Gender, religious involvement, and HIV/AIDS prevention in Mozambique.
- Victor Agadjanian
- Social science & medicine
What could be more logical than a gay-feminist alliance to respond to the AIDS epidemic in Latin America? However, drawing on published articles and the author's experience in HIV/AIDS work in Chile, this paper argues that such an alliance is more rhetorical than real. Instead, both groups tend to stick to their respective niches and view the epidemic through the prism of the particular needs and concerns of their target constituencies, rather than learn from and support each other. Feminist rhetoric sometimes suggests that AIDS is a problem only because it affects women. The African paradigm of vulnerable women is inexactly applied, given the predominantly male and homosexual nature of the epidemic in most Latin American countries. Both women and homosexually active men are highly vulnerable to HIV infection, and little is gained by competing for the top slot on the "tragedy honour roll". Latin American gay men's groups, torn between AIDS and gay rights activism, often resist both protagonism by women and women's issues. Although the fight for access to antiretroviral treatment has obscured this conflict, it resurfaces in associations of HIV-positive people and may increase along with heterosexual transmission in the region. Discussion and exchanges should be encouraged to overcome these largely hidden divisions.