AIDS Update

December 16, 1988

Report Outline
Special Focus



In the last half of the 20th century, we have become accustomed to medical miracles. Polio is a horrible memory of summers long gone. Even cancer—still rightfully a great fear—no longer means certain death. Antibiotics have conquered many illnesses, vaccines have put an end to many others. Childhood diseases are so routinely dispatched with vaccinations that a single case of measles is now cause for great alarm. It is likely that there are children today who will go through life with nothing worse than a common cold.

Which is why AIDS is so frightening. It is incurable. It is fatal. And it affects the young. For its part, science seems only capable of reinforcing the bad news. After great leaps of discovery about the virus that causes the disease and how it is transmitted, recent movement seems only to go up blind alleys, or shadowy ones at best. Few drugs have been found to treat the disease, and although they may slow the course of AIDS, none will prevent it. A vaccine seems far off, perhaps impossible.

As for discoveries about the disease's progression, here, too, the outlook is bleak. In the early days of AIDS, scientists believed that some individuals might be able to fight off the infection. Now, the opposite seems to be closer to the truth: Once someone is infected with HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, it is only a matter of time before he gets full-blown AIDS and dies.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
AIDS/HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sep. 18, 2012  Conquering AIDS
Oct. 2009  Rescuing Children
Oct. 26, 2007  Battling HIV/AIDS
Dec. 03, 2004  Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Oct. 13, 2000  Global AIDS Crisis
Dec. 04, 1998  AIDS Update
Apr. 21, 1995  Combating AIDS
Dec. 25, 1992  Women and AIDS
Oct. 06, 1989  Good News and Bad About Aids
Dec. 16, 1988  AIDS Update
Nov. 06, 1987  AIDS Dilemmas
Aug. 09, 1985  AIDS: Spreading Mystery Disease
Jan. 19, 1979  Venereal Disease: Continuing Problem
Jun. 10, 1960  Venereal Disease Control
Jan. 09, 1943  Venereal Disease in the Armed Forces
Oct. 25, 1938  Control of Venereal Diseases