The HIV-AIDS national security nexus : a history of risks and benefits

Feldbaume, Harley; (2009) The HIV-AIDS national security nexus : a history of risks and benefits. PhD thesis, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. DOI:

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The links between HIV/AIDS and national security have played a major and under recognized role in impacting efforts to fight the pandemic. To date, critical studies of the HIV/AIDS - national security nexus have been limited. Using 27 semi-structured interview and extensive literature review, this thesis creates the first global history of the nexus, from 1985-2007. This long-timeframe analysis allows a novel examination of the risks and benefits of this politically potent linkage, an assessment of the role of global health actors in the nexus, and a testing of the published conceptual frameworks that seek to explain the relationship between global health and national security. This thesis examines the history of the HIV/AIDS - national security nexus in three parts. First, the early and beneficial securitizations of the epidemic in Uganda and Thailand are examined. Two other events, the U. S. and USSR intelligence community interest in HIV/AIDS and the likely spread of HIV/AIDS by the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cambodia, illustrate hazards of the nexus and complete this section. Second, the factors and events that led to the securitization of HIV/AIDS at the United Nations Security Council and within the U. S. are evaluated. Third, the consequences of securitization are considered, including the impact on global priority and funding, Security Council Resolution 1308, the U. S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and military HIV/AIDS programs. This thesis finds that where policymakers have framed HIV/AIDS as a direct threat to national security and prioritized the disease, clear benefits in fighting the epidemic have resulted. However the role of global health actors in these political events has been limited, and hazards of the nexus include the classification of public health data and the divergent interests of the global health and national security communities

Item Type: Thesis
Thesis Type: Doctoral
Thesis Name: PhD
Contributors: Lee, K (Thesis advisor);
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