n Gender and Behaviour - "Better a dead child than a dry womb!" Reproduction and HIV / AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa




Childbearing is important to individuals and society in sub-Saharan Africa. Proven fertility and many children are powerful symbols of continuity and cohesion. Thus the reported high fertility rates, specifically in rural areas where modern family planning methods are unpopular and uncommon.

Sub-Saharan Africa also bears the greatest burden of the HIV / AIDS epidemic. Heterosexual contact with an infected person is the commonest route of transmission in the region. Vertical transmission from mother to child is another apparent transmission mode. Antiretroviral therapy is exclusively unaffordable for many infected Africans. Counsellors discourage infected persons from future childbearing, even though they may still be in the prime of their reproductive years. Positive-living stresses 'a responsible sexual lifestyle for longer life'.
The socio-cultural script for the need for children is in dis-equilibrium with the 'safe reproductive health' messages. This paper discusses the interplay between these two contemporary scripts, particularly examining spaces of negotiation. How does HIV / AIDS colour African reproduction?


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