Seth Berkley On AIDS and Public Understanding

Question: How have message movies like ‘The Constant Gardner’ affected opinion about disease?

Seth Berkley:  It is a very important question because there are always going to be bad acts that occur. There are always going to be things that aren’t tested the way they should be and of course, they do give a bad name and they often have enormous repercussions for lots of things that aren’t associated with that. For example, you have a product that is tested. The product ends up causing a rare side effect. For the next 10 years, you might see a slowdown in products getting approved so there’s always these kind of untold consequences. For the type of work we’re talking about, the critical issue is forming really strong partnerships with those you’re working with. What does that mean by a partnership? It means people have to be fully understanding of what’s going on. They have to be engaged themselves in the research. And it isn’t only the researchers and the patients; the practitioners around them, the community leaders around them, the media leaders around them, they all need to understand. They have to have a chance to ask their questions because if they don’t, then you can get a chain of bad ideas spread and bad rumors spread, and then that can lead to all kinds of problems. We don’t get it right, other groups don’t always get it right, but if you follow the principles of getting that dialog going, taking the time, what you end up with is fabulous outcomes because you’ve got all these amazing scientists in these countries who want to be involved, care about it, they’re local heroes. So for them, giving them an opportunity to partake in a global effort to try to solve this problem is something fabulous and the communities want to be engaged. People who have been afflicted and affected by this want to engage. It’s just a matter of making sure that you do it in a way that’s fair and take into account all these issues.

Question: What’s your greatest concern about conceptions of AIDS?

Seth Berkley:  There’s a couple of answers to that. It’s been interesting because it started in fairly affluent group of people and in the west, it’s moved into communities of color, it’s become a disease of poverty, it’s moved into groups that are IV drug users and other groups who are somewhat marginalized from society. That has a different effect because one of the things happened because this started in affluent gay community, they knew how to organize themselves, they were vocal, they could put money and resources against it and that’s changed now. One of the challenges we have now in the west is trying to get it out from that, to bring it forward to have people talk about it. People are afraid of it. They don’t want to discuss it; the stigma, the issues. In the developing world, we’ve also had a shift. It’s gone from being initially a disease of the wealthy, now again to being more of a disease of poverty, people who aren’t as educated, people who don’t have as many choices. So when it becomes a disease of poverty, your degrees of freedom are less in terms of trying to deal with it in some sense. The long term goal would be to deal with the poverty associated with it but the short term goal is to make sure that you engage the community as best as you can and try to create an atmosphere that can allow these things to be talked about and discussed.

Berkley says the critical issue is forming really strong partnerships with those you're working with.

Thousands of Nazis held big rallies in America less than 100 years ago

Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.

Credit: Bettman / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
  • The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
  • Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
Keep reading Show less

Coffee and green tea may lower death risk for some adults

Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.


Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
  • This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
  • The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Keep reading Show less

Can you solve what an MIT professor once called 'the hardest logic puzzle ever'?

Logic puzzles can teach reasoning in a fun way that doesn't feel like work.

Credit: Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • Logician Raymond Smullyan devised tons of logic puzzles, but one was declared by another philosopher to be the hardest of all time.
  • The problem, also known as the Three Gods Problem, is solvable, even if it doesn't seem to be.
  • It depends on using complex questions to assure that any answer given is useful.
Keep reading Show less

Why San Francisco felt like the set of a sci-fi flick

But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.

Brittany Hosea-Small / AFP / Getty Images
Surprising Science

On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.

Keep reading Show less
Quantcast