Christine Maggiore is dead, and the tragedy of another life lost pointlessly would disappear into the mass of so many before hers but for the sad fact that for all that could be learned from her losses, likely nothing will be.
That is because those who know that HIV causes AIDS will go on knowing it, but those who believe it doesn’t, as she believed, will go on ignoring science and facts as sad as this and the death of her three-year-old daughter.
As the uncountable lives lost to AIDS before hers did, Christine Maggiore’s had much to offer, and for a while did, until she met the wrong person, who told her what she apparently needed to hear — that the problem that had upended her life did not exist.
With that new belief replacing scientific evidence in her mind, Maggiore went on to bear and breast feed two children, one of whom died of HIV-related pneumonia in 2005.
And as awful as it is to think of such a death for a child, that tragedy becomes a dot when the work of denialists is counted, in the deaths and and infections that will continue for decades to come because of South African President Thabo Mbecki’s denial that HIV could be treated, and prevented from becoming AIDS.
And those tragedies in turn join unnumbered others, happening now, still to happen when governments put faith over science, and talk over action.
Here Christine Maggiore’s death stands out, because she was one of a few prominent denialists. Around the world there are more.
But American denialism takes other forms — in federal funding for abstinence only education, in discriminatory laws such as those passed in California, Florida and Arizona this past election banning same sex marriage, and in “balancing” the views of such as Pastor Rick Warren — proven by research to be ineffective, with the urgency of stopping the AIDS epidemic.