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Variance in Global Response to HIV/AIDS between the United States and Japan: Perception, Media, and Civil Society*



The US and Japan, despite their shared reputation as leading donors for international development, remarkably varied in their foreign aid policy for HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike the US, who initiated and increased global AIDS funding dramatically, Japan was lukewarm in its contributions. I claim that the distinctive pattern depends on how the pandemic was domestically framed and understood. The policy commitment was more likely when the internationally shared idea (international norms) of threats requiring immediate international cooperation was congruent with the domestic perception of the epidemic. The research undertakes a comparative examination of the determinants of the distinctive domestic perceptions of the two cases, including the number of individuals infected with HIV, the attitude and role of the media, and the civil society organizations dealing with HIV/AIDS. They played significant roles as intervening variables that conditioned domestic diffusion or internalization of the international norms for foreign aid policy development. The US had a favorable domestic condition based upon the relatively large number of those infected with HIV, a media that adopted a constructive approach, and active civil society organizations associated with the disease. In contrast, in Japan the number of HIV cases was lower, the media had a distorted view of the epidemic, and civil society organizations were not strong enough to offer much support until the early 1990s.



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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research and publication of this article: This article is based upon the work supported by the Marquette Fellowship and James C. Carter, S. J. Faculty Fellowship from Loyola University New Orleans.



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