close button

Sovereign Sun

Annotated Bibliography #2

Posted OnOctober 25, 2017 23:00


AIDS As an International Political Issue : A Selection From AIDS Between Science and Politics

Piot, Peter. AIDS As an International Political Issue : A Selection From AIDS Between Science and Politics. Columbia University Press, 2014. EBSCOhost,

In this eBook, Peter Piot, the founding executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), describes and analyzes the reactions of international organizations and national governments to the AIDS public health crisis. He also explains the methods he used throughout the world to promote progressive political agendas that would fight AIDS.

According to Piot, many international organizations did not initially perceive AIDS as a serious issue. In 1985, the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Mahler, “declared that not too much attention should be paid to AIDS”. Even though the Denver Principles, which outlined the rights of people with AIDS, were declared in 1983, there was no “declaration at a top global political level to demand worldwide mobilization against AIDS” until the UN General Assembly in 1987. Africa, home of the people most affected by HIV, did not have associations and organizations representing the affected people until the 1990s. UNAIDS, officially the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, was not founded until 1995. According to the author, significant factors to the delays in international responses were ideological debates, conflicts within UN agencies, and uncoordinated support of local programs. He also points out the progress that has been made and the nations that were proactive in dealing with the crisis. He mentions the openness about sexuality in Brazil allowed it to directly address the issue of HIV. It became the first undeveloped nation to offer free antiretroviral treatment in 1996. In 1999 “President Fernando Henrique Cardoso did not bow to the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut the public AIDS treatment program”. Piot later on discusses the “tipping point” in 2000/2001, where he recognizes “a turning point in the global fight against AIDS”, which saw the creation of many regional and global initiatives and serious discussions about the crisis in the UN.

Through first-hand experience, Piot details methods of influencing government policies. He claims that since the reactions to the AIDS crisis very by nation and culture, one must “analyze national policy development or advocacy in their historical and cultural contexts” to be able to influence the political stance towards AIDS of any nation. He presents China as an example, arguing that policy in that nation can mainly be influenced through “dialogue with the Communist Party” rather than “through civil society or the media as in many other countries”.

This source is useful because it exposes the reactions the international community had to AIDS as a whole, and details the intricacies of dealing with cultural predispositions and ideologies. It features a lot of detailed analysis correlating the cultures, trends, and political attitudes of regions and their responses to AIDS/HIV. It also provides an informative perspective from a scientist that is an expert in the field and involved in international health organizations. It is a very credible source since it was published by the Columbia University Press and was written by Peter Piot, a respected Belgian microbiologist researcher. There might be some bias since Piot is a scientist, which might cause him to devalue the human rights approach to the issue of AIDS policy, and the founding executive director of UNAIDS, which might cause him to prioritize discussing its accomplishments over the initiatives of other organizations.


Miss HIV: Overcoming AIDS in Africa

Miss HIV: Overcoming AIDS in Africa. [San Francisco, California, USA] : Kanopy Streaming, 2016. 2016. EBSCOhost,

This documentary explores the AIDS crisis in Africa and the stigma surrounding the topic in African cultures while following the event of the “Miss HIV Pageant”. Through narration, interviews, and clips of conferences the film exposes the danger that comes with making AIDS a taboo topic, by showing the deaths and negative cultural ideologies it creates.

The narrator in the film explains that the many years it took for the African population to realize the cause behind the deaths of African young adults “shrouded the disease in fear, superstition, and stigma beyond the experience of any western culture.” Gaelebale Thabang tells the story of her sister, who died in 1998. Gaelebale explains that “she could have been helped if she could have just said” that she was HIV positive. Unfortunately many young people in Africa decide to hide their situation due to the criticism and humiliation that occurs in their local societies. The ridiculous extent of this issue is shown through a clip of an event in which Melinda Gates claims that even though many clinics in Botswana provide free antiretrovirals, most people avoid going due to the stigma surrounding AIDS.

