Greta Christina has sent me this link to her wonderful essay discussing the short memory required for HIV/AIDS denialism.
It is really a fantastic essay, personal and well-researched, and it covers a very important point. A lot of the anti-science attitudes we see are from people have no memory of what things were like before some medical intervention like vaccines, antibiotics, or in this case HAART. It’s easy to think there’s no problem with avoiding vaccination, or denying germ theory once the problem of these diseases are so well-controlled that there doesn’t seem to be a tangible benefit from the interventions anymore. Similar with HAART, HIV/AIDS denialists who for whatever reason have bought into the crankery, probably didn’t experience or can’t remember what a dramatic effect HAART had on survival rates of AIDS, or the sheer terror of the disease in the early days when no one knew the cause, or how it was transmitted. HAART and public health have been highly successful, and as a result AIDS awareness now occupies the back-burner. This will likely make HIV/AIDS denialism ripe for a resurgence as people ignorant of the history of the disease will have no personal experience to counter the lies of the cranks.
Unless, of course, people go read Greta’s essay, and spread it around the web.