Jun 22, 2011

AIDS Conspiracy Believers Less Likely to Condomise in South Africa


                AIDS denialism and conspiracy theories among certain groups in South Africa, particularly among black South Africans ages 20-29, are continuing to cause problems, as a recent survey in the country found that those who believe in conspiracy theories about the origin of HIV/AIDS were 50 percent less likely to report having used condoms in their last sexual encounter than those who do not believe in conspiracy theories. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has worked tirelessly to educate South Africans about the virus and counter the campaigns and opinions of former president Thabo Mbeki and former health minister Tshabalala-Msimang, infamous for their questioning of the connection between HIV and AIDS and the causes and treatment of the virus. Research by Nicoli Nattrass, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at UCT, has found that people who had heard of the TAC were more likely to use condoms and less likely to believe in an AIDS conspiracy theory, emphasizing the importance of access to education and information in the continuing struggle to combat HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Dispelling these myths requires extensive education campaigns by individuals in CHW roles and must incorporate men and women living with HIV/AIDS in advocacy positions. Until knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and preventative measures reach critical mass in the population, new infections will continue to occur. Life for Mothers (LfM) has recently completed a pilot project in rural Uganda where CHWs were utilized to register and question and inform residents from 25 villages. We learned that all segments of the population (women of reproductive age-pregnant/never pregnant, husbands/partners, children under 5 and children over 5 not including women of reproductive age) required increased HIV testing, condom usage as well antenatal visits to decrease new infections and reduce maternal/neonatal mortality. Unless, projects integrate reproductive health with HIV services in a holistic strategy myths and deaths will continue. You can learn more of LfM's on its website. To read the full article, click here

Did you know?

The leading causes of maternal deaths are hemorrhage, infections, unsafe abortions, high blood pressure leading to seizures, and obstructed labor.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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