HUMA launches book on AIDS, intimacy and care

09 May 2012 | Story by Newsroom

A new book by UCT's Dr Patricia Henderson, titled AIDS, Intimacy and Care in Rural KwaZulu-Natal: A Kinship of Bones, took centre stage at a launch hosted by the Institute for the Humanities in Africa (HUMA) on 7 May, an event that also formed part of UCT's Celebrating Africa Month.

Dr Patricia Henderson Dr Patricia Henderson's New Book
Reflections and recollections: In a new book, Dr Patricia Henderson recounts her work with people living with HIV/AIDS.

From 2003 to 2006, Henderson lived in Okhahlamba in KwaZulu-Natal, where she recorded the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS, starting in a period when anti-retroviral treatment had not yet been made available by the state. In the book, she recounts the concerns of rural people and explores local "repertoires" through which illness was folded into everyday life.

The book traces forms of care outside of the institutional domains of hospitals and clinics. It is in part a plea, says Henderson, for recognition of the women, the home-based carers, who looked after the ill and dying in their homesteads '“ some of whom, according to Henderson, had worked without remuneration for more than 14 years.

The book, she ended, is a record of a time of death and mourning that pays tribute to the efforts of ordinary people in attempting to assist one another. It also marks the introduction of antiretroviral therapies through the public health system in which hope gradually emerged and in which people witnessed the "return of bodies they could recognise as their own."

The launch took the form of a conversation between Henderson, UCT colleague Associate Professor Fiona Ross, and Helen Schneider, professor of public health at the University of Western Cape.

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