Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces in Response to Detection of Rare, Drug-Resistant HIV Strain
Officials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Feb. 11 announced they had detected in a local man a rare strain of HIV that is resistant to most antiretroviral drugs and possibly causes a rapid onset of AIDS. The city health department issued an alert to physicians, hospitals and medical providers asking them to test all HIV-positive patients for evidence of the strain. This combination of highly drug-resistant HIV and rapid progression to AIDS has not been identified before (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/18). Several newspapers have published editorials and opinion pieces discussing the announcement. Some of them are summarized below.
- Charles Kaiser, New York Daily News: The simple "solution" to the HIV/AIDS pandemic is to "wear a condom every time you have intercourse," Kaiser, author of "The Gay Metropolis," writes in a Daily News opinion piece. "No gay man should ever have unprotected sex," Kaiser says, adding, "Otherwise, you are a menace to yourself and everyone you are sleeping with." He concludes that a "massive peer-to-peer educational effort" is necessary (Kaiser, New York Daily News, 2/20).
- Joe Wright, NPR's "All Things Considered": The press conference to announce the discovery of a rare, drug-resistant HIV strain was about "fear" and was held with the hope that "pushing up our fear of HIV could get people at risk to work harder to stay safe," Wright, a Harvard Medical School student and former HIV/AIDS prevention educator, says in an NPR commentary. However, the real lesson from the announcement is the "act of love" of the New York City patient, who transformed his fear into a "political and medical gift," Wright says, concluding, "Now it's up to the rest of us to follow that example. We must make our fear of the supervirus into something useful" (Wright, "All Things Considered," NPR, 2/18). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Dallas Morning News: "Silence or timidity could cost lives," and "gay leaders are considering radical steps" to encourage safer sex among men who have sex with men, according to a Morning News editorial. The "reticence" surrounding the politics of HIV/AIDS among MSM -- the "shadowy underside of the AIDS epidemic" -- does not benefit anyone, and "we have an obligation" to encourage MSM to practice safe sex, the editorial concludes (Dallas Morning News, 2/21).
Roanoke Times: Public officials should use recent HIV/AIDS-related news -- including the report of a rare HIV strain in New York City -- to "regain the momentum" for prevention, vaccine and education efforts, including research into the "factors that influence risky behavior," a Times editorial says. Such research should be free from "the interference of detractors who would otherwise resort to shame and ostracism to treat a public health peril," the editorial says, adding that continued education efforts also are necessary. "Public officials should not allow misinformation or apathy to jeopardize young people who weren't alive when the disease surfaced some 25 years ago," the editorial concludes (Roanoke Times, 2/22).
Syracuse Post-Standard: Following years of "panic and fear, death and grief, costly research and hard-won medical breakthroughs, is the grim cycle of AIDS about to repeat itself?" a Post-Standard editorial asks. "Anonymous, unprotected sex in the age of AIDS puts everything at risk -- especially now, when a frightening new HIV strain may be loose in the land," the editorial concludes (Syracuse Post-Standard, 2/18).