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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Science, politics, and the presidential AIDS 'cure'
Authors:Cassidy, RebeccaISNI
Leach, MelissaISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic term:Gambia
health policy
heads of State
About person:Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40388420
Abstract:In early 2007 the recently re-elected President of The Gambia, Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, announced his 'cure' for AIDS based on herbal, Islamic, and traditional medicine, resulting in the enrolment of several hundred people testing HIV-positive. This unleashed an ongoing yet remarkably silent controversy around AIDS treatment. The emergence of the presidential treatment can be understood in the political and scientific context of recent global AIDS funding and programming, and long-standing tensions between 'foreign' and local concerns with biomedicine and research. Framed in terms of appeals to tradition, ethnicity, religion, nation, and pan-Africanism, the President's programme appears diametrically opposed to mainstream scientific discourses. Yet in promoting and garnering support for his claims, this President has successfully co-opted and harnessed key elements of biomedical AIDS treatment discourse: in claims to identity as a doctor, and in deploying CD4 and viral load counts and personal testimonies as evidence of treatment efficacy. Uncertainty over how to interpret such evidence amongst vulnerable people living with HIV has encouraged many to volunteer. Such politics of science, along with the threatening political and security practices of this particular State, help explain why to date there has been so little overt criticism of the President's programme either within the country or internationally. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]