This paper focuses on the relationship of HIV medical technologies to current styles of medical practice and highlights issues posed by the technologies for those working and/or living with HIV. The paper examines HIV anti-retroviral combination therapies and associated tests from the perspective of their prescribers. The prescribers were interviewed during the later part of 2002 at three London HIV clinics. Their comments, considered in light of other recent studies in the field, suggest that current therapies are part of a transitional phase in the epidemic which informs the identification and negotiation of known risks and uncertainty. An undetermined but extended life expectancy, afforded by anti-retroviral therapies, is understood against risk of iatrogenic diseases and/or viral drug resistance. The tension arising in this situation of unwanted and even uncertain phenomena poses ethical dilemmas and affects doctor/patient relations. Indeed, it also contributes to a reconfiguring of the lived experience of managing HIV. While the new technologies have offered considerable advances in the medical management of HIV, they are altering the nature of HIV medicine both materially and socially. The scenario is further complicated by the uneven allocation of resources and different patient health and disease states. The heterogeneity of resources, disease states and technological effects points to the need for ongoing and extended evaluation as the relationship between these and the everyday practice of medicine continues to change.
- doctors/patient relations
- HIV antiretroviral combination therapy
- medical technologies