Impact of HIV/AIDS on Minority Populations, MSM ‘Overlooked’ by Presidential Candidates, Opinion Piece Says
The impact of HIV/AIDS on U.S. minority populations and men who have sex with men has been "[o]verlooked" by the 2008 presidential candidates, James Driscoll -- adviser to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and former appointee to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS -- writes in a Washington Times opinion piece (Driscoll, Washington Times, 12/12).
Although rates of other sexually transmitted infections "soared," CDC for many years continued to report stable rates of new HIV cases, Driscoll writes. However, some HIV/AIDS advocates warn that the estimates "fail to reflect the rapid spread of HIV in minority communities" and among MSM, Driscoll writes. He adds, "Vindicating" the advocates' "warnings," CDC is expected to announce updated figures that are "disturbingly higher than previous estimates."
According to Driscoll, HIV testing is the "most effective and least controversial way to discourage risky behavior" and "save lives." However, "none of the presidential candidates have issued a strong call for increased testing," he adds. To "turn the tide" against HIV/AIDS in the U.S., "we must test more often, focus on the most vulnerable groups and make sure that all who test positive have ready access to quality HIV care and essential" antiretroviral drugs, Driscoll writes. He adds that current HIV/AIDS programs need to be "scrutinize[d]" and that resources need to be reallocated to "where they are most cost-effective," such as testing.
"One reliable measure of a candidate's commitment to health care is her or his actions to improve access to testing and care," Driscoll writes, concluding, "So far, the candidates of both parties are failing this HIV litmus test. Let's hope the CDC's disturbing new infection rates will be their wake-up call" (Washington Times, 12/12).