Editorials, Opinion Pieces Respond to World AIDS Day
Several newspapers have published editorials and opinion pieces in response to World AIDS Day. Summaries appear below.
Arizona Daily Star: World AIDS Day is a "good time to issue a wake-up call," a Daily Star editorial says, adding, "This scourge has not gone away. It still cannot be cured. No one is known to be immune. You need to take measures, if you're in any way at risk, to protect yourself and your loved ones" (Arizona Daily Star, 12/1).
Boston Globe: "About 1.1 million Americans are thought to be HIV-positive, and each year an additional 56,000 become infected with the disease," a Globe editorial says, adding, "More widespread testing could reduce the number of new infections in two ways." According to the editorial, "Those who learn they are infected could stop sharing contaminated drug needles and adopt safer-sex practices. Also, by getting effective early treatment, they would be less likely to transmit the disease." It concludes, "The United States has stumbled in several ways in its response to AIDS. The failure to follow through aggressively on the CDC's call for routine testing is inexcusable" (Boston Globe, 12/1).
New York Times: A recent mathematical model published in the journal Lancet "sounds too good to be true, and it may prove to be so in the real world," but it "at least lifted our spirits," a Times editorial says. It adds, "At the moment, nobody is recommending the new approach, but" the World Health Organization "will convene a meeting to discuss its implications." The editorial concludes, "If the resources can be found, it would be worth testing the theory in a suitable area" (New York Times, 12/1).
- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: World AIDS Day "serves as a reminder of the extensive work that has been done by the Bush administration" and "raises expectations, within reason, for President-elect Barack Obama," a Democrat and Chronicle editorial says. It adds, "Priorities, fiscal restraint and strategic use of money must all be prominent tools Obama uses as he attempts the daunting task of actually achieving the great expectations that have been laid at his feet" (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 12/1).
- Sam Ho, Allentown Morning Call: "With improved drugs, proper care and treatment, people with HIV are living longer and stronger lives," Ho, executive vice president and chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare, writes in a Morning Call opinion piece. He adds, "But even with this encouraging news, a dangerous trend is emerging in an often-ignored segment of the HIV and AIDS population: youth." According to Ho, "statistics show more Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 are being affected by this deadly disease than ever before" (Ho, Allentown Morning Call, 11/28).
- Ken Hackett, Baltimore Sun: Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, writes in a Sun opinion piece that although the incoming Obama administration is expected to be "very friendly toward Africa," Obama "will have a hard act to follow in terms of U.S.-Africa relations, thanks in part" to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Hackett writes, "On this World AIDS Day, the last under President Bush, we should acknowledge what PEPFAR has accomplished and recommit our nation to continuing its mission of alleviating the misery caused by this pandemic." Hackett also discusses the threat that the troubled economy could have on fully funding the $48 billion, five-year reauthorization bill that Bush signed in July. He concludes, "This horrible pandemic is affecting the poorest people in the world, those least able to address the ravaging effects of this disease. If we do not help them, we will cede the moral authority that the United States needs to lead the world in the 21st century" (Hackett, Baltimore Sun, 12/1).
- Lucy Chesire, Boston Globe: Given the tremendous amount of improvement the world has witnessed in treating HIV/AIDS, "it is unacceptable that we are allowing 25 years of progress to crumble before our eyes" by allowing tuberculosis to "become deadlier than ever," Chesire, a Kenyan patient advocate, writes in a Globe opinion piece. TB is the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people, Chesire writes, adding that neglect and diminished funding for the disease "risk undoing some of the greatest achievements in global health activism." According to Chesire, although Obama "has been vocal about his commitment to continuing the progress made by the Bush administration in fighting infectious diseases and upholding the U.S. commitment to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to fight poverty and disease," he and others leaders "must ensure that joint TB-HIV programs are adequately addressed. The fight against AIDS -- and global health at large --depends on it" (Chesire, Boston Globe, 12/1).
