Katie Hughes / Reading Response

Despite being such a recent subject in history, HIV/AIDS is a subject that, until recently, I knew little to nothing about. The height of the AIDS epidemic took place within a decade of my birth, yet it has barely touched my life outside a few spare lines in a textbook- a new virus appeared and lots of people were infected quickly. Lots of people died just as quickly, but then new medicines were invented to help manage the disease and now, even though people were still being infected with AIDS, it wasn’t necessarily a death sentence. This was the extent of my knowledge on the subject. Even though I wondered how it was able to spread so quickly, why they never managed to find a cure, why there was such a stigma surrounding those who had the disease, as a sheltered, white, middle class kid who grew up in a sheltered, white, middle class community it was easy for me to move on, to let the subject become a mere blip in history.

With no direct ties to the people or communities affected by AIDS, it wasn’t until moving to an urban area and meeting peers with drastically different life experiences than my own, that I began to understand the larger context of issues such as the AIDS epidemic. Even now, reading articles and researching for this assignment, I learned of so much- from important events throughout the crisis to nuanced ideas of identity and the effect of AIDS- that I had previously been unaware of. Each article required for this assignment provided a different voice on the subject, but there were several overarching themes linking them together, highlighting the lessons we learned from the AIDS epidemic and providing warning of the ones we didn’t.

The first piece I read was Why We Fight by Vito Russo. This was a good place to start as it took me directly into the passion and pain of a person who was experiencing the AIDS epidemic firsthand. Direct accounts like this are equally as inspiring as they are heartbreaking. His analogy of enduring “a war which is happening only for those people who happen to be in the trenches” is especially moving, and while reading this speech I couldn’t help but to compare my own ignorance of the AIDS epidemic to this willful lack of action to combat the disease simply because of who it affected. This mentality of “we don’t need to pay attention because its not effecting the rest of us” is one that continues to live on in the discourse surrounding any issue that disproportionately affects marginalized communities, and it’s something that I am guilty of thinking at least a few times.

Russo’s speech highlights the struggles of those affected by AIDS during the height of the epidemic, especially within the gay community. They had to live with a debilitating disease while combating indifference, fear, and panic perpetuated through bigotry, media sensationalism, and willful lack of action by the powers that be. They had to watch their friends and loved ones die wondering if action had been taken, if they had mattered to those with power, would these friends and loved ones still be alive? And when education and prevention measures were actually taken, they were targeted towards the very people who had had the privilege to ignore the AIDS epidemic in the first place. This was a final punch in the gut, a reminder that they were scapegoats who had to fight for representation within, and control of the narrative surrounding, their own struggle. This leads to Russo’s final statement, the rallying cry of this speech- an affirmation that yes, we matter. And, despite everything thrown against us, we can fight to rise above this disease and dismantle the system that is killing us.

The next piece, Chapter 1 of Structural Intimacies: Sexual Stories in the Black AIDS Epidemic by Sonja Mackenzie focused more on the black experience of AIDS, specifically within the San Francisco bay area. This piece highlights the unique perceptions of AIDS within this community, and how surrounding socio-economic factors defined their interpretation of the disease. The article overviews how factors such as “corner store culture”, internal prejudice, and conspiracy theories surrounding the epidemic shaped this community’s beliefs and reactions to AIDS.

The overall theme of this article highlights the disparity between the separate black and white experiences with AIDS. It shows that, even within communities commonly perceived to be diverse and progressive such as San Francisco, black communities continue to be marginalized. For me it brings to mind a question- what if the AIDS epidemic had primarily affected the black community rather than the gay community? As much of a struggle as it was for those affected to gain support, would it have been even worse if the disease had been most commonly associated with race rather than sexuality? The experiences of black people with AIDS have been minimized as it is- would the epidemic have been swept under the rug entirely had a larger percentage of those affected not been white men? As racial disparity has continued to grow in the San Francisco bay area, so has the number of black people being affected by AIDS, and this article serves to highlight that long term marginalization and institutionalized racism have created a disproportionate impact of AIDS on the black community and fueled unique perceptions and beliefs of the disease within that community.

