What Matt discovered was that in the seventies across the US medical spectrum, in the printed news, and on national television, there were deluded attempts to explain this new and challenging medical problem. The fanciful false proclamations of a speedy investigation to resolve this disease’s transmission to reassure the public were a smoke screen. Our nation’s citizens were fearful of contracting this dreaded disease. TV talking heads inflamed emotions by proposing, “Was it spread by breathing the same air, eating contaminated food, having sex, sitting on a public toilet, or being in contact with an infected carrier of the disease?”
Alarmists proclaimed, “The public must avoid contact with those perceived to be infected by this disease.”
As a result, in addition to the name calling, egg throwing, and spitting, the returning Vietnam veteran was further shunned and isolated. Schools, businesses, workplaces, movies, restaurants, motels, and other gathering places were becoming off-limits to those who served in Vietnam. A societal disaster was developing. Where would our Vietnam veterans work, eat, toilet, sleep, or attend college? Would not the currently difficult reintegration of the stigmatized Vietnam veteran into US society be made more difficult? An irrational defensive mode gripped the nation’s populace.
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