Beginning discussions: week 1 & 2

Emory’s University Course “Viral Cultures: HIV/AIDS in Global, Academic, and Cultural Contexts” kicked off on Monday, January 23rd with a discussion of representations of people with AIDS and of the media’s treatment of Ryan White.

John Blevins shared the opening and closing clips of the 1990 movie The Longtime Companion.  We discussed what is was like to have experienced the discovery of HIV/AIDS (as opposed to being born into a world that already knows). We also compared how the film imagined the “future” (once AIDS had been “cured”)  and what HIV/AIDS looks like in the present day.

Hank Klibanoff talked about his experience meeting Ryan White and writing about him for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Students were asked to imagine a time when “media” meant television, radio, and print media (no internet, facebook, or blogs) and how might information about the discovery of HIV/AIDS circulate differently in today’s media environment.

In week two (just this past Monday) Ira Schwartz and Fifi Guest from Southeast AIDS Training and Education Center (SEATEC) talked about how they developed trainings for health care providers who were just learning about HIV/AIDS. Not only did they have to develop policies and procedures to safely handle bodily fluids, but they also needed to develop strategies to help health care providers manage  the grief they encountered when so many of their patients died early on in the epidemic.

Eugene Farber, Director of HIV Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the Ponce de Leon Center talked about how people with HIV/AIDS are impacted by substance abuse and mental illness. Health care providers, Farber suggested, must provide comprehensive, integrated, and continuous treatment to truly help people with HIV/AIDS who also suffer these other co-morbidities.

Readings for these two weeks included:

  • Klibanoff, Hank. “Teenager with AIDS is Spurned Again in Bid to Attend School.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 17, 1985.
  • Klibanoff, Hank. “To Be 13 and Doomed with AIDS: Schools in Session, But Indiana Boy is Locked Out.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 25, 1985.
  • Crimp, Douglas. “Portraits of People with AIDS,” in Melancholia and Morality: Essays on AIDS and Queer Politics (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002). 1-15.
    • Gottlieb, Michael S. “AIDS: Past and Future.” New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 344, No. 23. 1788-1791.
    • El-Sadr, Wafaa M. “AIDS in America- Forgotten but Not Gone.” New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 362, No. 11. 967-970.
    • Klinkenberg, W.D. et al. “Mental Disorders and Drug Abuse in Persons Living with HIV/AIDS.” AIDS Care, 2004: 16 (Supplement 1): S22-S42.
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