Finally, Could Zika be the Next HIV? By Laurie Garrett draws a connection between the AIDS epidemic and the current Zika outbreak. The article points out some striking similarities between the two diseases from their origin in Africa, to their rarity among humans. It also points to a concerning development with Zika, one that I myself had not been aware of- the leap from dependency on mosquitoes for transmission to the ability to be sexually transmitted from one person to another. I’m not the only one that didn’t know this- data collected for the article shows a disturbing lack of knowledge about Zika among the American public. It also draws a connection to the groups affected by these diseases. Zika has had a disproportionate effect on women and, until recently, has been almost entirely focused in South and Central America. Populations within these categories already face bigotry within the US, and association with a disease such as Zika could fuel further hate. Already we see lack of knowledge and action on this disease becoming a major contributing factor to its spread. And while AIDS and Zika remain two totally separate issues, this article highlights the fact that lack of action and knowledge may contribute to an AIDS epidemic scale disaster with the Zika virus.

Each of these sources provides a different story about the AIDS epidemic. Together, these differing voices combine into overarching themes surrounding this disease. They speak to the harmful effects of ignorance and how a person’s race, gender, and sexuality affect not just socio economic status, but their experience with diseases such as AIDS. It shows the perception that these diseases don’t truly matter until they effect the “right people”. And these prejudices linger today, revealing themselves in newfound ways, such as with the Zika virus. This creates an overall theme of a history, no matter how recent and devastating, doomed to repeat itself unless something is done to disrupt this cycle of willful ignorance. When researching other projects related to the AIDS epidemic, I found myself drawn to projects such as A Day Without Art and the AIDS Memorial Quilt. These projects truly portray the enormity of the AIDS epidemic and serve to have an impact both on those directly affected by the disease and those whose lives have never been touched by it. Whether through projects such as these, or actual education and recognition of the true nature of the crisis in the classroom, there needs to be a decrease in ignorance and an increase in engagement around the subject of AIDS if we are ever to provide its victims justice and prevent new health crises in the future.




http://www.avert.org/professionals/history-hiv aids/overview



Becca Nachtrab / Reading Response

Vito Russo’s speech, Why We Fight, calls out bigots and ignorant people who he believed were preventing the AIDS crisis from ending. Could Zika be the Next HIV?, by Laurie Garret, examined the virus Zika, which has been spreading rapidly. The disease is currently infecting people via mosquito bites, but recent cases show that it could also be sexually transmitted. Thus, Garret drew connections between Zika and HIV. Sonja Mackenzie explains in her book’s introduction the different topics she will discuss that relate to AIDS, specifically in the black community. The book will be compiled of sexual stories from black men and women and how AIDS affects their lives. HIV lacked adequate attention and concern and many people did not fully understand what was happening. If Zika receives similar treatment the affects could be disastrous.


In his speech, Russo claimed that the biggest reason AIDS was not being cured was because the majority of the population was not being affected so they did not care. He said, “It’s not happening to us in the United States, it’s happening to them — to the disposable populations of fags and junkies who deserve what they get. The media tells them that they don’t have to care, because the people who really matter are not in danger. Twice, three times, four times — The New York Times has published editorials saying, don’t panic yet, over AIDS — it still hasn’t entered the general population, and until it does, we don’t have to give a shit.” There was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding AIDS, mostly due to insufficient research and media attention. Fear and the need to make sense of the situation resulted in racism and even conspiracy theories. Mackenzie interviewed a woman named Patricia who lost her husband to AIDS. Patricia brought to light one of the conspiracy theories that believed AIDS was man made and was initially injected into certain people who needed weeding out. The text states, “The motive behind HIV: to weed out the “dregs of society.” Patricia continues, “It’s economic racism, it’s social racism. Specific people [are] being discriminated against for one reason or another.”


