AIDS and Contemporary History by Virginia Berridge, Philip Strong

By Virginia Berridge, Philip Strong

The appearance of AIDS has ended in a revival of curiosity within the old dating of affliction to society. There now exists a brand new realization of AIDS and historical past, and of AIDS itself as an old occasion. this gives the starting-point of this choice of essays. Its dual issues are the 'pre-history' of the influence 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 heritage offers chapters by means of historians and coverage scientists on such subject matters as British and US medicinal drugs coverage, the later years of AIDS guidelines within the united kingdom and the emergence of AIDS as a political factor in France. a last bankruptcy appears on the archival power within the AIDS zone. As a complete the quantity demonstrates the contribution that historians could make within the research of near-contemporary occasions.

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The complexity of social responses My argument is that initial reactions to AIDS were structured by a complex history, which in turn produced a complex set of responses. To illustrate this I want, first of all, to look again at the experiences of the gay community. Identities in the contemporary world, it may be argued, are the means by which we negotiate the hazards of everyday life, and assert our sense of belonging. 36 They are rooted in history, or at least 'History' is evoked, but their effectiveness depends on their strategic placing in a complex play of power relations.

7 While consideration of social factors could, in particular circumstances, lead to 'progressive' conclusions, especially when pitted against clinical or genetic factors, this was not necessarily the result. In the case of AIDS, the danger that social and moral judgements would be applied once the gay community was identified as a 'high risk group' was readily apparent. 8 Such a chain of causality did little to illuminate the case of the middle-aged monogamous woman with AIDS that was to emerge in the mid-1980s.

Jeffrey Weeks, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (2nd edn, London, 1990), Part 5: 'The Gay Liberation Movement'. The relation of these polarised political positions to actual public attitudes and behaviour is a complex one. Broadly, I would argue, there was a long term 34 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Jeffrey Weeks 'liberalisation' and 'secularisation' of attitudes, that continued despite AIDS and the dominance of a morally conservative government in the 1980s.

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