Chapter

AIDS: The Disease That Fits

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0078
AIDS: The Disease That Fits

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AIDS unites the germ theory of disease with systems thinking. AIDS could only arise in the late twentieth century. The encounter with HIV/AIDS has brought tremendous inspiration to virologists' research. The disease model of HIV/AIDS that emerged in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century was clearly marked by the social and economic circumstances of the time. It had plausibility, but it did not correspond with reality. This plausibility gained its persuasiveness through several factors. At its center were systems thinking in economics, criminal law, and many other domains, which had been emerging since the mid-twentieth century. By the late twentieth century, systems thinking were set off by a growing consciousness of living in a hitherto intact world, now increasingly threatened by intruders. Closed borders or openness to immigration were the big political issues that were reflected in the HIV/AIDS metaphor, in which an organism whose immune system is weakened by intruders becomes vulnerable to all kinds of trouble and is ultimately killed.

Keywords: germ theory; AIDS; disease model; criminal law; systems thinking; political issues; immune system

Chapter.  1056 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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