The Zika virus, in comparison to AIDS, is still in its early stages but it is spreading rapidly. There is still a lot of research that needs to be done regarding Zika and many people are unaware of the ways it can be spread and just how many cases have been reported in the United States. Due to the lack of awareness and disputes over funding, Zika could be heading down the same path of AIDS, which is a dangerous path. In this clip the documentary, How to Survive a Plague, which primarily focuses on the AIDS activist group Act up. The protest in the clip reveals much about what it was like in the early 90s. Garret claims in her article, “Like HIV, the Zika virus would likely find its way into populations that feel discriminated against by the general population, and take its toll disproportionately among teenage girls and young women.” There is a lot of evidence supporting why Zika could be the next AIDS but there is still time to prevent history from repeating itself. Making more people aware of what is happening and ensuring funding will be provided to those who need it will help prevent another crisis like AIDS.

Katie Deitsch / Reading Response

The speech “Why We Fight,” the article “Could Zika be the Next HIV,” and the chapter from “Structural Intimacies: Sexual Stories in the Black AIDS Epidemic” all tell different, but related stories about the spread of HIV in America. Though each story presents a different view, all three are related in ways that reveal a great deal about how HIV was (and still is) perceived in America.

The overall theme of “Why We Fight,” a speech by Vito Russo, is that the general population of America doesn’t care about finding a cure for HIV/AIDS because they don’t feel like it’s happening to “them” – the straight, white, majority population. It’s happening to minorities, homosexuals, and drug users, and the majority of the population doesn’t feel a connection to this disease as anything other than a human interest story. Homophobia and racism play a large part in the perception of the disease, due to the disease’s presence in minority populations.

The article “Could Zika be the Next HIV” defends the statement that we are currently facing a new virus, Zika, that seems to be poised to run a similar track as HIV through the human population. The article backs this statement up by stating that both viruses originated in primates, suddenly gained traction in the human population, and have become dangerous, deadly diseases spread by sexual contact. The specifics of each virus are different, but this main path to infection in humans is the same.

The piece “Structural Intimacies: Sexual Stories in the Black AIDS Epidemic” focuses on how HIV/AIDS affects specifically the Black community. The author states the argument that due to structural vulnerabilities present in the United States, such as different forms of racism, HIV is perceived much more negatively than normal in the Black community. The author uses the example of Brokeback Mountain – this movie portrays what is seen as a heartbreaking secretive relationship between two white men, but if this narrative was played out with Black men, they would likely be seen as “dangerous men” who were spreading HIV “through their secretive, selfish sex acts.” The author argues that racism combined with our societies tendency to focus on individual responsibility for the contraction of a disease (rather than recognizing the societal problems that allow this disease to spread) is the reason that HIV is so present in minority communities.

These three pieces all discuss different factors of HIV, but when read together, an important argument comes to light. This argument is that the general population of America isn’t overly concerned about finding a cure to HIV due to thinking that HIV is disease contracted due to individual “mistakes” – such as engaging in unsafe sex or sharing needles. The information in Why We Fight about the lack of HIV research, the information in the Zika article about how the NIH is spending so much money (especially compared to HIV) to research Zika, and the structural prejudice described in “Structural Intimacies,”  shows just how much prejudice there is against HIV. HIV began affecting a certain subset of the population that the majority was already prejudiced against, so funding was hard to come by. Zika, however, is affecting women and children, which are seen as vulnerable and necessary parts of our population. This synthesis of information makes it clear that HIV was able to spread and become as prevalent as it became due to the way society perceived the disease as something that wouldn’t happen to “them.” If HIV had been perceived mainly as a threat to women and children like the way the Zika virus is, funding and research likely would have come much quicker.

I found an interesting poster campaign related to HIV called “The HIV Positive Poster”. This poster campaign, created by Bruno Mazzotti, ran in Brazil, and was created due to the amount of prejudice and misinformation surrounding this disease in Brazil. Each poster declares “I am an HIV positive poster” and contains a drop of dried blood taken from an individual with HIV. This person’s name, age, and length of time they’ve had the disease is written in the upper right corner, and the body of the poster has some informative text. I thought this project connected with the readings in a strong way. Why We Fight makes a statement that people are interested in HIV as a human interest story, but they’re not actually interested in the individuals behind those human interest stories. This campaign literally put a face to the name behind HIV, by having these individuals actually interact with the audience of the poster, and reveal their identity. It also made people realize that HIV isn’t just a disease that affects “others,” it affects people you might interact with on a daily basis.

