From the very beginning of the epidemic, AIDS was linked to punishment. Calls to punish people living with HIV—mostly stigmatized minorities—began before doctors had even settled on a name for the disease. Punitive attitudes toward AIDS prompted lawmakers around the country to introduce legislation aimed at criminalizing the behaviors of people living with HIV. Punishing Disease explains how this happened—and its consequences. With the door to criminalizing sickness now open, what other ailments will follow? As lawmakers move to tack on additional diseases such as hepatitis and meningitis to existing law, the question is more than academic.
Trevor Hoppe is Assistant Professor of Sociology at University at Albany, State University of New York, and coeditor of The War on Sex.