The history of HIV and AIDS in South Africa is perhaps the most controversial of any country. It is littered with examples of government inaction and harmful interference, pseudoscience, and conflict between politicians, AIDS organizations and scientists. The after-effects of some two decades of counterproductive policies are still being felt today in a country that has the world’s largest HIV epidemic. An estimated 5.6 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, more than in any other country. It is believed that in 2009, an estimated 310,000 South Africans died of AIDS. Prevalence is 17.8 percent among those aged 15-49, with some age groups being particularly affected. Almost one-in-three women aged 25-29, and over a quarter of men aged 30-34, are living with HIV (http://www.avert.org).
With the ethical questions related to science, race, gender and inequality raised in Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as a lens, Dr. Gates explores complexities in the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa. Contemporary ethical questions related to HIV/AIDS are examined in the context of a history of intellectual and scientific racism, dramatic race-based inequality and widespread gender-based violence. The event includes an analysis of critical failures and hopeful developments.
Dr. Jamie Gates
Point Loma Nazarene University
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