The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa in an historical perspective
Chaire d’études africaines, University of Louvain
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 11-13 March 2004
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is arguably one of the biggest obstacles to development in contemporary Africa. Millions of men, women and children have already succumbed to the disease and unless a treatment becomes available many more will die in the years to come.
The social and cultural issues involved in the HIV/AIDS epidemic have a long history. Two decades after the first cases of AIDS in Africa were reported, the time has come to look at HIV/AIDS from a specifically historical point of view. The collection of essays edited by Philip Setel and his colleagues in 1999 (Histories of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Westport, Greenwood Press, 1999) is an example of this approach. Some of the papers read at the “AIDS in context” conference (Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, April 2à01) also attempted to describe HIV/AIDS as an historical phenomenon. Lastly one can mention that Ron Meyer, a co-author of Aids Doctors: Voices of the Epidemic: an Oral History (Oxford University Press, 2000), is currently conducting an oral history project on the history of the epidemic in Africa.
The purpose of the conference organised by the Chaire d’études africaines in Louvain-la-Neuve in March 2004 is to contribute, however modestly, to this new and important field of research. The participants will include historians, geographers, social scientists and health professionals who are willing to share, and to reflect upon, their experience of the epidemic.
The conference will have the following objectives:
To document the history of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa in all its dimensions (biomedical, epidemiological, anthropological, economical, political and cultural)
To document the history of the response to the epidemic (health professionals, state agencies, NGOs, faith bodies)
To understand the reasons why the epidemic has developed faster in some regions or sub-regions of the African continent than others;
To understand the ways in which the social and biomedical dimensions of HIV/AIDS interacted in sub-Saharan Africa;
To examine in an historical perspective the socio-cultural factors affecting the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa (sexuality, family, gender, war, religion, communications, etc).
Researchers who would like to contribute to any one of these areas of research are invited to send a paper title, a 20-line abstract, and their biographical details to the organising committee by September 15, 2003. Papers must be written in French or in English. Authors are requested to send a copy of their paper to the organising committee by January 15, 2004.
Philippe Denis / Caroline Sappia
Chaire d'études africaines
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