As in the fable, for blind men to “see” an elephant, they
must mentally integrate the different parts that they each feel into a coherent
whole. AIDS is the medical elephant of our times, but for us to see it whole,
like the blind men, we have to examine it part by part.
Already AIDS has killed millions worldwide. The Joint United Nations
Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that as of 2004 another 40 million
persons are living with HIV, and about 14 000 new infections occur each
day. But much more than sheer size defines the AIDS elephant. The pandemic
has so many constituent parts beyond medicine—economics, sociology,
education, history, international affairs, culture, ethnicity, research, and
ethics, among many others—acting synergistically, that assembling the
parts into a coherent whole entails great complexity.
Morin SF. AIDS. JAMA. 2005;294(7):849. doi:10.1001/jama.294.7.849-a
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