Observations Yankee Doodling

The myth of an AIDS free world

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5479 (Published 14 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5479
  1. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist, RTI International, and associate editor, BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}rti.org

Control isn’t the same as eradication

Two events here in Washington, DC, have got me thinking about HIV and AIDS. The first was a revival of Larry Kramer’s searing 1985 AIDS play The Normal Heart, which I saw recently. The second was the widely publicised 19th International AIDS Conference, held here at the end of July.1

Watching The Normal Heart I was reminded how grim things were in the early 1980s. Set in New York City, the play follows its hero, the gay activist Ned Weeks (a thinly disguised alter ego of the author), as he rants and raves about the unknown plague that is killing dozens and then hundreds of gay men every month. No one will listen, even fellow members of his activist organisation. Another major character is a physician who is caring for the dying men, basically serving as a palliative care doctor because she can isolate no pathogen and has no effective treatments. The city health department won’t pay attention, and the government won’t sponsor enough research to find the cause and its cure. It is a …

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