By Virginia Berridge, Philip Strong

The appearance of AIDS has resulted in a revival of curiosity within the old courting of illness to society. There now exists a brand new realization of AIDS and heritage, and of AIDS itself as an old occasion. this offers the starting-point of this number of essays. Its dual subject matters are the 'pre-history' of the effect of AIDS, and its next heritage. Essays within the part at the 'pre-history' of AIDS examine the contexts opposed to which AIDS will be measured. The part on AIDS as background provides chapters by means of historians and coverage scientists on such subject matters as British and US medicinal drugs coverage, the later years of AIDS guidelines within the united kingdom and the emergence of AIDS as a political factor in France. a last bankruptcy appears to be like on the archival strength within the AIDS sector. As a complete the amount demonstrates the contribution that historians could make within the research of near-contemporary occasions.

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There was even some evidence that the 'blip' in public acceptability of homosexuality in the mid-1980s caused by the fear of AIDS had been overcome, with a small but important growth of support. Margaret Thatcher, despite AIDS and her conservative moral agenda, had in fact presided over a considerable growth in the self-confidence and social weight of the lesbian and gay community. Yet the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviour remained fluid and indeterminate and homosexuality remained ambiguously on the margins of social life, its acceptability still in doubt.

But all these things happened, to people vulnerable to a devastating and life-threatening disease; and the vast majority of these people were homosexual. It is difficult to avoid seeing such manifestations as anything but panic-driven. The real plague as the Guardian famously put it, was panic. 35 Of course, AIDS-related illnesses in the early 1980s were mysterious; fear was legitimate. It was not simply dreamt up by the press. There was a general sense of uncertainty, which shaped the early responses of the medical profession as well as politicians.

13 It may be that it was the technical difficulty in securing exclusion that was most important in determining the approach to AIDS. The long incubation period, the very large numbers already infected before the epidemic was discovered, the initial absence of a quick and certain test and the huge numbers involved in international travel certainly all made the operation of quarantine regulations very difficult. Nevertheless, Watney's argument has the merit of signalling the elision between the moral and the social which has been historically present in public health policy and continues to be particularly prominent in the treatment of AIDS.

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