What he said and more (Jon Chait on Rep. Darrell Issa)

Darrell Issa fires another know-nothing salvo at public health research

Jonathan Chait notes that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa

wants to zero-out federal funding for scientific research that sounds silly to people who watch Fox News.

As shown here in the Wall Street Journal, many of the offending proposals have to do with HIV prevention and substance abuse.

I’ve noted before Issa’s efforts to zero out NIH research regarding HIV prevention among Thai and Chinese sex workers, and among Russian alcoholics. . For those new to the public health field, curbing transmission risk among people who are paid to have sex with strangers is important in curbing the spread of a deadly sexually-transmitted disease. Russia, for its part, houses one of the developed world’s most virulent HIV epidemics.

Chait notes: “You have a party that views scientific research as a boob-bait target.” I only wish that Jonathan would lower his mask of waspish reticence. Issa practices a stupid and damaging brand of know-nothing politics that is costing human lives.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Worth a moment to remember a quarter-million of our African-American fellow citizens who have died of this damn disease.

You wouldn’t know it from the blogosphere, but today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. More than 450,000 African-Americans have been diagnosed with AIDS. Roughly 250,000 African-Americans have died of this disease, still roughly 9,000 every year. Many people living with HIV don’t know their status or otherwise need help. Here are some links if you want to learn more.

Measures to find and help these people are part of that grab-bag of “non-defense discretionary” spending category both parties like to freeze and cut. We could do a lot more.

This concludes today’s unironic public service announcement.

Russian alcoholics, Chinese and Thai sex workers, and Congressman Darrell Issa

So many people have died needlessly of AIDS while politicians like California Representative Darrell Issa make things worse to score cheap political points. The people trying to fight this disease—not to mention those trying to avoid or survive it—deserve better than they got this Tuesday.

I identify more closely with Russian alcoholics and Thai sex workers than I do with Republican Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA). For their sake, among others, I’m dismayed by the Republican’s recent victory.

That seems like a stretch. Bear with me.

Last spring, I visited Russia to deliver some HIV prevention lectures and to learn about some of the related risks confronting injection drug users, sex workers, and others. One morning, after enjoying a sumptuous salmon buffet breakfast at my fancy tourist hotel, I visited one of the few residential treatment centers available to the large population of Russians suffering from drug or alcohol disorders….. Continue reading “Russian alcoholics, Chinese and Thai sex workers, and Congressman Darrell Issa”

Are there benefits from AIDS becoming so boring, and if so, who gets the credit?

Feeling my way as a new RBCer, I have been attempting to discern what readers find interesting of all of the varied content that is posted here. As part of that process I have been looking at the volume of comments per post, which led me to notice that the only post since I started blogging that got no comments at all was Harold Pollack’s words of praise for the new federal needle exchange funding guidelines. RBC readers are following the larger trend in this case: President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS strategy points out that the proportion of the U.S. public who considers HIV/AIDS the nation’s most urgent health problem has declined from 44% to only 6% over the past 15 years.

The costs of complacency about HIV/AIDS are substantial and well-known: Young people born before the greatest horrors of the epidemic do not bother to find out their HIV/AIDS status or to practice safer sex, funding and enthusiasm for prevention wanes, and the financial and human costs of caring for more infections pile up. Complacency also feeds cynicism in some quarters (which I believe does not take sufficient account of how the country has changed since the epidemic started) — that most Americans just don’t care about any problem that primarily affects African-Americans, gay and bisexual men, and injection drug users.

Yet I see some benefits to the public’s ennui. Continue reading “Are there benefits from AIDS becoming so boring, and if so, who gets the credit?”

Yes We Did….Syringe exchange

CDC’s new reasonable syringe exchange guidelines are out. Good news. Public disinterest suggests heartening end to HIV culture wars–or disheartening boredom with a still-deadly epidemic.

The new CDC guidelines are out for syringe service programs. These are quite reasonable.

In its own way, the apparent lack of public interest is heartening. The culture wars around HIV prevention and injection drug use are yesterday’s news.

Less heartening is the resounding lack of public interest in the broader HIV/AIDS epidemic, which every year kills more than 10,000 Americans, and the rate of new infections has likely been rising.

In 2008, HIV/AIDS killed an estimated 1.7 million adults and 280,000 children around the world.