Biomedicalizing Risk: Technologies of HIV Prevention and the Moral Imperatives of Biological Citizenship


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This thesis examines the history and social implications of the rapid self-test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the United States. Via a discursive analysis of literature, product packaging, and marketing and public health rhetoric surrounding the test (brand name: OraQuick in-home HIV test), I identify several points of contention that have arisen with the varied, sometimes disparate interests of public health, federal regulators, and private corporations. I propose that while home HIV tests may improve health outcomes for some and appear to expand consumer rights, they are in fact the vanguard of a new form of self-testing that carries a moral urgency to protect one’s own body and to manage societal risk. This thesis concludes with a critical analysis of the prophylactic use of antiretrovirals for HIV, arguing that this practice represents a new relation of the body to risk, while potentially obscuring or normalizing structural conditions that contribute to vulnerability to infection.



HIV, biopolitics, public health, biosecurity