Today, it is hard to imagine talking about the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics without discussing their scale, or how many people they have affected. Case counts, and epidemiological surveillance more generally, seem to have become just as central to our everyday discussions (“what do I need to do to help ‘flatten the curve’?”) as they are to policy decisions about what public health measures to take (“when can states lift the lockdown?”).
Unfortunately, and paradoxically, this way of thinking and talking about pandemics (through case counts and epidemiological surveillance) erases the embodied contribution of people living with diagnoses. Their lives are effectively reduced to a matter of numbers. We need more critical discussion about the consequences of this erasure.
In this Road to HINAC IV Community Conversation, our speakers will reflect on some of the consequences of the failure to adequately center peoples’ lived and living experiences of surveillance and diagnosis in discussions of the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics. These include a failure to adequately address injuries of inequality and questions of economic justice, as well as the problematic complicity of public health (data) with punitive efforts to police pandemics and with HIV and COVID-19 criminalization. We will invite participants to join this conversation via Chat in order to raise critical questions about how case counts and surveillance can intersect with racial injustice and other systemic forms of discrimination to exacerbate pandemic conditions. We want to open up a public dialogue about how to put conditions in place to foster greater community control over surveillance.