Sam’s 5b Response

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    somesi
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    While watching the heartbreaking and disquieting history of the HIV epidemic in the United States, I truly could see how people became entrenched in social camps, and vilified others they suspected. As a large degree of the infected belonged to the LGBTQ community, this ‘otherization’ further separated a group operating on the fringe of popular culture at the time. As little was known about HIV/AIDS at the start of the epidemic, people were afraid of even touching those afflicted, and while some were afraid to treat these patients, others rallied around them, stating “if we can’t save them, we’re gonna touch them”. Even if the first wave of antiviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS was not available until later in the form of protease inhibitors, medical professionals attempts to humanize patients, giving them contact when they would otherwise feel alone. Members of this group had long been socially isolated, and to have AIDS only further separated them from their families. As such, new communities formed in these hospital units, centering around the idea of a chosen family (but never directly using the phrase). This idea of a chosen family was already in practice, as homosexual individuals were shunned by their families and in turn created new families from others in similar situations who cared for them. This is further reflected in the film, when nurses “started letting patients define who were family”, and defined those they had grown close to as their “village” and “tribe”. Amid this vicious rhetoric of fear and hatred, in addition to the heartbreak of losing loved ones to HIV/AIDS, these communities were able to process their loss in real time. This is best said in the film, “people died, but we made a difference in the way that people died. As more groups had become grouped under categorizations of sick, from hemophiliacs, to infected nurses, to drug users, to a generalized fear of foreigners, these communities founded a holistic platform for AIDS, where the patient could be separated from the disease, and in turn be treated as human once more.

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