Good Resources for Studying the History of HIV in a Cultural Context

HIV–the virus which causes AIDS–was first identified in 1983. While many people remember when HIV first was a topic of International discussion, that now was nearly two generations ago and many younger people who weren’t even born yet can struggle to understand the impact that HIV had on the world and continues to have. HIV is now something that can be treated as a chronic condition and it is not an automatic death sentence. It is wonderful that people can now live long lives with HIV and the fact is so manageable can make it hard for people who don’t remember what it was like in the past to understand just how big of a deal HIV was and still can be if not treated. We at Williams and Associates have some resources that can help in getting some historical context for HIV.

This timeline from AVERT is a stellar way of examining HIV from when it was first a mystery illness to today.

And the Band Played On,” is a famous book about the earlier years of HIV that was also made into a well-regarded T.V. movie, although its focus on a, “Patient Zero,” has become controversial.

The MTV program, “The Real World,” in 1994 had Pedro Zamora among its cast. He was openly gay and HIV-positive. in 2008 MTV made a movie that covered his time on the show and his life after it. 

Ryan White was a young man with hemophilia who contracted HIV and fought hard against prejudices and hatred. Much about him is covered in a television movie that was quite popular.

The impact of HIV on Black Americans often seems overlooked. The documentary, “Endgame,” from PBS is a fascinating and invaluable resource in learning more about HIV and the Black community.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of resources it serves as a good way to start understanding the cultural context of HIV in the past and present.


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