HIV and AIDS are not a new phenomenon to the medical community and the world at large. During the writing of the book, And The Band Played On however, this epidemic was still in its infancy and wasn’t yet recognized fully as the threat it’s become. Since then those in the medical field have gained a great deal of knowledge concerning HIV and the host of symptoms and other afflictions that can be caused by the HIV virus. AIDS is what occurs when HIV eventually wears down the immune system, and thus allows a host of other harmful effects to take their toll upon the body. In the 1980’s the onset of HIV, believed now to have been caused by a virus somehow passed on from monkeys, was a baffling concept that confused physicians and scientists alike as a general outbreak began to spread across the United States without any clear explanation.
Today the movie and book adaptations of this story are still very relevant, and here’s why.
It’s taught people that no matter how irrelevant a disease might be it is worth studying.
The HIV virus started affecting people in the 1970’s, but the true worry didn’t begin until the 80’s when the largest number of reported cases started to come in. Up until that point it had been believed to be a “gay” disease and therefore not a concern of anyone that was not homosexual. This error in judgment obviously came back to affect the US population in a big way as the HIV epidemic turned quickly into a full-blown problem as more than just homosexual men began contracting the virus. As more and more people began to report odd symptoms and illnesses the CDC and the government were forced to take notice. One can easily believe that if the virus had been taken far more seriously in the beginning that research would have been much further along by the 1980’s, and perhaps less people would have suffered.
The government must protect its people by granting the CDC the necessary funding to its job.
It is extremely difficult for researchers and scientists to do their job when their hands are tied by a strict budget. The type of spending that is needed to discover the source of the epidemic and what could have been done to halt it would have gone a long way towards alleviating the stress felt by the CDC when it came to doing whatever they could to combat the virus. By the time the research was compiled and the funds finally released the HIV virus had already run rampant within the country. This seems to be one major, glaring issue that comes from the government having such tight control of budge that the CDC needs to keep people safe. It is of course necessary to be able to justify the levels of spending that are needed, but it is also very necessary to do what is needed to protect a population of unwitting citizens that know little to nothing of a disease within their midst.
And The Band Played On is an important lesson in what can happen when people are not made aware of serious health risk in their midst.