New York Times Publishes Letters to Editor in Response to Opinion Piece About HIV/AIDS, Other Public Health Issues Worldwide
The New York Times on Monday published letters to the editor in response to a recent Times opinion piece by Daniel Halperin, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, about HIV/AIDS and other global public health issues. Halperin in the opinion piece writes that although HIV/AIDS in developing countries requires "continued attention" and that preventing deaths from the disease remains "imperative," other public health needs should not be "ignored" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/2). Summaries of the letters appear below.
- Warren Andiman: "One cannot emphasize the many truths expressed in" Halperin's opinion piece, Andiman, professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the Yale School of Medicine, writes. He adds that health workers returning from HIV/AIDS clinics in Africa and Central America "report that nongovernmental programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV are launched but that they are embedded in gravely inadequate infrastructures that diminish the chances for success." In addition, most "poor countries lack the laboratory capacity to conduct the necessary blood tests to measure drug efficacy and monitor for resistance and side effects," according to Andiman (Andiman, New York Times, 1/7).
- David Bryden: Halperin in his opinion piece criticized the 2008 presidential candidates who have "pledged $50 billion for global HIV/AIDS programs, saying it would make sense only if it were 'not limited to HIV/AIDS programs,'" Bryden, communications director for the Global AIDS Alliance, writes. According to Bryden, the candidates who have made such pledges "did so knowing that one-quarter of the financing would go to programs that are not strictly AIDS-related." He adds that although Halperin is "right to express outrage at the low level of financing for clean water and family planning," he should "direct more of his criticism at" candidates who have "failed to make any specific commitment whatsoever on global development financing" (Bryden, New York Times, 1/7).
- Gregg Gonsalves: "Pitting health and developing priorities against each other is simply asking for the financing pie to be cut up into smaller and smaller pieces, leaving developing countries to make impossible choices among many worthy goals," Gonsalves -- coordinator for the regional Treatment and Prevention Literacy and Advocacy Program at the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa -- writes. He adds that if countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development "allocated 0.7% of their" gross domestic products to "foreign assistance, as they have promised, there would be plenty of money to go around to fully support programs to fight AIDS and other key challenges in Africa and elsewhere" (Gonsalves, New York Times, 1/7).
- Malcolm Potts: It is fortunate the researchers can "now be confident that the catastrophic level of heterosexual HIV infection found in places such as Botswana or parts of South Africa will not be spread to the rest of the world," Potts, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of California-Berkley, writes. He adds, "Sadly, with the passage of time, I have seen rhetoric replace objective analysis and ... I have watched with dismay as Western money for AIDS has distorted the larger picture of health priorities of the developing world" (Potts, New York Times, 1/7).