Reagan and AIDS

I've seen this image posted on my Facebook feed from two very-different friends:

[Update 15/08/23: I had only linked to the original graphic, which has since disappeared. I can't be sure now which image it was, but I think it was something like this one:]

 To which I have twice replied:

1981: # of AIDS deaths in US = 121, HHS funding per death = $1,600

1982: # of AIDS deaths in US = 447, HHS funding per death = $12,427

1983: # of AIDS deaths in US = 1476, HHS funding per death = $19,469

1984: # of AIDS deaths in US = 3454, HHS funding per death = $17,794

1985: # of AIDS deaths in US = 6854, HHS funding per death = $15,847

1986: # of AIDS deaths in US = 11932, HHS funding per death = $19,594

1987: # of AIDS deaths in US = 16908, HHS funding per death = $29,717

So, in 1983, the US federal government was already funding anti-AIDS programs to the tune of nearly $20,000 per death. The disease grew very quickly, from a trickle in the first few years, to almost 17,000 in 1987. It's hard to know in the early days of a new disease if it is going to have a wide effect. Very little was known in early days of how it was transmitted, what the death rate would be, or how many people were at risk. Would you have triggered a massive effort to eradicate a disease because fewer than 500 died in a year? What about fewer than 5,000?

As a point of comparison, probably somewhere around 75,000 people will die in the US this year of hospital-acquired infections.


Not only us

WaPo catalogs how the Ebola epidemic in West Africa got out of control.

What goes unmentioned is what should be noted as a major turning point: when stories began to reach the west of local health care workers getting slaughtered during informational meetings about Ebola. We saw people that were trying help running for their lives from an ignorant population.

Once that happened, many people mentally washed their hands of the mess.