As more and more women are acquiring AIDS in South Africa, a new trend is emerging: in order to not look HIV positive, women are becoming obese in large numbers. According to the Independent Online, half of all women in South Africa are overweight, and almost one-third are severely overweight. More than 5 million of South Africa’s 45 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS, and the cultural perception is that if a black woman is thin, she has AIDS.
“When being overweight is seen as a sign of health and wealth, it is extremely difficult to change this perception,” Ms Van der Merwe [of the International Association for the Study of Obesity] said. “We should be convincing black women that weight loss has a markedly helpful effect on health.”
This is really quite a disturbing trend, as women in South Africa may just be harming their health even more by becoming overweight (AIDS or not). In addition, it seems to highlight that the perception of having AIDS, of how one appear to the world, may be as important (if not more) than the actual prevention and treatment of the disease.