North Carolina and the Problem of AIDS

North Carolina and the Problem of AIDS: Advocacy, Politics, and Race in the South

STEPHEN INRIG
Copyright Date: 2011
DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807869154_inrig
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  • Book Info
    North Carolina and the Problem of AIDS
    Book Description:

    Thirty years after AIDS was first recognized, the American South constitutes the epicenter of the United States' epidemic. Southern states claim the highest rates of new infections, the most AIDS-related deaths, and the largest number of adults and adolescents living with the virus. Moreover, the epidemic disproportionately affects African American communities across the region. Using the history of HIV in North Carolina as a case study, Stephen Inrig examines the rise of AIDS in the South in the period from the early spread and discovery of the disease through the late nineties.Drawing on epidemiological, archival, and oral history sources, Inrig probes the social determinants of health that put poor, rural, and minority communities at greater risk of HIV infection in the American South. He also examines the difficulties that health workers and AIDS organizations faced in reaching those communities, especially in the early years of the epidemic. His analysis provides an important counterweight to most accounts of the early history of the disease, which focus on urban areas and the spread of AIDS in the gay community. As one of the first historical studies of AIDS in a southern state,North Carolina and the Problem of AIDSprovides powerful insight into the forces and factors that have made AIDS such an intractable health problem in the American South and the greater United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0250-9
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. INTRODUCTION IN A PLACE SO ORDINARY: The Problem of AIDS in North Carolina and the American South
    (pp. 1-12)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.4

    In February 2003, North Carolina’s Screening and Tracing of Active Transmission (STAT) team learned of two black college men who tested positive for “acute” HIV infections. After an initial HIV infection, it can take several weeks for the body to make antibodies. During this “acute” phase of infection, individuals are at their most contagious owing to a high viral load, but since standard HIV tests only detect antibodies to the virus, they often fail to detect infections in the acute phase. In the mid-1990s, researchers developed tests called nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) that could target nucleic acid sequences specific...

  5. CHAPTER 1 AIDS AND THE FRIGHTENING FUTURE: The Emergence of AIDS in North Carolina
    (pp. 13-25)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.5

    In March 1983, Glenn Rowand discovered a small, pimple-sized purple spot on his arm. Over the next month, the physician’s assistant watched the spot grow at an alarming rate. On May 9, physicians at Duke University Medical Center confirmed Rowand’s fears: the unusual, purple spot on his arm was Kaposi’s sarcoma; forty-seven-year-old Glenn Rowand had AIDS.¹

    While tragic in its own right, Rowand’s diagnosis would play an important role in the history of North Carolina’s fight against AIDS. Rowand had figured actively in the Triangle’s gay life since the early 1970s.² A self-described “stereotypical AIDS victim,” Rowand estimated having “in...

  6. CHAPTER 2 MAKING SURE THAT THIS TRAGEDY NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN: AIDS Organizing and North Carolina’s Gay Community
    (pp. 26-42)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.6

    On a cold November day in Durham, North Carolina, a young Virginia man pulled into a parking space at Duke University Medical Center and made his way into the hospital. Months earlier, he had inexplicably started feeling tired and slightly depressed. Over the next months his fatigue worsened, he rapidly lost weight, his lymph nodes swelled, and he was unable to shake a persistent, low-grade fever. Eventually, the fear he had suppressed for so long broke the surface of his psyche: he had AIDS.

    He lived in a southern Virginia town with his parents, where everyone knew everyone, and where...

  7. CHAPTER 3 WE AIN’T GOING TO TELL NOBODY: AIDS Organizations and the Challenge of Diversity
    (pp. 43-57)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.7

    Louise Alston and her family shuffled into the elevator on an evening in late November 1986. No one spoke. Each family member weighed the tragic news they had just learned: Harold Burton, Louise’s brother, had AIDS. That morning, Harold had gone to the hospital to have his teeth removed, and by evening he was telling his parents and five siblings that he had a terminal disease. Louise knew something about HIV because of her work as a phlebotomist, so she tried calming her family’s fears about AIDS; but everyone still felt panicked. Now, standing together in stunned silence, each seemed...

  8. CHAPTER 4 BLACK MEN DIE A THOUSAND DIFFERENT WAYS: AIDS in African American Communities
    (pp. 58-85)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.8

    Sometime in the late 1980s, Garry Lipscomb of the Lesbian and Gay Health Project (LGHP) attended a meeting at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in northern Durham County. “They wanted to talk about the AIDS epidemic,” Lipscomb remembered, “and they had people, mostly drug users, who were talking about getting infected and turning around and how this was really a good thing for them that they had gotten this and they were living better lives.” Lipscomb found this emphasis somewhat troubling, particularly in light of the dramatic rise of HIV in black communities. So, when it was his turn to speak,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 THE FUTURE OF A FUTURELESS FUTURE: AIDS and the Problem of Poverty in North Carolina
    (pp. 86-107)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.9

    Barbara’s life had already been hard.¹ The single twenty-something already had three children and was living in a housing project near uptown Charlotte when she learned she was pregnant yet again. Over the course of her pregnancy, she came to learn two things: she was having a girl, and she had HIV. The diagnosis left her depressed and unable to sleep. When she told her family, they ostracized her and her new baby, worried that Barbara or the baby might somehow bleed and expose them to infection. Their reaction drove Barbara to isolate herself. “I was afraid of dying and...

  10. CHAPTER 6 GET REAL. GET TESTED: AIDS as a Chronic Disease in the American South
    (pp. 108-126)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.10

    In 1996, over a decade had passed since David Jolly first heard of HIV/AIDS, but there he was, still trying to push North Carolinians to act against the disease. His context had changed considerably. He no longer struggled in isolation: he now served as vice chairman of a blue ribbon panel of health professionals called the North Carolina AIDS Advisory Council. HIV/AIDS no longer posed such a threat to his friends: black heterosexuals and men who have sex with men (MSM) were more likely than white gays to acquire the virus in North Carolina; drug users and their sexual partners...

  11. CONCLUSION WATSON AND THE SHARK: The Past and Future of AIDS in North Carolina and the American South
    (pp. 127-138)
    DOI: 10.5149/9780807869154_inrig.11

    At the end of a long hall in Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art hangs John Singleton Copley’sWatson and the Shark. The eighteenth-century painting depicts a young sailor being attacked by a shark while his crewmates struggle mightily to beat back the shark and save him.Art historians tell us that the painting was inspired by a real event in Havana, Cuba, in 1749, when fourteen-year-old Brook Watson was attacked by a shark in the Havana harbor. An orphan serving as a crew member on a trading ship, Watson was swimming alone in the harbor when he was attacked, and...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 139-172)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 173-202)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 203-208)