Hannah Fuchs & Karl-Heinz Leven: AIDS & Haiti – Discourses on Origin, Stigma, and Blame. [Abstract]

The article focuses on the scientific discourse on the origin of AIDS and the distribution of the disease and the HI virus between the United States (US) and Haiti. After the syndrome later called AIDS had first been described in 1981, several risk groups were named by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, among them recent Haitian immigrants to the US. As the scientific world developed theories on the origin of the new disease – and, after its discovery, the HI virus – members of the scientific community deemed a spread from Haiti to the US possible. Others considered a distribution vice versa more likely, namely that the disease might have moved from the US to Haiti. This study analyses the scientific discourse in mostly medical publications released between the years 1982 and 2016. They include research papers, letters to the editor in medical journals, anthologies or monographs, and publications of the CDC. It addresses not only the way the disease’s origin was discussed, but also the underlying – and resulting – narratives of stigma and blame. The article aims to contribute to a better understanding of the elements shaping discourses in the scientific world when facing a newly emerging infectious disease, and the social implications these discourses have.

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