Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Rounds Up Reaction to Statistics, Study Results Released at National HIV Prevention Conference
Several papers have responded in editorials to statistics and study results released this week at the Second National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta. The CDC released numbers showing that AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths have stabilized, marking the end of the "era of dramatic declines" seen in the mid-1990s (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/14). And New York researchers announced that the needle-exchange programs established in New York City have been "the key" to successfully lowering HIV infection rates among local IV drug users (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/14). Summaries of the editorials follow in alphabetical order:
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The mistaken assumption that AIDS is no longer a serious threat has rekindled the risky behaviors that could lead to a resurgence of the deadly disease," an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial states. Studies unveiled at the conference "revealed several disturbing trends among the at-risk groups that underscore the urgency of candid conversations about AIDS." AIDS advocates, public health officials, schools and churches must "go to battle once again to deliver the prevention message," a message that must be "strongest among young gay men" and within "black institutions," where the response to HIV/AIDS has been "either silence or condemnation, neither of which save lives," the editorial concludes (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/15).
- Kansas City Star: The news that AIDS cases and deaths have levelled off brings a "special urgency" to HIV prevention work, a Kansas City Star editorial states. "For if the dark clouds the CDC sees on the horizon bring a sharp increase nationally in AIDS cases, the impact is sure to be felt in this area," it states. "That is why the systems and programs designed to help must operate efficiently and compassionately -- and why efforts to educate everyone about the disease must be aggressively continued," the editorial continues. "Now is no time to let up in efforts to control and stop the losses," it concludes (Kansas City Star, 8/14).
- Newsday: A study presented at the conference that found that needle-exchange programs in New York City lowered HIV prevalence among injection drug users from 50% in 1990 to 20% in 2000 "offers a powerful model for other cities now wrestling with a needle-based HIV problem," a Newsday editorial states. Fears that such programs would "inadvertently make drug abuse and AIDS even more widespread" have proven to be "not just a little misguided, but dramatically off base," it states. However, New York cannot "get too caught up in self-congratulation," as the city could "bring its rates lower" by starting programs in Queens, which does not currently have a needle-exchange effort. "Study after study has shown that the feds should pay for syringe exchanges. But the Clinton White House frantically danced around the idea, and Congress steadily refused to ante up. Maybe the New York study will change some minds," the editorial concludes (Newsday, 8/16).
- San Francisco Chronicle: "The fight to control and stamp out AIDS is far from won in the United States, much less the rest of the world," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states. The stabilization of AIDS cases and deaths is problematic because many experts "note that the more teachable among those at risk already have learned about prevention. The remainder, such as the addicted and the mentally ill, are harder to reach," it continues. "[P]reventive education must reach groups that have been missed so far, and publicly supported treatment should be provided to those who otherwise cannot get it," the editorial concludes (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/15).