e-Duke Books

In the Shadow of the Epidemic:

Being HIV-Negative in the Age of AIDS

By Walt Odets

For gay men who are HIV-negative in a community devastated by AIDS, survival may be a matter of grief, guilt, anxiety, and isolation. In the Shadow of the Epidemic is a passionate and intimate look at the emotional and psychological impact of AIDS on the lives of the survivors of the epidemic, those who must face on a regular basis the death of friends and, in some cases, the decimation of their communities. Drawing upon his own experience as a clinical psychologist and a decade-long involvement with AIDS/HIV issues, Walt Odets explores the largely unrecognized matters of denial, depression, and identity that mark the experience of uninfected gay men.

Odets calls attention to the dire need to address issues that are affecting HIV-negative individuals—from concerns about sexuality and relations with those who are HIV-positive to universal questions about the nature and meaning of survival in the midst of disease. He argues that such action, while explicitly not directing attention away from the needs of those with AIDS, is essential to the human and biological well-being of gay communities. In the immensely powerful firsthand words of gay men living in a semiprivate holocaust, the need for a broader, compassionate approach to all of the AIDS epidemic’s victims becomes clear. In the Shadow of the Epidemic is a pathbreaking first step toward meeting that need.

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