Skip to Main Content

HIV/AIDS: A Postmodern Epidemic and Its Depiction (March 2016): Home

By Sharon Leslie


This bibliographic essay first appeared in the March 2016 issue of Choice (volume 53 | number 7).


The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic began thirty years ago.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since then an estimated 39 million people worldwide have died from AIDS-related complications, and approximately 35 million people are currently living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS.  In many highly developed countries—the United States certainly among them—HIV infection and AIDS are considered manageable chronic

conditions, treatable with a regimen of maintenance medications.  An older generation of Americans is familiar with the disease and its history, but today’s typical undergraduate student, having been born after the disease became controllable in the United States, may have limited awareness of it.  Although the history of HIV/AIDS is relatively short, its story is complex (and still evolving), and its political, social, and cultural dimensions seem almost without limits.  Any study of HIV/AIDS is of necessity interdisciplinary, with science and public health, politics and human rights, economics, the arts, intellectual property law, and GLBT and gender studies all connected in a vast network.

This essay surveys materials useful in an undergraduate setting.  Many of the resources are scholarly, but others are more personal and even fall under the heading of popular.  Because of the worldwide impact of AIDS, there is a huge amount of literature published.  Though literature for specific populations in the United States—for example, African Americans—has dwindled as the disease has become more commonplace in the medical mainstream, the growth of the HIV/AIDS literature has been steady, especially the literature about developing countries.  This essay touches on some, but certainly not all, of the noteworthy literature on various aspects of HIV/AIDS.  Inevitably, some titles that others would find critical will not be included, so readers are encouraged to seek out other resources.

The essay is divided into several parts: the first, “A Brief Overview,” provides the broad picture, and others that follow look at resources on particular aspects of HIV/AIDS.  Some titles discussed in a given section would be equally comfortable in another.  The works cited comprises sections devoted to print, film, and online resources (journals included).

Sharon Leslie, MSLS, AHIP, is an associate librarian and nursing informationist at Emory University.  She previously worked in a hospital library and as a regulatory affairs coordinator at an HIV/AIDS clinical trials unit.  She may be reached at‚Äč