HIV Positive Poster – video

HIV Positive Poster – website 

Sara Cassidy / Reading Response

HIV/AIDS the impact still exists.

In reading the three articles assigned each touched on a different topic, with a different view point. I have laid out each article with a opening sentence about what the thesis is about and following that is my opinion and what I learned and question about the article. Lastly I found an article about the art of expressing AIDS today.

Why we fight article states that AIDS does not have enough support because it is not happening to the middle class.  It has been ignored.  And only been taught about the early deaths.

I agree the only part of HIV/AIDS I know is that it was a huge thing in the 70s and that was the only time it happened. I haven’t been informed on it in recent decades because it hasn’t applied to my close community or me.  And when you see that there is still no cure, I begin to wonder why we don’t know more about it or are aware about it, especially because we are all still a very sexually active generation.

Storying sexuality in the black AIDS epidemic states: HIV is man made. The government set it in the poverty and black community to try and wipe out people says a woman whose husband died from AIDS. There is also a conspiracy of neglect and a conspiracy of intent within that community. Two other factors are alcohol and the poverty line dropping in certain communities leading to finding money in sexual ways. It seems there is an ever-presence of racism haunting and embedding itself in the title of HIV positive.

This beginning chapter of this book startled me. To hear some one voice a reason of HIV/AIDS being man made by the government to wipe out the interracial poverty-stricken communities is terrifying. To have that strong of an opinion that the government is out to get you is not true government is meant to protect us and listen to us, but it seems they are only listening to the people waving money in there hands. The conspiracy of neglect and intent are equally scaring as well.

Zika CNN news article states: American pregnant women can’t do anything greater despite the wealth of the American class compared to that in South America. Congress is still undecided about passing a funding bank to scientists. Mosquitos are now not needed to spread Zika now it is passable by male semen and stays in their system for up to four months. If Zika makes it to a very sexually active community it can spread like wild fire.

Zika is here today and it appears the government can’t decide weather to fund it or not. That seems a bit ridiculous to me. Every mother is now terrified what could happen to her child and there is no funding. I think it may be time to bring some more women into congress. After all we are the ones who carry the child and have a greater bond to our children and the scary life threat of having to abort a child due to a possibility of Zika. We know so little about this disease can’t we learn from HIV/AIDS that it is better to find a cure faster with proper funding than to let it sit and decrease funding as it stops being the spot light of American class.

I further found an article titled, “You’ll have to wait for the next one” Rock Hushka’s case for the exclusion of Black artists from Art AIDS America.  It is an article about how an art exhibit on showcases 4 black artists in a pool of 107 artists.  The interview goes on to question the lack of black artists is because of appropriation — an idea of inherent racism, where white artists get inspiration from other races and copy or steal those ideas. Hushka said most of his selection of artists was that involved in curating only museum level work. Sad to hear and still acknowledge that the black community still does not have a strong voice in the disease they are still impacted in today.



Cassie Spicer / Reading Response

In Why We Fight, Vito Russo discusses the misconceptions society has and holds against those with HIV/AIDS and how no one is really helping in the fight against this disease, though the media is likely to tell you the opposite. People still believe this only affects homosexuals or junkies who can’t take care of themselves; not “real people” thriving in society and surely no one they associate with. Sonja Mackenzie takes it a bit further discussing how people are shutting others up and out in their own communities. In Storying Sexuality in the Black AIDS Epidemic, she discusses how AIDS affects the black community and how they respond to finding out someone they know or love was diagnosed with the disease usually through conspiracy theories, the “low down”, and the relationship between the political economy, alcohol, and race as factors. Laurie Garrett from CNN, brings a unique perspective in Could Zika be the next HIV?, which Zika has transformed into an STD when it once was only from mosquitos. Like HIV this typically affects discriminated populations with distorted knowledge of how the viruses work.

