Blood of the Innocents: Stigma and the Unintended Consequences of Biomedical Interventions for HIV-Positive Children in Botswana

Research Theme: Development, Institutions and Demographic Change
Location: Republic of Botswana

This project traces some of the sociocultural repercussions of Botswana’s highly successful Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission program and nationwide antiretroviral drug rollout. The project asks why stigma against HIV-positive children appears to be increasing in response to highly effective treatment and prevention efforts (which global health experts predict should lead to decreased stigma). Dahl’s research explains the cultural logic that leads many Tswana people to draw on paradigms of witchcraft, adult sexual perversion, and Pentecostal Christianity's curative capacities in order to explain and censure against the perceived moral decay of their society in the wake of AIDS, which HIV-positive children are said to represent.