University of Sussex
SOC_thesis_McKnightU_2016.pdf (1.78 MB)
Download file

The challenge of HIV within an HIV specialist antenatal clinic in London: providing and receiving care within an HIV diaspora

Download (1.78 MB)
posted on 2023-06-09, 19:54 authored by Ulla McKnightUlla McKnight
The ability to prevent vertical transmission of HIV (where HIV is transmitted from mother to (unborn) baby in utero, at birth or through breastfeeding) is generally considered to be the most successful achievement of HIV biomedicine and care. Indeed if appropriate care and biomedical technologies are available, transmission rates can be reduced to less than 1%. However, there has been very little qualitative research investigating the contingencies and requirements of specialist HIV antenatal care in resource rich settings. Adopting theoretical insights from Science and Technology studies (STS) and anthropology within a broader sociological frame, this research explores the challenges of HIV and the successful prevention of vertical transmission in a specialist antenatal clinic which arguably has access to the most advanced care and biomedical technologies. In doing so, the thesis investigates the way in which the identity of a particular illness — specifically HIV — is maintained in social, clinical and technical domains. Moreover, it explores the requirements of successful specialist HIV antenatal care from the perspective of both practitioner and patient, and it considers how the interests of patients, (unborn) babies and health professionals are reconciled, if at all, within the clinic. The description of specialist HIV and antenatal care provided in this study draws on empirical research conducted in an HIV specialist antenatal clinic housed within an acute National Health Services hospital in London, UK. The research makes a practical contribution to knowledge about specialist HIV antenatal care through theoretically informed reflections on some of the requirements and contingencies of providing and participating in specialist antenatal HIV care in London. Moreover, the research offers an analysis of the clinic that interrogates the relations between social dynamics, (bio)medical practice and technological interventions. In this way, the research also contributes to the social scientific HIV field by explicating how social understandings of HIV and pregnancy are intimately entangled with (bio)medical practice, technological intervention, and what I have called an “HIV diaspora”.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • Sociology and Criminology Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • phd


  • eng


Goldsmiths, Univversity of London

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)