The challenge of mobilizing aggressively on the current scale is a daunting one, even without second-guessing from people with no experience in fighting disease. Wasting resources by following casual advice -- even if adamantly spoken and mightily propelled -- would make the tragedy of this disease even greater.
More distressing than the profound lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS among the 431 adult men who participated in the survey is the fact that it reveals a startling failure -- even an absence -- of HIV education among gay and bisexual men, despite the fact that we account for the nation's highest number of those living with or at risk for HIV.
I recently had the chance to speak with Jean L. Patterson, Chair of Virology and Immunology at the Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. She has conducted extensive research on hemorrhagic fevers (Marburg, Lassa, and Ebola viruses). Dr. Patterson tells us what role she thinks science plays in combating Ebola.
Now that Ebola is here, it has captured the attention it arguably deserved from us long ago. The latest news is that the patient first diagnosed in the U.S. is in critical condition, and receiving experimental therapy. Lapses in our public health system have been acknowledged, and a scramble to contain the damage, and prevent spread, are playing out as we look on, and worry.
Two potent forces power the Ebola and ISIS epidemics that the media are ignoring. They're (1) breakdown of governing authority, and (2) dissolution of "social capital" -- ties of trust and cooperation that empower individuals, families, and others to forge coalitions and tackle common problems at the community level.
We need experienced leaders who can plot out a principled, unified direction for our future, articulate objectives that create good for all of us, and draw the nation together in a shared vision. Our elected officials have let us down in this department. We do have one remarkable, untapped resource for such leadership.