Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 2013

Thesis Advisor

Philippe Bourgois


In America, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects groups that are socially, economically, and politically marginalized. This study investigates the concept of risk and HIV risk perception by at-­‐risk individuals, or socially, economically and politically marginalized peoples of North Philadelphia. The goal of this study is to understand how high-­‐risk individuals such as intravenous drug users and individuals who engage in sex work perceive their own risk to HIV infection and subsequently, how this self-­‐perception affects or complicates successful intervention and prevention strategies. This study suggests that high-­‐risk individuals are aware of the main modes of HIV transmission and are aware that the activities they partake in can potentially lead to infection. Drug users and sex workers construct a subconscious risk-­‐taking hierarchy, which is strongly influenced by their social and economic environments, as well as their physiological and mental states, which drives their high-­‐risk habits. Lastly, this study suggests that educational intervention strategies on modes of HIV transmission should not be the main focus of intervention and prevention strategies because they are not relatable or accommodating to the user and/or worker’s risk-­‐taking hierarchy or habitus.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



Date Posted: 08 June 2016


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