AIDS in the Mind of America by Dennis Altman

AIDS in the Mind of America

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Altman, whose coming-out has been accompanied by several scholarly works about homosexuals (The Homosexualization of America and Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation), here looks at AIDS purely from a sociological standpoint. His focal point is the public perception of AIDS as a homosexual disease. Many gay writers, Altman included, half-heartedly pooh-pooh this idea, suggesting that AIDS, after all, seemed to have its start in Central Africa, somehow got transmitted to Haiti, and affects people gay and not of those nations, as well as hemophiliacs and intravenous drug-users. However, since 72% of all reported AIDS cases have afflicted homosexuals, this train of thought is not-a-little wistful and jejune. The whole discussion of AIDS is fraught with emotion, revolving as it does around two public taboos--homosexuality and promiscuity. Altman surveys all of the areas where this emotion ends up influencing policy, whether it be Congressional funding debates over medical research, the moralistic pietism of the conservative right or the dulling effect on the sexual instinct, itself, among the gays, and bisexuals. And, to be sure, the taboos are deterring action for most AIDS sufferers. Altman, unfortunately, is too emotionally involved in this topic to remain objective, and, like with all books written while a crisis is hot, one is left with the feeling that the verdict is still out on a host of issues surrounding the disease. At some future point a truly objective book will be written. Altman's book is not that work.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1985
ISBN: 0385195249
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday