A Socio-Criminological Analysis of the HIV Epidemic

by Bruno Meini

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There are many academic articles that deal with HIV and AIDS, but this is the first scholarly book that deals with these subjects in detail from a sociological perspective. The views of every important sociologist since Durkheim with relevance to Dr Meini’s focus on HIV/AIDS are explained with admirable clarity.
The book’s interest will not be limited to sociologists, but it will interest many other scholars, including epidemiologists, political scientists, social workers, and criminologists and victimologists. Those dealing with public policy, global affairs and international child welfare will also find the book of value. In short the book promises to have wide impact in academia.
The book is highly original and is ambitious in the scope and the depth of its scholarship. Even so, it is written in an open and accessible style. It would be appropriately assigned in both graduate and upper-level undergraduate classes. Somewhat unusually for an academic book, it will also be interest to the general reader who will be amazed at the number of themes and contemporary debates that Dr Meini ties into the volume.

Prof. Ronald V. Clarke
School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers,
The State University of New Jersey

In this timely and original book, Dr Meini reflects upon the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS, describing how the Human Immunodeficiency Virus has enveloped and encircled the globe since the early 1980s. While the world’s attention has been largely redirected to the unfolding crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, one cannot forget that as many as 40 million citizens of the world are currently infected with HIV. Indeed, as Dr Meini points out, the Sub-Saharan African region remains the most severely affected, where nearly 1 in every 25 adults live with HIV, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the people living with the virus worldwide today.
HIV/AIDS is a topic that intersects with public policy issues across many disciples, including sociology, criminology, law, medicine, victimology, epidemiology, and risk management. Dr Meini interweaves the many allied themes associated with HIV into his wide-ranging treatment of the subject, including human rights, law enforcement, injecting drug use, medical confidentiality, sexuality and stigma, health and safety, sexual violence, discrimination, and the media treatment of the phenomenon that has the duty to inform but all too often falls victim to the irresponsibility of misinformation-spreading and fear-mongering.
The HIV pandemic shows no signs of abating, so there remains an urgent requirement for the pursuit of policy choices to tackle it. Dr Meini recites these in a scholarly and forthright manner.
The book should thus appeal to a wide range of readers. I endorse it without reservation.

Prof Rick Sarre
Professor of Law and Criminal Justice,
University of South Australia

In the world of the 21st century, epidemics are common biological and social occurrences, with HIV perhaps emphasising this better than any other disease. Medical scientific research has undoubtedly made significant steps forward; meanwhile, the social research field is still in its initial stages, with many awaiting an equally auspicious response.

A Socio-Criminological Analysis of the HIV Epidemic offers a comprehensive analysis of the multifaceted socio-criminological dimensions of the HIV epidemic and positively contributes to the ongoing sociological debate on infectious diseases. The author intends to create an independent epistemology of HIV to explicate the social forces that impact and determine the course and experience of the epidemic, while also seeking to reframe the popular discourse on HIV to reflect sociological conceptualisations. This latter step leads to the identification of the concept of social interaction as an appropriate tool for highlighting the complex social nature of this virus. The unprecedented challenge posed by the epidemic for the international community calls for global cooperation aimed at evaluating the diverse aspects of the issues that many actors in this tragic drama must deal with.

Given its wide-reaching international appeal, this book is also recommended for those involved or interested in global health issues and infectious diseases. It will be of particular interest to medical researchers, health workers, social scientists, social workers, policymakers, humanitarian workers, HIV and human rights activists, and graduate students.

List of Figures


Chapter 1 HIV: The basic aspects
Health and illness
The origin of AIDS
The Haitian controversy
Features of the HIV epidemic
The routes of transmission of HIV
Epidemiological factors
Prevention policy: A theoretical approach

Chapter 2 Normalcy, pathology and the ‘sick role’
Sociological organicism
The ‘sick role’
The element of intentionality
Children orphaned by AIDS and their deviant tendencies

Chapter 3 The impact of HIV-related stigma and discrimination against children orphaned by AIDS
HIV as a human rights issue
HIV-related stigma
Orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV
HIV discrimination

Chapter 4 The dual health burden of intimate partner violence and HIV in South Africa
The capital of sexual violence
South Africa’s rape crisis
The relationship between sexual violence and HIV among young women
Child rape and risk of HIV infection

Chapter 5 A victimological analysis of the link between harmful traditional practices and HIV
Polygyny, widow brides and cleansing rituals
Virginity testing
Female genital mutilation

Chapter 6 The risk-security nexus
HIV, risk and social cohesion
HIV as a security issue
The process of securitisation
Human security approach
The impact of AIDS on democratic processes
HIV prevalence and state weakness
HIV and law enforcement
Final considerations


List of Acronyms


Bruno Meini is a member of the Observatory and Methods for Health, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Bologna, an MA in Criminal Justice from the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University as well as two master’s degrees, one in Research Methods in the Social Sciences from the University of Florence, and the second in Development, Innovation and Change from the School of Development, Innovation and Change at University of Bologna. Meini’s current research interests lie in the areas of criminological theory, policing, crime prevention, victimology, and sociology of HIV and AIDS.

Health and disease, human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, the Haitian controversy, Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, long-wave events, sexual transmission, parenteral transmission, mother-to-child transmission, epidemiology, morbidity, HIV prevalence and incidence, hidden population, primary prevention, secondary prevention, tertiary prevention, HIV-related stigma, HIV discrimination, risk, vulnerability, females, polygyny; widow inheritance, widow cleansing, virginity testing, virgin cleansing myth, female genital mutilation, HIV infection, victimology of human rights, health victimology, Sub-Saharan Africa, epistemology of social sciences, normalcy, pathology, sick role, ‘health society’, sociological organicism, Talcott Parsons, disability, Lawrence D. Haber and Richard T. Smith, Edwin M. Lemert, orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV, gender, sex, sexual violence, South Africa,
South African Police Service, crime statistics, Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act No. 32 of 2007, patriarchy, Africa Check, victimisation, victimisation surveys, secondary victimisation, coercive sex, ‘age-disparate relationship’, ‘blesser-blessee’ relationship, ‘jackrolling’, child rape, social cohesion, securitisation, peacekeeping, human security, state fragility, law enforcement

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
A Socio-Criminological Analysis of the HIV Epidemic
Number of pages
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
2 B&W
Publication date
October 2020