AIDS and apocalypticism: interpretations of the epidemic in Papua New Guinea

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    There has been little research into how the diverse cultures within Papua New Guinea interpret, represent and understand the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Using qualitative ethnographic research, this study examines how incoming ideas about AIDS relate to the existing cultural frameworks of a rural Christian community. Although Lelet respondents in New Ireland have recourse to indigenous conceptions, apocalyptic Christianity is the most influential framework in their understanding of AIDS. Two interconnected issues are examined: how the epidemic is understood in apocalyptic terms, and how this affects practical approach to the disease. The paper indicates a need for more research into the stances taken by different Christian groups towards HIV/AIDS. This is especially important in the Pacific, where Christianity is the dominant worldview and where there has been a rapid spread of apocalyptic forms of Christianity, which may have particularly significant consequences for the epidemic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249-264
    JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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