Aids Rhetoric and Medical Knowledge by Alex Preda

By Alex Preda

Interpreting the formation of medical wisdom in regards to the AIDS epidemic within the Nineteen Eighties, Alex Preda highlights the metaphors, narratives, and classifications which framed medical hypotheses concerning the nature of the infectious agent and its transmission. Preda compares those arguments with these utilized in the clinical research of SARS. He demonstrates how clinical wisdom approximately epidemics is formed via cultural narratives and different types of social notion via a close overview of biomedical courses.

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This process was related to a conflict in the medical world and later led to a political agreement between the presidents of France and the US about which researcher identified what retrovirus (Rawling 1994, p. 343; Grmek 1990). Furthermore, AZT (azidothymidine), one of the main drugs used in AIDS therapy, had been developed in the mid-1960s and had therefore been known for a long time (Arno and Feiden 1993, p. 247). It has been used in AIDS therapy only since 1987. Medical historians argue that it was exactly this frame of established medical knowledge about the retroviruses and the immune system, along with the advances in lab analysis techniques that have made possible the identification and description of such a complex syndrome as AIDS (Grmek 1990; Oppenheimer 1988, 1992).

On the one hand, they are intrinsic to producing this content as written knowledge (and therefore as quintessentially scientific). On the other hand, they operate by selecting what is expressed (and expressible) scientific knowledge and what is not. , Prelli 1989; Gross 1999; Pera 1994; Berkenkotter and Huckin 1995; Fahnestock 1999; Halliday and Martin 1993; Maasen and Weingart 2000; Swales 1990; Urban and Silverstein 1996). Because these elements are intrinsic to making knowledge public and thereby legitimizing it, they show the historical and social boundaries within which scientific knowledge can be (re)produced.

Professional struggles between epidemiologists and “bench” scientists over the definitions of the syndrome (Oppenheimer 1992, p. 75), along with stereotypes, the power of epidemiological tradition, previous criticisms of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and too rigid an orientation toward the hepatitis B model were responsible for delays. When it comes to discussing the knowledge background against which the first opportunistic infections (and with them, the syndrome) were presented as new, mysterious, and problematic, historians embrace the orthodox viewpoint that they really were very new, mysterious, and problematic.

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