The Corpus Callosum

Ask A ScienceBlogger About…AIDS

I was just thinking about the topic, not with regard to myself, but the
issue in general, because of a good interview on Ira Flatow’s href="http://www.sciencefriday.com/">Science Friday.
 There is no permalink, yet, but it’s the show for 8/11/2006,
second hour.  They discuss the progress, or lack thereof, in
finding a vaccine.

To what extent do you worry about AIDS, either with
respect to yourself, your children, or the world at large?…

I don’t worry about it for myself or my family at all, except in the
same abstract way that I worry about pancreatic cancer or something
like that.  

As for the rest of the world, well, it is a huge problem.


While
we have learned a tremendous amount by studying the disease, we have
not come particularly close to either a cure, or an effective vaccine.
 There are something like 30 vaccines in development, but it
is
impossible to say, as of 2006, what the prospects are for success.
 

Possibly, over time, what we learn from fighting HIV/AIDS will turn out
to have a greater benefit, than the burden from the disease.
 But
I have never been a fan of href="http://www.answers.com/topic/panglossian">Panglossian
philosophy, so I don’t really buy that.  

It is important to recognize that there are at least two aspects to the
problem.  The most obvious is the medical morbidity and
morality,
which is staggering.  The second is the economic impact.
 By
creating direct costs, plus inhibiting productivity, it has a negative
impact on the world economy.  Plus, it is one of those factors
that tends to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.  The
economic toll is likely to be less in a place such as the USA, which is
relatively well-positioned to blunt the impact.  It is far
greater
in Africa, which does not have the resources.  This kind of
thing
increases economic disparity.  Which is a topic for another
day.