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Chapter 2: The Health of Nations
CNBC.com | March 16, 2012 | 11:33 AM EDT

Sickness and disease are part of the human condition. There will be stunning advances in health care in the coming decades – and many new challenges

IN 1980 NO ONE HAD HEARD of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The term did not exist. But the virus that causes AIDS, having long festered in chimpanzees, had already jumped to humans. In June 1981 America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sounded a muted alarm, using a few short paragraphs to describe a rare pneumonia in five gay men in Los Angeles. Some reporters warned of “gay cancer”; in 1982 the CDC coined the term AIDS. Cases were reported in Australia and Mexico, South Africa and China. By 1992 AIDS was the leading cause of death for American men aged 25–44. The 1990s brought fervent research, frustration and public campaigns. A quilt in memory of AIDS victims cloaked the National Mall in Washington, DC. In 2001 the world’s leaders gathered at the United Nations, vowing to reverse the epidemic.

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