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Abstract

Advocates for better health care for the world's poor are fond of the mantra that "infections know no boundaries." Part of this logic evokes the reality of our global community, connected by the easy and frequent movement of people across national borders. But this mantra is also meant as a warning, reminding those of us in wealthier nations that we just might not be safe from exposure to the poor, huddled, coughing masses. HIV, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases on the African continent have been declared a U.S. national security priority. When the global extent of the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis epidemic was being uncovered-in part by the community-based efforts of our small non-profit health care organization working in the slums of Lima, Peru - news of exposure to drug-resistant tuberculosis on international flights made headlines. The emergence of SARS and the worldwide fear it evoked mobilized unprecedented resources in a very short period of time.

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