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Poverty and HIV/AIDS: anthropological and sociological aspects

Focusing on the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a summation of several epidemics coexisting in the same space and drawing on Brazilian epidemiological data, we argue that the epidemic there shows variations already described elsewhere, such as feminization, pauperization, juvenization and interiorization, as a result of the deep inequalities characteristic of Brazilian society. We then examine the contributions of three bodies of sociological and anthropological literature related to HIV/AIDS: 1) sociological research and theory on the impact of recent global economic restructuring and social transformation, and its relationship to public health issues; 2) the cross-cultural and cross-national anthropological and sociological literature on structural factors shaping the course of the epidemic in different settings; and 3) the body of anthropological and sociological research on the synergistic effects of HIV/AIDS, social exclusion, and related social problems in pockets of extreme poverty in the large cities of core countries. We conclude that prevention policies for HIV/AIDS should deal comprehensively with diverse dimensions that determine differential vulnerabilities to the epidemic, thus requiring substantial social transformations.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; HIV; Poverty; Medical Anthropology; Social Conditions

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