Accepted Paper:

Facing the opposition between PEPFAR's (President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) aims and the EOC's (Ethiopian Orthodox Church) followers living with HIV/AIDS aspires  


Judith Hermann-Mesfen (UMR 912 SESSTIM)

Paper short abstract:

Ethical contradictions might appear for an anthropologist who studies, at the same time, PLHA (Person Living with HIV/AIDS) living in communities on holy water locations and government, religious institutions and American organisations involved in the fight against HIVAIDS. Indeed, aims, representations and purposes of those groups differ.

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation, I would like to share some of the difficulties I faced with the Ethiopian and the American institutions involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. My research concerns the EOC's commitment in the fight against HIV/AIDS with a special emphasis on the holy water treatment taken by PLHA, aiming to be cured from HIV/AIDS miraculously. Difficulties did not concern ethical issues towards PLHA. It was simple to meet PLHA on holy water location. In deed, people present themselves easily as person living with HIV/AIDS and anonymization process of interviews was respected. In 2007, PEPFAR opened an ART (Antiretroviral treatment) center nearby a holy water location to distribute treatment to PLHA living over there. Whatsoever, considering religious dogma, holy water is incompatible with any other kind of treatment (holy water is a spiritual cure, which can not be mixed with a worldly one). I have met PEPFAR, HAPCO (HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office) and EOC's leaders. I lighted the issue with all parties which was already, regarding my relationship with PLHA living on holy water location, a sort of betrayal. Alas, my informations contradicted their plans and their data ; finally, they discredited my work, but used a part of it, to create program to make PLHA return home and work. Program that could be relevant but were established without consideration for its social and cultural cost and at least experiences and representations of PLHA. Acknowledging global consequences and ethical issue in this situation, this topic seems important to be address.

Panel W037
Medical anthropological fieldwork: ethical and methodological issues