The AIDS Pandemic

Paper #1

As we have discussed in class, the first official reports of what we now refer to as HIV/AIDS were published in the summer of 1981. In the 26 years since those reports, we have learned a great deal about the virus, HIV, and the associated syndrome, AIDS. Yet, even today, some people still have misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and stigma toward people living with HIV/AIDS still exists. In some cases, the misconceptions and stigma result from inadequate, incomplete, or inaccurate reporting by the popular press. In other cases, misconceptions and stigma reflect the prejudices harbored by certain people. To combat the stigma and dispel the misconceptions, we all must be able to critically analyze reports about HIV/AIDS and clearly explain the important issues to our friends and relatives.

For this assignment, you will analyze any story about HIV/AIDS that was published before 1986. You can agree or disagree with the article. But you must provide good scientific evidence supporting your position. For example, you may find an article published in the July, 1984 newsletter of the “Society for the Believers in Little Green Men” that claims Martians released HIV on Earth as part of their biological warfare against us. Search the scientific literature. If you find strong evidence supporting this claim, then defend this article in your paper.

Your paper must be 3-5 pages long. It must focus on a single story published before 1986. You may defend or criticize the article. But you must provide scientific evidence supporting your position. Again, the scientific evidence you use must have been published before 1986. Your paper must be typed and double-spaced. Include on the title page the Davidson College pledge and your signature. Use a standard style for your references. Include with your paper a copy of the story you are critiquing. Visits to the Writing Center are encouraged.

Please refer to the Department of Biology Statement on Plagiarism.

All papers must be handed in by 1:00 PM on September 25, 2007.


You will be graded primarily on the strength of your critique. I will examine your ability to critically evaluate the information presented in your article and your ability to clearly explain the related science. Additionally, you will be graded on the clarity and organization of your writing.