Since the early days of the AIDS epidemic, many bizarre and
dangerous hypotheses have been advanced to explain the origins of
the disease. In this compelling book, Nicoli Nattrass explores the
social and political factors prolonging the erroneous belief that
the American government manufactured the human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) to be used as a biological weapon, as well as the
myth's consequences for behavior, especially within African
American and black South African communities.
Contemporary AIDS denialism, the belief that HIV is harmless and
that antiretroviral drugs are the true cause of AIDS, is a more
insidious AIDS conspiracy theory. Advocates of this position make a
"conspiratorial move" against HIV science by implying its methods
cannot be trusted and that untested, alternative therapies are
safer than antiretrovirals. These claims are genuinely
life-threatening, as tragically demonstrated in South Africa when
the delay of antiretroviral treatment resulted in nearly 333,000
AIDS deaths and 180,000 HIV infections -- a tragedy of stunning
Nattrass identifies four symbolically powerful figures ensuring
the lifespan of AIDS denialism: the hero scientist (dissident
scientists who lend credibility to the movement); the cultropreneur
(alternative therapists who exploit the conspiratorial move as a
marketing mechanism); the living icon (individuals who claim to be
living proof of AIDS denialism's legitimacy); and the praise-singer
(journalists who broadcast movement messages to the public).
Nattrass also describes how pro-science activists have fought back
by deploying empirical evidence and political credibility to resist
AIDS conspiracy theories, which is part of the crucial project to
defend evidence-based medicine.
Subjects: Political Science, Health Sciences
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.