Centre for Social Science and Global Health

A Disease Unlike Any Other? Why HIV Remains Exceptional in the Age of Treatment

This special issue explores the tensions between individuals and institutions pressing for routinization and normalization of HIV in multiple settings in North America and east and southern Africa, by focusing on case studies.

Since 1996, when effective antiretroviral-based therapies (ARTs) first became available to treat HIV, various discursive, legal, health policy, and institutional moves have been made to reframe HIV as a chronic disease that should be treated ‘like any other.’ Arguments for this framing have come from diverse positions, including AIDS activists who want to challenge stigma; medical professionals who want HIV patients to be treated like other patients, with a diminished focus on consent and confidentiality; health administrators, who want to routinize and integrate HIV care into existing programs; public health policymakers who want to test and treat as many people as possible in the shortest period of time; and international donors who want to break with the 30-year-long crisis framing of HIV responses, and to push national governments to incorporate HIV care into existing public health budgets and strategies.

Despite these efforts to ‘normalize’ HIV, the experiences of those infected, as well as many of those involved in providing care and support to the infected, demonstrate that the disease continues to be seen as exceptional.

Publication details

Edited by Eileen Moyer, Anita Hardon 
Medical Anthropology
Vol. 33, Iss. 4, 2014 

Published by  SSGH

15 November 2016