Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 9 years ago

Do you think there are similarities between the way society reacted to the Black Plague and AIDs?

I have to write a paper comparing and contrasting events from two eras, and I was thinking of writing about the Black Plague and AIDS. What interests me about it is the fear society had and the misunderstandings of it. Like how people thought cats were to blame for the Plague because they were associated with witchcraft, or that it was a punishment from God for sins. And how with AIDS there were all these misconceptions about what it was and how it was spread. They used to think it was only something gay men got, and that you could get it from kissing and being around somebody with it. They treated gays in the early 80s sort of like how the witches got treated in the Plague.

I haven't done enough research yet to know if this is all accurate. It's just my guess. Do you think it's a good topic? I still have time to pick something else, but I really like this.


I liked both answers. No thumbs downs from me!

2 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Best Answer

    This is a fantastic topic. Sheldon Watts has written an excellent book on this topic called Epidemics and History: Disease, Power, and Imperialism. He covers a lot of ground but one of the areas he touches on in depth is societal and cultural reactions to diseases and two of them are the plague and AIDS. Of particular interest to you would be his take on how "misconceptions" are manipulated. It's a great topic and you should have no problem finding information about it. I would start with Sheldon Watts.

  • 9 years ago

    Yep, good topic, and good assessment. Also, note that in the witch trials (salem etc.), a lot of people (in France I think) were persecuted for witchcraft for seeing things and talking about them. Recent research into this proved that these hallucinating women were victims of a bacteria that had poisoned grain in the area.

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