COVID-19 and HIV

For the past few weeks, the world has been in hysteria and panic over a virus that started in Wuhan, China. It was reported by CNN on March 15th that there were 142,000 cases globally.1 This has not been the first pandemic, as we all know, and I’m sure it won’t be the last that we see over the years.

Pandemics throughout history

There have been a variety of known diseases that have killed millions of people, dating back to 430 BC which was smallpox in Athens, Greece, where over 30,000 died then.2

Number twelve on the list of deadly killer viruses was HIV/AIDS; in 1984, by the end of the year, 5,500 individuals died in the United States.2 But today, according to an UNAIDS factsheet, there are 37.9 million people globally living with HIV and 32.0 million people have died since the very first cases in the ’80s.3

What exactly is a pandemic?

When an outbreak is in one place, it is called an epidemic. That’s when it is only in one region or regions. A pandemic is a disease/virus outbreak that hits globally. This means it isn’t just in one state, place, or country anymore because it has now spread to different parts of the world. Do you remember the H1N1 flu virus in 2009? The CDC estimated that it infected around 100 million people in the United and 75, 000 lost their lives.4

How society views epidemics and pandemics

That certainly was a pandemic and what we are facing today with COVID-19 is also a pandemic. Do you think the media plays a huge part in how society views things in our world? Well, I do. First off, it’s all about who’s watching to bring the ratings up. I feel they are part of the blame for the way people treat other individuals. It changes behaviors towards others and manipulates our mental states in a great way.

Looking back on the HIV/AIDS epidemic

The scare that was put on AIDS over 35 years ago had a lot to do with the media's perception and that has helped us to see things through the eyes of mass media. The language they used and the coverage they showed which at times was only what they wanted us to see.

Of course, COVID-19 is no comparison to what took place many years ago. When it came to HIV/AIDS, people were losing so many friends and family members but nothing was being done about it until it was realized that it wasn’t just affecting the gay community.

It’s funny how, right now, people are paying attention: there may be a state of emergency. They should not be next to people who are coughing, sneezing, or sick and are to make sure that they wash their hands. In the '80s, individuals living with HIV were treated very badly. No one could contract HIV/AIDS from close contact or even a kiss, but we were still treated like the plague or black death. And all people had to do was wear a condom and still, today, they won’t listen. This corona thing is not even close to a comparison.


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