Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS

Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS

Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS

Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS

Synopsis

How do modern women in developing countries experience sexuality and love? Drawing on a rich array of interview, ethnographic, and survey data from her native country of Kenya, Sanyu A. Mojola examines how young African women, who suffer disproportionate rates of HIV infection compared to young African men, navigate their relationships, schooling, employment, and finances in the context of economic inequality and a devastating HIV epidemic. Writing from a unique outsider-insider perspective, Mojola argues that the entanglement of love, money, and the transformation of girls into "consuming women" lies at the heart of women's coming-of-age and health crises. At once engaging and compassionate, this text is an incisive analysis of gender, sexuality, and health in Africa.

Excerpt

Becoming ill is not just a random event. I still remember sitting in David Byrne’s Sociology of Health class while pursuing my undergraduate degree at Durham University in the north of England and being struck by that revelation. As the class progressed, there were more. Sociologists, demographers, and epidemiologists, I learned, could predict which groups of people in a given society would get sick and which would die early. Further, there was often a highly organized social-structural pattern to disease and mortality, above and beyond seemingly random and idiosyncratic individual choices—about who to love, or where to work, or which tap to collect water from—that led to illness and death. Coming from a continent plagued by one disease after another, I found these ideas revolutionary. In the decade and a half that followed, these ideas began to shape how I saw and understood the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and how I thought about how to end it.

When I graduated from Durham and returned home to Dodoma, Tanzania, where my family and I lived at the time, I interned for a few months at the AIDS control agency of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, under the program offi cer Neema Peter. The experience was both revealing and frustrating. It was revealing to see that most of our clients were . . .

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