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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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