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Soc Sci Med. 1989;29(10):1157-62.

Issues of definitions and their implications: AIDS and leprosy.

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  • Department of Physiological Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


It is demonstrated how definitions can determine social consequences of impairment and disability. A comparison between leprosy and AIDS provides the basis for the discussion. The United States is the geographic and political arena under consideration. Issues of classification as STD (sexually transmitted disease) or as contagious, communicable disease are relevant. An important factor to predict the social impact is the nomenclature utilized by CDC (Center for Disease Control). CDC represents the government as the official agency to gather and report morbidity and mortality information. Hypotheses to explain stigma on the basis of epidemiological bases are added to the usual sociological concepts or historical considerations. Potential application of the findings are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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