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Accepted Paper:

Alternative Medicine and Reverse Discourses in the Time of AZT  
Emily Lim Rogers (Duke University)

Short abstract:

This paper investigates alternative medicine in ACT UP. Based on research from AIDS activist video archives, this paper explores a particular action called the “quackbusters” in 1990, exemplary of the terrain of debate over knowledge of AIDS and alternative treatments.

Long abstract:

This paper investigates something that has often been relegated to the “scrapheap” of history: alternative medicine in the AIDS movement. “Investigate garlic!”, a refrain of AIDS activists in the early 1990s who wanted the federal government to fund research on alternative treatments, flourished in the AZT moment and all its toxicity, yet from today’s standpoint is subject to cringe. I examine how uncertainty surrounding the future and efficacy of AIDS treatments created discursive space for debates over scientificity. Leaders in ACT UP’s alternative medicine caucus created reverse discourses. As researchers critiqued these activists for prompting “snake oil” treatments without evidence, AIDS activists in turn critiqued the scientists for denying rigorous research on garlic, Vitamin C, and acupuncture as treatments for AIDS. (Will the real scientists please stand up?) Based on research from AIDS activist video archives, this paper explores a particular action called the “quackbusters” in 1990, exemplary of the terrain of debate over knowledge of AIDS and alternative treatments.

Traditional Open Panel P333
Knowledge of HIV/AIDS in STS: archives, science, and participation
  Session 1