On the contrary, Uganda, which was able to lower the rate of adults infected with the HIV virus from 15% to 6% in less than two decades, was more open to talking about AIDS and fighting against it. The government developed an “A, B, C” program (Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms), which contradicted many Western methods for HIV prevention, but correlated to the conservative African attitudes towards sex. This led to a big clash between Western and African ideology, since many developed nations and international organizations considered the “ABC” approach a violation of human rights and especially a hazard to women’s health.

I decided to use this source because it provides plentiful interviews with experts and African locals which outline the cultural and political stances of African nations on AIDS. This source complements the analysis of my third source, the article “A Muted Response to AIDS” by the Los Angeles Times, since they have identical topics from similar viewpoints. It is a credible source since the film was presented in multiple film festivals  and was produced by the EthnoGraphic Media Productions which has created multiple documentaries. It also features many interviews with experts on the topic and presents the opinions of both cultural sides on AIDS/HIV policy. There might be bias involved in the information presented since the production company is Western and the statistics used were sometimes outdated.


The video was embedded in HTML through the code provided on


A Muted Response to AIDS

Dixon, Robyn. “A Muted Response to AIDS.” Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2004. LA Times,

The article investigates the harsh reality of the stigma and superstitions surrounding AIDS in South Africa. Due to the shame associated with the illness, the misguided beliefs of the locals, and the lack of governmental response, the death rate has rose in 2004 to make AIDS the “nation’s No. 1 killer”.

The government’s slow response to the AIDS crisis seems to have been the biggest factor in the ineffectiveness of any initiative. The African National Congress government “promised a comprehensive AIDS treatment policy”, but it took 10 years to arrive. Shipments of free antiretroviral medicines were taking months to arrive. The newly elected President at the time, Thabo Mbeki, even “questioned whether the human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS and whether the antiretroviral drugs widely used in the developed world help or hurt”.

This lack of governmental support led to a large part of the population to pursue non-scientific solutions. Locals such as Flora Mogano would provide “cures” such as faith healing and vitamin pills. Sometimes such techniques seemed to be the only solutions, since medication was unaffordable for many.

Finally, the issue that seems to plague all of Africa to this day, was the stigma surrounding AIDS. The article mentions health workers claiming that “families often reject patients, children taunt their sick parents and spouses conceal their HIV status from each other”. The fear of humiliation caused patients to deny treatment or testing, and have delusions about the source of their contraction.

This article is useful because it provides the opinions and stories about AIDS of local South Africans, and summarizes the stigma and governmental response of the nation in 2004. The article has many similar themes with the documentary “Miss HIV: Overcoming AIDS in Africa”. It is a credible source since it was published by the Los Angeles Times, a well-known news organization, and references lots of interviews and facts. It also presents the opinions of those who are do not believe in purely scientific solutions to the AIDS crisis, therefore providing multiple perspectives on the topic. There might be some bias involved, since the journalist seems critical of the South African government and the traditional healers.


HIV in World Cultures : Three Decades of Representations

Subero, Gustavo. HIV in World Cultures : Three Decades of Representations. Farnham, Surrey : Ashgate, [2013], 2013.

This book provides extensive examples on the artistic reactions of world cultures to HIV along with interpretations on the way AIDS was perceived in each region. The main cultures discussed are the North American, the Hispanic, and the African ones. I decided to focus on three chapters: “Mapping Hetero/Homo-sexuality on the Caribbean, Male, HIV Body”,”Mapping the HIV Body in Contemporary Latin American Theatre”, and “Representing HIV/AIDS in Africa: Pluralist Photography and Local Empowerment”.

Subero analyzes the reaction of the Caribbean to the gay community after being put on the spotlight through the AIDS crisis. He notices attempts to change the perception of masculinity in the Haitian and Cuban film scene, and HIV being presented as a “sublime experience” through film characters that are “defined through their positive status”.

In Latin American theatre, Subero notices motifs such as “the demonization of the transmission of the virus” and “decomposing bodies”. He provides a lot of evidence to back his observations, such as the demonstration of “the HIV-positive body as a weapon and, simultaneously, as a poisonous organism” in “Unicornios” by Aldo Miyashiro (“I’m dying Francis, but I’m not dying alone, I’ll take down everyone who was a son of a bitch with me.” , page 74) and the repeated references to decomposition in “Sudario” by Roberto Yeras (“Tomorrow I’ll be rotting. Slowly. The worms. My useless skin. One farewell.” , page 67).

