Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Health & Fitness Aids & Hiv

Love in the Time of AIDS

Inequality, Gender, and Rights in South Africa

by (author) Mark Hunter

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2010
AIDS & HIV, Gender Studies, Developing Countries
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2010
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2010
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


In some parts of South Africa, more than one in three people are HIV positive. Love in the Time of AIDS explores transformations in notions of gender and intimacy to try to understand the roots of this virulent epidemic. By living in an informal settlement and collecting love letters, cell phone text messages, oral histories, and archival materials, Mark Hunter details the everyday social inequalities that have resulted in untimely deaths. Hunter shows how first apartheid and then chronic unemployment have become entangled with ideas about femininity, masculinity, love, and sex and have created an economy of exchange that perpetuates the transmission of HIV/AIDS. This sobering ethnography challenges conventional understandings of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

About the author

Mark Hunter is a lawyer and a member of the Bar of Ontario.

Mark Hunter's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The book is rich in ethnographic detail, especially life stories, and very convincing in its analysis.

This is a sobering and complex book, and the powerful ethnographic excavation of the multiple factors transforming everyday intimacy in contemporary South Africa is a testament to Hunter's skills as a researcher and author.

Gender, Place & Culture

Many books continue to be written on the phenomenon of AIDS. Most of these limit themselves to particular facets of this multifaceted disease. Love in the time of AIDS attempts, and achieves, a remarkable comprehensiveness.

English Academy Review

Hunter's book deserves the widest possible audience—for its superb methodology and handling of its sources and materials as much as for its powerful and moving account of one of the worst public health disasters of modern times.

Progress in Development Studies

Hunter writes skilfully, building on important topics to explain the many layers of influence on the everyday worlds of people affected by HIV/AIDS. This powerful and complex book would appeal to anthropologists interested in historical ethnographies or HIV/AIDS and also to those in public health with an interest in understanding sexual behaviours that can contribute to HIV/AIDS.

Mark Hunter's Love in the Time of AIDS is one of the most important books on AIDS in Africa that has been published so far. . . . Among its many virtues, Mark Hunter's book does well in reminding us that, though often difficult, even in the hardest conditions love is possible.

African Studies Review

Hunter avoids economism through demonstrating the real emotions of love and intimacy among women and men linked in a devastating HIV epidemic. His study is a 21st century classic.

Mark Hunter's work is an important contribution to the historical and anthropological literature on the South African HIV/AIDS epidemic and should be considered required reading for scholars and graduate students interested in the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of post-apartheid South Africa.

Journal of African History

Love in the Time of AIDS is an exceptional book. . . . [It] challenges dominant assumptions about the spread of AIDS and foregrounds the real everyday lives of people in contexts of deep poverty and violence. . . . This book is a must read for all those who recognise AIDS beyond epidemiology.

Global Public Health

Love in the Time of AIDS shows that detailed ethnographic works are no longer the preserve of anthropologists. The monograph is written in an accessible style, makes excellent use of case material, and shows the importance of taking local isiZulu concepts seriously.


C]ontribute[s] a stirring history of the present of South Africa, and of the unequal world of which it has been and remains a materially and ideologically formative part.

South African Historical Journal

In this timely and important book, Hunter interrogates misperceptions about AIDS, sexuality, human rights, and gender injustices that perpetuate harmful constructions of African sexuality. Challenging the assumption that Africa is 'loveless,' an emancipatory concept typically reserved for those living in modern Western democracies . . . Hunter restores questions of love, tenderness, and intimacy in this rich ethnography of gender and sexuality in South Africa.

American Journal of Sociology

Other titles by Mark Hunter