Al l diseases have social, ethical and political dimensions. Diseases affect individuals, not abstract entities or collectivities, and affects them in variable ways, according to their general social condition and bodily health. What makes disease culturally and historically important, however, is the way in which meanings are attached to illness and death, meanings and interpretations which are refracted through a host o f differing, and often conflicting and contradictory social possibilities. These shape the ways we interpret illness, and therefore organize the ways in which we respond.