Another important topic Subero discusses is the use of photography to communicate concepts related to the AIDS/HIV crisis in Africa. Specifically he analyzes the Western media stereotypes of Africa promoted by photography, the use of humanistic representations to convey suffering, and “local representation through pluralist photography”. Bellow is one of the pictures he uses as an example when discussing African pluralist photography. The picture shows a young African girl presented with a fancy appearance and an interpretation of a luxurious home, showing the perception of the director’s (Tenanesh Kifyalew) perception of a comfortable and ideal life.

Eric Gottesman, photo directed by Tenanesh Kifyalew, If I Had My Own House, inkjet print, 2004

I chose this source because of its enormous amount of content and its interesting artistic approaches to analyzing cultural attitudes towards AIDS. It is especially useful because it has information on the cultural reactions of Latin America, which is something the rest of my sources do not go into to detail about. It also complements the previous information on African culture, found in the documentary “Miss HIV: Overcoming AIDS in Africa” and the article “A Muted Response to AIDS”. The source is credible since it is published by Ashgate Publishing, a respected company in the U.K., and is written by Gustavo Subero, who is a researcher in Queer Studies, Visual Studies and Film at the University of Edinburgh.


HIV Prevalence for Adult Populations

“AIDSinfo.” UNAIDS, Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

Screenshot of the adult HIV prevalence rate by country map for 2014 (

The interactive webpage contains a variety of statistical data related to the AIDS/HIV, including contributing factors and heavily affected demographic groups. I specifically utilized the interactive map which displayed the HIV prevalence rates in adults by country in order to understand the magnitude of the AIDS crisis in each country and region. I also used the map to analyze the data presented in my sixth source, the data on “Facilities with HIV Testing and Counselling” by the WHO. By setting the map to display data for the year 2014, I was able to interpret the correlation between the HIV rates and the facility availability for each country (further analysis provided on the annotated bibliography bellow).

The map is very simple to use. On the bottom right, a legend is displayed, showing the percentage range of HIV rates each color filling indicates. Pink indicates less than 0.3 %, light red indicates 0.3 – 0.6 %, dark red indicates 0.6 – 1.7 %, and burgundy indicates over 1.7 %. Additionally, grey indicates that there was no data for that country that year. The average rate and margin of error for each country can be shown by hovering over the specific country or by searching its name using the search box in the top right. The demographic of the population being used can be changed with the drop-down menu on the top left. The available selections are adults, male adults, female adults, young men, and young women.

The source is credible since it is based on data collected by specialists working for the international organization UNAIDS. The source isn’t entirely reliable and unbiased since many countries lack any data and certain countries only have data for certain years. For example the site provides estimates for the U.S.A. only between 2008 and 2014.


Facilities with HIV Testing and Counselling

“WHO | Facilities with HIV Testing and Counselling.” WHO, Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

The webpage contains a map and a data table of “the availability of HIV testing and counselling services in health facilities in 2014” of “115 low-and- middle-income countries”. The map features a legend which states that the color countries are filled in with indicates the total number of testing and counselling facilities. Yellow indicates 1-100, orange indicates 101-300, red indicates 301-1000, and burgundy indicates over 1000. Additionally, white indicates no data and grey indicates that the reports are “not applicable”. The map shows that many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern America, and Eastern Asia have over 1000 facilities. By comparing the data with the populations of each nation and the data from the UNAIDS statistics on adults living with HIV, a correlation between them can be observed. A logical conclusion would be that most countries that have a major AIDS crisis are attempting to assist their populations through public health programs.

