Patricia D. Siplon is professor of political science at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont. A two-time Fulbright Scholar (to Tanzania in 2005 and Jordan in 2011–12), her research, teaching, and advocacy interests have evolved from a focus on HIV/AIDS politics, policy, and activism in the United States to include health, water, and gender issues in developing countries. She is the author of AIDS and the Policy Struggle in the United States, coauthor with Raymond Smith of Drugs into Bodies, and coeditor with Paul G. Harris of The Global Politics of AIDS.
Conventional wisdom usually argues that academic research should be conducted with the highest level of objectivity possible. I seek to turn that argument on its head and suggest that taking sides, even pursuing activist tactics, in support of our subjects' goals may be not only desirable but also the most ethical option. Drawing on my own experiences with research and activism in HIV/AIDS, first in the United States and later in East Africa, I present the case for the mutually beneficial relationship between scholarship and activism.