Dr. Elanah Uretsky’s recent book, Occupational Hazards: Sex, Business, and HIV in Post-Mao China, follows a group of Chinese businessmen and government officials as they conduct business in Beijing and western Yunnan Province, uncovering informal networks that result in political favors for the businessmen. The networks are built on liquor, cigarettes, food, and sex; risky behaviors turn into occupational hazards.
Occupational Hazards follows men both powerful and vulnerable – to China's growing epidemics of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Examining the relationships between elite masculine networking practices and vulnerability to HIV infection, the book includes the stories of numerous government officials and businessmen who visit commercial sex workers but avoid HIV testing for fear of threatening their economic and political status. Their lives are complicated by a political system that does not publicly acknowledge the risks and by international approaches to disease control that limit the reach of public health interventions. Dr. Uretsky offers insights into how complex socio-cultural and politico-economic negotiations affect the development of and approaches to China's HIV epidemic.
Dr. Uretsky discussed her research with the National Committee on March 15, 2016, in New York City. She is a medical anthropologist in the departments of global health, anthropology, and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
Dr. Elanah Uretsky is a National Committee Public Intellectuals Program fellow and a member of the Committee.