Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals were among the first and most crucial responders to HIV/AIDS. Given an epidemic in which behavior and identity played fundamental roles, mental health professionals were uniquely positioned to conduct social research to explain the existence and spread of disease; to develop clinical understanding of psychological aspects of HIV/AIDS as they emerged; and to collaborate with affected communities to promote education and behavioral change. This study examines the roles of mental health professionals as “plague doctors” in San Francisco’s response to HIV/AIDS, in the early years of the epidemic. Among the many collaborations and projects that distinguished the “San Francisco model” of response to this plague, bathhouse-based epidemiology, consult-liaison psychiatry, and community partnerships for counseling and education are examined in detail as illustrations of the epidemic-changing engagement of the mental health community.


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pp. 279-311
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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