The Aids Epidemic Versus the Plague

Topics: Black Death, AIDS, Infectious disease Pages: 3 (692 words) Published: January 23, 2000
The destruction and devastation caused by the "Black
Death" of the Middle Ages was a phenomenon left to
wonder at in text books of historical Europe. An
unstoppable plague swept the continent taking as much as
eighty percent of the European population along with it
(Forsyth). However, Today the world is plagued with a
similar deadly disease. The AIDS epidemic continues to be
incurable. In an essay written by David Herlihy, entitled
"Bubonic Plague: Historical Epidemiology and the Medical
Problems," the historic bubonic plague is compared with
the current AIDS epidemic of today. According to his
research, AIDS will probably prove to be the plague of the
millennium (Herlihy p. 18). If one compares the
epidemiology and social impact of these diseases they
prove to be quite similar. The current AIDS epidemic has
the potential to be the most dangerous and destructive
plague of the millennium. No one knows exactly how the
AIDS virus erupted. However, one presently dominant
theory states that AIDS originated from monkeys in Africa
that transmitted the HIV virus to humans through bites
(Forsyth). As people migrated it reached Haiti and then
spread to America (Clark p. 65). The bubonic plague, too,
was a spontaneous epidemic. The Black Death occurred
because a bacillus was carried by fleas that fed off the
blood of humans and transmitted the deadly bacillus in the
process (Packer). It began in China and spread by
migration throughout all of Europe and even America
(Forsyth). Efforts to contain both diseases were entirely
unsuccessful. AIDS is now an international problem as was
the bubonic plague. Like the bubonic plague did in the
Middle Ages, AIDS is spreading at an alarming rate. In
1994 seventeen million people around the world were
infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS, and four
million had developed the disease (Packer). It is estimated
that by the year 2000 more than forty million people, ninety percent in developing...
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