THE SOCIAL PERSPECTIVE
In the social perspective I reflect on how people might get affected in the interaction with other people. Again, there are so much more that could be said here, and I hope that you will be able to add more in your own thinking.
Consider it to be a teaser and use your own experience and knowledge when reflecting on the text.
The social perspective sheds light on the interpersonal contacts present in a society. The interaction between people has different expressions depending on where in the world we find ourselves. People have different levels of their social meetings and AIDS affect these relationships, these meetings, in more or less obvious ways. Where ignorance exists about HIV and AIDS, how the virus is transmitted, our human brain add "the missing pieces" and we try to form a way of explaining our world from the knowledge and experience we possess. For instance, if a person wrongfully thinks kisses are contagious, s/he can be afraid that the disease can be transferred to him/her by drinking from a glass that has not been washed.
Similar processes take place in attribution, when we judge people based on what we see or rather what we think we see, when we see people doing something. As a result of this process, many people are therefore reluctant, consciously and unconsciously, to have contact with people they suspect/know or think they know/suspect are living
with the disease. It can take such expressions as not to shake hands, kiss or hug when greeting one another. It can lead to avoiding the swimming pool or staying in the same room with other people, etc. But it can also result in much worse expression. One example was in 1998 when Gogo Delamini in South Africa was in a South African TV programme. She said in the show that she was living with HIV, how the disease can be transmitted and how to avoid becoming infected, for example by using a condom during sexual contact. It did not take more than three hours after the TV broadcast until her neighbours murdered her. This shows how sensitive the issue may be in a social perspective, also when connected to sexuality and condoms. The neighbours thought surely, if they only got rid of Gogo, they would get rid of the HIV problem.
With this extreme form of denial and fear, many people become vulnerable and it is not enough to know that someone is living with the disease, but the mere suspicion can lead to drastic shifts of people – even within a single family. AIDS most certainly affect all people in one way or another.
Similarly, there are in the social perspective the reverse situations, where one person's ignorance to the disease leads to being over exposed to the risks of getting infected. I am thinking in particular of the relationships
where one person living with HIV and the other is HIV negative, and where the HIV negative person deliberately exposes him-/herself to the risk of infection just to be close to their partner or even as a way of getting more in common for the relationship. In parallel, there is an anxiety-creating situation of the person living with HIV, in which he or she is completely terrified to infect their partner. Another aspect of the social perspective is when the HIV positive person instead wants revenge and begins to consciously try to infect other people. Fortunately, this is extremely rare, although it has occurred. Usually, it is a result of a non-functioning (pre-test) counselling, which could result in that the newly diagnosed person do not understand the disease or that s/he has become psychologically traumatised, and therefore focused on revenge.
As AIDS is so highly connected to sexual practices, the social contacts in this sense have also affected people when it comes to relationships. More people are afraid of getting any STI (sexual transmitted infection) and the issue of trust in relationships is being more and more highlighted. Even though, there are still many people who do not know about the diseases, and yet many people who find it hard to deal with safer sex. There are also people who act ignorantly, and do not really care about protecting themselves or their partners.
The role of free media is to report stories, which could be of public interest, and this affect the society and peoples’ social life too. A disease like HIV infection has always had a bit of a sensation over it, causing headlines and quoting of people expressing their widest thoughts about AIDS and people living with HIV. Media’s role is here to balancing facts and fear. Unfortunately, it has been shown in too many countries that media has played a major role in creating stigma. Stigma is also a subject in the next perspective.