chapter  Chapter 8
18 Pages

People Living With AIDS Inc.: The Genealogy of a New Identity

WithRobert M. Ariss†, Gary W. Dowsett

This chapter focuses on the strategic practices of a small collectivity of gay men with HIV/AIDS that marked the emergence of a new social identity organized around the predicament of being HIV-infected. These practices progressively constituted a discursive systematization of the experience of HIV positivity into a strategic “anti-discipline.” It traces the beginnings of a distinct PWA (people with AIDS) patient discourse in the United States and its infiltration into Australia. The chapter also traces the pathway of a number of individual illness “careers,” taking the concept as framed by Goffman and illustrating the forms and directions such a career may take with this new illness. It documents some formative activities of a new organization seeking to represent people with AIDS, illustrating the first moments when the tactics of living with HIV/AIDS were strategically ordered into a potentially powerful anti-discipline. Two regimes became the focus of protest in, and counterpoints to, identity formation: namely medical research, and the state.