New biomedical technologies and public health strategies are being tested world-wide with the goal of eradicating the HIV epidemic. Achieving a world without AIDS has become the flagship of the vast global health apparatus, rallying governments, international organisations, philanthropic and pharmaceutical capital, research networks and activists. Mass screening and treatment, preventive drugs and gels, and molecular maps of sexual networks have shifted the biomedical paradigm from one of control to one of eradication. The biopolitical armamentarium of the push to eradicate may inadvertently enable unexpected biological, cultural, social and political transformations. Mass treatment and preventive drugs require very high levels of compliance to achieve the desired public health effects, foreshadowing the coercive potential of eradication efforts. Intensified mapping of “most at-risk populations” marks a shift from the existing emphasis on rights and empowerment to one of surveillance and discipline. As these approaches remain unproven, eradication constitutes a global public health experiment of unprecedented proportions, whose outcomes will shape global health efforts for decades to come. Eradication efforts to rid the world of HIV are attempts to order nature as revealed through a global epidemic, putting them squarely at the centre of anthropological concern. The two overarching questions are: what will HIV eradication efforts achieve? What are the reasons for the outcome, be it partial success or partial failure? To answer these questions, a multi-sited ethnography will be conducted in Africa, Europe and North America of the science and politics of HIV eradication. It will focus on the testing, preparation, and implementation of the three key technologies of HIV eradication: universal testing and mass treatment, molecular mapping of sexual and social networks.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeERC-CG - ERC Consolidator Grants