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By Virginia Berridge, Philip Strong

The arrival of AIDS has resulted in a revival of curiosity within the historic courting of illness to society. There now exists a brand new cognizance of AIDS and heritage, and of AIDS itself as an ancient 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 could be measured. The part on AIDS as heritage offers chapters by way of historians and coverage scientists on such issues as British and US medicines 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 seems on the archival power within the AIDS region. As an entire the amount demonstrates the contribution that historians could make within the research of near-contemporary occasions.

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Foucault, The History, Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 (Harlow, 1st edn, 1981, 2nd edn, 1989). On the impact of the syphilis epidemic, see Judith R. Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society: Women, Class and the State (Cambridge, 1980). ), Forms of Desire: Sexual Orientation and the Social Constructionist Controversy (New York and London, 1990). See, for example, the discussion of this in Weeks, Sexuality and its Discontents, chapter 3. On the ever-accelerating rapidity of social change, as the 'juggernaut of modernity' gathers speed, see Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Cambridge, 1990).

At the same time, many who were HIV positive or had been diagnosed with AIDS were affirming new identities, as 'Body Positive' or 'People with AIDS'. 37 This sense of identity and belonging was crucial to the other major development within the gay community in the early 1980s, the adoption of a regime of what became known as 'safer sex'. 38 The idea of safer sex had emerged in the early years of the American epidemic, and became central to the initial work of voluntary bodies and to the coverage of the issue in the gay press.

Two points need to be made. The first is that the government was operating in a situation that was widely perceived to be a gay crisis, at a time when as a result homosexuality was becoming deeply unpopular. The surveys of sexual attitudes during the 1980s are clear on this. The British Social Attitudes Survey for 1987 found that public opinion had become marginally less discriminatory towards homosexuality since 1983, with a greater acceptance also that lesbians and gay men should not be banned from certain professions.

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