Hepatitis C is an emerging theme of contemporary public health discourses related to illicit drug injection practices. Such discourses differentiate injecting from non-injecting users in an actuarial risk logic, targeting drug-injecting users as a population in need of support in the management of risks attributed to their practices. Public health strategies suppose, among other things, that injecting drug users adopt a homogeneous vision of hepatitis C, and of its risk, that is compatible with the reality produced by biomedicine. The majority of studies conducted on hepatitis-related risks in the context of harm reduction strategies are interested in socio-demographic factors to understand the behavioural variations within this targeted population. The meaning given to the virus and to its risk has remained marginal and the diversity of areas of construction of meaning tends to be ignored in the academic literature. Attention to this diversity indicates a complex tissue of social and communicational relations and the contingency of the symbolic instruments that people manipulate in their relation with their body and towards others; a complex tissue in which the reality of biomedicine is one among many alternative realities.

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Health, Risk and Society

Carrier, N, Laplante, J. (Julie), & Bruneau, J. (Julie). (2005). Exploring the contingent reality of biomedicine: Injecting drug users, hepatitis C virus and risk. Health, Risk and Society, 7(2), 123–140. doi:10.1080/13698570500108693