AIDS: The Burdens of History
Elizabeth Fee, Daniel M. Fox
University of California Press, 1988 - Medical - 362 pages
The AIDS epidemic has posed more urgent historical questions than any other disease of modern times. How have societies responded to epidemics in the past? Why did the disease emerge when and where it did? How has it spread among members of particular groups? And how will the past affect the future--in particular, what does the history of medical science and public health tell us about our ability to control the epidemic and eventually to cure the disease?
Historical methods of inquiry change, and people who use these methods often disagree on theory and practice. Indeed, the contributors to this volume hold a variety of opinions on controversial historiographic issues. But they share three important principles: cautious adherence to the "social constructionist" view of past and present; profound skepticism about historicism's idea of progress; and wariness about "presentism," the distortion of the past by seeing it only from the point of view of the present.
Each of the twelve essays addresses an aspect of the burdens of history during the AIDS epidemic. By "burdens" is meant the inescapable significance of events in the past for the present. All of these events are related in some way to the current epidemic and can help clarify the complex social and cultural responses to the crisis of AIDS.
This collection illuminates present concerns directly and forcefully without sacrificing attention to historical detail and to the differences between past and present situations. It reminds us that many of the issues now being debated--quarantine, exclusion, public needs and private rights--have their parallels in the past. This will be an important book for social historians and general readers as well as for historians of medicine.
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Notes on Contributors
addiction AIDS epidemic AIDS patients amyl nitrite argued Association authority Baltimore Sun behavior biological biomedical campaign cause cholera City Health Department clinical compulsory contagion contagious contemporary crisis cultural death demic discourse doctors early epidemiology example factors fear federal feminist groups health polity heterosexual HIV infection homosexual hospital human Hygiene Ibid illness Immunodeficiency individual infectious disease intravenous drug users isolation issue Journal July Kaposi's Sarcoma Lancet lepers leprosy London male measures medical profession Medicine ment MMWR moral National nineteenth century officials organizations person physicians plague plague doctors polio poliomyelitis political population prevention problem programs promiscuity prostitutes public health quarantine reported response risk role Science scientific scientists sexually transmitted diseases Shilts sick social society spread syndrome syphilis testing tion transmission treat treatment tuberculosis United University Press vaccination venereal disease victims virus Women and AIDS yellow fever York City