why is SARS more important than AIDS?

Have any of us been asking the question? It seems obvious one. As of mid-April, 89 people have died of Severe Acute Respitory Syndrome, or SARS, yet you'd think the sky was falling. But, in the now classic formulation of our frustration, what about AIDS?

SARS may turn well out to be this century's equivalent of the 1918 influenza epidemic, which killed millions. It hasn't happened yet however, but the world is already on the verge of panic. Precautions are certainly in order, but we note that while tens of millions of people have now died of AIDS-related diseases, there is no concern, even today, equivalent to that attached to SARS. Twenty years ago almost no one really cared about AIDS, and until there were hundreds of thousands of cases and tens of thousands of deaths, and very loud and creative protests from members of the communities most affected, almost nothing was reported and almost nothing was done.

Sure, there are very significant differences in the epidemiology of the two diseases, but we can't help but suspect that there may be a more important, fatal distinction. One disease is perceived by most people in the West, even today, as a disease belonging to people who are thought expendable, and the other is regarded as a real threat to the kind of people who can make a difference in determining the course of an epidemic.

The current New York Blade has a cover story dealing with these issues. The article, by Winnie McCroy, really only begins to ask some important questions. There will be more questions, we hope, but there may never be good answers.

About this Entry

Published on April 29, 2003 11:20 PM.

previous entry: no questions asked

next entry: "We are at war, we are at war."