Monday, November 1, 2010

Learning through Art: HIV/AIDS in Books--AIDS and the Sexuality of Law:Ironic Jurisprudence

I hope that everybody had a wonderful and safe Halloween. Now there's only one month until December 1st--World AIDS Day. I've been covering the pandemic for almost a decade now. The experience has changed my life in the most unexpected and strange ways, all for the better.

I'll continue posting on vampires, but also on HIV/AIDS, because we should remember the pandemic not only on December 1st, but throughout the year.

For now, here is my review on an AIDS-related book, AIDS and the Sexuality of Law:Ironic Jurisprudence, by Joe Rollins, originally published in A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.

Hope you enjoy the read, and also the book.

As always, thanks for visiting.

Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness
www.alina-arts.com

AIDS and the Sexuality of Law: Ironic Jurisprudence
Joe Rollins
Reviewed by Alina Oswald

At a time when the media is experiencing an "AIDS fatigue," according to the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, Joe Rollins brings up a controversial and maybe less-explored AIDS topic. He talks about the legal aspect of the disease as it relates to the theory and practice of law, science, and sexuality.

In his book, "AIDS and the Sexuality of Law," Joe Rollins, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York, gives "a brief legal history of AIDS" through several AIDS-related legal cases from the Circuit Court of Appeals between 1983 and 1995.

The book opens with an analysis of Philadelphia, emphasizing an unusual aspect: the "silences" or "unknowns" present in the "legal language of AIDS" used in the movie. These "silences" also hold true for real-life
HIV/AIDS-related court cases, particularly those involving the closeted world of the adult theater, the workplace, and the prison.  The author exploits the "unknown" of these subjects and uses irony and jurisprudence-the science of philosophy at law-to explain this unspoken legal language of each analyzed case in order to correct these falsities.

For example, one of these "silences" is the equation of homosexuality with AIDS.   During the last two decades, "AIDS" and "homosexuality" have been inaccurately used interchangeably. Certain body marks or signs, called "homographesis," have been thought to give away an individual's sexual identification and, consequently, a positive HIV status.

A closer analysis shows that "homographesis" are general identifiers, regardless one's sexual orientation or HIV status.  "Homographesis" don't apply only to closeted homosexuals, but also to "closeted heterosexuals" (who keep their HIV status a secret.)  Even more, sometimes healthy people who believe they are infected may develop certain AIDS-related symptoms.  Therefore, "homographesis" cannot be used in a court of law to prove someone's sexuality or HIV status.  "Homographesis" can only provide beliefs to inaccurately replace the "unknowns." 

Even if the legal terms may, at times, seem overwhelming for the general reader, the stories and author's analysis answer with much clarity questions regarding HIV and AIDS transmission and the role of sexuality.

"AIDS and the Sexuality of Law" is not only a real eye-opener relative to the legal aspects of HIV/AIDS, but it also contributes to a more complete history and image of the global pandemic. Read it and learn from it.