Constructing Meaning in an Epidemic Interpretations of a Diagnosis of HIV Infection and AIDS*

Robert Ariss


AIDS is a disaster of global proportions. The World Health Organisation recently estimated there to be eight million people in the world who are infected with HIV, the viral agent identified by bio-medicine to be the singular and necessary factor in the development of the fatal illness called AIDS (NAB 1990). There are two epicentres of the pandemic. Called Pattern Two epidemics, African countries demonstrate predominantly heterosexual transmission of the virus and a short mortality shaped largely by a health ecology of low nutrition and lack of clean water, inadequate medical services and little or no public education programs. Pattern One countries are characteristically wealthy, industrialized nations with expression of the disease and virus transmission predominantly through homosexual sex and, to a lesser extent, intravenous drug use and heterosexual sex.



Full Text: