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After the Exception: HIV/AIDS Beyond Salvation and Scarcity



Abstract:  Access to treatment for HIV/AIDS became a flashpoint for global justice struggles in the late 1990s. An expanding international response, premised to a significant extent on the idea of HIV/AIDS as an exceptional global problem, has since delivered treatment, care and prevention to growing numbers of people. HIV/AIDS exceptionalism, however, has increasingly been questioned, many aspects of the response have been critiqued and donor funding has started to decline. I argue that, having been framed as an exceptional humanitarian emergency, the question of HIV/AIDS as a global problem is increasingly located within a discourse of scarcity. Tracking the growing entanglement of global HIV/AIDS relief with neoliberal governmentality and the emergence of something I term therapeutic neoliberalism, I argue that the shift from a rationality of salvation to one of administration poses new challenges for global health activism. Questioning the discourse of scarcity remains essential to an alternative global health agenda.