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AIDS in Africa: Myths of AIDS and Sex

Charles L. Geshekter


BODY: The Poster is seen in Kenya. Below a lurid picture of a worm wriggling through a human heart, the caption reads: “Careless sex is a fruit with a worm in it. AIDS.”

At the 10th International AIDS Conference in Yokohama in August [1994], Dr. Yuichi Shiokawa put the sentiment in a different way. The African AIDS epidemic, he said, could be brought under control only if Africans restrained their sexual cravings. But Professor Nathan Clumeck of the Universite Libre in Brussels is skeptical that Africans will ever do so. In a recent interview with Le Monde, Clumeck claimed that “sex, love and disease do not mean the same thing to Africans as they do to West Europeans because the notion of guilt doesn’t exist in the same way as it does in the Judeo-Christian culture of the West.” Such myths about the sexual excesses of Africans are old ones. Early European travelers returned from Africa bringing tales of black men allegedly performing carnal athletic feats with black women who were themselves sexually insatiable. The affront to Victorian sensibilities was cited alongside tribal conflicts and other “uncivilized” behaviour to justify the need for colonial social control.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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