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 illness to society. There now exists a brand new attention of AIDS and background, and of AIDS itself as an historical occasion. this offers the starting-point of this number of essays. Its dual subject matters are the 'pre-history' of the impression of AIDS, and its next background. Essays within the part at the 'pre-history' of AIDS examine the contexts opposed to which AIDS may be measured. The part on AIDS as heritage offers chapters via historians and coverage scientists on such issues as British and US medicines coverage, the later years of AIDS regulations within the united kingdom and the emergence of AIDS as a political factor in France. a last bankruptcy seems to be on the archival strength within the AIDS quarter. As an entire the amount demonstrates the contribution that historians could make within the research of near-contemporary occasions.

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AIDS appeared in the midst of a cacophony of debate, experimentation and consequent reaction concerning sexuality. Responses to it were, not surprisingly, complex. In turn, the epidemic has initiated new discourses (for example, concerning AIDS and the regulation of sexuality 21 * safer sex', health, and social regulation) which are likely to shape powerfully the ways in which we think and live sexuality for the foreseeable future. The response to AIDS casts a strong searchlight on the sexual preoccupations of our time.

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.

This little book made a major AIDS and the regulation of sexuality 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 33 impact, however, because it fed into theoretical debates already stimulated by the development of what was originally a * grass-roots history', by feminist and lesbian and gay historians. ), State, Private Life and Political Change (Basingstoke and London, 1990), 31^9. For a sympathetic but appropriately critical overview of the various arguments, see Carole S. : Essays from the International Scientific Conference on Lesbian and Gay Studies (Amsterdam and London, 1989).

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