Take a Stand: The End of AIDS

The Take a Stand (TAS) initiative on the ‘End of AIDS’ is happy to announce that its TAS statement has now been published in the journal Global Public Health. This was one of several TAS initiatives coordinated by the Critical Anthropology of Global Health Special Interest Group (SIG) this past year. Nora Kenworthy, Matthew Thomann and Richard Parker co-chaired this committee and published the statement with input and feedback from many other scholars in the CAGH.


More details below.

Nora Kenworthy, Matthew Thomann & Richard Parker.  (2017). “From a global crisis to the ‘end of AIDS’: New epidemics of signification”Global Public Health, DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2017.1365373


In the past decade, discourses about AIDS have taken a remarkable, and largely unquestioned, turn. Whereas mobilisations for treatment scale-up during the 2000s were premised on perceptions of an ‘epidemic out of control’, we have repeatedly been informed in more recent years that an end to AIDS is immanent. This new discourse and its resulting policies are motivated by post-recession financial pressures, a changing field of global institutions, and shifting health and development priorities. These shifts also reflect a biomedical triumphalism in HIV prevention and treatment, whereby shorter term, privatised, technological, and ‘cost-effective’ interventions are promoted over long-term support for antiretroviral treatment. To explore these changes, we utilise Treichler’s view of AIDS as an ‘epidemic of signification’ to develop a review of ‘End of AIDS’ discourses in recent years. We use this review to investigate the political and philanthropic interests served by efforts to rebrand and re-signify the epidemic. We also hold up these discourses against the realities of treatment access in resource-poor countries, where ‘Ending AIDS’ has not heralded the end of an epidemic per se, but rather the end of external support for treatment programmes, highlighting new difficulties for sustaining treatment in this new era of the epidemic.