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In Infectious Ideas, Jennifer Brier convincingly argues that the AIDS epidemic had a profound effect on the American political landscape. Viewing contemporary history from the perspective of the AIDS crisis, she provides rich, new understandings of the complex social and political trends of the post-1960s era. Brier describes how AIDS workers--in groups as disparate as the gay and lesbian press, AIDS service organizations, private philanthropies, and the State Department--influenced American politics, especially on issues such as gay and lesbian rights, reproductive health, racial justice, and health care policy, even in the face of the expansion of the New Right. Indeed, the book shows that efforts to deal with AIDS produced significant fissures in the conservative movement during this period, especially when the State Department and USAID adopted AIDS as a centerpiece of its diplomatic strategy, including the distribution of millions of condoms overseas. Infectious Ideas places recent social, cultural, and political events in a new light, making an important contribution to our understanding of the United States at the end of the twentieth century.
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Jennifer Brier is assistant professor of gender and women's studies and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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