This issue of The Scientist focuses on HIV-AIDS. While we concentrate on the struggle for full scientific understanding of the virus and the disease, the essential backdrop remains the scale of the ongoing epidemic and the misery that it causes: Every six seconds another person becomes infected with HIV; every day 8,500 people die of AIDS. Even with the relative success of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), infection is controlled rather than conquered. Moreover, HAART has side effects ranging from the unpleasant to the dangerous, and its long-term effects have yet to be discovered. The ability of HIV to form deadly dormant reservoirs in the body is the subject of the Feature on p. 20.

In addition to the direct devastation wreaked by the virus, there are attendant, indirect costs, the results of ignorance or persecution. Twenty-some years into the epidemic, superstition, paranoia, and denial continue to be regular responses...

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