HIV History Suggests An Even More Paranoid Future For Ebola

Michael Byrne | Motherboard | October 19, 2014

HIV and the Ebola virus share some interesting and entirely sinister traits. One of those is extended incubation: Ebola can take up to three weeks to manifest as symptoms, while HIV can take years. Once either virus has incubated and built its viral armies, it goes to work. Ebola will eventually kill around half of its victims and, untreated, HIV will eventually progress to AIDS, with a guaranteed death not far behind.

The quiet period is dangerous. Ebola patients aren't infectious without symptoms, while HIV patients very quickly become infectious, which is one kind of danger. But the more subtle problem comes in the form of disease paranoia.

Like Cold War spies, if you can't see your "enemy," everyone becomes one. It's not enough to say that, hey, there have only been three total Ebola infections in the US compared to many thousands in West Africa, because anyone can still imagine any number of Ebola carriers and there won't be much we can say to assuage that fear...