Even though there is an expected low count of facilities in countries with small populations such as Guyana (60) or Swaziland (287), certain countries present discrepancies in the numbers. The Central African Republic had a mere 73 facilities even though in 2014 UNAIDS reported that the nation had about 4.2% of its adult population living with HIV, one of the highest rates in the world. It also had a population of over 4.5 million, larger than many nations that had more facilities. Similarly, South Sudan, a nation with a population of over 11.5 million and an HIV prevalence rate of about 2.8% in 2014, reported only 143 facilities. Mali, a nation of over 16.9 million and an HIV prevalence rate of about 0.5% in 2014, reported only 10 facilities. That means that each facility in 2014 would have to service over 84,500 people. Quite a few of these cases appear in Africa, and this might be due to the stigma certain African cultures experience with the topic of AIDS mentioned in the documentary “Miss HIV: Overcoming AIDS in Africa” and the article “A Muted Response to AIDS”. It would be worth investigating the policies and laws of the nations that follow this pattern, along with their traditions surrounding patriarchy, women’s rights, and marriage.

This source is useful because it shows the extent to which each country is trying to deal with the AIDS crisis through the healthcare system. By comparing this data with the data for HIV prevalence by UNAIDS, patterns of minimal response can be noticed and further investigated. The source is credible because it is data collected by the World Health Organization. There might be some bias or error in the data because the number of facilities were submitted rather than recorded directly. Certain areas might have reported fewer or more facilities than there actually were due to lack in communication or an attempt to push a narrative. Additionally, many nations in critical areas have no data reported.


‘So, what about homosexuals?’ – Views on homosexuality among social work students in Crete, Greece.

Papadaki, Vasileia, and Eleni Papadaki. “’So, What about Homosexuals?’-Views on Homosexuality among Social Work Students in Crete, Greece.” European Journal of Social Work, vol. 14, no. 2, June 2011, pp. 265–80. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/13691451003744333.

This source examines the views of social work students on homosexuals. The study was done to assess the future of the social work field in Greece since “it is necessary for social work professionals to provide quality services to clients regardless of their sexual orientation”. The quantitative study was done through a questionnaire provided to students of the Social Work Department of the TEI in Crete. Reportedly, all 186 “active students who had completed the first two years of study” completed it voluntarily.

The document states many valid reasons for concern on Greece’s attitude towards homosexuality. It mentions the “important role that the Christian Orthodox Church plays in Greek society and in Greek politics”, the public disdain some Greek politicians have expressed towards homosexuals, the occasional media censorship promoted by the National Broadcasting Council, and the lack of sexual orientation education in schools. The author argues that Greece’s public is unaware of the discrimination faced by homosexuals and that the government has only done the bare minimum to prevent such discrimination.

The study found that “52.1% of the respondents assessed their general attitude as rather positive/positive” and 40.9% “identified themselves as ‘neutral’”. However, the study argues that the educational program of the department needs to be reformed since 57.8% of students “stated they had been a little/not at all informed on homosexuality issues during their social work training”. Additionally the study found that 83.3% and 80.5% of respondents “would not feel threatened if they were alone in a room with” a gay man and a lesbian respectively. Only 1.6% of students disagreed or rather disagreed “that social workers should accept homosexuality”. Most students seem to be in support of homosexuality (including the many questions not mentioned here), but there was an inconsistency in the civil rights issues section of the questionnaire. Even though 95.7% of students “strongly/rather agreed that homosexual individuals should be entitled to equal employment rights as heterosexuals” and 75.3% “strongly/rather agreed that ‘same-sex couples should be entitled to the domestic partnership contract just as opposite-sex couples”, 57% strongly disagreed/rather disagreed “that same-sex couples should have the right to get married”. This most likely reflects the average Greek population’s regard of marriage as a religious bonding.

In the paper’s conclusion, the author states that in order to “prepare students for working effectively on issues related to homosexuality it is important that the curriculum focuses more specifically on what social diversity and discrimination encompasses for sexual minorities” and that certain teaching methods should be applied to the social worker educational system to raise awareness.

