Technically, it’s an acronym
- Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome
…but after almost 30 years with it rattling around in our lives (and for some of us, our bloodstream) it’s really a word. Sort of like what happened to XEROX (Xygomorphic Endospectral Reproduction Of eXtra pages). When it was first being reported and researched, the disease was given a series of names, including
- Gay-related Immune Deficiency (GRID)
- Gay cancer
- The 4H Disease (Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin users)
- (I did not make these up…Aren’t people, like, total freaking retards?)
In light of these circumstances, it’s not so bad that we got stuck with AIDS. The story behind it is kind of lame, though; it was proposed at a CDC meeting in 1982 and they accepted it. But did no one at that CDC meeting stand up and point out that the WORD “aid” means “to help”? AIDS doesn’t help you do anything but die! And not a good death, either! A horrible death!
This is why the sciences needs more poets. The science and epidemiological community must have had a hunch that AIDS might turn into an epidemic; couldn’t they have given it a name with some gravitas? Maybe “the cannibal virus” or “T-cell armageddon syndrome”. Something to actually scare us!
They did smarten up after this mistake, though. That’s how we got “flesh-eating virus”, “mad cow disease”, and “Ebola”. Ebola sounds horrible, and it is. Maybe it didn’t pan out as they hoped, but at least it was named right just in case (of course, they have made mistakes anyway…remember “bird flu”? Really? Bird flu? Do I have to worry now about a blue jay sneezing on me? Gimme a break!)