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AIDS: The Social Disease

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posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 08:04 PM
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome was first detected in 1981 and since has gone on to kill millions and millions of people. Unfortunately, this was and continues to be a social disease before a medical condition.

If an individual is diagnosed with cancer, we are sympathetic. We mourn for their tragedy and feel for the family. If we hear of a individual infected with HIV or AIDS, the person is quickly excluded and stigmatized. Why? It's not contagious, so why is it so socially unaccepted.

Is it an indication of their way of life? What about the unlucky people who contracted the fatal disease through a dirty transfusion?

Grant that through the years we have become more socially accepting to the disease, but we still have a long way to come.

Why is it the public deems it their right to be aware who is and is not infected with HIV or AIDS?

Is it our right to know who is infected with cancer? No. So why is it our business who has contracted this disease? Do we feel that it benefits those around us to be aware who has the disease?

Knowledge is power, but in this case it would only be used against the victim. Carriers of this fatal disease are entitled to their privacy, and in no way, shape or form are they obligated to inform anyone of their disease.

Do you agree with this? Is the public entitled to this information?

Do you consider AIDS a social problem?

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 08:07 PM
The public shouldn't thave information on who is "infected" with AIDS. It's information that should only be released to doctors or to people who the AIDS victem wants to tell. The only social issue with AIDS is societies inability to keep out of things that they shouldn't be in.

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 08:17 PM

Originally posted by JenovaMM
The public shouldn't thave information on who is "infected" with AIDS. It's information that should only be released to doctors or to people who the AIDS victem wants to tell.

Agreed 100%. The issues I have come across are that it is a social risk for the uninfected to be in the presence of a carrier. Which is absolutely absurd, but it is the way of thinking for many.

Originally posted by JenovaMM
The only social issue with AIDS is societies inability to keep out of things that they shouldn't be in.

Well, as much as I agree with that I believe it goes much deeper. An AIDS victim carries a certain stigma with them that prevents social acceptance.

I can remember listening to Eddie Murphy's stand up from the 80's and he talks about the AIDS virus. He mentions how he doesn't want to be around the disease, for all he knows you could be going home with that ! all over your clothes.

The mystery around this virus in the early stages turned it into much more than a medical pandemic.

[edit on 25-10-2006 by chissler]

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 08:19 PM
It's a good question.

I think the biggest difference is that one is contagious, and mostly fatal.
The symptoms may not surface for years and years.

Cancer is not contagious, for the most part, although HPV infection is contagious, and can cause cancer.

Then there is just plain old influenza, more people in the US die from it, than AIDS every year..Yet our employers get pissed if we call in sick. That mentality needs to stop as well.

Our priorities are really screwed sometimes.

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 08:26 PM
For some they may stigmatize based on assumptions about the disease. It would seem that for the most part, especially compared to cancer, where direct causes can be hard to come by, acquiring HIV/AIDS is something done actively and can easily be prevented, particularly in Western societies. Drug use and sex being the more common causes of infection in our society place blame on the shoulders of those who contract the disease, and I think that is part of the stigma and lack of sympathy.

Anyway, I don't think it's as easy as saying you had sex, you're therefore responsible. As always, situations are not always so black and white and in many cases structural violence plays a large role in putting certain groups of people who are at risk for certain behaviours more likely to result in infection in dangerous positons.

Frankly, I have no desire to know who has HIV/AIDS or not. Perhaps if I were engaging in risky behaviours I would be more inclined to care. The only times I think it is important would be a potential sexual partner being honest about it, or if I worked in situations dealing with blood. The fact that the person I may sit next to everyday is infected? I don't need to know that and don't want to.

[edit on 25-10-2006 by parrhesia]

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 08:37 PM
The fact that blood transfusions are no longer at risk, does open the carrier open to some scrutiny. It is a measure of their behaviour, but at the same time it is not always so black and white as parr has mentioned.


Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: March 24, 1987

LEAD: The trial of a homeless man who said he killed a male friend after the two had sex and the friend revealed that he had AIDS ended today when the defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The trial of a homeless man who said he killed a male friend after the two had sex and the friend revealed that he had AIDS ended today when the defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The plea came after Nassau County Court Judge Richard C. Delin said he might allow the girlfriend of Lorenzo D. Owens, the defendant, to testify that Mr. Owens had sex with her several hours after the killing, but never mentioned that he could have been exposed to AIDS.

Defendant Pleads Guilty In AIDS Murder Case

In the cases where the uninfected had intercourse with a carrier, but was not made aware of the disease, we can judge but I think it would be hypocritical. A lot of people are guilty of having sex with people they don't know all to well, and don't contract the disease. So to point the finger at someone in this case would be hypocritical.

It does not justify their actions, but we as a society should show more compassion.

[edit on 25-10-2006 by chissler]

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 09:56 PM
While the public health approach to AIDS has certainly been well nigh insane for the last 25 years, there are indications that that might be changing.

All adolescents and adults should routinely be tested for HIV infection in hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices, the federal government said yesterday, signaling a radical shift in the public health approach to the 25-year-old epidemic.

Under the new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients would no longer have to sign a consent form and get extensive pre-test counseling. But they would have to be told they were being tested for the AIDS virus, asked if they have any questions and given the opportunity to "opt out."

Twenty-five years after the first diagnosis of the first case of AIDS, the world is finally waking up to the epidemic.

The policy is a huge change from an era when stigma and fatalism led to a unique and -- in the opinion of some practitioners, onerous -- set of procedures for HIV testing.

"This represents a milestone for CDC and for our national health protection," Julie L. Gerberding, the CDC's director, said in a telephone news conference.

When AIDS first surfaced , there was virtually nothing known about the disease, except the obvious clues that gay, promiscuous men were the primary victims. Sexually transmitted diseases have never been high on the social sensitivity list, but somehow all that changed with AIDS.

Public health officials became hypersensitive about AIDS testing and identification of the victims. One can only guess how many people were infected by sexual partners who unknowingly carried the disease because there was no protocol in place for early detection of the disease.

So, now that AIDS has gone from being the "gay plague" to being the victimizer of minority women, officials and common folk are beginning to get a grip on the reality of the disease.

It's been one whole generation since the disease was first discovered and only now are the CDC recommending routine screening.

AIDS has the power to change the global gene pool completely. Entire continents are being ravaged by the disease and a generation of children are growing up without parents in some parts of the world because of the disease.

Some might argue that the effect of AIDS on the species might not be all that bad, but clearly the scale of human suffering has the potential to be greater than any epidemic in human history, even if the impact is more protracted than in previous epidemics.

The 20th century saw more technological advances than in any century in history. Medical advances have eradicated many common killer diseases and very much credit for these advances goes to John Snow the father of epidemiology, whose studies of cholera during the early 19th century paved the way for the medical treatments we take for granted in the 21st.

However, it would seem that the initial touchiness about HIV infection and our having forgotten the lessons learned in 19th and early 20th centuries have lead to the resurgence of a disease once thought conquered.

Due to the elimination of public health facilities in New York and the emergence of HIV, there was a resurgence in the late 1980s.[60] The number of those failing to complete their course of drugs is high. NY had to cope with more than 20,000 "unnecessary" TB-patients with multidrug-resistant strains (resistant to, at least, both Rifampin and Isoniazid). The resurgence of tuberculosis resulted in the declaration of a global health emergency by the World Health Organization in 1993.[61]

HIV is the "craftiest pathogen" that I personally have any knowledge of and its ability to mutate may just be enough to stay just a step ahead of our collective learning curve.

Whatever the case may be, a generation of ostrich-like public health policy can not have helped.

