Sanyu A. Mojola

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado-Boulder


2015-2016: Hutchins Fellow

Race, Health and Inequality: Producing an HIV Epidemic in the Shadow of the Capitol

Project Description

Race, Health and Inequality: Producing an HIV Epidemic in the Shadow of the Capitol

Racial health disparities are among the most intransigent and enduring markers of inequality in the United States. Blacks in the U.S. have higher rates of illness and death compared to other race/ethnic groups, and these disparities have persisted for decades. Drawing on life history and key informant interviews as well as a variety of contemporary and archival sources, my book will examine the unique configuration of social-structural and demographic processes which came together to produce disproportionate and persistent health vulnerability for African Americans.

Specifically focusing on the case of the Washington D.C. HIV epidemic, the book will explore the combined and contingent roles of migration, racial residential segregation, concentrated poverty, drug epidemics, the War on Drugs, and mass incarceration in shaping individual HIV vulnerability.   Respondent life histories are woven throughout the book to illustrate how these larger social structural processes came to shape their individual choices, HIV acquisition, and their lives following diagnosis as they transitioned to older ages.  

While much of the book focuses on one setting - Washington DC – and one disease – HIV/AIDS – the book also explores the extent to which the ubiquity of many of these processes, and the consequent institutionalized structures of inequality they set in place, may also underlie the production of racial health disparities in other parts of the U.S.

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