October 7, 2011
HIV/AIDS and “othering in South Africa: The blame goes on
George Petros, et al.
study examine cultural and racial contexts of behaviour relevant to the risk of HIV
infection among South Africans.
o Shows how these aspects mediate perceptions of the groups considered to be
responsible and vulnerable to HIV infection and AIDS.
Findings raise important questions concerning social life in South African and the
limitation of approaches that do not take into account critical contextual factors in the
prevention of HIV and care for persons living with AIDS
South Africa largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.
Factors contributing to the epidemic: stigma, denial and active “othering” of people
living with HIV/AIDS.
Resulting discrimination experienced by infected and thought to be leads to silence over
their positive HIV status.
Stigma: arguably strongly expressed against women than men. Also cases of children not
admitted to school.
Stigma increased due to absence of cure.
Denial causes people to be infected to hide their condition. – silence and denial are
dangerous because it prevents people from accurately assessing their own personal risk
Concept of othering as a process that can potentially be negative, positive, or potentially
both depending on the situation and person assigning the concept.
o Negative: exploitation of power imbalances in relationships such tat one gains at
the expense of others. – illusion of control by attribution of risk enhancing
behaviour to the other and blaming outgroups for being at risk.
Othering used to stigmatize certain groups by race, sexuality or condition of
mental/physical health. (particularly when disease is as fatal as HIV, and fear of
contagion or infection is major concern). causes moral panics.
39 focus group discussions with 8-10 participants. 28 key informant interviews
conducted in all 9 provinces of South Africa in 2002. 2 age categories: young 18-24 and
adults 25-49. Data collected in rural, urban and farming settings. Different gender,
language, race and religious groups. Informants: local chiefs, traditional healers,
religious leaders and initiation leaders.
Focus: addressed following areas – cultural interpretation of illness and response to
HIV/AIDS, traditional healing practices, death rites, marriage practices, rites of passage,
HIV testing issues, mass media, sexual practices, gender issues and alternative healing
4 broad thematic areas:
o Stigma, denial and discrimination
o Belief systems and interpretation of health and illness
o Economic inequit
October 7, 2011
o Gender inequity
Analysed using PEN-3 model:
o Cultural model which cultural codes and meanings are examined as a part of the
development, implementation and evaluation of health promotion
Relationships and expectations
o Model used to examine cultural bases of