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Common EnemiesDisease Campaigns in America$
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Rachel Kahn Best

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190918408

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190918408.001.0001

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Disease Constituencies

Disease Constituencies

(p.43) 2 Disease Constituencies
Common Enemies

Rachel Kahn Best

Oxford University Press

In the second half of the twentieth century, disease advocacy evolved from universal campaigns to patients’ constituencies. Changes in the experience of health and illness and the nationwide expansion of political advocacy laid the groundwork for patient-led campaigns. Then, AIDS and breast cancer activists constructed a new type of disease advocacy on the foundations of the gay rights and women’s health movements. Unlike the earlier disease crusades, these movements were led by patients banding together to fight diseases that affected them personally, and they blazed a trail for patients suffering from other diseases. As patients’ activism became increasingly legitimate, disease nonprofits proliferated, patients took over congressional hearings, and disease walks and ribbons became an inescapable feature of American public life.

Keywords:   AIDS, breast cancer, patient advocacy, health social movements, diffusion, social movement spillover, mobilization, health consumers

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