Hiv/Aids and the Virgin Cleansing Myth in South Africa

Tatjana Groenewald, Margaret Eggers, Microbiology and Cell Biology, Montana State University-Bozeman, Culbertson Hall, 100, Bozeman, MT 59717

In South Africa, rates of Child rape and Child Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections are closely correlated. One anthropological reason that children are frequently specifically targeted is a cultural myth found throughout Africa, called the virgin cleansing myth. Simply put, it is believed that intercourse with a virgin will cure HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). This study investigates the virgin cleansing myth as a significant contributor to the high rates of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Due to shame or lack of reporting, the myth is likely more prevalent than current research shows. Data were gathered using UW IHME Vizhub. The data regarding children vs. adult rapes in South Africa was obtained at Science in Africa. Information on the myth was researched within EBSCOhost, Social Explorer, and ProQuest databases, by searching for virgin cleansing myth, sexual myths in South Africa, and case studies on virgin cleansing myths. Some information was obtained directly from an organization helping children who had been raped. Further research is needed to firmly ascertain this myth as a significant reason for the spread of HIV/AIDS. This research is one step toward addressing this socially devastating issue. This research concluded that a reason HIV/AIDS rates are high in South Africa is that the virgin cleansing myth is more prevalent than currently thought. The myth’s impact on children needs to be established, and community-based solutions determined.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Tatjana Groenewald

Institution: Montana State University Bozeman

Type: Poster

Subject: Global Health

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5085