This source is useful because it shows concrete statistics on the attitudes Greek social work students have towards homosexuality. However, it should be noted that this specific group of students in Crete might not be representative of the attitudes of all of Greece and that the data might be quite outdated since the study was published in 2011. The source is credible since it was published in the “European Journal of Social Work” and was double blind peer reviewed. Additionally, the authors have published several papers and studies relating to social workers and social work students. The author seems quite biased since they analyze in depth specific cases of Greek homophobia, but they mainly disregard the overwhelmingly supportive opinions involving homosexuality they measured. This indicates that the author might have started the study expecting that it would expose homophobic tendencies, and then became uninterested once the results did not prove the narrative they were trying to promote. However, the data does not seem to have been affected, so it is a reliable source.


Penal Code of Greece in 1951 – Article 347

Ελληνική Δημοκρατία [Hellenic Republic], Βουλή των Ελλήνων [Hellenic Parliament]. Ποινικός Κώδικας [Penal Code], 1 January 1951, Article 347. Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης, Διαφάνειας και Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων [Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights]

This source is a historic documentation of the 1951 Penal Code which was compiled by Greece’s Ministry of Justice through the Legal Data Bank of ΑΒΑ (Athens Bar Association) “Isocrates” [Τράπεζα Νομικών Πληροφοριών του ΔΣΑ “ΙΣΟΚΡΑΤΗΣ”]. In 1950, Greece had just ended a gruesome civil war that resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people, but had established Greece’s decision to remain a Western democracy rather than join the U.S.S.R.-backed communist wave spreading through the world. The newly elected Parliament voted on the creation of the Penal Code on January 1st 1951, and put them into effect immediately. Among the many changes made, was the addition of article 347, which addressed “lewdness against nature”.

Legal documents of that time referred to homosexual sexual acts as “against nature” because at the time there was no common word for “homosexual”. In Ancient Greek times, the sexual orientation of a man or woman was not considered a social identifier, so words distinguishing homosexual and heterosexual acts were not conceived, even though the prefixes of both those words are of Greek origin (“homo-” from the Greek ὁμός and “hetero-” from the Greek έτερος). The word “ομοφυλοφιλία” (homosexuality), was created during the 19th century as the translation of the German term “homosexualität”, and did not become a popular term until much later. Therefore the use of the phrase “against natural” was not intended to offend homosexuals, but actually was used due to a lack of a substitute.

The law criminalizes male homosexual lewdness in two situations. The first was in the case of “abuse of a dependency in relation to any service”, essentially banning homosexual prostitution. The second was in the case of an adult seducing “a person younger than seventeen years old”. These offenses both resulted in a jail sentence of at least three months. This is the only mention of homosexuality in the entire Penal Code of 1951. Female homosexual activity is never mentioned.

This article is significant because it essentially confirmed homosexual activities as legal. Many sources state that 1951 was the year that Greece decriminalized same-sex sexual activity, but my research shows that there is not any documentation showing that such activity was legally punished before that. The Constitution of Greece, which was first ratified in 1822, never made distinctions based on sexual orientation. It also never defined the definition of marriage, allowing same-sex marriage to be interpreted as legal. Article 347 was eventually removed from the Penal Code in 2015 (Ν. 4356/2015), due to concerns that the law discriminated against homosexual males since the minimum age of consent for heterosexuals is 15.

This source will be useful because it proves the acceptance of homosexuals in Greece, at least in the government (though the Parliament seating is assigned in direct correlation to the percentage of votes gained, so it is considered an accurate representation of the average Greek population’s opinions on general matters). To put the source into perspective, it can be compared to similar codes passed by other Western countries. For example, the battle for the decriminalization of same-sex sexual intercourse in the U.S. was a very long and complicated one, as shown in the map bellow (the key shows the dates the act was decriminalized in each state, even if the decision was later repealed). No state had decriminalized the act until Illinois invalidated the related penalties in 1962 (shown in black in the map). No other state decriminalized the act until 1971, with most states only taking legislative action after 1975 (as seen in the map, the minority of states are shown in dark shades of blue or black – colors representing dates before 1975). It was not decriminalized nationwide in the U.S. until a Supreme Court decision in 2003 (forcing the states in bright yellow to accept the decriminalization laws). Additionally, most of the nearby nations (such as Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Romania) did not pass such laws until 1995 and 1996, but this could be partially because of political turmoil. Greece actually passed Article 347 over 20 years before most of all the European nations legally decriminalized same-sex sexual activity.The source is credible since it is well-documented and published officially by the Greek Ministry of Justice. The source would be more effective if there was more information on previous Penal Codes or documentation of the legal stance towards homosexuality before World War II. It might be considered a biased source for Greece’s stance on LGBT rights since the Parliament could have been more liberal or conservative in its policy than the opinions of the Greek public.


