Fighting Cultural Obstruction
Some African cultures deemed women's bodies only as procreators and objects that succumb to urges of men. And religious mores viewed sexuality as taboo. Fornication and adultery were mortal sins. Safe sex quelling by self-gratification and refusal to engage were forbidden. Scarring and tissue tear from genital mutilations factored exchange of bodily fluids. Menstrual episodes were totally concealed as unclean, and partners became infected. Secrecy and avoidance of sex issues has hindered AIDS prevention efforts in Africa. Persuading people of the necessity for changes in lifestyle is very difficult. Lack of AIDS awareness resulted in shame and denial. Proper education will encourage African communities to work together to reduce stigma so that people will support AIDS victims and take advantage of available care and prevention services without fear.
Bride Price Exploitation
Apart from polygamy, another undignified custom is the practice of Bride Price collection. Paraded women are reduced to the status of chattel. A generously endowed backside will fetch a higher price for a flawed perception of enhanced fertility. The negative impact is that many young men who cannot afford the Bride Price simply co-habit with multiple partners and increase the risk of AIDS infection.
Reducing Stigma that Surrounds AIDS
In conclusion, stigma and discrimination that surround HIV/AIDS are often deadly. The resulting silence can keep HIV-positive people from seeking the help they need and hinder much-needed education efforts to prevent further spread of the disease. And many religious and church-related organizations have been reluctant to discuss HIV/AIDS openly, because of misguided perceptions that some of these aid networks condone promiscuity. It is time to take a stand against such silence. Through open discussions about the subject of HIV/AIDS, negative attitudes toward the disease may change. Therefore, the related stigma and discrimination can be reduced, while spreading messages of hope and compassion where controversial lifestyle and medical choices are tolerated and legal.