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Cult Health Sex. 2007 Jul-Aug;9(4):371-86.

It's about TIME: engendering AIDS in Africa.

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Social Science and Health Research, Monash University, Australia.


This paper analyses how TIME magazine represents sub-Saharan African women in its coverage of HIV/AIDS. As rates of infection escalate across the continent, researchers are increasingly emphasising the need to understand the socioeconomic and cultural contexts that make women particularly vulnerable to infection. Yet popular media representations of AIDS continue to rely on older colonial imageries of Africa as the feminised, diseased 'dark continent'. This article identifies three major themes in TIME's representation of sub-Saharan African women and HIV/AIDS: the metaphor of Africa as a woman in crisis, the construction of women as the means of transmission, and the engendered nature of the debate about the impact of international development policies. It is argued that the reliance on familiar cultural narratives often obscures the epidemiological, economic and cultural realities within which sub-Saharan women live. Not merely a consequence of unprotected sex, AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is also the result of global economics and politics, reflecting the inequities between the West and Africa, male and female, white and black. The paper concludes with a call for further research on the role of representations of HIV/AIDS and its actual routes of transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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