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Competing Responsibilities: The Ethics and Politics of Contemporary Life

Edited by
Susanna Trnka
Susanna Trnka

Susanna Trnka is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Auckland and coeditor of Senses and Citizenships: Embodying Political Life.

Catherine Trundle is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington and coeditor of Detachment: Essays on the Limits of Relational Thinking.

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Catherine Trundle
Catherine Trundle

Susanna Trnka is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Auckland and coeditor of Senses and Citizenships: Embodying Political Life.

Catherine Trundle is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington and coeditor of Detachment: Essays on the Limits of Relational Thinking.

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-7305-6
Publication date:
2017
Book Chapter

The Politics of Responsibility in HIV

By
Barry D. Adam
Barry D. Adam
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Published:
March 2017

Responsibility for HIV transmission has been subject to a sociopolitical force field of contending stakeholders since the first identification of AIDS in 1981. Over time, the rhetoric of grassroots AIDS movements embraced an individualized notion of shared responsibility exhorting affected communities to protect themselves and each other. The health sector adopted a similar discourse compatible with a long-standing tradition of biomedical individualism by calling upon people as rational, calculating actors in a field of risk. The limits and side effects of the responsibilizing paradigm are revealed in the criminalization measures taken to enforce responsibility, particularly among people living with HIV. Social research also identifies conditions that undermine the realization of good citizens postulated by neoliberal discourse. Market discourse unanchors individual responsibility from the public good, and the corporate and state sectors exempt themselves from responsibility for remedying social conditions or providing prevention and treatment at reasonable cost.

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