HIV Exceptionalism in Sierra Leone: Christiana’s Story
The book opens with a case study of a woman who died specifically from “not AIDS.” The argument of the book is primarily that the collection of HIV interventions that aim to mitigate the effects of the disease among HIV-positive people (particularly those interventions focused on modifying disclosure practices, changing sexual behavior, and encouraging visibility) entrench and reinforce HIV’s exceptional status. In addition to providing treatment options for people who meet certain clinical criteria, HIV care and support programs define and shape the process of “becoming HIV-positive.” Learning how to become HIV-positive entails rehearsing disclosure narratives and keeping up “appearances” (in the many senses of the word), which in turn enable and facilitate subjective experiences of exceptionality and hierarchy among the HIV-positive.
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