Commentary & Opinion
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials, Opinion Pieces on 25 Years of AIDS
June 8, 2006
Several editorials and opinion pieces recently addressed the 25th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis in the U.S. Twenty five years after the first cases were diagnosed, AIDS-related illnesses now are the No. 1 cause of death worldwide among people ages 15 to 59. According to UNAIDS, about 40 million people worldwide are HIV-positive. In the U.S., one million people are HIV-positive, and 40,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed this year, CDC reports. More than 500,000 people in the U.S. have died of AIDS-related causes since 1981(Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/5). Summaries of these pieces appear below.
- Detroit Free Press: "Twenty-five years after AIDS crept into humanity's bloodstream, it is simply unforgivable that the world is not even close to stopping its spread," a Free Press editorial says. "The 25th anniversary of this disease is no cause for celebration," the editorial says, concluding, "But it should be cause for the world to unite against a truly common enemy" (Detroit Free Press, 6/5).
- Herald Tribune: On the "silver anniversary" of the first AIDS diagnosis in the U.S., it is apparent that "some realities of [HIV/]AIDS have stayed remarkably consistent," a Tribune editorial says. In 2006, as in 1981, HIV continues to spread, there is no preventive vaccine, and there is no cure, according to the editorial. "Research, and funding, must accelerate if the world is to have any hope of catching up with the global [HIV/]AIDS epidemic," the editorial says, concluding, "The virus is galloping; science can't afford to walk" (Herald Tribune, 6/7).
- Houston Chronicle: HIV/AIDS is a "disease so modern" that it has an "identifiable birthday anniversary," but there is "little to celebrate," a Chronicle editorial says. In 25 years, HIV/AIDS has reached nearly every corner of the U.S., but it has "long set the world's record" for disease spread in Africa, according to the editorial. Because of the large impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, while "Americans worry what shape they will leave the nation [in] for the next generation," in Africa and Asia, "widespread and effective AIDS treatment is necessary to ensure there will be a next generation," the editorial concludes (Houston Chronicle, 6/5).
- Miami Herald: "HIV/AIDS is now one of the world's worst pandemics ever," and it has the "power to devastate entire countries and economies," a Herald editorial says. Following last week's U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, "the goal must be to convince individual nations to pony up the resources that they acknowledged will be needed to treat AIDS by 2010," the editorial says (Miami Herald, 6/7).
- St. Petersburg Times: Twenty-five years after AIDS was first diagnosed, "the politics of AIDS remain nearly as daunting as the science," a Times editorial says. Without a cure, controlling HIV/AIDS depends on behavior change, and "only brutally honest public health strategies work," the editorial says, concluding, "Twenty-five years after AIDS was first discovered, no one can afford to keep making the same mistakes" (St. Petersburg Times, 6/5).
- Union-Leader: Although there have been "enormous strides in treating" HIV/AIDS since its first diagnosis, there has been "very little progress in getting people to stop engaging in high-risk behaviors" that spread the virus, a Union-Leader editorial says. HIV "is predominantly transmitted by very specific behaviors," the editorial says, concluding, "Reduce the incidence of those behaviors," and the spread of the virus can be curbed (Union-Leader, 6/6).
- Julie Gerberding, Myrtle Beach Sun News: Twenty-five years after the first AIDS case was detected in the U.S., HIV/AIDS has become "one of the deadliest epidemics in human history," and treatments are "no panacea," CDC Director Gerberding writes in a Sun News opinion piece. To "defeat" HIV/AIDS, the U.S. must "reduce the number of people who become infected," Gerberding says, adding that "HIV prevention is complex." In order to fight this disease, "[o]ur commitment to prevention must be just as long and strong as the disease itself," she concludes (Gerberding, Myrtle Beach Sun News, 6/7).
- Mike King, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Because it might be "another 25 years before an effective vaccine for AIDS is developed," the U.S., "[n]ow more than ever, ... needs to pay attention" to CDC's proposed HIV testing recommendations, columnist King writes in a Journal-Constitution opinion piece. Although nearly half of U.S. residents report being tested for HIV at least once, "there are still testing gaps," King writes. "What we have ... is knowledge about what can be done to reduce the risk of [HIV]/AIDS," including getting people to know their HIV status, King writes, adding, "In combat with a killer, that knowledge gives us an important weapon" (King, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/8).
- Nicholas Kristof, New York Times: "One of the biggest needs" in efforts to control HIV/AIDS worldwide is increased testing, columnist Kristof in a Times opinion piece writes. Some HIV/AIDS advocates resist widespread routine testing in Africa because they worry that people who test positive could be ostracized from their societies, according to Kristof. "But the biggest threat to Africans isn't that HIV will stigmatize them, but that it will kill them," Kristof says, adding that widespread testing that allows people to opt out should be implemented, especially in Southern Africa for pregnant women, engaged couples and tuberculosis patients (Kristof, New York Times, 6/4).
- Barbara Murray, Detroit Free Press: "There are many things that we, as individuals and a society, can do" to curb HIV/AIDS -- including improving health care access for all, making HIV testing routine, "tak[ing] a long, hard look at our health care system," and cutting out "bureaucracy and fragmentation," Barbara Murray, executive director of AIDS Partnership Michigan, writes in a Free Press opinion piece. "Until we abandon the notion that AIDS is a moral or religious or political crisis and face the true dimensions of this health crisis for the citizens of Michigan, the [U.S.] and the world, we will not have the clear wins we need," Murray says (Murray, Detroit Free Press, 6/5).
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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.