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The AIDS Crisis in Belfast

by Rebecca Brown, Ulster University Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is an infection which attacks the body’s immune system and, if left untreated, will severely damage the individual’s immune system.[1] In the final stage of the HIV infection, an infected individual will develop Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) making them susceptible to serious infections and rare cancers.[2] …

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Working in a Warzone: The Challenges Faced by Medical Staff Working during the Troubles

By Ruth Coon, Queen’s University Belfast The Troubles (1968-1998) created a complex work environment for healthcare staff in Northern Ireland. They experienced challenges to their neutrality and medical ethics, as well as threats and dangers at work. In my research, a number of medical staff who worked at various hospitals across Northern Ireland were interviewed …

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The Thalidomide Tragedy in Belfast

by Hannah Brown and Rebecca Brown, Ulster University The thalidomide tragedy is one of the worst medical scandals in history.[1] Thalidomide was advertised as an extraordinary drug which could be used to treat a plethora of problems including depression, colds, anxiety, insomnia and headaches.[2] Thalidomide was also effective in alleviating morning sickness in pregnant women. …

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Polio and its Survivors in Twentieth-Century Belfast

by Hannah Brown, Ulster University Poliomyelitis merges three Greek words, ‘polio,’ ‘myelo,’ and ‘itis,’ which translates respectively to ‘grey matter’, ‘spinal cord’ and ‘swelling’.[1] Poliomyelitis is often referred to as polio or infantile paralysis. The highly contagious disease is spread faecal-orally and is caused by a wild-type polio virus type 1, 2 or 3.[2] Polio …

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Shell-Shock in First World War Belfast and its Aftermath

by Michael Robinson, University of Liverpool The conditions of modern warfare calling large numbers of men into action, the tremendous endurance, physical and mental, required, and the widely destructive effect of modern artillery fire will undoubtedly make their influence felt in a future war, and we shall have to deal with a larger percentage of …

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Protecting and Promoting Pupil’s Health in Edwardian Belfast Schools

By Tom Thorpe, Independent In August 1913, Dr H.W. Baillie, Belfast’s Medical Superintendent Officer of Health delivered his report on the city’s public health for the previous year. During 1912, Belfast reported its second lowest death rate ever but he noted that around 650 children had died from the seven ‘zymotic’ (infectious) diseases such as …

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5. Why Did Ulster Patients Travel to Scottish Asylums for Mental Health Care, c.1840-1900?

By Michael Kinsella, Ulster University Scotland’s nineteenth-century chartered asylums had philanthropic roots and developed very differently from the Irish district asylum system. They were not designated as pauper institutions and due to their charitable foundations were profoundly influenced by their relationship with the ‘urban Scottish middle class’.[1] They were also progressive by the standards of …

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