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Women, AIDS, and Economic Crisis in Central Africa

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of African Studies Volume: 22 Issue: 3 Dated: (1988) Pages: 625-644
B G Schoepf
Date Published
20 pages
This research note describes findings of the CONNAISSIDA Project, an interdisciplinary group which began in 1985 to study the social construction of and response to AIDS in Zaire (Africa).
From February 1985 to August 1988, CONNAISSIDA conducted some 1,000 interviews in Lubumbashi and Kinshasa to develop a broad database on the cultural construction of AIDS. Interviews with individuals and groups have been repeated over time and supplemented by participant observation in several neighborhoods and elite networks. Women and children constitute the majority of those at risk of AIDS. Women with a great number of sexual partners and women who are sexual partners of men having multiple sexual partners are at greatest risk. The most common reaction to AIDS in Kinshasa is denial of risk. Economic and social factors militate against preventive practices by women. Prostitution is often required for economic survival, and cultural norms teach women to comply with men's sexual wishes and practices. A woman who refuses to have sex with her spouse without a condom may expect to be divorced. Effective AIDS control requires changing the economic and social status of women to increase their independence, their personal autonomy, and their control over interpersonal relations. 31 notes, 40-item bibliography.


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