Rejecting or prioritizing life? The ambiguities of aids biopolitics in Uruguay

Hanspeter Reihling About the author

The biopolitics of aids in Uruguay could be seen between two big poles: the investment and the rejection of life. The productive mode can be expressed in the treatment of children who contracted HIV through mother to child transmission. For these children the infection in many cases becomes an asset until they reach adolescence. Except of some efforts of forced detention and mandatory testing, the public health system as well as NGOs show little interest in assisting adolescence infected or affected by HIV/aids. This is the result of a moral economy which marks people who are able to transmit the virus sexually or who have contracted it through sexual intercourse. Especially HIV positive mothers are seen as irresponsible and dangerous in contraposition to their "pure" offspring. However, this moral discourse hardly takes into account the larger social and economic context in which those mothers contracted the virus and as they faced Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). The life history of an adolescent boy will be told in order to reflect upon the modes of inclusion and exclusion of people living with HIV/aids since the beginning of the epidemic in Uruguay. Although the case is not representative, it identifies dynamics within the Uruguayan health system which are difficult to discern through conventional statistical methods.

Biopolitics; HIV; Citizenship; Adolescence

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