The concluding lecture takes the example of HIV/AIDS and discusses how reactions to the epidemic mirrored those found in the social and cultural perception of earlier epidemics. As in earlier epidemics, sufferers have been ostracized, persecuted or blamed for their own misfortune. In South Africa the government of Thabn Mbeki dismissed AIDS as an ideological construct of neo-colonialism building on racist stereotypes of Africans as sexually irresponsible, with disastrous consequences. HIV/AIDS has spread rapidly through modern means of communication, such as air travel, just as cholera was spread by traffic on railways and steamships. Future epidemics may spread even more rapidly, and the series concludes by asking what, if anything, can be done to prevent them.

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently nearly 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.

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