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Secrecy, stigma and HIV/AIDS: An introduction

Graeme Reid
Liz Walker


paper situates the articles selected for this special issue of AJAR within the
context of the Sex and Secrecy conference, from which they emerged and within
the discourse of secrecy. Secrecy and silence which have characterised the
HIV/AIDS epidemic in many societies, have been the focus of limited academic
attention. Yet the power of the secret is evident in multiple spheres. This
introduction uses the lens of secrecy to enhance our understanding of
sexuality. One of the themes which ran throughout these papers was that of
stigma and its links to secrecy and HIV/AIDS. The papers reviewed in this
introduction highlight an alarming paradox. There is a high level of HIV
awareness and unparalleled public attention around matters of sexuality and yet
the authors in this special issue all point to the enormity of stigma and its

denial, power, sexuality, shame, silence

  African Journal of AIDS Research
2003, 2(2): 85–88