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World AIDS Day 2017 : Everybody Counts

Once again it is World AIDS Day. HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally. There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 with 1.8 million people becoming newly infected in 2016 globally.

It is now some 36 years since I first recall reading about ‘The Gay Plague’ back in 1981. Indeed, for a short while it was called GRID- Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Of course, there was a major uproar about such a name. And the Gay Movement started to get itself really organised to fight both the stigma being given to the disease and the lack of funding for research and care. In the 1980’s, AIDS became the central issues – it was absolutely at the heart of all Gay Men’s Lives as disease and death entered the world of young men in catastrophic proportions. Indeed, it did seem that homosexuality could even wipe us out. It also became a huge and major area of research – and in an odd way this became one of the foundations of the modern Queer Movement (through ACT UP) and indeed the academic work that started to grow (I wrote a number of small papers and one major one, which was published in 1986

Three major accounts have been published this year. I have not been able to read them yet – but they have had rave reviews and look to be really important, bringing together history and personal experiences in what was a key shaping period of modern queer history period of gay history. We should not forget!

David France How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS is over 600 pages and brings together personal experience and history, It has got much praise.
Richard McKay’s Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic traces the history of Gaetan Dugas “patient zero”, the first PWA, and the way he became a posthumous scapegoat.
Avram Finkelstein’s After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images (University of Californi) will be published this month. It looks at early work of protest artworks associated with the early years of the pandemic.

I look forward to reading them over Christmas!

About kenplummer

For over 40 years I worried about things sociological; now I have time to stand and stare.

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