HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Social Problem


  • Agostino M. Zamberia


This article builds upon the theoretical propositions from the social problems literature and explores the processes through which the AIDS epidemic has come to be viewed as a social problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Although available data indicate that HIV infections and deaths from AIDS have been on the rise since the 1980s, the literature on the pandemic does not adequately account for the failure of institutions and individuals, in a number of instances, to treat AIDS as a social problem that merits attention. The paper is therefore predicated upon the view that cultural values and themes shape the definition of a social problem, and consequently contribute to the failure on the part of institutions to formulate effective policies and programmes for combating the pandemic. Drawing on evidence from Kenya and Swaziland, the paper uses the public arenas model to examine HIV/AIDS as a social problem in sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis aims at pointing out how researchers can build upon insights from constructivist framework to fruitfully inform HIV/AIDS policy formulation and intervention strategies and, at the same time, provide valuable suggestions for further research.