AIDS Exceptionalism: The View from Below

Kim Dionne, University of California, Los Angeles
Susan Watkins, University of California, Los Angeles

Recently several papers have criticized the priority that international actors give to AIDS over other population health and development concerns. This paper uses multiple types of innovative data to examine the priorities of villagers in rural Malawi. The data consist of the same ranking question asked of a) 4000 survey respondents and b) traditional authorities in respondents’ villages. To assess possible biases in responses due to the formal nature of surveys, we created a third data set, a study that asked a small number of villagers to record data about all informal conversations they participated in for seven days: these data include for each conversation the topic, number of the participants, and context. We find that although there are differences in detail across the data sets, in all AIDS is rarely at the top. We interpret this ranking in terms of the context in which rural villagers live.

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Presented in Poster Session 1