Sunday, February 27, 2005

To be or not to be [HIV positive]...

So the Bush administration is against distributing free needles to drug addicts to prevent the spread of HIV. According to the administration, there is insufficient evidence to show that free needle exchanges reduce HIV rates (as scant as the evidence that global climate change indeed exists, perhaps?).

So what support does the health/bioscience community lend to this view? Some support Bush (he alleges).

The administration claims that the evidence for the effectiveness of needle exchange is shaky. An official who requested anonymity directed us to a number of researchers who have allegedly cast doubt on the pro-exchange consensus. One of them is Steffanie A. Strathdee of the University of California at San Diego; when we contacted her, she responded that her research "supports the expansion of needle exchange programs, not the opposite." Another researcher cited by the administration is Martin T. Schechter of the University of British Columbia; he wrote us that "Our research here in Vancouver has been repeatedly used to cast doubt on needle exchange programs. I believe this is a clear misinterpretation of the facts." Yet a third researcher cited by the administration is Julie Bruneau at the University of Montreal; she told us that "in the vast majority of cases needle exchange programs drive HIV incidence lower." We asked Dr. Bruneau whether she favored needle exchanges in countries such as Russia or Thailand. "Yes, sure," she responded.

The Bush administration attempted to bolster its case by providing us with three scientific articles. One, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, was produced by an author unknown to leading experts in this field who is affiliated with a group called the Children's AIDS Fund. This group is more renowned for its ties to the Bush administration than for its public health rigor: As the Post's David Brown has reported, it recently received an administration grant despite the fact that an expert panel had deemed its application "not suitable for funding." The two other articles supplied by the administration had been published in the American Journal of Public Health. Although each raised questions about the certainty with which needle-exchange advocates state their case, neither opposed such programs.

Hey George,

Would Jeb prefer that Noel shoot up with a clean needle, or that she share one? That is the question.

P.S. My apologies to the reader whose post I inadvertently deleted. He's welcome to repost, but basically he said that 1.) We liberals are bitter and 2.) He is the only conservative in New York. I'll cede the second point since New Yorkers are very intelligent people, but with regard to the first, I would say we are not so much bitter as frustrated that science is being completely ignored and very selectively used to the extent that it is used at all in this administration.

Typically, the administration has relied upon scientists who are in the extreme minority of the scientific community (to put it more bluntly, laughed at) and who are coincidentally heavily funded by the energy/health care industries etc, to support their ridiculous policies.

In this case however, even their self-selected "shills" didn't agree with their claims. Nevertheless, these claims form the basis for the policy of the United States government, and a direct result of this policy will be more Americans infected with HIV when W's reign comes to an end. That's the Bush legacy.

Conservatives get bitter, we get sad.


Blogger Robert Arthur Moore said...

This has not been updated in a while. John Roberts is now sitting justice, and there is another nomination to address. This time, there is no Ivy-League Education to support the nominee, no past experience as a judge, ever, and we have no idea if she believes in stare decisis. Are you troubled by this?

3:44 AM  

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