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Science, Politics, and the Presidential Aids 'Cure'

Cassidy, Rebecca, Leach, Melissa (2009) Science, Politics, and the Presidential Aids 'Cure'. African Affairs, 108 (433). pp. 559-580. ISSN 0001-9909. (doi:10.1093/afraf/adp057) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:77722)

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In early 2007 the President of a small African country announced his ‘cure’ for AIDS based on herbal, Islamic, and traditional medicine, resulting in the enrolment of several hundred people testing HIV-positive. This unleashed an ongoing yet remarkably silent controversy around AIDS treatment. The emergence of the presidential treatment can be understood in the political and scientific context of recent global AIDS funding and programming, and longstanding tensions between ‘foreign’ and local concerns with biomedicine and research. Framed in terms of appeals to tradition, ethnicity, religion, nation, and pan-Africanism, the President's programme appears diametrically opposed to mainstream scientific discourses. Yet in promoting and garnering support for his claims, this President has successfully co-opted and harnessed key elements of biomedical AIDS treatment discourse: in claims to identity as a doctor, and in deploying CD4 and viral load counts and personal testimonies as evidence of treatment efficacy. Uncertainty over how to interpret such evidence amongst vulnerable people living with HIV has encouraged many to volunteer. Such politics of science, along with the threatening political and security practices of this particular state, help explain why to date there has been so little overt criticism of the President's programme either within the country or internationally.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/afraf/adp057
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administrations (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Depositing User: Rebecca Cassidy
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2019 07:47 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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