What are the sociopolitical factors that influenced public health policy development for AIDS?

The sociopolitical factors that influenced health policy development during the AIDS crisis were connected to the increasing intersection of religion with politics in America. This became increasingly evident after the election of Ronald Reagan, who was popular among evangelical Christians. As conservative Christian ideology began to permeate politics, homophobia increased, due to beliefs that homosexuality was an affront to God. Homophobia among government officials made AIDS policy work fraught because of the erroneous belief that only gay people got AIDS.

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The slow and inadequate response to the AIDS crisis by the federal government is now considered one of the most shameful chapters of contemporary American history. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 after two decades of social upheaval surrounding civil rights and the Vietnam war. The cultural zeitgeist of the...

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The slow and inadequate response to the AIDS crisis by the federal government is now considered one of the most shameful chapters of contemporary American history. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 after two decades of social upheaval surrounding civil rights and the Vietnam war. The cultural zeitgeist of the 1960s and 1970s was seen as undoing decades of oppression of women and people of color and relaxing social attitudes about sex. This included increased awareness of the homosexual community and a push towards more recognition and equality.

But Reagan won the presidency simultaneously to the growth of a religious movement started by evangelical preacher and cable TV church founder Jerry Falwell. The so-called "Moral Majority" blamed feminism, civil rights, and homosexuality for the ills of society. They began to promulgate the idea that more religion, i.e. Christianity, was the answer to the immoral erosion of the nation. Homosexuality was considered especially vile—an affront to God—despite there being almost no mention of it in the Bible.

This virulent homophobia among Republicans in Congress had a direct impact on legislation to approve funding for research and treatments fir AIDS. In the wake of this prejudicial disregard for human life, activist groups like ACT UP and Queer Nation formed to draw attention to the homophobic behavior of politicians who refused to approve appropriate funding for research into an AIDS vaccine or other treatments.

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