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Hannah J. Elizabeth

Edinburgh was disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the early 1980–1990s, and women and children were affected in higher numbers there than elsewhere in the UK. Edinburgh’s AIDS crisis also followed a different pattern, with new infections predominantly occurring among IV drug users and heterosexuals. Because of the high rates of HIV infection among women in Edinburgh, the city rapidly became host to numerous charities and organisations scrambling to meet the needs of HIV-affected women and families, aiming to prevent new infections and meet the emotional, medical, housing, and educational needs of those already affected by the virus.

This chapter traces how healthcare workers and HIV-affected women responded in Edinburgh. This was interdisciplinary collaborative AIDS activism born out of the daily fight for resources, information, space, and empathetic treatment for women and their families. This activism can be traced in texts both academic and creative, and was at the very least a backdrop for many women’s experience of HIV and AIDS in Edinburgh in the late twentieth century. To focus the analysis, the creation of the Paediatric AIDS Resource Centre (PARC) in Edinburgh is examined, alongside some of the items the centre published. The need for PARC is demonstrated not just by placing it in its social, political, and historical context, but by recovering the words of HIV-affected women and healthcare workers drawing on its resources, writing these women back into the history they created as subjects rather than objects.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Ensuring adolescent knowledge and access to healthcare in the age of Gillick
Hannah J.  Elizabeth

In 1985, after years of campaigning, Victoria Gillick won her battle in the Court of Appeal and removed adolescents’ rights to freely access sexual health advice and contraceptives. The case, its implications, and its after-effects were widely reported in the teenage press. This ruling, later overturned by the Law Lords, plunged teenagers, teachers, and doctors into a period of uncertainty about what information and contraceptives could be freely given to those below the age of sixteen. This confusion threatened teenagers’ access to NHS healthcare long after the ruling was overturned as teenagers were left unsure of their rights to knowledge and contraception. Ironically, Gillick’s intervention was treated as an opportunity to provide sexual health information, open discussions around consent, and bolster teenage agency at a time when it seemed to be under threat. By exploring the representation of teenage access to contraceptive services, the Gillick case, and ‘Gillick competence’ through teenage media, this chapter demonstrates how access to NHS healthcare is mediated by knowledge of our rights.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions
New and Regional Perspectives

As the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s recedes from popular memory, researchers are once again beginning to engage with the subject from historical perspectives. This collection brings together some of the exciting new work emerging from this resurgence, addressing essential but much less well-known histories of HIV/AIDS.

Focusing on regions of Western Europe, Histories of HIV/AIDS introduces aspects of the epidemic from places including Scotland, Wales, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Switzerland, and draws attention to the experiences and activities of often-overlooked people: sex workers, drug users, mothers, nurses, social workers, and those living and working in prisons. It also examines the challenges, opportunities, and risks at the heart of how we archive and remember this epidemic. Highlighting the importance of understanding local and national contexts, transnational interactions, and heterogeneous forms of policy, activism, and expertise, it encourages attention to the complexity of these histories and their ongoing importance today.

Of particular interest to historians of modern Europe and health, area studies specialists, and those working with archives and museums, this book is an essential addition to HIV/AIDS studies and histories.

Abstract only
Janet Weston
Hannah J. Elizabeth

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the timeline of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe, and the dominant Anglo-American historiography to date. It uses the idea of the ‘AIDS capital’ to explore the collection’s primary innovation: drawing together new histories of HIV/AIDS that are attuned to the importance of place and to lesser-known experiences and activities, including those of sex workers, drug users, mothers, nurses, social workers, and those living and working in prisons. This chapter then discusses the key themes examined by the chapters: local and national contexts, transnational interactions, heterogeneous forms of policy, activism, and expertise, and the challenges, opportunities, and risks at the heart of how we archive and remember this epidemic. The eight chapters within the collection are then introduced and summarised, demonstrating some of the possibilities offered by interdisciplinary approaches and attention beyond the familiar Anglo-American national histories of HIV/AIDS.

in Histories of HIV/AIDS in Western Europe
Historical problems and perspectives

The nature of the relationship between publics and their health has long been a concern for those seeking to improve collective and individual health. Attempts to secure the health of the population of any given place are one of the oldest forms of governmental action. Whether it be providing clean water or preventing the spread of disease, such efforts require the involvement of the publics these measures are designed to protect. Despite its importance, surprisingly little attention has been paid to who or what the ‘public’ of public health consisted of. This collection addresses this gap by considering ‘who’ the public of public health was in an array of places and around a variety of public health problems. Ranging across Europe and North and South America, and from the interwar period to the near present, this book explores the construction of ‘problem publics’ to deepen our understanding of the ‘who’ of public health. This book offers detailed case studies of the making of ‘problem’ publics and public health problems in different places and at different times. By placing examples of the construction of problem publics in contexts as diverse as the USA in the interwar period, East Germany in the 1980s and contemporary Argentina, this collection identifies what is general and what is specific to the processes that make certain kinds of publics appear problematic. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this volume offers fresh insights into the nature of public health problems, practices and publics.

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Publics and their health – historical problems and perspectives
Alex Mold
Peder Clark
, and
Hannah J. Elizabeth

This chapter introduces the collection by exploring the changing meaning of ‘the public’ and ‘public health’. It suggests that there was no single unitary ‘public’, and ‘public health’ also has multiple meanings. This diversity is echoed in the framing of certain groups, individuals and behaviours as ‘problem publics’. The essays in this collection unpack a range of examples of ‘problem publics’. This introduction summarises the contents of the chapters in the collection, but also highlights a series of key cross-cutting themes. These include the overlapping of ‘problem publics’ with identity categories and certain kinds of behaviour, as well as the geographical location of groups and individuals. The introduction places this in the context of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought fresh interest in how to deal with ‘problem publics’, but with many old tropes rising to the fore.

in Publics and their health