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Den svenska aidsepidemin: Ankomst, bemötande, innebörd
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Swedish AIDS Epidemic : Arrival, Response, and Meaning (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation investigates the public response to HIV/AIDS in Sweden in the 1980s and early 1990s. The analysis focuses on the National Commission on AIDS (NCA,“Aidsdelegationen”). The NCA was appointed by the government in 1985, led by the Minister of Social Affairs and mandated to initiate and coordinate the national response to the epidemic and in function until 1992. The dissertation’s theoretical framework is based on the understanding of an epidemic as a cultural and historical concept, emphasizing that health policy in the late twentieth century must be analyzed as a complex process of problematization. 

The study includes four parts. The first part covers the years 1982 to 1985, an era characterized by small scale action, based mainly on voluntary initiatives with small resources. The second part examines the period 1985-1989, when the NCA formed an official national policy based on both strong legislation (enabling quarantine of recalcitrants, registration, contact tracing etc.) and massive nationwide information efforts (through mass media campaigns). This highly active phase was followed by a period of consolidation, from 1989 to 1992, examined in the third part of the study. This period included a new infectious disease act focused on HIV/AIDS as well as official campaigns with stronger focus on the individuals’ responsibility for their own health. In the last part, covering the years 1992-1996, I show how the HIV/AIDS problem was institutionalized as a disease and health topic alongside many others. The national campaigns continued through the 1990s, focusing on empowerment and individualization.

As in many similar countries, the main aim of the Swedish strategy was to educate and encourage people to act with caution and responsibility towards themselves and their fellow citizens. In addition to this cooperation and inclusion approach, a strategy of contain and control was also implemented. This second strategy can, as I show, be explained by the strong connection made between HIV/AIDS and drug users. Through this connection, the Swedish drug policy had a decisive influence on the Swedish HIV/AIDS policy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. , 527 p.
Uppsala Studies in History of Ideas, ISSN 1653-5197 ; 44
Keyword [en]
history of medicine, HIV, AIDS, epidemic, AIDS policy, public health, health promotion, drug policy, path dependency, governmentality, Sweden, aidsdelegationen, folkhälsoinstitutet, Nils Bejerot, AIDS posters
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-193732ISBN: 978-91-554-8594-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-193732DiVA: diva2:603482
Public defence
2013-03-22, Geijersalen, Engelska Parken Humanistiskt centrum, hus 6, Thunbergsvägen 3p, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-03-01 Created: 2013-02-06 Last updated: 2013-10-17Bibliographically approved

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