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Accepted Contribution:

“It’s Our Aid”: Community Led Monitoring in Uganda’s HIV Economy  
Austin Bryan (Northwestern University)

Contribution short abstract:

Uganda's HIV development aid is deeply entangled with notions of morality and faith, exhibited by Uganda’s anti-homosexuality movement and abstinence-only campaigns. This paper will analyze the role of faith in the work of "key population" HIV activists.

Contribution long abstract:

Using disease to gain a seat at the table of state agencies that previously ignored their struggles, a national network of community-based organizations serving “key populations” engages in high-level technical meetings with the Ugandan Ministry of Health, Uganda AIDS Commission, and officials of development aid agencies where they advocate for access to therapies, but also accountability of funding and investment in the “full financing” of HIV. Drawing on long term ethnographic fieldwork from Kampala, Uganda (2015-2022) with “key population” HIV activists and workers of NGOs and state aid agencies, this paper traces the way HIV exceptionalism, in its second decade, has transformed social relations in Uganda’s social movements for liberation. HIV exceptionalism, in which HIV is positioned as an exceptional disease requiring a unique health and socio-legal response, has garnered funding that has saved millions of lives and sustained grassroots community-based organizations working to end transmission of HIV, and in the process, transformed communities, their politics, and their social relations. The ethnography highlights the weeks before, during, and after a “Community Led Monitoring” workshop (2022) where for the first time criminalized “key population” HIV activists assembled and presented publicly their accounting on where multi-million-dollar HIV funds targeting “key populations” in the country were invested. This paper will focus on the role that faith played in these discussions with government leaders and what this reveals about the way HIV development aid is transforming Ugandan gender and sexuality liberation movements more broadly.

Panel P29
LGBTQ+ and faith in international development
  Session 1 Wednesday 28 June, 2023, -