Iskender Yasaveev 1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 16 Soyuza Pechatnikov Str., Saint Petersburg, 190008, Russian Federation

HIV/AIDS in Russia: Governmental and Activist Constructions of the Social Problem

2019, vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 49–76 [issue contents]
The article deals with the constructions of the social problem of HIV/AIDS created by both the authorities and HIV activists in Russia. The work is based on the study of the rhetoric of Russian authorities, participant observations, and interviews with HIV activists. The constructions of HIV/ AIDS that were formed by authorities and HIV activists are significantly different. The Russian President and Prime Minister constructed HIV/AIDS not as an epidemic in the country, but as a “global problem”, representing Russia as a participant in the international efforts to combat AIDS. The authorities problematized the spread of the virus through the rhetoric of endangerment, while at the same time de-problematized HIV in Russia with the strategy of naturalizing the issue (“this is a problem that all countries face”). The HIV activists problematized the violations of the rights of people with HIV in public health institutions, the poor quality of antiretroviral therapy, the practice of late treatment, the lack of HIV prevention that includes sex education in schools, and repressive drug policies. Unlike the authorities’ construction, the problem constructed by HIV activists does not include the rhetoric of moral values. The main discursive way of problematization used by activists is the anti-discriminating rhetoric of entitlement. At the same time, HIV as a threat and a reason for fear is de-problematized by activists through the strategy of disproving stories where HIV activists talk about themselves, and directly interact with people to eliminate their fear of the virus.
Citation: Yasaveev I. (2019) VICh/SPID v Rossii: vlastnaya i aktivistskaya konstruktsii sotsial'noy problemy [HIV/AIDS in Russia: Governmental and Activist Constructions of the Social Problem]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 18, no 3, pp. 49-76 (in Russian)
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