2019 • 41

Worksite HIV testing in Côte d’Ivoire: from medical power to social control

Anne Bekelynck


The literature about workplace health initiatives generally stresses the mutual benefits of these programmes for employers and employees. This is also the case for HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) workplace initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa. This article aims to critically analyse the worksite as a beneficial HIV testing place, questioning if the workplace – as a place characterized by its authority and dependency relationships – enables employees to freely consent to and participate in HIV testing. It questions which types of power occur in health worksite programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa, examining disciplinary power, pastoral power and managerial/neoliberal power. This study is based on a qualitative survey conducted over a period of 12 months (between November 2011 and May 2013) among 30 large private companies in Côte d’Ivoire (HIV prevalence 3.2% in 2015). This article argues that private companies still represent a constraining “apparatus,” which enables the use of disciplinary and pastoral power, specifically by medical staff upon low skilled employees. However, worksite HCT programmes can also give the employ-ees (generally more skilled) the opportunity to increase the « techniques of the self » with regard to their own health via the normalization of HIV testing and the pressure of their colleagues’ social control. The example of the HIV/AIDS workplace pro-grammes in Côte d’Ivoire illustrates the deep ambivalence of workplace health programmes, between public health opportuni-ties and human rights risks.

Working Paper 41
Working Paper 41
PDF - 336.8 ko



Bekelynck Anne (2019) Worksite HIV testing in Côte d’Ivoire: from medical power to social control, Working Papers du CEPED (41), Paris : Ceped, 12 p. https://www.ceped.org/wp.