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Community-level programs can also reach large numbers of young men. Societal homophobia may impede implementing effective prevention programs for gay youth and may discourage young gay men from accessing prevention services.
This stigma has manifested itself in the forms of discrimination and fear of "people living with AIDS" (PLWAs). As a result, the social implications of the disease have been removed from people with other life threatening conditions to PLWAs. Unfortunately, they are not only faced with a terminal illness but also social isolation and constant discrimination throughout society. Various explanations have been suggested as to the underlying causes of these discriminatory stigmas. Many studies point to the relationship the disease has with deviant behavior, while others suggest that fear of contagion is the actual culprit. When examining the existing literature and putting it into societal context, it could lead one to believe that there is no one cause of this societal phobia. Instead, there would appear to be associated factors that influence society's attitudes towards AIDS and PLWAs. (YOU MIGHT WANT TO INSERT YOUR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS HERE)
The focus that the media has put on specific groups unfairly places an emphasis on high-risk groups rather than high-risk activities. As a result, the word AIDS alone conjures, for many, images of those who stray from what society has deemed normal behavior. Homosexuals, in western culture, have almost always suffered the effects of being labeled abnormal as a group. The same is true of prostitutes, IV drug users, and people of color. It is significant to mention that populations that consist of people of color are the parts of the world that are most severely effected by AIDS, such as countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and Haiti. As a result, a strong association has also been made between AIDS and people of color.
The fact that AIDS is associated with already stigmatized groups has two principal effects. First and most obvious, is that society's negative attitudes towards the groups in question are transferred to AIDS and PLWAs. Second, is an amplification of the existing negative feelings that society holds towards these specified groups as being associated with the likelihood of contracting HIV.
In the 1980s, school children who had contracted HIV through blood transfusions were stigmatized almost as badly as homosexuals and often not even allowed to attend public schools. It was only after the highly publicized case of Ryan White that something was done.
In the early years of AIDS, many PLWAs were actually refused service in North American hospitals and some were fired from their jobs upon announcing that they had AIDS.
As America remembers Ronald Reagan, it must never forget his abdication of leadership in the fight against the virus. History may ultimately judge his presidency by the men and women who have and will die of AIDS. A significant source of Reagan's support came from the newly identified religious right and the Moral Majority, a political-action group founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell that has managed to gain even more support in the current Bush administration. Scientists, researchers and health care professionals at every level expressed the need for funding. The response of the Reagan administration was indifference.
At a White House state dinner, first lady Nancy Reagan expressed concern for a guest showing signs of significant weight loss. On July 25, 1985, the American Hospital in Paris announced that Rock Hudson had AIDS. Reagan ultimately addressed the issue of AIDS while president though his remarks came near the end of his second term. When he spoke, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS and 20,849 had died.
Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military: Vietnam to the Persian Gulf. New York: St. Martin's, 1993.
Hodgson, I. Culture, meaning and perception: explanatory models and the delivery of HIV care. Abstract MoPeD2772, XIIIth International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa, 2000. Available at www.brad.ac.uk/staff/ijhodgson/summaries/Publications/durban2000.htm.
Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. New York: St. Martin's, 1987.
UNAIDS (United Nations Joint Programme on HIV / AIDS). 2002. Report on the Global HIV / AIDS Epidemic, 2002. Switzerland: UNAIDS.
Young, Ian. The Psychohistorical Origins of AIDS, An…[continue]
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