Comparing the Impact of Religious Discourse on HIV/AIDS in Islam and Christianity in Africa

Sloane Speakman


In examining the strikingly high prevalence rates of HIV in many parts of Africa, reaching as high as 5% in some areas, how does the discourse promoted by the predominant religions across the continent, Islam and Christianity, affect the outlook of their followers on the epidemic? This question becomes even more intriguing after discovering the dramatic difference in rate of HIV prevalence between Muslims and Christians in Africa, confirmed by studies that have found a negative relationship to exist between HIV prevalence and being Muslim in Africa, even in Sub-Saharan African nations. Why does this gap in prevalence rates exist? Does Islam advocate participating in less risky behavior more so than Christianity? By comparing the social construction, epidemiological understanding and public responses among Muslim populations in Africa with Christian ones, it becomes apparent that many similarities exist between the two regarding discourse and that, rather than religious discourse itself, other social factors, such as circumcision practices, contribute more to the disparity in HIV prevalence than originally thought.

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