Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day: Some somber editorials and stats

Today is World AIDS day (Dec. 1), but The Washington Post offers a somewhat bizarre op-ed on p A17 by Sanford E. Kuvin, chair of the Kuvin Center for Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, and medical consultant for Kimberly Bergalis, the “first patient to have gotten AIDS from her dentist,” an event that seems like an outlier and that has remained very rare.

The op-ed is called “Our country is failing the AIDS Test,” with link here. Kuvin recommends routine testing for everyone, regardless of consent. He makes a strange comparison to avian influenza, and then half-apologetically notes that avian influenza is casually transmitted (and is not under reliable control in the developing world and badly needs to be answered by a vaccine). He claims that Fidel Castro and Cuba knew about AIDS in the late 1960s because of soldiers returning from Angola. (The Cuban refugees provided a housing and sponsorship need in the gay communities in Dallas and Houston in 1980, before AIDS was well known; I recall that effort well.)

However, the Minnesota AIDS Project today reported in an email that there had been 325 new cases in Minnesota in 2007, and writes “the Centers for Disease Control dramatically increased its annual estimate of new HIV infections in the U.S. from 40,000 to 56,300—more than 40 percent higher than the original estimate.” I got to know the Project well in my six years in Minneapolis in 1997-2003, which includes the “Pride Alive” organization. Pride Alive sponsors activities and talk groups, and in 2000 began offering optional age-segregated talk groups.

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