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public health



  • How Smallpox Inoculation Brought a New Nation Together

    The need to control smallpox outbreaks helped a public-minded spirit of disease prevention to override rampant individualism in the years surrounding the American Revolution, argues historian Andrew Wehrman.



  • The Risks of Declaring the Pandemic Over

    by Molly Nebiolo

    As long as America has had pandemics, it has had leaders who sought political benefit by declaring them over, so Joe Biden is in good company. But moving on needs to include planning ahead. 



  • COVID Shows the US as a Country Kept from Grieving

    Historians Rhae Lynn Barnes, Keri Leigh Merritt, and Yohuru Williams have edited a new collection of essays putting the pandemic in historical perspective, with contributors showing how the pandemic robbed us of both life and time. 



  • I was Fired for Asking My Students to Wear Masks

    by Michael Phillips

    Sometimes academic freedom is about the ability of professors to advocate on behalf of the campus community's health against administrators who prefer silence as a matter of political expediency. 



  • Monkeypox is a Failure to Learn from HIV-AIDS Activists

    by Dan Royles

    Attention to messaging – efforts to advise communities of gay men at risk of infection without stigma – has hidden a deeper message of AIDS activism in the 1980s: demands for an equitable and affordable health care system. 



  • Ending the Illusion that Smoking is a Choice

    by Sarah Milov

    Tobacco companies still promote the convenient fiction that users addicted to the nicotine in their products are making a free choice to consume them. 



  • Can We Stop Cars from Killing People?

    American cyclists and pedestrians are the victims of a century-long political campaign to reorganize public space around the needs of drivers, according to historian Peter Norton. Activists including the families of traffic victims are fighting to change that.



  • Do Gay Men Need a Specific Monkeypox Warning?

    by Jim Downs

    The history of the HIV epidemic shows that the desire to avoid stigmatizing gay men should not override the imperative of identifying and advising populations about behavioral risk for contagious disease. 



  • The History of Saloons Helps Understand the Social Harm of the Pandemic

    "In the century and a half after the founding, saloons continued to be a key social institution, places of business, leisure, and community for many men—until Prohibition wiped them out, destroying in one fell stroke the cultural and economic infrastructure they had long provided."



  • Using DDT to Fight Polio was a Mistake, but Learning from it was Valuable

    by Elena Conis

    Recent Ivermectin mania echoes the moment in 1940s America when spurious science led American communities to demand to be sprayed with the noxious insecticide, believing it would prevent polio outbreaks; the episode underscores the need for patience in pursuing public health. 



  • Even for Polio, Parents were Slow to Vaccinate their Kids

    Dropping the historically unsupported contrast between the uptake of the polio and COVID vaccines by parents of young children should prompt us to stop moralizing and start considering the social, political, and economic factors, including poor healthcare access, that always hinder vaccine campaigns in the US.