Towards a bio-psycho-cultural anthropology of AIDS

This paper aims to outline a theoretical framework which could define the bio-psycho-social basis of the representations of the HIV sufferers, regarding the complex relationships between the biologic reality of HIV, its psychic and psychopathologic manifestations, as well as its social stigma. We wish to unify these different aspects for the purpose of establishing a systemic approach to all the processes and representations that characterize AIDS. By describing the interactive relations of the different parameters of the AIDS pandemic, one should be able to distinguish between logic and incoherence, rationality and imagination. The paper will develop a pragmatic approach that aims to explain the underlying mechanisms producing the cultural and stigmatizing images that are channeled by mass diffusion of medical, scientific and therapeutic knowledge. Taken all together, they constitute the background of the public and politic polemics. This perspective also tries to clear the implication of the cognitive-emotional elements felt by AIDS patients/sufferers through their infected body and some of their psychopathological expressions.