cover of book

Commodities of Care: The Business of HIV Testing in China
by Elsa L. Fan
University of Minnesota Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-5179-0765-5 | Cloth: 978-1-5179-0764-8
Library of Congress Classification RA643.86.C6
Dewey Decimal Classification 362.196979200951


How global health practices can end up reorganizing practices of care for the people and communities they seek to serve 

Commodities of Care examines the unanticipated effects of global health interventions, ideas, and practices as they unfold in communities of men who have sex with men (MSM) in China. Targeted for the scaling-up of HIV testing, Elsa L. Fan examines how the impact of this initiative has transformed these men from subjects of care into commodities of care: through the use of performance-based financing tied to HIV testing, MSM have become a source of economic and political capital. 

In ethnographic detail, Fan shows how this particular program, ushered in by global health donors, became the prevailing strategy to control the epidemic in China in the late 2000s. Fan examines the implementation of MSM testing and its effects among these men, arguing that the intervention produced new markets of men, driven by the push to meet testing metrics. 

Fan shows how men who have sex with men in China came to see themselves as part of a global “MSM” category, adopting new selfhoods and socialities inextricably tied to HIV and to testing. Wider trends in global health programming have shaped national public health responses in China and, this book reveals, have radically altered the ways health, disease, and care are addressed. 

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