I wouldn’t think anyone would ever have assumed HIV/AIDS would be an easy illness to live with, but the ignorance and lack of empathy for people struggling or dealing with this disease is destroying any chance for cure and causing a huge lack of donations for further research. People continue to believe HIV is an “end all” disease where a person is destined to die, and easily contracted from others when really that’s not the case. Hearsay and the media are not the only thing to blame in the battle of ignorance, but also our education system. White students are constantly being told homosexuals are the only ones that can get HIV, and if you’re white even less so and that it’s “under control”, while people of color aren’t even covering the topic. The public are lied to even more by being told the government and organizations are aiding in the fight against HIV, when scientists like Anthony Fauci are being put before Congress to explain why he’s moving forward with experiments that they refuse to approve. With the government being no help, it’s no wonder people, especially of color, believe HIV was man made to wipe out discriminated populations. Who are they to trust when there’s no education being put forth to prove any differently?

For me, I was amazed on how people are so willing to let people suffer in silence and alone. Better to shut up than be an embarrassment, right?  Even living in strong, black communities, they wanted to silence black, gay men about the subject and not deal with it. Obviously those discriminated against for race, poverty, socioeconomic status, etc. are typically worse off but it was a little mind blowing to see the connection between those dealing with those things and obtaining HIV. How are we continuing to let these trends go on and hardly anyone speaks out when this is something that affects every one of us? It is even more terrifying that Zika manipulated and now can be passed through sexually from any sex to any other, and no one is talking about it either. Abortions are increasing due to women being scared and not being fully educated on this, but the government still wants to play a part and telling women “no, they have to carry the baby”. Sickening really, but it has to be the same for those dealing with HIV. It can pass from mother to baby, leaving her with a difficult decision to make if she’s even aware of what can happen.

This reminds me a lot of the TED Talk from Shereen El-Feki on how laws are making the epidemic so much worse and hurting the people they were supposed to be protecting. In her video, “HIV – How to Fight an Epidemic of Bad Laws” she talks about how only half of those suffering are getting the treatment they need because global funds are shrinking. Laws enforced by prejudice, ignorance, and religion are making laws a common enemy for with HIV. Countries are actually able to arrest and deport people for having HIV, and without explaining their crimes. There are “good laws” placed to protect people with HIV from violence and discrimination, and to ensure they get the treatment they need but how ridiculous is that? Why are do we need laws to treat people like people? We need to get over this ignorance that banishing those sick is not the only answer. This is just another example of how far we still need to go, just to treat people as equals. No one would ever deny care, aid, or a loving touch to those with cancer especially while dying… so why is it okay to do this to HIV/AIDS patients? My favorite line in this video is when El-Feki says, “…making a vaccine is rocket science, changing the law isn’t” and she showed how a few changes can go a long way with rates of HIV declining significantly for those countries that show they care.

Watch video here!


Art AIDS America

One of the most intriguing creative projects I found was Art AIDS America exhibition at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. This is the first mainstream museum to speak out about the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has affected many in the US especially artists. This exhibition was a way for the public to see the influence AIDS has had on American art and culture since the epidemic began in the 80s all the way to the present. This is powerful because art is able to keep memories and emotions alive, while presenting complex truths and educating the public. This is real. Real work that real people created while dealing with this very real epidemic. Finally, the suppressed and being given a voice for all to hear and see. This is a really great first step for society to gain some empathy for the epidemic, which is essential for creating progress.

Nick Saho / Reading Response

Vito Russo’s Why We Fight speech was a message to the general public and the media that they needed to put hatred and ignorance aside in order to help a community in need. Russo wanted people to stop viewing the disease as a punishment for homosexuality and using it as an excuse to keep their personal views. The general public wasn’t paying attention or lending a helping hand because the disease wasn’t directly affecting them.

