Infectious Ideas: U.S. Political Responses to the AIDS Crisis / Edition 1

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Viewing contemporary history from the perspective of the AIDS crisis, Jennifer Brier provides rich, new understandings of the United States' complex social and political trends in the post-1960s era. Brier describes how AIDS workers—in groups as disparate as the gay and lesbian press, AIDS service organizations, private philanthropies, and the State Department—influenced American politics, especially on issues such as gay and lesbian rights, reproductive health, racial justice, and health care policy, even in the face of the expansion of the New Right. Infectious Ideas places recent social, cultural, and political events in a new light, making an important contribution to our understanding of the United States at the end of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Carole Ann Kenner, PhD, RN, FAAN (The College of New Jersey)
Description: The author links the AIDS crisis to the changing political climate globally in order to make the case that diseases such as AIDS also affect politics, at least in America.
Purpose: The book discusses the social and political trends of the 1960s on through the 1990s, focusing on the conservatism of the government and society in the 1980s and how this shaped the debates about AIDS and turned AIDS into a sexual political hot potato. The changes in the response to the AIDS crisis in turn shaped the political landscape.
Audience: While the audience is not clearly stated, it appears to include any health policy, policy, or health professional student or lay person who is interested in the relationship between politics and a response to a healthcare problem.
Features: The book moves from outlining the gay liberation movement to social marketing of safe sex to the role of the federal government, in particular the Reagan years, and how conservatism held back the response to AIDS. The role of a private foundation such as Ford in Brazil illustrates how philanthropy supported research to examine the social impact of AIDS and the demographics of the victims of AIDS. This support tied the mission of Ford to find solutions to social and political problems created by poverty. These efforts then led to more social and political movements such as U.S. women's magazines getting involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, followed by discussions of the economic impact of medical ignorance. Health policy changes followed and are outlined in the final chapter, using South Africa as an example. This book provides evidence to support the links between politics and responses to AIDS, demonstrating what effect each side had on the other.
Assessment: There is no comparable book on the market that ties an event such as the AIDS crisis to the historical/political landscape nor one that shows the impact of a disease such as AIDS on government and politics.
From the Publisher
A compelling history of health politics in a critical decade.—Global Public Health
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807833148
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Brier is assistant professor of gender and women's studies and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Table of Contents

1 Affection is our best protection : early AIDS activism and the legacy of gay liberation 11

2 Marketing safe sex : the politics of sexuality, race, and class in San Francisco, 1983-1991 45

3 What should the federal government do to deal with the problem of AIDS? : the Reagan administration's response 78

4 AIDS, reproductive rights, and economic empowerment : the Ford Foundation's response to AIDS in the global south, 1987-1995 122

5 Drugs into bodies, bodies into health care : the AIDS coalition to unleash power and the struggle over how best to fight AIDS 156

Epilogue We struggle against it together : the South African AIDS Alliance, 1996-2003 190

Notes 201

Bibliography 253

Index 279

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