The Hiv/Aids Moral Panic.
The HIV/AIDS moral panic.
In human societies there will always be issues or problems that occur which cause some form of reaction from those who feel that their values or societal equilibrium is being threatened. Stanley Cohen and Jock Young led the way in explaining the notion of moral panics and how they are formed and their consequences on society. There have been numerous of these moral phenomena over the years, which have gripped society in a vice lock of terror and more often than not, ignorance. This essay will discuss the concept of the moral panic and look at the case of HIV/AIDS which caused a huge conflict of morality within society. This essay will also analyse the failings of health organisations, politicians, and the
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( Shilts, Randy. 1987). The fact that Ronald Reagan only first spoke of the disease in public in 1987, by that time, 59,572 AIDS cases had been reported and 27,909 had died, many of them heterosexual, the group which were reported not to be at risk. (www.actupny.org) It is also very important to note the political ideology of America and Britain at the time to explain the negative reaction to AIDS. Ronald Reagan especially understood that his power relied heavily on the huge Christian Republican Conservative community in America. These right wing values promoted the middle-class heterosexual family and consequently demonized homosexuals. With men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell portraying homosexuals as ‘diseased sinners’ and re-iterating the sentiment that AIDS was God’s punishment, the hostility towards the community was increasing (Shilts, Randy 1987) It became very difficult for any sound advice to be circulated to high risk groups due to the government’s reluctance to discuss homosexual sex which resulted in most advice being organised by gay charities like the Terence Higgins trust who dispensed leaflets at gay clubs. One poignant message on one of these leaflets was ‘Help yourself! Because no one else will.’ (Garfield, Simon. 1994)
As the disease began to infiltrate other groups in