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January 17, 1996

Infectious Diseases: A Global Approach to a Global Problem

JAMA. 1996;275(3):245-246. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530270085038

A little more than a decade ago, Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine1 proclaimed that "infectious diseases are more easily prevented and more easily cured than any other major group of disorders...." A new disease called "acquired deficiency of cell-mediated immunity in young homosexual men" occupied less than a column of text. "Slim disease," recognized possibly as early as 1962,2 did not warrant an entry, but the dramatic decline in tuberculosis seen during the previous decades was noted to have "leveled off." This complacency, reflected in the textbook and documented throughout this issue of JAMA, allowed a greater focus on heart disease and cancer. Ten years later, cardiovascular disease mortality has declined, and much of the public knows that high cholesterol and blood pressure should be controlled. Infectious disease mortality, meanwhile, has climbed to the third leading cause of death in the United States.3

In 1996, we view