There is no question that pestilence plays a major role in population growth; or the lack thereof. In the 14th century, the Bubonic Plague wiped out a third of Europe’s inhabitants; or roughly 25 million people. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) came into the spotlight in the early 1980’s, although its origins have now been traced as far back as 1959. Since 1981, over one million people in the United States have been diagnosed with the disease and over half have died. The worldwide death totals are over 25 million as of the end of 2007. Since 1996, a decline in deaths has been realized with the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, a combination of medications usually referred to as a “cocktail” designed to prevent or significantly postpone those infected with HIV from developing full-blown AIDS. The epidemic remains far worse in Africa because many residents can neither afford nor acquire adequate treatment. Despite improvements in prevention and the quality of life for those fortunate enough to afford the “cocktail,” it is still estimated that up to 3 million people worldwide will become newly infected with HIV annually.
While AIDS certainly is a factor in the control of population growth, it is ludicrous to consider this to be “natural.” It is no more natural to contract this horrible disease than it would be to be vaporized by a weapon of mass destruction in some horrific nuclear confrontation. The only natural way to control population growth and hence overcrowding is to ensure that the birth rate does not exceed the death rate. With advances in medical science that result in ever-increasing life spans, this becomes difficult. Barring an eventual expansion of the human race as a whole to other worlds beyond our Earth, the only way to accomplish stability without employing barbaric tactics is to make use of birth control. It must also be voluntary to avoid government regulation such as that used in China.
It is especially disturbing to realize that AIDS is usually contracted by what is arguably the most congenial activity we can indulge in. There is absolutely nothing normal about wondering whether or not you will contract HIV after having sex with someone. This is a pastime that has been enjoyed since humans first roamed the earth. Aside from the pleasurable aspect, the very concept of procreation; the very act that will keep our species going; is dependent on it. Furthermore, when AIDS first got our attention and was initially believed to be exclusive to homosexual males engaging in unprotected anal intercourse, there were actually some callous and uncompassionate individuals who proclaimed that this plague was God’s way of punishing those who indulged in what they perceived as deviant behavior. So much for loving your fellow man.
We will all die someday. Some of us will succumb to accidents or disasters brought on by the forces of nature. Unfortunately, these circumstances are largely unavoidable, for they often occur with no prior warning. Being as such, one could say that these events are a part of the natural process of replacement, so to speak. Others will live to a ripe old age until their bodily functions simply cease to perform. In the meantime, babies will continue to be born.
Those who suggest that a disease as horrible as AIDS should simply be regarded as a naturally-occurring phenomenon in the life and death cycle might just as well suggest that we stop our efforts in finding a cure. And that, quite simply, is unacceptable.