IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Social scientists and the new tuberculosis

Listed author(s):
  • Farmer, Paul
Registered author(s):

    In much of the world, tuberculosis (TB) remains the leading killer of young adults, in spite of the fact that effective chemotherapy has existed for 50 years. The epidemiology of TB, with its persistence in poor countries and resurgence among the poor of many industrialized nations, causes consternation among those charged with protecting the public's health. Two factors, ostensibly biological in nature, are commonly cited to explain this setback: the advent of HIV and the emergence of TB strains resistant to multiple drugs (MDR TB). But the strikingly patterned occurrence of MDR TB--in the United States afflicting those in homeless shelters and in the inner city, for example--speaks to some of the large-scale social forces at work in the new epidemic, which began before the advent of HIV. These forces (which include poverty, economic inequality, political violence, and racism) are examined through the experience of a young Haitian man with MDR TB, a disease never before described in Haiti. Insights from this case, and from other research on TB and HIV disease, are considered in the light of past anthropological writings on TB. It is argued that, often, social scientists mar contributions to an understanding of TB by making "immodest claims of causality" regarding its distribution and course. Alternative strategies for future sociomedical research on MDR TB are proposed.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 44 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 3 (February)
    Pages: 347-358

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:3:p:347-358
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Postal:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:3:p:347-358. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.