In the 1990s, if the optimists are right and the world is lucky, someone will be able to write the history of AIDS. If the epidemic has peaked by then—and some observers argue that this has already happened—we will still be living out the denouement of a widespread human tragedy. But we’ll know both its scale and when we can expect it to play itself out, even in the absence of a vaccine or completely effective therapy. Then we may be in a position to assess AIDS, decide how it harmed us, and what, if anything, it taught us.
Right now we know the etiological cause of the disease: HIV, the human immunodeficiency retrovirus. Less surely, we know how HIV leads to the immunosuppression that in turn permits fatal opportunistic...
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.