HIST 457 The History of HIV/AIDS


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) has drastically changed the landscape of public health, medical science, and human sexuality and community since the virus was first identified in 1984. What came before this moment of scientific discovery, and what followed it? This course explores the history of HIV and the illness it causes, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), from its probable origins in the Belgian Congo to its contemporary impact in the United States and around the globe. In addition to histories of HIV/AIDS, students will examine primary sources by public health and science professionals, safe sex advocates, HIV/AIDS activists, politicians, queer theorists, artists, and writers that demonstrate that HIV/AIDS has a history and is connected in myriad complex ways to issues including colonialism, globalization, sex work, LGBTQ identities, racism, religion, healthcare access, and economic inequality. Assigned readings will address HIV/AIDS around the world, but the final outcome will be for students to write an original work of historical research focused on Memphis or the U.S. South.


Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing

Degree Requirements

Gender and Sexuality Studies Elective