- Heidi Cuda, Cedar Rapids Gazette: In the Gazette opinion piece, Cuda, program manager at the Iowa Center for AIDS Resources and Education, discusses the goal of obtaining universal access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention programs, treatment, care and support by 2010, as well as the work of her organization to care for HIV-positive people and prevent new cases. Cuda writes, "As we continue to pursue our global 2010 goal, please remember, HIV/AIDS is a preventable disease. We can all take an active role in stopping the spread of HIV" (Cuda, Cedar Rapids Gazette, 11/30).
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chicago Tribune: "As we prepare to commemorate World AIDS Day on Monday, we must remember that the world is facing not only an AIDS emergency -- which is killing 5,500 a day -- but also the global spread of tuberculosis, including drug-resistant strains," Tutu writes. He adds, "True, the world faces an economic downturn, and there is no doubt the U.S. has urgent human needs at home, including its own quite serious HIV/AIDS epidemic, but the fact remains that even a doubled contribution" to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria "would be a tiny amount, less than 1% of the U.S. budget, a small price to pay for a peaceful, stable world" (Tutu, Chicago Tribune, 11/30).
- Mark Royse, Lexington Herald-Leader: "As World AIDS Day approaches, it's vital we in Kentucky understand the HIV/AIDS crisis is not over," Royse, executive director of AVOL, writes in a Herald-Leader opinion piece. He adds that the "biggest key" to reversing the spread of HIV is "education and awareness. Unfortunately in Kentucky, ignorance and misinformation persist." According to Royse, HIV-positive people "continue to be discriminated against, and our most at-risk populations are being threatened by our collective squeamishness to publicly discuss sex, drugs, and lifestyles and beliefs that may be different than our own" (Royse, Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/30).
- Marshall Matz, Miami Herald: "Although great strides have been made" since HIV/AIDS was first discovered, "the virus continues to destroy millions of lives," particularly in the "world's poorest countries, where hunger and severe poverty exacerbate HIV/AIDS," Matz, founding chair of the board of directors of Friends of the World Food Program, writes in a Herald opinion piece. According to Matz, "As national governments and international organizations continue to address this crisis, we must not overlook the role of food in both the prevention and cure of the disease," because antiretrovirals must be taken with food. He adds that initiatives such as PEPFAR and the World Food Programme's HIV/AIDS and nutrition programs "have given millions of patients in developing countries the opportunity to reclaim their lives. We must build upon the current nutrition provisions in PEPFAR to ensure that HIV/AIDS patients and their families get the life-saving food they need." Matz concludes, "We must also provide WFP with the resources necessary to guarantee that nutrition becomes essential for all HIV/AIDS relief initiatives" (Matz, Miami Herald, 12/1).
- Susan Blumenthal and Melissa Shive, San Francisco Chronicle: "[D]espite two decades of progress in the fight against [HIV/AIDS], there is still widespread stigma" surrounding the disease, "fueled by myths, a lack of knowledge about how the disease is transmitted and value judgments about how it is acquired," Blumenthal -- a senior policy and medical adviser at the Foundation for AIDS Research and former assistant surgeon general of the U.S. -- and Shive -- a Fulbright scholar and medical student at the University of California-San Francisco -- write in a Chronicle opinion piece. According to Blumenthal and Shive, the stigma against HIV/AIDS is a "pervasive, pernicious form of discrimination that deeply affects many lives" and poses "a major barrier to HIV prevention, diagnosis, care and treatment." The authors conclude that it is "essential" to enact a new "national AIDS strategy to stop AIDS and help end the discrimination that people with this disease experience every day" (Blumenthal/Shive, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
- Jay Levy, San Francisco Chronicle: "Complacency about AIDS threatens our progress toward finding new directions in HIV treatment and prevention," Levy, professor of medicine at UC-San Francisco and executive member of the AIDS Research Institute, writes in a Chronicle opinion piece. According to Levy, HIV/AIDS researchers "must continue our efforts to find a cure for this disease and a vaccine to prevent HIV infection." In addition, schools should increase HIV/AIDS education efforts, and more people should be tested for the disease because "that knowledge can curtail transmission," Levy writes. He concludes that "researchers, clinicians, public health workers and others throughout the world need to reaffirm their commitment to stopping this devastating epidemic in its tracks" (Levy, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
- Rob Renzi, Tallahassee Democrat: The "sad fact" is that many HIV-positive people do not know their status, and there are many "others who are not receiving care at all," Renzi, executive director of Big Bend Cares, writes in a Tallahassee Democrat opinion piece. According to Renzi, World AIDS Day is a day of "remembrance" for "those who have been lost to this awful disease and to remember those who live each day with the pain and stigma of HIV/AIDS." In addition, it is a "call for action" encouraging people "to take personal responsibility for their health and to be tested," Renzi writes, adding, "It is your obligation to know your HIV status." Renzi concludes, "On this World AIDS Day, I ask you to remember all of those people we have lost to HIV/AIDS"; to "empathize and reach out" to HIV-positive people; to educate others about the disease; and "most importantly," to "take action to keep yourself and your loved ones safe" (Renzi, Tallahassee Democrat, 12/1).