Brazil’s Needle-Exchange Programs Reduce HIV Risks for Drug Users

Sekles, Flavia. “Brazil’s Needle-Exchange Programs Reduce HIV Risks for Drug Users.” Population Reference Bureau, June 2001, Accessed 2 Nov. 2017.

This is a PRB article discussing the effects of Brazil’s needle-exchange programs. The program was started in response to the high rates of HIV contraction through unclean syringes among injecting drug users in Brazil (up to 50% according to the article). The government decided to create a program where clean and sterile injecting equipment would be provided to all drug users. The program faced “strong resistance” from the community and law-enforcement sectors when it was introduced in the early 1990s, but in 1994 the federal government added it “as an official policy of its AIDS programs”. In 2000, president Fernando Henrique Cardoso proposed that the program becomes part of the official legislation dealing with drug trafficking.

Brazil’s HIV prevention policies in the area of drug use is considered successful, since “drug users are the only population group in which HIV transmission rates have fallen”. Brazil documented a “decrease in transmission of the virus of 7.6 percent in 1997 and 17.9 percent in 1998” among drugs users, but other reasons, such as a high mortality rate, might have been the cause.

The article will be useful for analyzing the positive effects Brazil’s progressive policies towards drugs have had in the fight against AIDS/HIV. It might not be a very effective source to base proof on, since the article was written in 2001 and the data referenced might have changed significantly, invalidating the arguments being made. This source is credible since it is published by the Population Reference Bureau, a respected organization, and it is written by a Brazilian writer who is familiar with the topic. The article is well supported by facts and statistics, but there are not many sources mentioned to show the reader where the numbers are coming from. There might be some slight bias due to the writer’s nationality, who may have subconsciously written misleadingly in order to improve the public’s perception of the effectiveness of the Brazilian government’s programs.


Guerrillas Order HIV Testing for All Residents in Colombian Town &
Colombian Guerrillas Expel Three Town Residents Who Test Positive for HIV

“Guerillas Order HIV Testing for All Residents in Colombian Town.” Kaiser Health News, 12 Oct. 2001,
“Colombian Guerillas Expel Three Town Residents Who Test Positive for HIV.” Kaiser Health News, 25 Oct. 2001,

I have combined these two sources into one entry because they are two stories from the same source covering the same event (first one announcing the story, the second one providing an update on the situation), and they only provide effective information when combined.

The first article reports on the mandatory HIV testing that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) imposed upon the residents of Vista Hermosa, Columbia. According to the article, the military commander Jorge Briceno said that “all men and women over the age of 12 had to be screened for HIV”, even though the practice of mass HIV testing was illegal in Columbia. However the FARC was able to force the testings to take place since they had become the de facto masters of the region since President Andres Pastrana withdrew troops and police from the there in 1998.

The second article reports on the expelling of three men by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The men were residents of Vista Hermosa and had tested positive for HIV after the mandatory testing discussed in the first article. The article reports that human rights groups and health officials condemned the testing and labeled it as “a violation of privacy and basic rights”.

These articles will be useful in comparing Colombian and Brazilian attitudes towards homosexuality and their effect on AIDS/HIV policy to show how Brazil’s more liberal policies caused more effective policies dealing with the crisis. These sources are credible since they are published by Kaiser Health News (KHN), a nonprofit news service specialized in coverage of health care policy and politics. Additionally the first and second story cite Reuters and The Guardian respectively, both of which are considered major newspapers. The original Reuters article can not be found on the publisher’s archival database, but the event is mentioned in other news source so the event can be confirmed as real. The original Guardian article can be found here ( There does not seem to be any bias involved, since KHN focuses on discussing health policies and does not further analyze or take a stance in Colombian politics.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.