Successive South African governments have had controversial views on HIV and AIDS which have led to allegations that South Africa is in a state of denial about the AIDS epidemic. This book attempts to determine the validity of such claims of government denial by formulating and testing a denial hypothesis.The hypothesis is contextualized with an overview of the South African epidemic as well as a review of allegations of government denial. It reveals possible political factors that may motivate policy-makers to resort to official denial and tentatively concludes with a confirmation of the allegations contained in the denial hypothesis. However, this is done within the broader notion that denial is inherently vague and couched in language (rarely in writing) and therefore difficult to test with certainty and as such this book's real value lies in the insights gained into the complex politics of denial. By exploring the dynamics of denial and denialism and applying this to the South African AIDS epidemic, this study provides a comprehensive analysis.
Pieter Fourie is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics & International Relations, Macquarie University, Australia. Melissa Meyer is Project Coordinator for HIV/AIDS and the Media Project, South Africa.
'This fascinating book applies a denial typology in an attempt to make sense of the (in)action of successive South African governments on HIV and AIDS. The book problematises the long-wave nature of the epidemic and the insights presented here are also useful for understanding other instances of political denial, particularly in this age of climate change.' Maj-Lis Follér, University of Gothenburg, Sweden 'Although AIDS denialism in South Africa was uniquely devastating, it was driven by political mechanisms of a more general nature. Through this novel application of theory to a familiar South African narrative, the authors provide a set of nuanced indicators that will warn against recurring denialism on AIDS or other public health challenges, in South Africa and elsewhere.' Per Strand, University of Cape Town, and AIDS Accountability International, South Africa