Bioethics Blogs

Ebola – Yes to isolation, quarantine, and travel restrictions (Part III)

By Adil E. Shamoo, Ph.D. (guest blogger)

The HIV experience can be used as a learning model to understand what processes may need to be used for this Ebola epidemic. While there are differences, there is much similarity, especially in the deadliness of the virus of both diseases in the early phase of the epidemic. Both are also transmitted through contact with body fluids, and can be transmitted through sexual contact. This aspect should not be overlooked; the sex drive is very strong and frequently sexual relationships defy logic and rationality. 75 % of all cases of Ebola in West Africa are contracted through sexual contacts.

Some people consider the way the public health system treated the HIV epidemic as a success and many have celebrated the policies that led to a more controlled disease. In the US, the number of HIV infections is way down. However, the first decade of treating HIV infection in the U.S. and worldwide was a colossal failure from all sides. The current numbers of HIV infections and other sequelae of the disease are the proof (see the table below). We failed to take strong measures to delay or stop the spread of the disease for political reasons and political correctness. Our political leadership and the public health system were an abysmal failure in controlling the spread of the disease.

HIV# of people (1981-2013)# of people (2013)
Total Worldwide with HIV75 million35 million
Total Worldwide Deaths39 million1.5 million
Worldwide New Infections——–2.1 million
Total US Infections1.7 million1.1 million
Total US Deaths658,9927,683
US New Infections——–50,000

The number of worldwide infections since HIV inception in 1981 is 75 million; 39 million died.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.