AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame
by Paul Farmer
Does the scientific "theory" that HIV came to North America from Haiti stem from underlying attitudes of racism and ethnocentrism in the USA rather ... Show synopsis Does the scientific "theory" that HIV came to North America from Haiti stem from underlying attitudes of racism and ethnocentrism in the USA rather than from hard evidence? Anthropologist-physician Paul Farmer answers in the affirmative with this, the first full-length ethnographic study of AIDS in a poor society. Farmer was present when the first case of AIDS was registered in the rural Haitian village of Kay, a peasant community rendered particularly vulnerable to AIDS, he maintains, by extreme poverty. With moving directness, Farmer tells what happened when this society was invaded by a mysterious and deadly plague. He follows the case histories of three afflicted individuals, linking their experience to large-scale forces that have shaped the AIDS pandemic. How, he asks, did HIV come to Haiti, and when did it arrive? How far has it spread? How is it transmitted, and who is at risk? What might explain the profusion of theories about a Haitian origin of AIDS? His search for answers reaches into the domains of epidemiology, history, and political economy. Farmer brings into sharp focus the relation of AIDS to poverty and racism, and the responsibility of scientists and policy makers to develop a more global awareness of this infectious disease that "runs along the fault lines of our international order".