Friday, February 10, 2006

CDC gets shrill

Remember that weather service report* that was issued prior to Hurricane Katrina where the normally bland National Weather Service guys, instead of citing wind directions and speeds and such, added two or three paragraphs about the level of devastation that could come from a Cat 5 hurricane? People who read it at the time thought that this was clearly evidence of a federal employee doing all he (or she) could to get someone's attention without actually grabbing shoulders and shaking.

I think the CDC just did that.

In today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC cites recent statistics from the 33 states that have had named HIV reporting for at least 4 years.
Of the estimated 157,252 diagnoses of HIV infection, the number of cases and diagnosis rates among blacks were higher than those for all other racial/ethnic populations combined. Among males, blacks had the largest or second-largest percentage of cases in every transmission category; among females, blacks had the largest percentage of cases in all transmission categories. Moreover, among both males and females, blacks represented the largest percentage of HIV/AIDS diagnoses in every age group.

On three separate occasions in the article, the CDC calls for a coordinated and comprehensive response to the racial/ethnic disparities shown by the statistics. By the third time, they're spelling it out:
A comprehensive national program is required to address the substantial racial disparities in HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States described in this report. To reduce disparities, partnerships must be enhanced among a broad range of persons and groups, including governmental agencies, community organizations, faith-based institutions, educational institutions, community opinion leaders, and the public.
Perhaps it's time for the rest of us to get a bit shrill and start talking about the policy changes that are needed to make a comprehensive response to this devastatation possible and the funding cuts that hamper the use of what tools we already have. When funding for proven prevention methods are cut and funding for wishful thinking is expanded, it's no surprise that we see such devastation. Katrina didn't give us a pass because funding for FEMA was cut. HIV in not going to decline just because we don't want to pay for effective prevention any more.

*I can't find the original announcement on the NWS site, but Think Progress quotes from it in their Katrina Timeline. Scroll down to August 28, 4 PM CDT to read the hair-raising (and accurate) prediction of the devastation that would follow Katrina.


Brad said...

I think I found a link to the full NWS report:

Carolyn said...

Yes, Brad, that's the one. I still get cold chills reading it.

Now we have another early warning--actually another warning in a whole series of warnings--that HIV is devastating communities of color in this country. This, however, is a disaster in slow motion. Somehow we, as a nation, seem to lack the attention span to see disaster unless it hits us all at once.