In the past 15 years we have recognized "new" infectious diseases such as Lyme disease (1975), legionnaires' disease (1976), and toxic shock syndrome (1978). In each case, the scientific community rose to the occasion and uncovered the etiologic agent, developed diagnostic tests, and found ways to prevent or treat such conditions. Naturally occuring smallpox was declared eradicated from the face of the earth in 1979. This series of gratifying scientific achievements did not prepare us for what was to come.
The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) raised its ugly head in June 1981. The disease caused panic and hysteria. The victims of AIDS were abused, ridiculed, and maligned. Some people believed that AIDS was divine retribution for immoral life-styles. Patients who did not indulge in high-risk life-styles (eg, recipients of blood products) were labeled as "innocent" victims. Families and communities were torn apart. Federal and other agencies were accused of a