The sociological study of AIDS: A critical review of the literature and suggested research agenda

H. B. Kaplan, R. J. Johnson, C. A. Bailey, W. Simon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Building upon a critical evaluation of the sociologically relevant literature dealing with AIDS, we offer methodological suggestions and outlines of substantive models that promise to address two limitations in the exisiting literature: the limited range of variables that are considered relevant, and the absence of theoretical guides that specify the interrelationships among putative explanatory factors. The review of the literature and the substantive models focus separately on the onset and on the course of AIDS. The onset of AIDS is modeled as a function of immune deficiency status that is influenced by infection with the AIDS virus and, less directly, by the interrelated social factors that influence exposure to the AIDS virus, by interrelated social factors that influence immune deficiency status more directly, net of effects upon exposure to the virus, and by interrelated common or unique antecedents of these social factors. The course of AIDS is modeled as the outcome of subjective distress associated with infection with the AIDS virus, premorbid indicators, opportunistic diseases, or the perceived adverse consequences of these circumstances, the interrelated adaptive/coping/defensive responses to the subjective distress (e.g. changes in behavioral risk factors, denial, seeking medical care), and the interrelated antecedents of the AIDS-related subjective distress and adaptive/coping/defensive responses. The influence of these variables on the course of AIDS is mediated by their direct or indirect (via exposure to the AIDS virus) effects on immune deficiency status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-157
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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