Monday, November 21, 2005

Blame the victim

Yes, I'm back. Yes, I'm back-posting. Yes, I'm on a tear.

I hate news stories like this. First the writer says that HN51 (the bird flu virus) will infect people with HIV, mutate inside their bloodstreams, and then be even more dangerous to the rest of the world. Then he says that people with HIV might have a better chance to survive bird flu than others because their immune system is already shot. Then he says "maybe not," and large numbers of people with HIV might die from the bird flu.

All of it is, of course, speculation. One Dr. Robert Webster apparently spoke recently at a conference organized by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and managed to speculate about various scenarios for the transmission of the bird flu, if and when it mutates to become a virus that can be spread from human to human. Our writer picked out the juicy bits and flung them around to excite a few readers.

What I think about, of course, are the days when people were burned out of their houses for being HIV-positive. What will happen when the panic starts about bird flu?

Perhaps I'm over reacting. Perhaps, but I just returned from my own meeting with advocates from several southern states. I cried over some of the stories I heard and was angered by others. This kind of half-told news story won't make the situation any better if we do have a bird flu epicemic.

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