The power of myth

Dealing There are many myths about dealing with AIDS in Africa. Some want to explain how the disease came about. In Mali, for example, people imagine that a perverted European forced a prostitute to have sexual intercourse with an infected dog, thereby spreading the disease. Often there is also the conviction that Americans and Europeans deliberately contaminated condoms with the HI virus in order to prevent the population explosion in Africa that is feared in the West.

Traudl Solleder, employee of the Tropical Medicine Department at the Medical Mission Clinic in Wurzburg, has often encountered this prejudice during her numerous stays in African countries. As well as the views that AIDS was an idea of ​​the West in order to sell condoms or to impersonate Africans and to talk them into family planning.

Unusual ideas

As Europeans, it is particularly difficult to deal with the ideas of many Africans when it comes to the transmission of diseases: "You don’t trust Western science, you believe in someone’s evil wish, in witchcraft and magic. People who are sick often go to them a traditional healer to analyze who might have wished him the misfortune ", observed Solleder. Especially when it comes to AIDS, it is easier for many people to deal with the disease in this way instead of worrying about the scientifically proven transmission routes. Because then you would have to talk about sex, and that’s a taboo subject in Africa.

Well known in the West and very widespread throughout southern Africa is the myth that AIDS can be cured through sexual intercourse with virgins. "It is so blooming that prostitutes in schoolgirl clothes stand on the streets and pretend to be virgins," reports Klaus Fleischer, head of the Tropical Medical Institute at the Wurzburg Medical Mission Clinic. Above all, however, the children would suffer from this practice. It is not uncommon for the raped girls to be younger than ten years, as already 13-year-olds are often no longer trusted to be sexually unaffected.

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