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From the very beginning of the epidemic, AIDS was linked to punishment. Calls to punish people living with HIV—mostly stigmatized minorities—began before doctors had even settled on a name for the disease. Punishing Disease looks at how HIV was transformed from sickness to badness under the criminal law and investigates the consequences of inflicting penalties on people living with disease. Now that the door to criminalizing sickness is open, what other ailments will follow? With moves in state legislatures to extend HIV-specific criminal laws to include diseases such as hepatitis and meningitis, the question is more than academic.
About the Author
Trevor Hoppe is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and a coeditor of The War on Sex.
"Punishing Disease [is] engagingly written and accessible to non-scientific and non-academic audiences, [and] impressively deploys the tools of sociology, criminology, and epidemiology to help us understand the baleful consequences of reacting to a public health emergency with punishment instead of compassion."
"This book offers numerous points of consideration that are relevant not only to the epidemic he discusses, but also our current pandemic. Notions of shame, stigma, misinformation (fake news) and punishment can immediately be applied to our experiences of COVID-19. Though it is likely to find audiences amongst social scientists and public health professionals, I would argue that it has value for anyone interested in the relationship between disease and law, including those in the legal profession, policymakers and students. It is forensic and thorough, but engaging and accessible in terms of structure and language. . . . Hoppe offers a powerful, gently subversive text that is a call to action to build a new selection of tools to rebuild our epidemic responses, and to stop punishing disease."
— Sociology of Health & Illness
"A thoroughly researched, detailed account of how the promotion of a model of individual responsibility for a fatal disease such as HIV serves to transform a medical problem into a criminal problem... Recommended."
“Offer[s] up a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of HIV exposure and disclosure law over decades . . . Serves as a call for future work to continue to elucidate the myriad ways 'public health' unfurls in insidious and corrosive ways.”
— American Journal of Sociology