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"One night, I was coming back home at 3 am, drunk, and I decided to have a short cut, but in that corner, suddenly from nowhere, two men appear, one in the front and one behind me. By that time, I didn’t know I was at risk of HIV, but I knew that the rape situation changed me forever. Now that I have studied the issue, the connections between violence against women and HIV, I can tell you that is so evident, that we cannot avoid working with that. You really have to link those two issues.”
The history of HIV and AIDS is not only about medical concerns, but of social exclusions and political struggles as well. From the outbreak of the epidemic, inequality and patterns of discrimination affected both the spread of the disease and various responses to it. As the epidemic almost immediately became associated with some of the most marginalized groups in the society, homophobia, racism, and disdain for people who use drugs provoked many of the early responses. But perhaps lesser known, gender subordination and sexism also played an essential role in fueling the epidemic.
Since 1981 and the first cases of what was later to be called HIV and AIDS, moving images and film – like always, mostly American – have played a big part in how society has come to understand and be informed about the epidemic. According to many surveys over the years, more so than from sources like friends, doctors, school or newspapers. And, like the majority of films in film history, the stories have mostly been made by men, about men. In the 1980s, typical media representations of AIDS in the US were also under the influence of the political clout of the religious right and their conservative ideas about sex and LGBT issues. The early story of AIDS was all about "family values", homophobia, stereotyping and fear of the other.