My interest in The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief first began during the Fall 2012 semester, while I was participating in a program studying Public Health systems and issues in four countries. Particularly in South Africa, our guest speakers and site visits would all reference PEPFAR. While their personal opinions on specific program requirements would differ, it was apparent that PEPFAR had greatly impacted the landscape of South African HIV/AIDS management.
In terms of science and medicine, HIV has fundamentally changed the way we conceptualize science’s ability to cure, the capacity of global health systems to deal with an epidemic, and approaches to prevention. Yet HIV also impacted the global social and political landscape, in term of the speed with which disease can cross borders, multinational alliances to gain adequate treatment, and the politics of obtaining life-saving drugs. As the largest investment in the global management of a single disease, by any country, PEPFAR is uniquely poised to address the issues and set the trend for the world.
I hope to study the circumstances of the program’s inception and the way that it has evolved in order to situate and analyze it in terms of governmentality in disease management, international relations, and global economic forces. This topic is especially relevant now, not only in the face of current health reform in our country, but also because as the number of people living with HIV rises, the need for long-term antiretroviral treatment also rises. Our future depends on innovative and far-sighted solutions which will emphasize prevention and global cooperation.
As you can probably tell, I’m very excited about my project and eager to see where my research takes me (as well as to hear more about all of your topics!). I welcome any comments and questions and look forward to working with everyone for the next year!