The competing discourses of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa: discourses of rights and empowerment vs discourses of control and exclusion

Soc Sci Med. 1993 Feb;36(3):175-94. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(93)90002-l.


The competing discourses of HIV/AIDS circulating in sub-Saharan Africa are identified. These are medical, medico-moral, developmental (distinguishing between 'women in development' and gender and development perspectives), legal, ethical, and the rights discourse of groups living with HIV/AIDS and of African pressure groups. The analytical framework is that of discourse analysis as exemplified by Michel Foucault. The medical and medico-moral are identified as dominant. They shape the perceptions of the pandemic, our responses to it, and to those living with HIV/AIDS. However, dissident activist voices are fracturing the dominant frameworks, and are mobilising a struggle for meaning around definitions of gender, rights, and development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Africa, Eastern
  • Africa, Southern
  • Culture
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • HIV Infections*
  • Human Rights*
  • Humans
  • Marriage
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy