Holding On


Holding On

African American Women Surviving HIV/AIDS

Alyson O’Daniel

Anthropology of Contemporary North America Series

264 pages
3 appendixes, index


June 2016


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2016


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2016


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Holding On anthropologist Alyson O’Daniel analyzes the abstract debates about health policy for the sickest and most vulnerable Americans as well as the services designated to help them by taking readers into the daily lives of poor African American women living with HIV at the advent of the 2006 Treatment Modernization Act. At a time when social support resources were in decline and publicly funded HIV/AIDS care programs were being re-prioritized, women’s daily struggles with chronic poverty, drug addiction, mental health, and neighborhood violence influenced women’s lives in sometimes unexpected ways.

An ethnographic portrait of HIV-positive black women and their interaction with the U.S. healthcare system, Holding On reveals how gradients of poverty and social difference shape women’s health care outcomes and, by extension, women’s experience of health policy reform. Set among the realities of poverty, addiction, incarceration, and mental illness, the case studies in Holding On illustrate how subtle details of daily life affect health and how overlooking them when formulating public health policy has fostered social inequality anew and undermined health in a variety of ways.

Author Bio

Alyson O’Daniel is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Indianapolis. Her work has appeared in Transforming Anthropology and Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness.


"At a time when the lives of African American women surviving with HIV are not commonly illuminated, Holding On provides an important addition to the anthropological and public health literature."—Martina Thomas, Medical Anthropology Quarterly

"Holding On is an important piece of medical anthropology."—Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

"Holding On: African American Women Surviving HIV/AIDS is lucid and insightful about the role of health providers, particularly in poor communities, and the text highlights the marginalization of women of color in addressing health issues. The book will serve as an excellent read for graduate and undergraduates in the social sciences, particularly social workers, and those concentrating on gender politics, history, political science, and public health policy."Kofi Johnson, International Social Science Review

Holding On explores crucial aspects of the health disparities debate: how attempts to ease the impact of serious chronic conditions often create as many problems as they set out to solve and how legislation focusing on marginalized groups—especially people of color—can generate unintended consequences. O’Daniel tackles these problems while offering a gripping account of how HIV-positive African American women navigate the many challenges they face.”—Sabrina Marie Chase, author of Surviving HIV/AIDS in the Inner City: How Resourceful Latinas Beat the Odds 

Holding On is a new portrait of American poverty—a social, political, and economic condition rooted in an unequal, unfair, and unsustainable system. Alyson O’Daniel reveals the lives that are at stake in such a system, and the struggle of poor African American women to survive it with dignity.”—Alisse Waterston, author of My Father’s Wars: Migration, Memory, and the Violence of a Century

Table of Contents

List of Tables


Author’s Note

Introduction: Hidden in Plain Sight

1. "Other" Stories of Social Policy and hiv Survival

2. The Local Landscape of hiv/aids Care

3. Urban Poverty Three Ways

4. The Pedagogy of Policy Reform

5. Using "Survival" to Survive, Part I

6. Using "Survival" to Survive, Part II

Conclusion: Life beyond Survival

Appendix 1: Demographic Characteristics of Study Participants at Time of First Interview

Appendix 2: Study Participants’ Analytic Categories

Appendix 3: Glossary of Service Program Acronyms




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