Epidemic to Endemic:
The Impact of HIV on Health Care Policy and Nursing Practice

[edit on 2006/10/25 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Oct, 25 2006 @ 10:07 PM
Yup, TB is back (not that it ever went away, it's always been present in marginalized groups) with a vengeance and in many places is an indicator of AIDS infection.
It's approximated that TB is killing upwards of 2 million per year, and that's not a small number. It's really amazing how that emergency declaration in '93 largely went unheard (perhaps because of the populations primarily affected?) and only now with MDR strains of TB becoming common place are more comprehensive programs and actions occuring.

[edit on 25-10-2006 by parrhesia]

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 12:15 PM
When aids first came out, the media quickly played it as the "sexually immoral deadly disease". Because it was categorized with all the other STD's, people automatically viewed it as dirty and immoral because in the back of our minds we have been conditioned into thinking that way by society.

I think that if more emphasis would have been placed on just the disease itself, maybe things would have been different.

Thank God, there has been a difference in how it is viewed today (even if it is little).

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 01:38 PM

Originally posted by chissler

Well, as much as I agree with that I believe it goes much deeper. An AIDS victim carries a certain stigma with them that prevents social acceptance.

It goes even deeper than that. People with full blown AIDS are not accepted in society. People with HIV are excepted but not as much as "normal" people. Am I making sense?

Even people with HIV look down on people with full blown AIDS. It's wierd. I see it all the time (I know alot of people with HIV and full blown AIDS). Enter dimentia from AIDS and there is more social unacceptedness. I know a guy who has a little bit of dimentia from AIDS. Even the people I know with HIV turn their noses up to him even knowing that they could be him in a year or two. It's crazy...ok enough of my rant.

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 02:17 PM
I think the majority of people are just scared, others just not informed, others paranoid.

posted on Oct, 26 2006 @ 04:25 PM
Well the ignorant people speak for themself on this issue. They want nothing to do with the disease and its carriers, and anyone who has it are not permitted in their vicinity. It's a shame some people would feel this way, but it is the world we live in.

But what I question is people who are informed on the disease but still have cold feet about the illness. I have not had a personal experience with the disease, and I'm not sure how comfortable I would be. The line of work I plan to enter in the near future will have me dealing with the disease, and I am curious how I will react initially. I'm certain I will overcome any stigma the disease carries, and work along side clients with and without the disease. But there are people who can not get past the stigmas this disease has carried in the past, with or without knowledge.

Why has this disease carried a stigma when cancer has not?

Indication of life style? Well that was an old notion that has been proven false. Homosexual? We all know how ridiculous that soudns. Permiscuous? Not necessarily. Intravenous drug abusers? Nobody is out of the reach of this disease, yet the carriers of it are excluded from society.

You learn something new everyday, and here was my daily lesson:

- An infected person can reinfect themselves to HIV. They can become immune to the strand they have but reintroduce a new one to their system.

- A new born who tests positive for HIV can defeat the drug in the first 16-36 months. There are cases where the baby tested positive, but by the age of three no longer tested positive for HIV.

Thought those two facts were interesting.

I wish I could find a link for this story, but so far I have not had any luck. So I'll run off of memory here.

I believe it was in the late 80's, an HIV carrier gave birth to a baby girl who put her up for adoption. The baby had tested positive for HIV and stood no chance of being adopted. Nobody would take the young girl into their home, so it appeared she was going to be left in the foster care. Then a gay couple heard of the baby and were willing to take her into their home. The law prevented them from becoming her legal guardians but they were permitted to take the child. Since it was clear nobody else wanted the child, atleast this was a home.

When the young girl turned three, she had been retested for HIV and the test came up negative. She was no longer a carrier of the virus. Immediately families began to pop up willing to adopt the child, and she was quickly removed from the care of the homosexual couple. Nice society right?

I understand they were never her legal guardians, so they had no jurisdiction to say they were entitled to the child. But the fact remained this couple stood up for the child when nobody else would, they should have rights.

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