Anachronic: Viral Socialities and Project Time among HIV Support Groups in Barbados


From 2005 to 2015, up to five support groups for people living with HIV (PLHIV) operated in Barbados. However, by early 2020, all but one had disappeared. What caused the demise of these groups and why? What does this demise tell us about the HIV response in Barbados, and more particularly, everyday life for PLHIV? More generally, what does it tell us about “viral socialities” (ties formed between groups of people as they confront the lived effects of infection and discrimination attributable to HIV) and the effects of “project time” (a time frame delimited through the priorities of global HIV/AIDS agencies) on these socialities? Through ethnographic and archival research methods, this article reveals how multiple, unstable project times create and transform viral socialities of Barbadian PLHIV with anachronic effects for some—i.e., a sense of alienation or being “out of time” in relation to the priorities of the global HIV response.

HIV/AIDS memorial installation in a Ministry of Health and Wellness building, Bridgetown Barbados. Photo credit: David Murray.