Language and the blame game in global HIV policy

I am loving this post by Alice Welbourn on the 50.50 blog at openDemocracy.

Some UN documents, such as the 2013 WHO HIV treatment Guidelines, seek for us to “achieve viral suppression” and if we don’t, health staff –  even some male activists with HIV – brand us as “defaulters”, “failures” “wasting resources” and worse, with their targets and goals unmet. Susan Sontag wrote of this “blame the victim” mode long ago and nothing has changed. Even the phrase “lost to follow up” and “treatment-naïve patients” also make us sound somehow – well – naïve, careless and thoughtless, as if there might not be key intentional reasons for our “failure” to return to a clinic. In a recent trial in South Africa, where it was discovered that young women participants had not in fact made use of a tablet and gel that were being trialed when they said they had, they were deemed by the researchers to have ruined the trial by “lying”.  As Professor Ida Susser explains: “when a study fails, we must be careful not to imply that the subjects are at fault. My analysis of the study suggests, rather, that research design was to blame.”

Read the full article here.

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