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Abstract

This paper was initiated as an effort to improve our understanding of health-seeking behaviour in individuals with sexually transmitted infections. It quickly became apparent that the social, cultural, economic, biological and political issues that influence health-seeking behaviour in individuals with sexually transmitted infections greatly differed from those who have or had other diseases. Through a critique of the most current model describing sexually transmitted infection health-seeking behaviour developed by Aral and Wasserheit (1999), this paper presents a focused argument for an anthropology of sexually transmitted infections. The Aral and Wasserheit (1999) model fails to significantly describe the health-seeking behaviour of individuals infected with more than one sexually transmitted infection simultaneously. By examining aspects of pathocenosis and epidemiological synergy, it was found that the complex interactions between syphilis and HIV/AIDS changes the way we should study health-seeking behaviour for individuals with sexually transmitted infections in general. Therefore, while examining the syphilis/HIV paradigm, it became clear that an anthropology of sexually transmitted infections is in fact necessary.

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