Sexuality In Real Life In Dallas Buyers Club

The film Dallas Buyers Club featured a heterosexual character, Ron Woodroof, who contracted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which progressed into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (Vallée, 2013). The overall impression was that the film did an excellent job of showing that not only homosexual men can contract HIV, which was a common belief in the 1980s. It exceptionally depicted the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS through Ron’s interactions2. During that time period, there was scarce information on the new disease and the film portrayed the extents that those effected had to go through in order to get treatment. What was surprising was how much the main character changed throughout his diagnosis. At first, he had a lot of stigma regarding his illness by stating it was only for homosexuals and using derogatory terms. He changed for the better and tried to help those infected through his buyers club. A buyers club was a way for those effected to get access to cheaper medications that were not yet approved by the FDA. A negative part of the film was the condemnation of AZT, a medication that was being tested by the FDA, because AZT became part of one of the most effective treatments and saved many lives. More credit should have been given to this treatment, considering how important it became in treating HIV and AIDS.

A new insight gained from the film was the true severity of HIV and AIDS and how widespread the fear and panic of the AIDS epidemic was in the 1980s. In newer generations it seems more people are aware of the risk of STD’s and STI’s and are more likely to get tested. The film showed that back then, many people did not get tested until it was too late. The film showed that the diagnosis was essentially a death sentence and people were desperate to get help. Nowadays, HIV and AIDS are treatable and there are many options for people to live a long and healthy life with the disease. It demonstrated how far society has come with our medical advancements. Some relevant topics and themes in this film pertaining to human sexuality include sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in general, sex education, the stigma around STD’s and STI’s, and homophobia.

Regarding STD’s and STI’s, the film showed that Ron did not have an understanding about safe sex or the transmission of STD’s. At one point, him and his friend discussed how it was not possible that he could have HIV because he had a “pussy addiction” (Vallée, 2013). This discussion illustrated how ill-informed they were on the transmission of the disease. Ron also engaged in unprotected sex with women and shared intravenous drugs throughout the film, which he did not know he could contract HIV from. A 1992 article by Caron, Davis, Wynn, and Roberts titled America Responds to AIDS but Did College Students? Differences Between March, 1987, and September, 1988 compared thoughts, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors related to AIDS in samples of college students in 1987 and 1988. The questionnaires in the study asked a general question about the participants’ thoughts about AIDS, more specific questions such as their knowledge on what causes the disease, who they believed could contract AIDS, if they would get tested for the disease, and if they were concerned about themselves contracting it. This research was relevant to the film considering it was the same time period and asked about sex education and the transmission of HIV and AIDS, which was lacking throughout the film through Ron’s actions and comments.

The 1992 article by Caron et al. explained that without any effective treatment in sight, sex education had been recommended as the best approach to reduce the spread of the disease. This approach would have helped Ron substantially, but there was not much known about the spread of the disease initially. The results of the study indicated that in the 1988 survey compared to the 1987 survey, significantly less people mentioned that only homosexuals were at risk of the disease and significantly more included those who are sexually active, including heterosexuals and prostitutes. Significantly more people also reported being tested for the HIV antibody in the subsequent 1988 survey. More people were realistic in their concern, stating significantly more that the disease concerns them personally in the second testing of the study. The study stated that results showed that more information on the transmission of HIV and AIDS came out over an 18-month period. Thus, people were better-informed and more likely to get tested as time went on and new knowledge was gained. The study furthered this point by saying that there was a growing awareness of AIDS in society, not just in the previous “risk groups”. If Ron never got injured and had his blood drawn, he probably would have never gotten tested due to his insufficient understanding of the disease and who he could contract it from (Vallée, 2013).

According to the lecture Sex Education, Contraception, and Childbirth by Huft (2020) from class, adolescents in America have higher rates of STI’s compared to other industrialized nations due to inadequate sex education and inept information on contraceptives. Ron obviously seemed to lack necessary knowledge on STI’s. Also, according to the lecture Sexually Transmitted Infections, programs and resources that teach practical skills such as how to use a condom or refuse a sexual invitation are effective in reducing the incidence of STD’s (Huft, 2020). The film highly supports these statements by showing how his lack of knowledge and resources contributed to disbelief of his diagnosis. If he was well educated and provided better resources throughout his life, his health outcome could have been better. This illustrates why it is important to have proper sex education so people can engage in safer sex and reduce the risk of STI’s.

Ron also showcased many feelings of homophobia and stigma. He constantly used derogatory terms and was offensive to gay men throughout the film (Vallée, 2013). When diagnosed, he feels the pressure of social stigmas, such as when him and his friends make fun of Rock Hudson, an HIV positive actor. Ron began the process of self-stigmatization in the first scene at the hospital by saying, “Who you kidding, Rock cock sucking Hudson bullshit?... I ain’t no f*ggot.” According to the 2016 article “I’m Not HIV Positive, I’m Undetectable”: Community Forum of Issues of Stigma by Brondani, Donnelly, and Postnikoff, stigma continues to disproportionately affect the health outcomes of people living with HIV and AIDS. The article discussed how high levels of self-stigma leads to those infected to become disconnected from their coping strategies and has close links to depression and internalization of negative stereotypes of their condition. The article also stated that those living with self-stigma are less likely to seek medical help. Ron demonstrated self-stigma after his diagnosis when he stormed out of the hospital and rationalized his diagnosis as a mix-up of blood samples. The article explained how self-stigma leads to a withdrawal of social groups and denial. Ron demonstrated these actions when he withdrew from those who wanted to help him, did not believe his diagnosis, when he was afraid to tell people because of the stigma surrounding the disease. When he did tell his friends, they were not supportive of him. Thus, leading to more self-stigma in himself. If he had access to necessary information prior to his diagnosis, he could have received medical help sooner, rather than being in denial, withdrawing from effective coping strategies, and worsening his health. The study emphasized the need for continued education to initiate discussions between health care professionals and the public at large about issues concerning HIV prevention, transmission, and treatment in order to reduce self-stigma.

Ron believed only gay men could be infected and his stigma showed through his outward homophobia. This relates to the lecture by Huft (2020) titled Sexually Transmitted Infections because the lecture stated that psychological factors that increase the risk of STI’s include the unrealistic optimism people have that it will not happen to them. Ron had an unrealistic image that it would not happen to him because he was straight and had stigmas toward homosexuals. Ultimately, this mindset led him to contract the disease himself due to his ignorance, stigma, lack of sex education, and lack of adequate resources.

Overall, the film was an accurate depiction of sexuality in real life. The film showed that anyone can contract HIV and AIDS, regardless of sexual orientation. By the end of the film, it was apparent that Ron had decreased his own stigmas and helped many people in the process. Ultimately, he accepted his diagnosis and tried to better himself and those around him through providing cheap medications. The message taken from this film was that education is necessary to reduce the spread of the disease, and not to stigmatize the diagnosis because it can happen to anyone. The film and the research cited provided substantial examples of how sex education and stigma can affect health outcomes for people diagnosed with AIDS, HIV, and STI’s in general.                       

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now