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Letter From the Editor

December 2004

Dear Correctional Colleagues:

Beginning with the uprising at the Stonewall bar in New York City in 1969, a new sense of freedom and pride reverberated across this country among gay men and women. Twenty-five years ago, the first cases of a strange "gay plague" were recognized in this country. In major city centers across the U.S., young gay men were diagnosed with mysterious illnesses that had previously only been seen in those with severe immunodeficiency due to cancer or chemotherapy. By the early eighties, much of the enthusiasm of the seventies gave way to fear, ignorance, and ostracism directed towards the lifestyle of those infected. Precious years were lost, during which education and prevention efforts might have changed the course of the epidemic. Worldwide, millions have died, tens of millions of children have been orphaned, and over 40 million people have been infected with HIV.

Thankfully, this past decade has brought hope to some of those who are living with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy continues to evolve, and many of those who are HIV-infected now have a chance to live longer more productive lives. Woefully, however, the benefits have been limited to a relatively small group of individuals in wealthier countries. Most of those who are HIV-infected around the world are not even aware of their infection, and most of those who are infected have no realistic hope of ever acquiring life-extending treatments. And, perhaps because of the failure to respond more forcibly in the early years of this epidemic, the virus has now made dramatic inroads to all sectors of humanityŠ men, women, children, gays and straights, injection drug users, hemophiliacs, and others.

As we commemorate World AIDS Day on December first this year, let us pause to remember all of those who have suffered through the years as a result of this virus. Let us especially remember the women- our mothers, sisters, aunts, wives, daughters, and lovers. Women not only have the highest incidence of new infections, but because of their role as caregivers and nurturers are disproportionately affected by HIV as well. Let us continue to speak out for society's marginalized HIV-infected personsŠ prisoners, injection drug users, commercial sex workers, the poor, and others. As Martin Luther King once said, "our lives begin to end the moment that we stop speaking out about things that matter".

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This month, IDCR features a review of HIV resistance testing by Dr. Ian Frank, and we reprint tables from the Stanford database on resistance mutations. California DOC inmate Michael Simmons offers an insider's view on inmate peer education programs, we offer highlights from recent conferences, and we announce the selection of Dianne Rechtine as the first recipient of the Stephen Tabet Award for Excellence in correctional healthcare. Next month, we will bring you an update on changes in HIV treatment guidelines. Thank you for your continued readership, and we welcome your suggestions for future topics.

Sincerely,
Joseph Bick, M.D.
Co-Chief Editor, IDCR


Back to the IDCR December 2004 contents page.




  
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This article was provided by Brown Medical School. It is a part of the publication Infectious Diseases in Corrections Report.
 

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