Psychosocial Aspects of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Andrew Baum Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Lydia Temoshok University of California, San Francisco
Since 1980, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has had, arguably, more impact on the minds and behavior of people throughout the world than any epidemic -- or pandemic -- in recent history. The urgency of the AIDS problem is undeniable: It is a killer that must be controlled in spite of the fact that we have no vaccine, no cures, and few treatments. It kills fewer people than do heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses common in the U.S., but like other potent diseases throughout history such as influenza, polio, or the plague, it is communicable, lethal, and poorly understood. Unlike heart disease, it does not develop out of a lifetime of unhealthy behavior: One can become infected with the AIDS virus as a result of one careless act. Unlike cancer, which may develop when immunosurveillance breaks down, AIDS is a disorder of the immune system itself and, as such, may short-circuit normal protection against it. As a result, a great deal of effort has been mobilized to better understand AIDS, how it is spread, how it develops once the causal virus (human immunodeficiency virus Type 1, HIV-1, hereafter referred to as HIV) has been unleashed, and, perhaps most importantly, how to stop it.
A common denominator of all the contributions in this book is a biopsychosocial approach to understanding and combating AIDS/HIV. Some chapters will lean more in one direction or another, but all take as a point of departure the necessity of considering the biological, psychological, and social domains in interaction. Another common denominator is the extension of research
The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private ones of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of Defense or the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.