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Causa-mortis: the language of pathology in AIDS obituaries (1982-2000)

Grant number: 21/07737-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2021
Effective date (End): November 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Principal researcher:Lilia Blima Schraiber
Grantee:João Paulo Ferreira da Silva
Home Institution: Faculdade de Medicina (FM). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


From the first reported case of HIV in 1981 until the commercial availability of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in 1986, the language of pathology for descriptions of death from HIV-AIDS has remained associated with ethnic-racial, gender and sexuality frameworks. This project examines the conformation of these ethnic-racial, gender and sexuality framings in HIV-AIDS obituary records in Brazil, from 1982 to 2000. To understand how the cause of death was recorded in the obituaries of people who died from HIV-AIDS complications, the research investigates sections of deaths from newspapers, magazines and epidemiological bulletins made available by medical authorities, journalists and health professionals in Brazil. In dialogue with the research conducted in the Bay Area Reporter's obituaries, in the United States (Projeto FAPESP, 19/10677-4), the study illuminates the local processes of classification and production of causes of death by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, as a pathogen biologically lethal, but dependent on social frameworks circumscribed to race/ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Studying the cause of death due to HIV/AIDS, we questioned whether, and to what extent, the records of the cause of death due to HIV-AIDS and its two most prevalent complications - ie, "cancer" and "pneumonia" - constitute sociodemographic differences in the manner of which individuals were classified. In methodological terms, this study is characterized as descriptive, and mobilizes mixed procedures, such as documentary research and statistical treatment, in obituary sections from various sources (newspapers, magazines and epidemiological bulletins), published in Brazil between 1982 and 2000.

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