Johanna Folland
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Socialism, health and the politics of identity
Conversations from East Germany’s AIDS crisis
in Publics and their health
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As the HIV/AIDS epidemic emerged as a global crisis in the 1980s, both East and West Germany responded with an array of educational and prevention initiatives, including some that involved collaboration across the ‘Iron Curtain’. Histories of AIDS in divided Germany have tended to focus on the deficiencies of the East German response. This, however, has obscured not only the efforts and agency of East German AIDS activists, but also the complex and wide-ranging conversations about HIV/AIDS that took place in the socialist East. Due to the centrality of self-organised advocacy groups in response to the epidemic that emerged in many Western contexts, East German health officials faced difficult questions about the role of civil society in a highly centralised socialist health system. This chapter reconstructs the debates surrounding efforts to combat HIV/AIDS by East German activists, health workers and health officials, arguing that talking about AIDS in East Germany often meant talking about the nature and meaning of socialist health care writ large.

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Publics and their health

Historical problems and perspectives

The introduction and Chapter 4 are available under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND licence).


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