A reader passed along a link to this post on Short memories: AIDS denialism and vaccine resistance. The author learned that a friend had dated an AIDS denialist:
This was absolutely the wrong thing to say to our friend, who had been an AIDS activist since the early days of the epidemic, had nursed several beloved friends through the illness, had seen way too many of those friends die… and had seen others come back from the brink of death when the protease inhibitors and combination therapies finally came out.
So Ingrid and I were talking, not only about how ignorant AIDS denialism is and what a perfect example of the Galileo Fallacy it’s proving to be… but also about how profoundly insensitive and clueless it was for this woman to talk this way to someone who’d been through the worst days of the epidemic. Doesn’t she remember? we said. Doesn’t she know what AIDS was like before the drug cocktails came along?
And it occurred to both of us:
No. She doesn’t remember.
She argues that the same thing has happened with vaccination–that people simply don’t remember the havoc vaccine-preventable diseases used to wreak–an attitude that leads to apathy. As she notes, the best public health is invisible–preventing disease rather than responding to outbreaks, so it’s difficult for the average individual to realize how important it is until it’s broken.
I won’t summarize everything; she makes a number of excellent points that readers here will appreciate, so go check it out.