Recent scholarship has conceptually reframed hiv-related stigma as a social rather than individual process that perpetuates and sustains relations of power that devalues persons living with hiv (plhiv). If hiv-stigma is perpetuated by social relationships that are embedded in socio-economic and political structures that insidiously exclude plhiv, and less by ‘spoiled’ individual identity, how does the widely referenced doctrine of the imago Dei inform efforts to mitigate structural forms of hiv-stigma? This paper examines Jürgen Moltmann’s trinitarian model of the imago Dei which suggests that humanity bears the image of the mutually supporting persons of the Trinity. A relationship that is characterized by radical equality that fosters participation in all facets of suffering—an impetus set by the hope established by Christ’s resurrection. It is this divine imago that incites the church to deliberately contradict identities that are spoiled by hiv with one that is of dignity and hope.
McDougallPilgrimage of Love p. 182. In the foreword of MacDougall’s book Moltmann wrote how his experiences at the Nazi death-camps of Treblinka and Majdanek led him to follow ‘the path of Christ’s passion and his descent into hell into such depths of evil that the concepts of sin guilt and godlessness were struck out of my hands . . . Can we grasp this reality with moral and traditional theological concepts?’ (Mc Dougall Pilgrimage of Love p. xiv).
Refer to Hickel (2012) for an excellent analysis of how high hiv prevalence in Swaziland has arguably been due to declining rates of economic growth formal employment and agricultural productivity have led to labour migration and transactional sex among poor households.