Jenny Trinitapoli and Alexander Weinreb, "Religion and AIDS in Africa" (Oxford UP, 2012)


The liberal media in the Western World takes a firm line on how two of the big issues facing Africa intersect - bluntly speaking Africa's high levels of religiosity have contributed substantially to its high levels of HIV infection. Religion and AIDS in Africa (Oxford UP, 2012), however, tells a different story, and one based upon an impressive amount of data. For a start, the story that the authors tell is far more nuanced than this broad-brush representation of how religion has impacted HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. In places it has aggravated infection rates and in others it has led to lower levels, for instance through emphasising sex within marriage and through education. Often the picture depends far more upon the message being put out by particular religious leaders in particular villages than the niceties of any Islamic or Christian doctrine. Jenny Trinitapoli and Alex Weinreb also treat AIDS and HIV in a far more holistic way than simply talking about infection rates. They look at the impact of religion on care for the ill, on the intersection between religion and traditional medicine, and the role that stigma has to play. The result is a very serious book about a very serious subject, packed full of insight, data and analysis. It deserves to be widely read by those interested in how HIV and AIDS have impacted.

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