The aids epidemic
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The AIDS Epidemic. How does it fit in with the history of sexuality? Why has HIV been so controversial—After all didn’t syphilis develop in similar ways? (belief that transmission was related to lifestyle) How has technology been enlisted in the fight against AIDS

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The aids epidemic

The AIDS Epidemic

How does it fit in with the history of sexuality?

Why has HIV been so controversial—After all didn’t syphilis develop in similar ways? (belief that transmission was related to lifestyle)

How has technology been enlisted in the fight against AIDS

What are its international dimensions?

How has AIDs affected politics in the US and elsewhere?


Origins of hiv
Origins of HIV

  • Some think it originated in Africa as a disease that spread from monkeys to humans between 1926 and 1946

  • Others blame it on a faulty polio vaccine in 1950s

  • Africa seems to be the origins with case of man who died in the Congo

  • Connections to gays first seen in 1978 in gay men in Sweden and the US and in heterosexuals in Tanzania and Haiti

  • Racist aspects of how epidemic was perceived

  • Sexist aspects– In US a “homosexual” disease; in Africa a “heterosexual”—both “lifestyle diseases”


Parallels with syphilis panic
Parallels with Syphilis Panic

  • Both originally seen as punishment of immoral activities—victims blamed for the disease

  • Early plans including the quarantine of gay men (seen in Cuba) and suggestions to tattoo infected men

  • Lifestyles of gay men attacked, along with sexual customs of Africans and other affected groups

  • First symptoms of HIV were skin lesions “Kaposi’s Sarcoma” just like syphilitic chancres.

  • Death and/or disfigurement certain in both diseases until a penicillin invented in the 20th century for syphilis


Why is this an international topic
Why is this an international topic?

  • First cases spread by international travel

  • First HIV victim in US was a male flight attendant

  • Cuban men brought HIV back from Africa when fighting in Angola

  • Russian military advisors in Angola took it back to Russia in 1986

  • Countries like the US blocked the entry of HIV positive people

  • Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas sent to US from Cuba because he was gay, got infected with HIV in US and died from it


Why did aids become so politicized
Why did AIDs become so politicized?

  • Coincided with conservative backlash against the sexual revolution

  • Coincided with the evolution of civil rights movement-gave a model for gay activists

  • Public figures began to die of AIDS—e.g. Rock Hudson-Hollywood friends joined Elizabeth Taylor in supporting gay rights

  • Increasing visible gay movement had a new justification for political organization

  • Conservative US government under Ronald Reagan refused to encourage government sponsored research

  • Reagan apologized in 1990

  • AIDS has spread into the heterosexual population through use of contaminated needles, blood supplies

  • Age demographics has changed


Patterns in hiv infections
Patterns in HIV infections

Different populations affected differently as seen in US






Hiv in the caribbean
HIV in the Caribbean

  • In many parts of the Caribbean, lack of education means that few understand what AIDS is, and have few drugs to treat it.

  • Endemic in Haiti and the Dominican Republic among migrant sugar cane workers who live in terrible poverty.

  • Passed on by heterosexuals who have little access to condoms

  • In the Dominican Republic, being monogamous means using condoms when having sex outside marriage-if you can get a condom.

  • New public health techniques are trying to encourage condom use through plays and skits in bars.





Global statistics aids
Global Statistics, AIDS

  • 42 million people living with HIV, 2002

  • 5 million people newly infected with HIV in 2002

  • By 2001 more women had died of AIDS (9 million) than men (8.5 million), while 4.3 million children had died from AIDS

  • Statistics on adult prevalence vary from 8.8% in Sub-Saharan Africa, to 0.3% in Western Europe and North Africa and the Middle East; .6% prevalence found in Latin America, North America, South and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

  • Political, Economic and Social consequences


Technology and aids
Technology and AIDS

  • Scientific research is at the heart of the fight against HIV

  • Specific problems—several strains of HIV discovered

  • New anti-virals can now prolong the life of HIV infected persons, but not cure them

  • The costs and methods of taking medicines have been at the center of international debates

  • AZT given to pregnant women can help keep fetus protected from HIV

  • Public health measures designed to encourage condom use and safe sex have been the best deterrents, but will people accept them


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