‘Not Surprising’ That HIV/AIDS in U.S. Is ‘Worse Than Officials Had Expected,’ Opinion Piece Says
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. "from the beginning" has been "wrongly filtered through shifting public and political views that tried to focus blame or susceptibility on populations of people defined by social and demographic factors," physician and columnist Kate Scannell writes in a Contra Costa Times opinion piece. CDC last month "reported that it had significantly underestimated" annual new HIV infections in the U.S., Scannell writes, adding, "In that new infections are occurring disproportionately in our communities of color, the CDC's upwardly revised estimates" of new HIV infections "sound an alarming note." According to Scannell, what is "just as clear is that resources currently dedicated to changing that reality are woefully inadequate and not targeted at the heart of the problem." It is "not surprising" that the country's epidemic is "worse than officials had expected," Scannell writes, adding that the U.S. has become "grimly aware" that the virus "knows no racial boundaries."
The focus on social and demographic factors in the fight against HIV/AIDS "ostracized some communities and it made others feel safe," Scannell writes, adding that the virus "always transcended those overly-convenient stratifications because it was always about the exchange of drug needles, semen, blood, vaginal fluids and breast milk." According to Scannell, "All the while we devised prevention strategies, we should have been crossing demographic divides and focusing on these universal risk factors." She adds, "Behaviors and universal risks ... ought to be the focus so that people can understand and legitimately assess their risk." Scannell concludes that she wonders "how many people might have been spared their HIV infections had they not been under some false impression of safety, swayed by some public message that sacrificed information to politics or ideology" (Scannell, Contra Costa Times, 9/28).