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AIDS and the Social Sciences

AIDS and the Social Sciences: Common Threads

Richard Ulack
William F. Skinner
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    AIDS and the Social Sciences
    Book Description:

    Though more than 150,000 AIDS-related deaths have been reported worldwide and between 5 and 10 million people are now infected with its precursor, HIV-1, the deadly and relatively new AIDS virus is still a mystery.AIDS and the Social Sciences: Common Threads, an enlightening examination of the AIDS epidemic from the viewpoints of various social sciences, provides us with clues to that mystery. The essays' original research and firsthand accounts from social scientists offer an excellent overview of the research agendas and directions for a disease that is an increasing presence in our society.

    Sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, psychologists, social workers, and people in government agencies converge in this book to discuss the social, political, economic, legal, moral, and ethical issues related to AIDS. Their methods of approaching the study of AIDS range from a case study approach to survey research to participant observation.

    Among the topics examined in this distinctive collection are the geographic origins of AIDS, the psychosocial aspects of AIDS, the impact of AIDS on women and children, and the federal funding patterns of AIDS-related research. One chapter traces the diffusion of the pandemic in major urban areas, smaller cities, and finally rural America. Another documents the devastating impact the disease has had on central and East Africa, some areas of which have as many as one in four adults who are HIV-infected.

    AIDS and the Social Sciencescould serve as a primary or supplemental text for college courses and is an important resource for anyone interested in social science or public health.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6476-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    The literature on Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is voluminous and growing, as the lengthy bibliography at the end of this volume attests. That this is so is not at all surprising given the tremendous importance of the topic and the impact that it has had, and will continue to have for the foreseeable future, on the world’s population. Since its discovery in the United States in the early 1980s, over 160,000 AIDS cases have been reported in this country (through December 1990), and an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States are infected with the virus believed to be...

  6. 2 AIDS: A Search for Origins
    (pp. 8-29)

    According to Sir Fred Hoyle and his colleague, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is of extraterrestrial origin (McClure and Schulz 1989; Hoyle and Wickramasingke 1990). It has also been suggested that the virus was created either deliberately as a biological warfare weapon by the “doctors of death” at Fort Dietrich, Maryland, or accidentally by molecular biologists in a recombinant research laboratory of some sort in the USSR or Eastern Europe (Executive Intelligence Review 1988). A hypothesis of a similar genre links the HIV to an African strain of swine virus causing deadly fever among Cuban hogs, the source of the...

  7. 3 Modeling the Geographic Spread of AIDS for Educational Intervention
    (pp. 30-44)

    In the AIDS epidemic, we are finally realizing that we face a new plague of global proportions (Gould 1969). As of January 1991, 157 countries had reported the presence of AIDS, and we believe that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is virtually everywhere. In some countries the consequences are already catastrophic and getting worse each year. In southwest Uganda, in the province of Kisii alone, there are already over 20,000 orphaned children from young parents who have died of AIDS, and the numbers have been nearly doubling for the past few years. Over 146,000 people in the United States have...

  8. 4 Communities at Risk: The Social Epidemiology of AIDS in New York City
    (pp. 45-63)

    By the time this chapter appears in print, New York City will have reported over 35,000 cases of AIDS. With less than 3 percent of the nation’s population, NYC accounts for almost 20 percent of all AIDS cases in the United States. Yet even this stark measure of the disproportionate impact of the epidemic on one locality understates both the extent and the character of the problem, for it is the devastating impact of AIDS on particular urban neighborhoods and communities that really distinguishes this phase of the epidemic in America.

    AIDS, like most epidemics, is not best understood as...

  9. 5 Low-Incidence Community Response to AIDS
    (pp. 64-81)

    The problems of people with AIDS who live in large cities with high incidences of AIDS are difficult enough, but people with AIDS and agencies that attempt to provide support services for those with AIDS in low-incidence communities—like Lexington, Kentucky—face unique difficulties.

    Lexington, located 75 miles east of Louisville and 80 miles south of Cincinnati in central Kentucky, is a small city with a combined urban-county (Fayette County) population of 225,000. It is a market and medical resource center for all of central and eastern Kentucky. Lexington has six acute care hospitals, including the University of Kentucky Medical...

  10. 6 AIDS: Socioepidemiologic Responses to an Epidemic
    (pp. 82-99)

    Principles and methods of sociology and epidemiology have been applied to our understanding of the epidemic of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) since the outbreak was first recognized in 1981. This chapter presents a series of successive socioepidemiologic investigations that were conducted before the identification of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) as the etiologic agent of AIDS in 1984: a case study, a case-control study, and a cluster investigation of homosexual and bisexual men with AIDS who were linked by sexual contact. Later in the chapter, more recent studies of the heterosexual transmission of HIV and behavior change will be described and...

  11. 7 An Anthropological Research Agenda for an AIDS Epicenter within the United States
    (pp. 100-123)

    The purpose of this chapter is to outline potential anthropological contributions to a research agenda used by the Behavioral Medicine Component of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University of California, San Francisco to organize the development of new research projects (Coates, Temoshok, and Mandel 1984; Coates et al. 1986). The chapter will begin by describing the research agenda and the Behavioral Medicine component at CAPS. Second, an example of the applications of the research agenda within the city of San Francisco will be given. The balance of the chapter will outline how medical anthropology can be...

  12. 8 The Sociocultural Impacts of AIDS in Central and East Africa
    (pp. 124-133)

    The overall pattern of HIV transmission in central and East Africa is very different from the pattern found in North America and Europe. In central and East Africa, most HIV transmission, it is now known, occurs through heterosexual penile-vaginal intercourse (Piot et al. 1984; Van de Perre et al. 1984). The extent of HIV transmission through male homosexual activity in Africa has not yet been adequately researched, but certainly it is at most only a small but contributing factor to the overall rates of HIV seroprevalence (Feldman 1990a).

    Recreational intravenous drug use is virtually unknown in Africa (Biggar 1986). The...

  13. 9 Women, Children, and AIDS: Research Suggestions
    (pp. 134-148)

    The early conceptualization of AIDS as a disease of gay men (presumed to be white) or of epidemiologically defined “risk groups” (IV drug users, Haitians, men having sex with men) foreclosed the recognition of the racial, class, and gender relations that frame the development of AIDS as a social problem and structure the social consequences of HIV infection. (See Schneider 1989 for a fuller discussion of the multiplicity of AIDS-related issues raised by the intersection of these three systems of inequality—race, class, and gender.) Early understandings of AIDS took for granted, with virtually no sustained analysis, that the vast...

  14. 10 Federal Funding in AIDS Activity
    (pp. 149-157)

    The U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) is organizationally a part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is the principal health agency in the federal government. In the past decade, the PHS has been widely criticized for inadequate and untimely response to the AIDS epidemic. The purpose of this discussion is not to defend, refute, substantiate, or amplify these charges, but to attempt a systematic look at trends in the expenditure of fiscal resources by the federal government on AIDS-related activities. While the focus of this discussion is on research, I would suggest that AIDS expenditures are not...

  15. References Cited
    (pp. 158-175)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 176-177)