01/03/2015
lisa monaghan

T. Allen (2007) . Witchcraft, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS among the Azande of Sudan

The Azande of Ezo county, southern Sudan consider HIV/AIDS to be their worst health problem. Although there have been few confirmed cases, there is ongoing migration from neighbouring countries that are thought to have high prevalence. There are also more locally specific reasons for concern. Zande fears about HIV/AIDS relate to understandings of witchcraft. Witches, like HIV positive people, may look like everyone else, but are secretly killing those around them. Some individuals, who know they are HIV positive, demonstrate that they are moral persons by being open about it. They are active in providing information about the epidemic, and associate their activities with the Christian churches. Their efforts, and those of local religious and political leaders, have contributed to awareness about modes of transmission associated with sexual intercourse and contamination with infected blood.

However, accepting such messages does not necessarily contradict witchcraft causality. Also, without knowing who are secretly positive, almost anyone is suspect. Advice about stopping sexual intercourse is viewed as untenable or worse, because sexuality and procreation are fundamental to life. A minority is enthusiastic about the use of condoms; but most people have had no personal experience of them and oppose their introduction. It is unclear why HIV/AIDS controls cannot be like those for other diseases, such as sleeping sickness. Support is expressed for testing facilities, and for clinical treatment. In addition, there are requests for all positive people to be publicly identified and concentrated in one place.

Category: Anthropology and History

Sub-category: Socio-Cultural Groups and Practices