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Dec. 1: AIDS: An Epidemic of Uncertainty

  • Knox Hall 509 606 West 122nd Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

AIDS: An Epidemic of Uncertainty

WHEN: Monday, Thursday, December 1 2016, 12:00 - 1:40 p.m.

WHERE: Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd Street, Room 509

The AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is now nearly 40 years old. After a long battle, the standard metrics have started to point to good news: new infections are down, prevalence has stabilized, life-saving anti-retrovirals are becoming widely available, and AIDS-related mortality has declined.

Using panel data from the Tsogolo la Thanzi study collected in Balaka, Malawi between 2009 and 2015, I argue that in the wake of pandemic AIDS, an epidemic of uncertainty persists. AIDS-related uncertainty, I argue, is measurable, pervasive, and impervious to biomedical solutions.

In Malawi, the consequences of uncertainty are salient to multiple domains of life including relationship stability, fertility, health, and well-being. Even as HIV is transformed from a progressive, fatal infection to a chronic and manageable condition, the accompanying epidemic of uncertainty remains central to understanding the demographic future of this part of the world.

Jenny Trinitapoli’s work bridges the fields of social demography and the sociology of religion. She has written extensively about the role of religion in the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2008, she has been the principal investigator of Tsogolo la Thanzi, an ongoing longitudinal study of young adults in Malawi, which asks how young adults negotiate relationships, sex, and childbearing in the midst of a severe AIDS epidemic. This work is locally staffed and is supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 

Trinitapoli is the co-author of Religion and AIDS in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2012), and her research has been published in numerous journals, including the American Sociological Review, the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, and Demographic Research. In 2012, she received the Roy C. Buck Award from The Pennsylvania State University’s College of the Liberal Arts, in recognition of the best article published by a refereed scholarly journal in the social sciences by a junior faculty member.

She holds a BS in Latin American studies and Spanish from Marquette University, and an MA and PhD in sociology from The University of Texas at Austin.

Lunch will be provided. For inquires about Networks and Time, please contact coordinators Byungkyu Lee ( or Mark Hoffman (

Funding support for the Networks and Time Seminar Series is provided by the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, administered by INCITE, which features events and programming that embody and honor Lazarsfeld’s commitment to the improvement of methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.