Despite the best intentions, many people who work on issues such as HIV/AIDS in Africa unwittingly fall back on old stereotypes that deprive the African people of their agency and their humanity. These are representations of Africa that are hundreds of years old, but have been repeated so many times that they have become engrained in the discourse about Africa.
Furthermore, HIV/AIDS has been sensationalized, to the extent that someone might assume that every person who lives on the African continent is infected. The fear surrounding HIV/AIDS is magnetized further because of its association with sex. We already have great discomfort talking about how we relate to each other intimately. In this context, people with HIV/AIDS are seen as “the other,” as sexual perverts who are somehow less-than-human.
To combat this messaging, Uzodinma Iweala sought out to capture the full scope of what HIV/AIDS means to a wide range of people on the African continent in his new book, Our Kind of People: A Continent’s Challenge, A Country’s Hope. Through hundreds of interviews, Uso “gave space for people to speak” and construct their own narratives about the way HIV/AIDS has impacted their lives.
In the video below, Uzodinma describes how affected people have come to understand HIV/AIDS as something that is “livable, tangible and real.” Might it be curable as well? Two patients were recently found to be HIV-free after bone marrow transplants.
Watch the video here:
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