has created itself and keeps itself in existence (Fanon, Frantz).
Culture, even in the twenty first century, has numerous denotations. In various parts of the world, it has been and is still considered to be important for the development of civilization and of people’s minds; a particular society or civilization is considered in relation to its beliefs, ways of life and values. In short, culture plays a crucial role in a groups’ quest for identity and is therefore at the centre of the socio-cultural development of a people, region or even county in terms of identity and politics-it serves as a code of life that must be followed under any circumstances even with an HIV/AIDS epidemic.
These observations help illuminate responses to our central thesis: that cultural barriers and the ensuing gender bias have not only perpetuated the spread of HIV/AIDS among women, but are also hindering an effective HIV/AIDS prevention campaign in Kenya. Our position is that HIV/AIDS prevalence is a gendered issue because women in most parts of the developing world, due to the repressive cultural practices women have no power. Furthermore women continue to be betrayed by outdated traditional norms such as widow inheritance, widow cleansing, polygamy and gender inequality, as is the case in parts of Kenya. When these issues may seem to differ, in reality they are intertwined and date back to generations. To make matters worse those infected with HIV, both women and men blame witchcraft as the source of... [continues]
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