AUCT 140, Epidemics and AIDS

Texts: There are three required books

Shilts - And the Band Played On

Berlatsky - Global Viewpoints: HIV

The lion’s share of the text materials and readings are on Blackboard


Reading Assignments: Reading assignments should be completed prior to the class. The readings listed below are referenced by the first letter of the author’s surname.

From my web page, there are links to a select group of other related web pages. Throughout the semester, you should make a habit of consulting some of these sites for news and updates.


Tentative Syllabus

Week of




Course Intro; AIDS Open Discussion



History of Epidemics and Plagues




Race and Medicine; W:1.,8-III


Normal Cell




W: 4.1, 4.2


Exam 1


Host Defenses and Immunity

W: 3.1–.6;


Rise of HIV and Retroviruses and HIV

W: 2.1–2. 4, 2.7, 2.8


Testing and Treatment

W: 2.5, 2.6; Poppers


Emerging Infectious Diseases

W: 4.1–4.4; AIDS and Drug Laws





Exam 2,



HIV and Civil Rights


Media and AIDS



AIDS Advertising Videos



Society’s Response to AIDS



International Issues



Biological Warfare

DA Henderson Interview


Exam 3,


Grades: Grading will be multifaceted. There will be three independent exams, (at least) five (usually weekly) response papers, and possibly quizzes on the readings (on Bb, Shilts, and Global Viewpoints). Each exam will count 65%/3 = 21.67% of the grade; each of the five required response papers will count 2% of the grade. A passing grade of D is achieved with 62%. There will be an opportunity to improve your grade on each of the first two exams. There is no final exam, only three one-hour exams.


The subject of this course is science and society, with the emphasis on science. The science is absolutely cutting-edge. What you learn at the beginning of this semester is very likely to change by the end of the course, if not sooner. More has been learned about infectious diseases in the last 28 years than was known in all previous recorded history. That's not all; the treatments are changing from month-to-month and even week-to-week. This is your opportunity to see science in action—today, not a hundred, not fifty, and not even twenty years ago. The results will undoubtedly affect a great many people, some of whom you may now know or are yet to meet.

Course Goals

1.  Develop an understanding of epidemics and their history, how we study them, how we respond to them, their effects on societies, and their political implications; the human cell; causative agents, symptoms, medical care for HIV disease and related opportunistic infections.

2.  Learn how scientists think and science progresses on a very short-term basis.

3.  Learn the most current facts about STDs and HIV/ AIDS, in particular.

4.  Learn some of the basics of human biology and immunology.

5.  Understand the pathophysiology of HIV/ AIDS and risk behaviors.

6.  Learn our role in the AIDS epidemic.

7.  Involve all of us in the AIDS epidemic.

8.  Have each person teach others about the AIDS epidemic and know why education is critical to our future.


Other Fascinating Reading

        Burkett - The Gravest Show on Earth; a dated and cynical view of HIV/AIDS by an historian turned reporter.

        Garrett - The Coming Plague; older; an apocalyptic compendium; worth looking for.

        McNeil - Plagues and Peoples; the seminal work in the field.

        Miller, Engelberg, & Broad - Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War; interesting and moderately current, but take it with a grain of salt because Judith Miller is an unfiltered conduit for government propaganda.

        Peters & Olshaker - Virus Hunter: Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses around the World; description by one of the prime players, very personal.

        Preston - Devil in the Freezer; an interesting (and scary) update on smallpox.

        Rotello - Sexual Ecology; a gay male's charge to the gay community that has stirred some controversy. You may want to read it and enter the discussion.

        ShiltsAnd the Band Played On; a very interesting first-hand look at the events surrounding the onset of the disease; including a close-up view of the individuals and who was having sex with whom.

        Stein – The Power of Plagues; well-written and moderately technical.

        Wills - Yellow Fever, Black Goddess: The Coevolution of People and Plagues; well written, and does not shy away from the technical details, some of which are left unexplained.