The first chapter of Sonja Mackenzie’s Structural Intimacies book presents social narratives about HIV that were formed from the collected stories of black communities within the San Francisco area. These three narratives were ease of access to alcohol, silence about male homosexuality, and government conspiracy theories. These theories that the government created HIV to infect black communities show how racism still affects and creates separation in portions of our society. People seek to have explanations for the situations that they’re in, and that’s why these social theories are formed.

In the CNN article by Laurie Garrett, comparisons are made between HIV and the emerging Zika virus. Zika can now be sexually transmitted, which could spread rapidly in active communities. Garrett mentions that it “would likely find its way into populations that feel discriminated against by the general population”. The lack of funding for prevention is causing the rate of abortions to increase enormously. Garrett provides polling that indicates that a good portion of the population still isn’t educated about Zika and how it is transmitted. This lack of knowledge is causing children to potentially be infected or not even have the chance to live.

Ignorance appears to be the theme connecting these three articles. Whether it’s the ignorance of the general public and the media to helping the communities affected by HIV, the ignorance of black communities in understanding HIV and dealing with it, or the ignorance of our current population about the emerging Zika virus. Education and communication are essential to preventing these viruses from being transmitted to more people. Differences need to be put aside in order to help everyone affected by a disease. Viruses have been able to spread because communities are separated and do not have knowledge or empathy for other populations. We can help to prevent HIV and Zika by being willing to learn and help others, regardless of our personal views. We need to promote unity.

A creative project that can be related to these articles is the Stitches Doll Project, which is an initiative created to share the stories of women living with HIV. Participants create a doll and include messages about their story or anything they would like to say about their lives. These dolls are put into a collected exhibit that showcases how women from around the world deal with having this virus. You can view the dolls from various states along with their messages on the organization’s website (http://www.stitchesdollproject.org/). This project is a great way for women to have a place to share their thoughts and feel connected to others in a similar situation. It is also great for people who are uneducated to learn firsthand how HIV affects women from the people who are actually affected.

Reading Assignment / HIV / Lilly Stein

The spread of HIV/AIDS virus has created one of the most significant health and development challenges in modern history. While this epidemic influences the physical health of individuals worldwide, its repercussions are felt socially and culturally as well—particularly through racial, sexual, and socioeconomic prejudices.

In a speech written by Vito Russo, for the ACT UP demonstration, he emphasizes that he is not dying from AIDs. Instead, he is dying from the prejudices that have created a division between people with AIDs and those who collectively fight, and people who fear AIDs. Russo declares that the impact of race and sexual orientation is greater than the physical implications that AIDs has had on his health. However, due of the prejudices that exist, his life with AIDs is exponentially more difficult.

Sonja Mackenzie further exemplifies these prejudices through her piece discussing stories based within the Black AIDs Epidemic. Through social narratives and accounts, Mackenzie provides a voice for those without the opportunity to share their stories. Not everyone with AIDs has the same story to tell, and differences in race and social standing provide vastly different experiences. From these accounts, she reframes individual and community risk in order to make sense of the AIDs epidemic.

AIDs is still a threat to society, however, it is not the only threat. Laurie Garret, a Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, compares the newest health emergency Zika Virus to that of the AIDs impact, both in the 1970s and now. Beginning with their origins, Garret discusses how each disease had been in circulation unnoticed for long periods of time before reaching “epidemic” proportions. In addition, AIDS and Zika both were initially transmitted from animal to human—AIDs from monkeys and Zika from mosquitos. According to Garret, the similarities continue with means of transmission being sexual, as well as the lack of government funding and control. Socially, Garret notes, Zika has the potential to reach the point that AIDs has, meaning it may occur most often in minority groups who are prone to experiencing racial, gender, sexual, and socioeconomic discrimination.

Despite the differences between these articles, each represents different chapters of the same story. HIV/AIDs cannot solely be measured by the physical effects it has on a person, but also the effects the disease has on society. AIDs and corresponding prejudices have created a massive division that effects more than health. I believe it is important to stay educated and be proactive when combating these intolerances. We need to stay up to date on possible future epidemics: Who do they effect? How is it affecting? How are we responding? These questions are important in order to break down the division that injustices create.

