PUBLIC HEALTH AND ADAPTIVE
IMMUNITY AMONG NATIVES OF
A. Magdalena Hurtado, Inés Hurtado & Kim Hill
In 1977, Francis Black and colleagues wrote that “if … homozygosity of the HLA region is associated with enhanced susceptibility to certain infectious diseases, [South American natives] will continue to require special medical consideration by comparison with more diversified populations” (Black et al. 1977). Over two decades later we still do not know why natives tend to be more susceptible to disease than nonnatives, and in the meantime very little has been done to increase medical attention (as was suggested by Black) to those at-risk populations. To solve this problem we suggest that biomedical researchers should not just continue to study native health problems and publish numerous papers without becoming actively involved in the development and implementation of effective public health programs. They must engage in both simultaneously. There has always been a pressing need for the translation of biomedical research findings into action, but it was easily overlooked for as long as native communities did not question the activities of researchers. More recently, however, native communities have realized that after many years of research, they are still at least as bad off as they were before frequent visits from researchers, and they are now refusing to participate in research projects. It is unfortunate that most biomedical institutions and their researchers, in spite of having extensive knowledge of health problems among natives, failed to respond sooner.