The transmission dynamics of infectious diseases, particularly those that are spread sexually, explain epidemiologic trends and aid in setting priorities for data collection and prevention programs for sexually transmitted infections (STI). Specific behaviors foster the transmission of STI, determine differences in risk, and define rates of disease in selected groups. Variations in the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic can be tied to different patterns of specific sexual behaviors. Responding to emerging epidemics within subpopulations with circumscribed behavior change can have a major impact on ensuing epidemiology. Accounting for the varying burden of disease within an epidemic can be reduced to recognizing the interplay of human behavior and infectious disease biology. The emergence of the gay pride movement in the US was a central social movement of the second half of the century-one that played a tremendously powerful role in escalating transmission rates of STI in the 1970s, and the establishment of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. A sexual revolution among gay men in the late 1960s facilitated the rapid transmission of the AIDS virus by inspiring widespread participation in sexual risk-taking. High HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men and a mounting death toll throughout the 1980s devastated the gay community and led, in turn, to significant cultural and behavioral changes, with initial substantive declines in STI and HIV incidence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)