1. “Philadelphia” is a movie that gives an alternative perspective to the level of discrimination against HIV and prevalence of the disease in the early 1990s. The film gives a clear picture of a HIV positive man who is treated negatively by society and their portrayal of him. The main character, Andrew Beckett is a sharp, intelligent lawyer who works for a Philadelphia law firm. When he is diagnosed with AIDS, he does not inform his supervisors of the illness or his homosexuality. When the senior partners become aware of his sickness and sexual orientation, he is fired and dropped from an ongoing case. Issues of moral and ethical nature in relation to AIDS and connection to homosexuality are addressed.
Legal issues play a central role in the movie. When Becket realizes what has been done to him is unjust, he fights for his rights through the court system. He hires lawyer Joe Miller to represent him (who is also familiar with discrimination being an African American) in his case against his former employer. The justice approach in the aspects of procedure and organization gives focus to procedures, their fairness and the determination of a particular ethical decision. Each party is given a voice and opportunity to present their case and evidence.
Ethical issues such as discrimination at the workplace and social areas are a key theme in the movie. Andrew Beckett is discriminated at the workplace because of his sexual orientation. Though he is an intelligent and efficient lawyer, in the process of an important case, his seniors fire him after they realize he is a homosexual and HIV positive. Social injustice is also seen when Beckett faces discrimination in the library by the librarian. Joe is caught in a dilemma whether to act or not. Lack of morals among the employers is shown when instead of showing empathy to the victim they treat him with a lot of stigmatization.
2. The 1980s and 90swere marred by a looming epidemic of AIDS. Fourteen million patients were recorded worldwide in 1993. These statistics caused an upsurge and fear among many. In the movie, AIDS was seen as a crime against oneself and society in general. They associated AIDS with promiscuous misconduct and saw punishment as the only solution for the disease. Society therefore, discriminated against people with the disease and others were secluded. Ills associated with contracting the disease included homosexuality and addiction to drugs.
People would not associate themselves or touch any infected person. This shows the level of ignorance and fear the disease had sparked. Lately, the disease has seen many changes especially in diagnosis, treatment, medical management, prognosis and public acceptance. HIV is diagnosed using blood tests with three main types of test. In the early 1990s, there was no clear and suitable test for identifying the disease. However, there has not been a cure for the disease. Medications such as Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are used to extend and maintain a person’s life (Demme et al., 2004).
They help the immune system recover and in the fighting of infections. These drugs do not eliminate the disease. Previously, people only lived for a few years but research and medicine has contributed to increased survival rates of the patients. With proper treatment, an infected person can live for decades. Causes of transmission of the disease are mainly through exchange of body fluids and demystifying its association to sin and sexual orientation in earlier years. People have become more aware of the disease and there are fewer stigmas associated with the disease. Many people who contract the disease receive support from family and the society.
Demme, J., Hanks, T., Washington, D., Robards, J., Steenburgen, M., Banderas, A., Fujimoto, T., Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (Firm). (2004). Philadelphia. Culver City, Calif: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.
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