While I do believe it is important to overcome our historic downfalls of discrimination, I do not find AIDs comparable to Zika Virus. In her article, Garret leaves out a very important piece: the effects of the disease on the person. The effects of AIDs are much more drastic. If you contract AIDs, the disease and symptoms are lifelong—you are guaranteed to get sick. The disease itself destroys your immune system. Zika’s affects can also be harmful, but solely to a growing fetus within a pregnant mom. The effects on the general population are short lasting flu-like symptoms. While I do not believe the physical effects from AIDs and Zika are comparable, it is still important to take note, and learn from, the social impacts of the epidemics.

Zika is a current priority due in part to the exposure of the 2016 Olympics being in the center of the epidemic. In addition, the lack of education and heightened media attention has brought about a public fear of the virus. Mosquitos do not discriminate. Any mosquito carrying the virus can affect any person: black, white, homosexual, low-income. As the disease matures, it has the potential to be mainly contracted through sex rather than mosquitos and therefore affecting the smaller, minority groups. This is where we have the obligation grow as a society. We have to be aware of the social implications of diseases and learn from our mistakes.

Within the AIDs epidemic, while we have a long way to go combating prejudices, we are making small strides. An additional resource I found regarding the AIDs epidemic and its effects, draws upon the impact of posters to provide education and awareness. Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of AIDs Awareness Posters 1985–2010 is a cohesive selection of 153 posters that provide insight rooted in diverse visual strategies that may be seen in a number of different cultures. These posters come from archived international AIDs awareness campaigns and from donations from the Massachusetts colleges of Art and Design. These varying design strategies are inspired by the need to speak to a number of cultures and encourages all groups to respond to this public health crisis, positively and together.

Amanda Jackson / Reading Response

After reading the following articles I noticed a common theme of economic and social racism that surround sexuality and AIDS. These articles display the social inequality and the misconceptions that surrounded this disease and lives it affects.

In the article “Why We Fight”, Vito Russo explains his life as a homosexual male living with AIDS in 1988 and how society perceives the disease. He explains how “the perception that AIDS is not happening to the real people in this country” has effected the education and prevention of this disease, and has hindered the healing of this crisis. I think his speech concerning the AIDS crisis was extremely eye opening during this time and for myself. I was unaware that societal notions were such a hindrance among the fight against AIDS. I believe this is an important idea in understanding the culture in which this disease was formed.

In the chapter “ Storying Sexuality with Black AIDS Epidemic”, the ideas surrounding black individuals dealing with HIV/AIDS and the unspeakable anguish the community has endured, presents another instance of the social discrimination among this disease. I believe that the variety of viewpoints in understanding the impact of HIV/AIDS is important in order to gain perspective of the differing environments that different groups dealing with this disease must endure.

Between the articles “Why We Fight” and “ Storying Sexuality with Black AIDS Epidemic” I began to understand that there is a deeper problem within our society, surrounding the stigma that AIDS holds. I believe that even though these thoughts and ideas were presented many years ago and that these underlying beliefs may be lessening, there is still a connotation among society that stereotypes AIDS as a disease of minority and irresponsibility. I think as I further develop an understanding of the upcoming project that this issue is an important topic to think about when designing.

In a more recent display of viruses transforming society, the article “Could Zika be the next HIV” raises alarming questions about sexual transmitted diseases. I think the comparison of HIV/AIDS and the Zika virus raise questions about sexually transmitted disease that have not been thought about, and present new challenges for how today’s world will respond to different outbreaks on a social level. I believe that this challenge gives different perspective for understanding how future problems will be solved.

After researching about the social behavior associated with HIV/AIDS, I found an article discussing the social implications this disease has had and why a holistic approach is needed to eliminate racial disparities among the community. The article discusses how, “the stereotype of HIV/AIDS as the consequence of an individual’s deviant behavior has perpetuated shame and discouraged people from knowing their status and treating it.” this displays the social burden that people with this disease endure. However, with expanded programs like, Act Against Aids, we can reduce the stigma surrounding this disease and recognize inequalities among communities in order to find social solutions.