Anthropologists have been in the forefront of trying to understand socio-cultural and gender barriers related to HIV/AIDS, bridging cultural perspectives with biomedical ones, contributing through BCC programs related to testing, treatment and prevention. Simultaneously, critical medical anthropology’s efforts to grapple with culture, change, biomedical and social challenges of the 21st century has supported Sustainable Development Goals, while also testing them. With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 this quest is pushed further.
Great advances were made in addressing HIV and AIDS. Nevertheless in 2019, 1.7 million became newly infected. The same pattern of inequity shapes the burden of both HIV and COVID-19 since their adverse effects increase social and economic disparities, affecting poor and marginalized people, particularly key populations, young women and girls. Further exacerbations due to lockdowns, school closure, domestic violence and loss of income are expected.
This Panel focuses on challenges ahead, highlighting effective culture and gender-sensitive solutions, acknowledging changing contexts and attitudes towards HIV, as well as resilient cultural perceptions, stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV, and those affected by COVID 19.
Considering the importance of empowering young people and communities to lead the change towards HIV prevention, the panel welcomes, programs, interventions and best practices focusing on issues such as BCC related to HIV, comprehensive sexuality education and innovative coping strategies developed during the COVID-19 epidemic. Contributions of applied medical anthropology (planning, effectiveness) will be discussed in view of the most current agendas, in liaisons with other disciplines such as sociology, education, bioethics and communications.