Experience of Illness and Disability

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The case in question deals with a woman that has various roles, labels and statuses both ascribed and prescribed upon her. Firstly, her role and status as a woman gives way to various presumptions, both phenomenological and borne from social constructions. Being a woman has various functions and relegated places within society, depending on which sociological theory is used as a tool for analysis. However, Liz’s case is not solely confined to the trappings of being a woman in a society.

Aside from this role/status, Liz is also a mother, an African and of utmost concern in this case study, a person with HIV/AIDS. For purposes of this essay, the term ‘HIV/AIDS patient’ will be used in referring to Liz’s status as a victim to the disease. The previously-mentioned statuses and roles have been in place since society had been formed. Being a woman, a mother and an African had been ascribed to countless individuals since time immemorial. However, the status of HIV/AIDS patient has only emerged during the later years of the previous century.

But this does not mean that the status is not ascribed to countless individuals. Studies conducted by the United Nations have shown that 33. 2 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS as of December 2007 (UNAIDS 2007). Among these 33. 2 million people, the same studies estimated the number of women who suffer from the disease at 15. 4 million (UNAIDS 2007). Thus as society moves through various stages of economic and industrial development, new statuses and conditions emerge.

Among these is the status of HIV/AIDS patient, which, though primarily ascribed because of the disease, has so many other ascriptions and social constructions surrounding it. Another important feature of Liz’s case would be her native land. This has a crucial connection to her status as an HIV/AIDS patient. Sub-Saharan Africa, or the regions of Africa that are located below the Sahara desert, has been declared the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (UNAIDS 2007). Here, 22. 5 million of all reported cases of HIV/AIDS can be located (UNAIDS 2007).

If one would analyze the figures, there are more people with the disease living in this region than there are women with the same disease all over the world. This number does not include the Africans who have subsequently moved out of the said region and have settled down elsewhere. Liz is part of these Africans, who had been lucky (or even unlucky, as will be shown in later sections of the essay) to leave the epidemic region for other places. Along with being the center of infection in the world, Africa has also been victim to drought, tribal wars and disaster.

Those with HIV/AIDS living in the area also have to deal with lack of food, water and adequate living facilities, let alone the medication they need for the disease. In the analysis of this case, the implications of being an HIV/AIDS patient will be surfaced and understood through the use of various sociological theories and concepts, as well as an examination of society’s reaction and treatment of the patients within the context of social norms and other roles and statuses.

Using Liz, this analysis will seek to shed light on the predicament that society imposes on people who are women, mothers, African and HIV/AIDS positive. HIV/AIDS The primary focus of this essay would certainly be the illness or the disability that the individual experiences. In this case, HIV/AIDS would be the illness of primary focus.

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