Sub-Saharan Africa, Donor Governments Must Change ‘Cultural Attitudes’ About Sex, Opinion Piece Says
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is "bred by life-threatening cultural attitudes" about sex, which must be changed in order to stop the spread of the disease, Yolan LaPorte, executive vice president of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, writes in an International Herald Tribune opinion piece. In many countries, having multiple wives or mistresses and visiting sex workers is the "cultural norm" for men, and abstinence is "not generally regarded as a model behavior," LaPorte says. Because the most common method of transmission in the region is heterosexual behavior, it is clear that these "cultural norms" must change, LaPorte says. However, such change must come from within the cultures, LaPorte says, adding that Western countries must provide the educational tools that local and national health workers need to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, "change attitudes and modify behaviors that are culturally condoned but risky." Such "social marketing" can change cultural attitudes, LaPorte says, concluding that because neither a cure nor an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine is available, "[c]hanging a culture that casually accepts dangerous sexual behavior is the only way to save lives" (LaPorte, International Herald Tribune, 5/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.