In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section HIV/AIDS

  • Introduction
  • Bibliography Indexes
  • Reference Resources
  • Cultural Interpretation of Disease
  • Political Economy of Health

Anthropology HIV/AIDS
Thurka Sangaramoorthy
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 March 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0129


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) represents a group of conditions that occur as a result of severe immunosuppression related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV/AIDS is an incurable medical condition and a complex global pandemic. Although significant strides have been made in the last thirty years to stem the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, it continues to be one of the leading causes of infectious disease deaths in the world. HIV/AIDS has claimed more than 35 million lives, and as of 2017, there are approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally, with a significant majority residing in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS is also a social phenomenon that reflects various forms of global inequalities. It runs along the fault lines of society and significantly impacts those who are the most vulnerable. Poverty, gender inequalities, political instability, famine and food insecurity, and inadequate health care standards undergird and continue to drive the epidemic. These issues related to the global inequalities of HIV/AIDS are of central importance to anthropology. Anthropologists have long studied the importance of cultural, social, and structural factors contributing to HIV/AIDS. Since the beginning of the epidemic, anthropologists have contributed to better understandings of cultural beliefs and local practices that place people at risk for HIV/AIDS, advocated for equitable access to care and treatment, and promoted culturally appropriate strategies for prevention. More recently, anthropologists have also critically analyzed the complex relationships of power between global multilateral organizations, influential donors, governments of resource-poor countries, and local communities, and their impact on global HIV/AIDS projects.

Bibliography Indexes

Most anthropological research on HIV/AIDS is not published in books but rather as journal articles. Many anthropologists working on HIV/AIDS publish work in biomedical, public health, and anthropology journals. Indexes such as PubMed, ProQuest, AnthroSource, and Anthropology Plus are comprehensive resources that include these peer-reviewed journal articles.

  • Anthropology Plus.

    The most comprehensive index for journal articles and books in anthropology, it contains references for articles that appear in over twenty-five hundred journals or edited collections held by the Tozzer Library at Harvard University. Although this database is comprehensive in its coverage of all the key periodicals in anthropology, a major disadvantage is that it does not include abstracts of articles.

  • AnthroSource.

    An archive of the journals published by the American Anthropological Association (AAA). It includes more than 250,000 articles, and abstracts of articles are freely available. Full-text articles can be accessed through AAA membership or library Internet gateways.

  • ProQuest.

    A database that indexes an extensive number of magazines, newspapers, dissertations, and key scholarly journals in the social sciences, humanities, and the sciences, including many journals that publish anthropological research on HIV/AIDS. It provides full-text of many articles on anthropological research on HIV/AIDS. However, this content can only be accessed with permission, most commonly through library internet gateways.

  • PubMed.

    A free database of biomedical and life sciences journal literature maintained by the US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine. It includes more than 22 million records and about half of these articles have links to full-text. Interdisciplinary biomedical, public health, and anthropology journals that publish anthropological research on HIV/AIDS are indexed here.

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