Chapter Six AIDS and Accusation: Haiti, Haitians, and the Geography of Blame

Paul Farmer

The Republic of Haiti's role in the AIDS epidemic has been unique and unenviable. In Blaming Others: Prejudice, Race and Worldwide AIDS, Sabatier ( 1988:44,48) notes that "two parts of the developing world, Haiti and Africa, have received widespread publicity as the possible birthplace of AIDS. Haiti, a Caribbean nation whose people are racially of African descent, was singled out first." Sabatier begins to document the effects of this quest for origins on a vast continent and on a tiny island nation. "Today," she concludes, "medical opinion has totally abandoned the idea that AIDS originated in Haiti." What transpired between hypothesis and conclusion? What effects did these speculations have on Haitians, in Haiti and abroad? This chapter attempts to answer these questions, and to describe one rural community's initial response to the advent of AIDS. When taken together, the large-scale and the local bring into sharp relief several methodological and ethical dilemmas often evaded in both biomedical and anthropological investigations of AIDS.


HAITI AND THE POLITICS OF RISK

"In the annals of medicine, this categorization of a nationality as a 'risk group' is unique" (Dr. Robert Auguste, Haitian Coalition on AIDS, December 1983). In November 1981, just a few months after what would later be termed AIDS was first reported in the medical literature, a number of Haitian immigrants had been seen in Florida hospitals with infections characteristic of the syndrome. Several more cases were soon reported among Haitians living in the New York area. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced, in July 1982, that 34 "Haitians residing in the United States" had been stricken with opportunistic infections (CDC 1982). In the same year, Canadian officials also

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Culture and AIDS
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter One - Introduction: Culture and Aids 1
  • Chapter Two - Aids in Cultural, Historic, and Epidemiologic Context 9
  • Notes 23
  • References 24
  • Chapter Three - the Sick Role, Stigma, and Pollution: the Case of Aids 29
  • Notes 42
  • References 43
  • Chapter Four - Assessing Viral, Parasitic, and Sociocultural Cofactors Affecting Hiv-1 Transmission in Rwanda 45
  • Note 51
  • References 51
  • Chapter Five - Aids and the Pathogenesis of Metaphor 55
  • Note 64
  • References 65
  • Chapter Six - Aids and Accusation: Haiti, Haitians, and the Geography of Blame 67
  • Notes 88
  • References 89
  • Chapter Seven - Prostitute Women and the Ideology of Work in London 93
  • Notes 108
  • References 109
  • Chapter Eight Minority Women and Aids: Culture, Race, and Gender 111
  • Notes 128
  • References 131
  • Chapter Nine Language and Aids 137
  • Notes 157
  • References 158
  • Chapter Ten Aids and Obituaries: the Perpetuation of Stigma in the Press 159
  • References 168
  • Chapter Eleven Sex, Politics, and Guilt: A Study of Homophobia and the Aids Phenomenon 169
  • Note 181
  • References 181
  • Chapter Twelve Increasing the Cost of Living: Class and Exploitation in the Delivery of Social Services to Persons with Aids 183
  • Notes 198
  • References 201
  • Chapter Thirteen Postscript: Anthropology and Aids 205
  • Note 208
  • References 208
  • Index 209
  • ABOUT THE EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTORS 215
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