PR in place of demonstrable benefit may have gotten its start in the formation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. David M. Oshinski explains in the introduction to his Pulitzer Prize winning Polio: An American Story:
In truth, polio was never the raging epidemic portrayed in the media, not even at its height in the 1940s and 1950s.... Polio's special status was due, in large part, to the efforts of a remarkable group, of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which employed the latest techniques in advertising, fund raising, and motivational research to turn a horrific but relatively uncommon disease into the most feared affliction of its time.The wildly successful fund-raising schemes of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis became the model for all subsequent disease-focused PR campaigns and the use of charities to fund raise around particular illnesses. It is all-in-all a very misleading business.
Universities and the NIH have capitalized on the public's easily activated fear -- a favorite tactic used by all manner of people with ill intent. While HIV/AIDS is a serious illness, the use of monkeys and chimpanzees infected with HIV, SIV, and/or SHIV contributed nothing to the treatment regimes and prevention methods recommended by doctors.
HIV was a gigantic financial windfall for all the larger primate labs and continues to be so even today after decades of failure.
Ebola, a recent money-maker and publicity-grabber, was briefly milked for every dime the vivisectors could wring out of it. And exactly like HIV, multiple proclamations of important breakthroughs were dutifully reported on by local newspapers and the misleading claims reported on far and wide by other gullible reporters with little knowledge or interest in the past claims that also failed to hold up in human trials.
The new kid on the block, but certainly not the last, is the Zika virus. On February 10, 2016, the University of Wisconsin announced that David O'Connor -- who had made his fortune [$27,408,246 in NIH grants since 2005] and contributed to the university's overflowing treasure chest by using monkeys in biodefense and HIV "research" -- had snagged an NIH deal to infect pregnant monkeys with the virus to see what would happen. And of course, the (University of) Wisconsin State Journal, dutifully published the university-written article under the name of one of its reporters the very next day.
O'Connor is quoted saying, "The more hyperbolic the media coverage is, the more it gets repeated, reposted, retweeted," ... "The key messages are that we don’t know a lot. We will know a lot 12 months from now. But it’s really important we let data guide the decision making, not our guts."
But then, only two days later, the World Health Organization reported that they would have real data from actual women within weeks. Indeed, like HIV, the monkey data will add little and will probably be wrong anyway.
These diseases of the day are windfalls for vivisectors and their universities. NIH is anxious to appear responsive and also wants good press. It is an altogether sick system. But sick people aren't the system's real concern.
Meanwhile, monkeys and other animals are poisoned, sickened, and otherwise tormented for no good reason other than money. That's what the university and all the rest have their eyes so clearly fixed on.