“Women Don't Get AIDS, They Just Die From It”: Memory, Classification, and the Campaign to Change the Definition of AIDS

Hypatia 29 (2):509-525 (2014)
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In this paper, I examine activist group ACT UP's campaign to change the US Centers for Disease Control surveillance case definition of HIV and AIDS. This campaign's effects included a profound shift in how AIDS is understood, and thus in some real way in what it is. I argue that classification should be understood as a political formation with material effects, attending to the words of activists, most of them women, who contested the way AIDS was defined in a moment when no one else thought that definition needed to be changed. I argue that philosopher Sue Campbell's work on the importance of understanding memory and feeling as relational helps understand the histories of death and loss, resistance and fierce joy, crystallized in activist responses to HIV and AIDS



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