Previous Page: Beliefs and HIV/AIDS (a look at America)
Discovering my Research Question
Although my chosen panel doesn’t directly tell you the impact family identity had on the person the quilt is about, you can assume that this impact was great in magnitude. Based off the design and everything included on the quilt, you can ascertain family meant a lot to everyone involved in making the quilt and Renard. You’ll find that each part of it is curated to expound a story of family connection. Through the quilt you see a family oriented point of view that reveals how the person infected with HIV and also those around him perceived his situation. The quilt doesn’t explain exactly how the use of family identity impacted Renard or his family, but even the fact that the quilt has a front and back says so much. The back is filled with pictures of him and his family and the front is a family crest banner. These obvious depictions of family identity, and tradition made me want to understand just how large of an impact family, tradition and belief had on people affected with HIV/AIDS and how people without it perceived the epidemic through the eyes of their beliefs.
My first point of research was Africa. Starting with Africa as a whole, I discovered them lacking in the required knowledge to combat HIV/AIDS. Since condom use is uncommon in Africa HIV/AIDS is continually passed on. Schoepf a renowned medical anthropologist mentions a tactic to combat this stating “Instead of telling people in Africa to use condoms (and inevitable to prevent pregnancy), it is necessary to tell them how to protect themselves from STD’s and HIV while sometimes allowing “unprotected” sex to make children. Although this solution is imperfect, it is more realistic than advising people to abstain from procreation, and it would at least reduce the risk of partner-infection and perinatal transmission in stable relationships (227). I found most of my sources mentioning exactly what Schoepf suggests. Keeping with traditions and educating the people in Africa along those traditional lines. For example Airhihenbuwa of the CDC discovered that “When working in Africa, AIDS educators should resist the temptation to discard all traditional African beliefs and practices as ridiculous, superstitious and harmful, and use some of these beliefs to the advantage of AIDS education.” This signifies just how large an impact belief and traditions you’re born into can affect your response to AIDS/HIV. Even with the information provided by advanced western technology showing them that their traditions are perpetuating a deadly disease their conviction remains unshakable. Only through a combination of western knowledge and their beliefs do they even consider changing their ways.
My next point of research delved into American belief and its affect on how the HIV/AIDS epidemic was perceived. The way AIDS/HIV has been perceived by different religious communities varies greatly. There is a duality between what is written about sin and what is written regarding kindness to your fellow man. “Two broad patterns can be discerned, however, and should be taken into account in the 1990s. In the first pattern, religious groups are a “restrained” ally in the fight against the epidemic; this is seen in those churches that have declared the imperative of compassion as the most suitable religious response.”(Jonsen 120) “The second broad pattern can be seen among those religious groups in which doctrinal commitments, usually about sexuality, are so strong as to prevent the faithful from engaging in an active program of compassionate care. These groups continue a stance of condemnation of the causes of infection and, in so doing, contribute to what they consider the most, and only morally, effective message about prevention, namely, sexual restraint and abstinence from addictive substances.” (Jonsen 120)
My analysis of both
It is interesting to me that in the American religions a duality is found in how to approach HIV/AIDS yet in Africa where people are personally affected they still stick to their belief system, even if it furthers the perpetuation of the disease. Information like this makes me question whether Americas belief system is as strong as Africa’s. Africans are largely affected by it and yet they still chose to stay with their traditions. American religious groups were mostly unaffected yet they couldn’t make up their mind whether to condemn people infected with HIV/AIDS or help them. This creates another research question. How do the strong convictions of those affected by HIV/AIDS impact the disease and the world around it?
My summary of both
In summary the impact of belief and family tradition on HIV/AIDS include, the use of religion to either validate the perpetuation of the disease via traditional beliefs. Or in the case of Catholicism and Judaism to help people affected by HIV/AIDS or condemn them, along with the disease. In Africa the use of healers instead of western doctors and medicine has caused an increase in the spread of the disease and made an impact on how those affected are educated. In America belief and tradition has largely influenced our outlook on HIV/AIDS. Whether that outlook is to condemn those affected or welcome them with open arms.
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