Skip to main content

Written in Blood: AIDS Prevention and the Politics of Failure in France

  • Michael J. Bosia (a1)

After 25 years, there is a broad though sometimes superficial awareness of state responses to HIV/AIDS in the global South, where the spread of disease is said to be fueled by inept or failed states, those so poor or whose officials are so indifferent that they lack public health services or even a minimal health care infrastructure. But this narrative ignores the failed responses among states struck in the first wave of the pandemic in the early 1980s. In the long run, generally between 1986 and 1990, the industrialized democracies where a new illness was first identified did implement comprehensive disease prevention, blood safety, and treatment and care regimes specifically targeting AIDS; in the short run, these same countries struggled over—and more often then not failed to implement—appropriate measures to stem the spread of the epidemic. And in the long run, tens of thousands contracted HIV and died.Michael J. Bosia, Assistant Professor at Saint Michael's College in Vermont, has been an activist and policymaker ( He thanks the Fulbright fellowship program, a Blaine J. Yarrington Fellowship from Northwestern University, and Saint Michael's College for financial support.

Hide All


Bauer, Michel. 1988. The politics of state-directed privatization. West European Politics 11 (4): 4960.
Bosia, Michael. 2005. Assassin! AIDS and neoliberal reform in France. New Political Science 27 (3): 291308.
Cohen, Cathy. 1999. The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Garrett, Laurie. 2005. Lessons of HIV/AIDS. Foreign Affairs 84 (4): 5164.
Gauri, Varun, and Evan Lieberman. 2004. Institutions, social boundaries, and epidemics: Explaining government AIDS policies in Brazil and South Africa. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 2–5. Originally presented as “AIDS and the state: The politics of government responses in Brazil and South Africa.”
Henry, Edmond Luc. 1992. De L'hémophilie en général et du crime en particulier. Paris: Le pré aux clercs.
Koupernik, Cyrille. 1995. Le témoin myope: regards sur le sida. Paris: L'Harmattan.
Leibowitch, Jacques. 1984. Un virus étrange venu d'ailleurs. Paris: éditions Grasset.
Loriaux, Michael. 1991. France after Hegemony: International Change and Financial Reform. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Loriaux, Michael. 2002. France: A new “capitalism of voice?” In States in the Global Economy, ed. Linda Weiss. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Patton, Cindy. 1990. Inventing AIDS. New York: Routledge.
Roux, Jacques. 1995. Sang contaminé, priorités de l'état et décisions politiques. Montpellier: Editions Espaces 34.
Steffan, Monica. 1999. The nation's blood: Medicine, justice, and the state in France. In Blood Feuds: AIDS, Blood, and the Politics of Medical Disaster, ed. Eric A. Feldman and Ronald Bayer. New York: Oxford University Press.
Tilly, Charles. 2000. Processes and mechanisms of democratization. Sociological Theory 18 (1): 116.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed