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Disturbing Information
Jan 25, 2004

Hi again, Doc,

Sorry for writing twice in two days, but this one isn't really a question - more like a PSA.

I was reading through all the posts here, trying to ease my own anxiety, and I realized what a toll HIV has taken on our society. Not only does the virus devastate those infected with it, but it causes tremendous worry among those not infected. And as if having the virus itself doesn't cause enough problems, there's also still a stigma attached to it, which is just another way in which this disease affects all of us.

Obviously, everyone would like to see a victory against AIDS in our lifetime. But I recently had the pleasure of working with a major figure in women's reproductive rights, and learned some very unsettling information about the way HIV/AIDS is being handled by our current government.

Recently much ado was made over the fact that George "Dubya" Bush promised to put millions into AIDS funding in Africa. What the media didn't report, however, is that one-third of that money was channeled into abstinence programs - obviously not a wise use of funds or a feasible solution for stopping the spread of AIDS among the African population. In addition, our government, which has become frighteningly right-wing and which clings to some very medieval religious ideolology, is doing everything in its power to implant abstinence-only programs in schools, and to stop the distribution of condoms to students and to discontinue sex education. With the amount of teen pregnancy in our country, and the rapid spread of STD's such as HPV and herpes, it's nearly impossible to imagine that people still want to preach "abstinence only" as an effective pregnancy- and disease-control method...but that's exactly what's going on here in America, supposedly the most progressive nation in the world.

Personally, I find all of this rather frightening. I confess I'm a little naive when it comes to politics, but I don't understand how something like AIDS can become a political issue - it's a disease that needs to be wiped out by whatever means necessary, period. But if our government continues to take away funding for sex-education programs, and continues to work to shut down clinics that provide counseling and testing to people (among other services), this disease will never be stopped. That's why sites such as The Body and organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Gay Men's Health Crisis are so important, because they provide information and education - our best weapons in the fight.

You don't need to post this message, Doc, but if you do, I'd just like to encourage everyone to continue supporting foundations such as yours, Planned Parenthood, the GMHC, and other services that provide crucial health information. If our government isn't going to protect us, then we need to make sure we protect ourselves.

Stacie

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Stacie,

I will post your comments with pleasure. I couldn't agree more. Recent scares to society, such as small pox or SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) produced public health responses reflecting considerable investment of time, effort, and resources. This is as it should be. However, for some of us, at least, there is constant incredulity over how easily it appears that some segments of society (Dubya and his cronies) are distracted from the current suffering caused by the ubiquitous threat posed by HIV disease, a disease that by some predictions could claim the lives of one fourth of the world's population. Our fearless leader's State of the Union address this week chose to focus on the use of steroids in athletes! Gosh, someone better tell Schwarzenegger!

Thanks for your comments, Stacie. Your previous squestion may well have been buried in the flood of question pouring into my inbox. If I haven't answered your question and you can't find the information in the archives, resubmit it, OK? Stay well. Thanks again.

Dr. Bob



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