- Amboka Wameyo, Toronto Star: Western nations, including Canada, have a "responsibility" to "help the African health system become more effective and inclusive," Wameyo -- World Vision Canada's advocacy and program integration manager -- writes in a Star opinion piece. He adds that the West also can "provide more drugs at affordable costs." According to Wameyo, "Canada can accomplish much just by keeping its oft-repeated promise to allocate 0.7% of gross national income to foreign aid. Currently, Canada's foreign aid budget is a paltry 0.28%." Wameyo concludes, "Ottawa needs to take its cue from that clear sense of responsibility and generosity" (Wameyo, Toronto Star, 12/1).
- Earvin "Magic" Johnson, USA Today: "Every African-American community across the nation must mobilize for an all-out assault on HIV/AIDS if we are to conquer this dreadful disease," Johnson writes. He adds that if he and his wife, Cookie Johnson, can "spur a nationwide dialogue, I know we can halt and begin to roll back the rising tide of HIV/AIDS in black America." He writes, "Let's start talking today" (Johnson, USA Today, 11/28).
- Sanford Kuvin, Washington Post: Kuvin -- founder and international chair of the Sanford Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem -- writes in a Post opinion piece that HIV/AIDS "remains the world's No. 1 health threat," adding that it is a "grave risk to black people in particular" in the United States. However, "a nation with U.S. literacy rates and levels of cultural and public-health sophistication is capable of greatly reducing its number of new infections," he adds. Kuvin concludes, "Until we have universal testing and mandatory reporting, tracing and treatment, the government is failing to fulfill its obligation to protect the public health interests of America's uninfected, regardless of race and ethnicity. The United States has the opportunity to prolong uncountable numbers of lives and protect millions of others. America should choose to lead -- and leave behind its ineffective public health policy" (Kuvin, Washington Post, 12/1).
- Bhagirath Singh, Windsor Star: Canada will "continue to contribute to global efforts" to eradicate HIV/AIDS, Singh -- executive director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity -- writes in a Star opinion piece. She adds, "Today, World AIDS Day, is an important opportunity -- an opportunity to look back at how far we have come over the past 25 years in understanding, preventing and treating HIV/AIDS and an opportunity to look forward, to the day we will have a vaccine that is successful in eradicating this global scourge" (Singh, Windsor Star, 12/1).
- Terry Duguid, Winnipeg Free Press: "It is easy for those of us who may not be as directly affected by HIV/AIDS to become complacent. We must not," Duguid -- president and CEO of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases -- writes in a Free Press opinion piece. He adds, "Canada must continue to lead globally and must sustain a concerted, coordinated effort to find the elusive breakthrough that will lead, finally, to a vaccine." Duguid concludes, "We can feel confident that when that history is written, Canada will be central to the telling of this epic battle for global health" (Duguid, Winnipeg Free Press, 12/1).