AIDS Info - Medical Application Appraisal
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Once the magnitude of the epidemic became clear-especially once HIV was identified as the causal agent-NIH was given the mandate and resources to develop a large, multifaceted AIDS research program to understand the virus's pathogenesis, discover and test therapies, and develop prevention strategies and a vaccine. Research supported and conducted by NIH has led to rapid increases in basic knowledge about HIV and its replication, the molecular and behavioral aspects of transmission, the human immune response to HIV infection, and the clinical course of AIDS. Researchers have discovered and developed some partially effective therapies, and recent advances in vaccine research have convinced many scientists that an effective vaccine may someday be available.
It is important to understand the different contexts in which risk is perceived and the complex system of beliefs, values, and ideals that shape risk perception (Nelkin 1989). There are several other factors that influence risk perception, including locus of control, the type of risk posed by the threat, and the time interval involved in evaluating the risk. For example, people tend to underestimate risks that they perceive to be under their control, risks associated with a familiar situation, and low probability events (Douglas 1985). People have difficulty accepting estimates of a risk that is involuntary, uncertain, unfamiliar, and potentially catastrophic (Fischoff 1987). The epidemic caused by HIV in the blood supply illustrates these patterns of perception and behavior with respect to risk. Meanwhile, however, the epidemic continues to grow and spread to new areas and populations, trends that argue for a well-planned, well-organized long-term research program leading to the control and eventual eradication of the disease.
Evaluation is first a management tool for strategic planning and intervention.
Douglas, M. Risk Acceptability According to the Social Sciences. Russell Sage Foundation, New York; 1985.
Fischoff, B. Treating the Public with Risk Communications: A Public Health Perspective. Science, Technology and Human Values, vol. 12 ; 1987.
Fischoff, B., et al. Acceptable Risk. 1981.