Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Rounds Up Opinion On Nomination of Dr. Richard Carmona for U.S. Surgeon General
Last week, President Bush nominated Dr. Richard Carmona, an Arizona trauma surgeon who is also a sheriff's deputy, to the position of U.S. surgeon general. If confirmed by the Senate, Carmona would replace the recently departed David Satcher as surgeon general. Carmona's nomination has garnered attention from several advocacy groups who say they will be watching him closely to see how he handles such issues as STD prevention, HIV/AIDS and sex education. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report has summarized statements from several groups below:
- Advocates for Youth: Advocates for Youth President Debra Hauser expressed "alarm" that HIV/AIDS was not included as one of the three top priorities outlined by Bush for the surgeon general to address. "Clearly, this disease is robbing this nation of our most precious resource -- America's youth. While [bioterrorism, obesity and substance abuse] are important, an additional priority for the new surgeon general should be to implement a science-based HIV prevention strategy focused on young people's access to realistic sex education that includes medically accurate information about condoms," Hauser said. She concluded, "It would be unfortunate if the political ideology of this administration prevented a new surgeon general from ... advocating for programs that protect the sexual and reproductive health of young people" (Advocates for Youth release, 3/27).
- AIDS Action: AIDS Action Executive Director Dr. Marsha Martin said that not much is known about Carmona's views on HIV/AIDS prevention strategies and other areas, but added that the mystery surrounding his views "doesn't mean [he] won't be responsive." Martin said she hopes Carmona will adhere to the Hippocratic oath by "doing no harm" -- with harm defined as "doing nothing" in the field of HIV, giving out "misinformation" about the disease and "not doing things you know are effective" to stop the spread of the virus. Martin said she looks forward to working with Carmona and Elias Zerhouni, who was nominated to lead NIH, on HIV/AIDS issues (Meredith McGroarty, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/2).
- Family Research Council: FRC President Ken Connor said that although "early reports" indicate that Carmona agrees with Bush on "the importance of abstinence education," FRC is taking a "wait and see" attitude toward the nominee. "We certainly hope that Carmona will affirm the president's positions not only involving the importance of abstinence education, but also the need to protect life in all of its forms and all of its stages," Connor said (FRC release, 3/28).
- Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States: SIECUS President Tamara Kreinin called on Carmona to support comprehensive sex education programs and access to family planning as ways to prevent STD transmission and unintended pregnancies. However, she expressed concern over media reports stating that Carmona and Zerhouni would support President Bush's views on abstinence programs for teens. Such reports are "troubling given the importance and influence of the surgeon general in shaping public health policy," Kreinin said. She said SIECUS hopes that Carmona will "look to the scientific evidence and the overwhelming support by the major medical organizations that support access to family planning and open and honest information and education about sexuality in making policy decisions regarding the prevention of unintended pregnancy, STDs and HIV/AIDS" (SIECUS release, 3/28).