Issue

Global Health: Outbreaks and Epidemics

Some agents, like the Ebola virus, ravage nations without warning or mercy. They capture the world’s attention—and aid. We can’t look away.

Other agents creep quietly from host to host, devastating communities for decades: One third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis, but its latency allows drug-resistant strains to rise.

Outbreaks and Epidemics digs into both types of communicable illness—the sudden and the ceaseless. It explores cholera’s sweep through Haiti following the earthquake, and how the lack of water and sanitation infrastructure turned a treatable illness into a second (third, and fourth) round of devastation. This gateway also exposes the economic grip malaria still holds on African countries, still prone to epidemics of bedridden students and workers.

Pulitzer Center journalists trace HIV/AIDS from its origin to its current status, unearthing clues to developing a successful vaccine. They investigate the epidemic of stigma, examining how religion and culture contribute to homophobia and the spread of the virus.

By telling the stories of patients, caregivers, and scientists, our reporters are drawing outbreak comparisons and providing lessons for prevention. They are also taking on the challenge of communicating technical information to the lay ear, and ultimately filling the gap between the scientific and public understanding of germs.

Global Health: Outbreaks and Epidemics

Jamaica's Gays Worship In the Closet

It takes just 15 minutes to set up an underground church.

Two boxes and a white sheet make up the pulpit. The altar is a card table. Folding chairs constitute the pews. Then Rev. Robert Griffin, a solidly built gay American minister in his mid-40s, unpacks a battered cardboard box; inside is a wooden chalice, two candle holders, a communion plate and a dog-eared copy of the King James Bible. Add a pianist warming up on an electric keyboard and suddenly an empty meeting room is transformed into the Kingston branch of the Sunshine Cathedral, Jamaica's only gay church.

Jamaica's Gays Worship In the Closet

It takes just 15 minutes to set up an underground church.

Two boxes and a white sheet make up the pulpit. The altar is a card table. Folding chairs constitute the pews. Then Rev. Robert Griffin, a solidly built gay American minister in his mid-40s, unpacks a battered cardboard box; inside is a wooden chalice, two candle holders, a communion plate and a dog-eared copy of the King James Bible. Add a pianist warming up on an electric keyboard and suddenly an empty meeting room is transformed into the Kingston branch of the Sunshine Cathedral, Jamaica's only gay church.

How AIDS Became a Caribbean Crisis

We may be accustomed to thinking of AIDS as most rampant in distant parts of the world like Africa, India, and South Asia. But these days the epidemic is flaring up a bit closer to home, in the Caribbean. Indeed, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adults there, and the Caribbean's rate of new infections is the second highest in the world, following just behind Sub-Saharan Africa.

How AIDS Became a Caribbean Crisis

We may be accustomed to thinking of AIDS as most rampant in distant parts of the world like Africa, India, and South Asia. But these days the epidemic is flaring up a bit closer to home, in the Caribbean. Indeed, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adults there, and the Caribbean's rate of new infections is the second highest in the world, following just behind Sub-Saharan Africa.

A Deadly Cycle

Jamaica's hard-to-reach and embattled gay community has been ignored by the government's public health program for the last 25 years. Last year, a study revealed that nearly one-third of gay men in Jamaica may be infected with the virus that causes AIDS, but the island's public health response remains paralyzed by homophobia as the epidemic continues its uncontrolled spread through Jamaican society.

A Deadly Cycle

Jamaica's hard-to-reach and embattled gay community has been ignored by the government's public health program for the last 25 years. Last year, a study revealed that nearly one-third of gay men in Jamaica may be infected with the virus that causes AIDS, but the island's public health response remains paralyzed by homophobia as the epidemic continues its uncontrolled spread through Jamaican society.