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“You will ask me: which am I?”: the clinical practice of Chagas as a latent risk

Abstract

Drawing on observation-based ethnography, interviews of health personnel and document review, this article describes and examines how, in clinical handling of Chagas disease, infection is treated as latent risk. It suggests that how this risk is managed has enabled a clinical practice to be conducted among people classified as at the indeterminate stage, by adding a dimension of possibility (Is it going to happen?) and potentiality (When and where?). This allows measures to be taken, including administration of medication or permanent monitoring. The reification of latent risk as a phenomenon that is manageable through a process of medicalisation engages, in turn, with other conceptions and specific experiences of risk among the affected groups. Framing the clinical practices deployed to address this risk as objects of study is a first step towards being able to describe and include them concretely in health system organisation.

Key words:
Risk; Chagas disease; Medical practice; Biomedicine; Public health

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