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In 2000 Robert Garner, a British anthropologist who became an AIDS activist, prefaced an article on the effect of religious affiliation on sexual behaviour in an AIDS-stricken South African township with the comment that the religious perspective was a “virtual foreigner” in the literature on AIDS (Garner, 2000: 41).
Among the three hundred and seventy-six publications considered here, only thirteen were not in English: eight in Dutch, three in French and two in German.
A rapid survey using other sources of information revealed the existence of at least four French publications absent from the database (Fancello, 2007; Gomez-Perez, 2011; Tonda, 2007; Tourneux and Métangmo-Tatou, 2007).
The number of journal articles, books, chapters of books and academic dissertations on HIV/AIDS and religion has risen to considerable heights since Garner’s call for more attention to religion in AIDS research. To take only one example, two papers on HIV/AIDS and religion had been read (in French) at a social science conference on “Experiencing and Understanding AIDS in Africa” in 1996 in Dakar (Tonda, 1999; Gruénais, 1999).
In South Africa theologians had started to reflect on HIV/AIDS since the early 1990s (Denis, 2011: 62).
Two research networks on HIV/AIDS and religion were established in 2007, with no relationship with each other initially.
First came the Collaborative HIV and AIDS, Religion and Theology (CHART), a platform for theologians and scholars of religion working in the field of HIV/AIDS based at the School of Religion and Theology, University of Kwa Zulu-Natal.Only the journal articles and books published in the first months of 2013 were available for description.With this in mind we obtain a total of three hundred and seventy-six publications on HIV/AIDS and religion in Africa (in fact sub-Saharan Africa).In 2012 in Washington DC an Interfaith Pre-Conference on HIV gathered hundreds of religious leaders, researchers and activists at Howard University. It starts with a quantitative analysis of the bibliographic data collected by CHART.Also worthy of note is the fact that no less than four review articles on matters related to HIV/AIDS and religion in Africa (Campbell This paper, which builds on previous research on the history of HIV/AIDS and religion in sub-Saharan Africa (Denis, 2009; 2011), does not claim to be a systematic review of the literature in the field. In a second section the publications deemed to be the most significant during the past seven years are briefly described.Roughly 40% of all entries concern this region, the rest being shared between publications of a general nature and texts on the United States (essentially the African-American community), Europe, Latin America and Asia.Table 1: Publications indexed in the CHART Bibliographic Database (2007-2013) The literature on HIV/AIDS and religion in Northern Africa and the Middle East is almost non-existent.A second observation is that the number of publications on HIV/AIDS and religion tends to decrease from year to year in the period under review.An analysis of the geographical distribution of the publications on HIV/AIDS and religion in sub-Saharan Africa that are indexed in the CHART database (Table 2) shows the preponderance of research on eastern and southern Africa.How big the gap exactly is, however, is difficult to establish.Another limitation of the CHART Online Bibliographic Database relates to academic dissertations.