Theses Doctoral

Takin' It On: Communicating AIDS Through Universal Templates in Guyana

Carlson, Linnea Marie

This dissertation is based on an anthropological research project that was conducted over a period of eight months in Guyana, South America. The exploratory study used ethnographic methodologies, including participant observation of voluntary HIV counseling sessions, 50 in-depth interviews with HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients, and 10 in-depth interviews with doctors, nurses, counselors, government officials, and program administrators who work in HIV programs in Guyana. In addition, a range of other HIV program and policy materials were analyzed with regard to the risk and prevention messages being promoted among vulnerable individuals in Guyana. Research questions guiding the study were: How is AIDS contextualized in the rhetoric of local governments, regional laboratory centers, and international donors in the Caribbean? How do these entities collectively and individually shape conceptions of HIV risk, individual responsibility, and prevention in a local VCT program in Guyana? How do patients and providers in the local clinical setting interpret and utilize these concepts in their interactions with each other, their families, and their communities?
The study used two U.S. government-funded HIV prevention projects as case studies for understanding the use of "universal templates" among vulnerable populations in Guyana: (1) a CDC-sponsored mobile HIV testing unit and (2) a USAID-sponsored Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program. Findings focused on the disconnect between the HIV prevention messages to "Abstain. Be Faithful. Wear a Condom." and the lived experiences and realities of primarily Afro-Guyanese women who find it difficult to adopt these behavior changes. Recommendations for program policy changes and suggestions for future research are included.

Geographic Areas



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Hopper, Kim J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 6, 2014