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AIDS and Contemporary History by Virginia Berridge, Philip Strong

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By Virginia Berridge, Philip Strong

The appearance of AIDS has ended in a revival of curiosity within the ancient courting of affliction to society. There now exists a brand new awareness of AIDS and background, and of AIDS itself as an old occasion. this gives the starting-point of this choice of essays. Its dual subject matters are the 'pre-history' of the effect of AIDS, and its next background. Essays within the part at the 'pre-history' of AIDS examine the contexts opposed to which AIDS can be measured. The part on AIDS as background offers chapters by way of historians and coverage scientists on such themes as British and US medicines coverage, the later years of AIDS rules within the united kingdom and the emergence of AIDS as a political factor in France. a last bankruptcy appears on the archival strength within the AIDS region. As a complete the quantity demonstrates the contribution that historians could make within the research of near-contemporary occasions.

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AIDS and Contemporary History

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Extra resources for AIDS and Contemporary History

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It was 1986 before the first major initiative was taken directly by the government, which included the powers to detain people who were highly infectious (though these powers were rarely if ever used). 41 It is not to minimise the threat of HIV transmission from these sources to note the extraordinary disparity between the actual problem, amongst homosexual men, and the political priorities this suggests. It was to be November 1986 before there was a major House of Commons debate on the subject, four years after the first British deaths.

Moral panic theory, moreover, does not explain why these social flurries of anxiety occur: they simply draw our attention to certain recurring phenomena, providing a template for description rather than a full analysis. Explanations of the AIDS panic must be found in all the other factors we have discussed. Nevertheless, with all these qualifications, there is still some merit in using the term 'moral panic' as a way of describing the first major public stage of the response to AIDS, between roughly 1983 and 1986, not least because a perception of how the public was reacting determined the responses both of the community most affected, and of the government.

There was, first of all, the characteristic stereotyping of the main actors as peculiar types of monster, leading in turn to an escalating level of fear and perceived threat. The response to the perceived threat from the tabloid press was particularly important here between 1983 and 1986, in shaping the image of the 'gay plague'. 34 These were not universal experiences; there was altruism, self-sacrifice and empathy as well. But all these things happened, to people vulnerable to a devastating and life-threatening disease; and the vast majority of these people were homosexual.

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