Worry Is Still Epidemic takes

Twenty years into the AIDS epidemic, one can see diverging trend lines in Americans’ experience of the matter. The number of adults who know someone who lives with HIV/AIDS or has died of AIDS has risen to 43 percent, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the survey also finds a sharp decrease since 1995 in the number of Americans who rate AIDS as the nation’s “top health priority”—from44 percent in 1995 to 26 percent last year. Is this is a rare instance in which a crisis comes to seem less dreadful even as it becomes more immediate? Not altogether. Elsewhere in the study, 49 percent of those polled said HIV/AIDS is “a more pressing problem” for the U.S. today than a few years ago. Nineteen percent said they’re “very concerned” about becoming infected; 39 percent are “not at all concerned.”