HIV and AIDS are global issues that affect us all—not only socially, but culturally, economically, medically, politically, interpersonally, and personally. Many individuals perceive themselves as removed from or immune to HIV and/or AIDS. In some form or another, however, one will be touched and affected by HIV and/ or AIDS. The announcement in July of 2004 that the world is losing the fight against HIV infection is sobering—38 million people infected, and 4.8 million new cases expected in 2004 with 3 million persons dying of ARC. The issues of education and prevention have become more important, now more than ever.
Many existing studies on HIV and AIDS approach the phenomenon from a medical standpoint or a largely social standpoint. We applaud these efforts and encourage further works in these domains to increase awareness and understanding of HIV and AIDS. We noticed, however, that much of the extant research was remiss in terms of approaching HIV and AIDS from an interpersonal/personal perspective. Being communication scholars, we were surprised to learn that, although discussions regarding sexual histories, sexual practices, safer sex behavior, and condom use are interpersonal communication phenomena, little existed in the extant literature on the tremendous role that communication has in the discussion and practice of safer sex. Similarly, we noticed that much of the existing research focused heavily on homosexuals or men having sex with men (MSM) and paid less attention to relationship types that also carried potential risk. For example, relationships involving aged or married partners, or with cultural or intercultural components, remain understudied in the literature, but are no less important. Our purpose in writing this book is to approach HIV and AIDS in a variety of close relationship types from an interpersonal, communication perspective. Our goal is to be both theoretical and practical. To accomplish this objective, script theory from a developmental perspective serves as the primary theoretical framework of the book, with related theories subsumed. In addition, we offer practi