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Conference Proceeding

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HIV infections -- Latin America, HIV infections -- Central America


Conflict has shaped the HIV pandemic from its inception, from the spread of HIV-1 in Central Africa, to the diffusion of HIV-2 from Portuguese Africa to the globe. At the same time, the relationship between HIV and conflict has been non-linear and poorly understood. Nancy Mock and her colleagues have been almost the only scholars to propose a model to understand this relationship. Their work suggests that several key variables (such as the time scale of the conflict, the characteristics of the parties involved, and the geographic scale of the fighting) explain wide variations in how warfare appears to have impacted the epidemic, sometimes in surprising ways. As a whole, their effort to create a "social ecology" of HIV and conflict holds great promise, and should be applied to regions beyond Africa, which was their focus. This paper will build on their work by examining the HIV epidemic in Central America and the Northern Andes. In most cases, conflict seems to have limited the spread of HIV in Latin America during the twentieth century, but this now may be changing in Colombia. This experience has policy implications for how international aid organizations and other actors attempt to address HIV in conflict-affected regions.


Presentation at the Latin American Studies Association Meeting, Rio de Janeiro, June 12, 2009

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