Thursday, September 07, 2006

America is Africa?

So says Patrick Moore in his op ed for Long Island Newsday, and I couldn't agree more. He makes his comparison thusly:
But, in large parts of this country, America is Africa. With skyrocketing infection rates, poverty, lack of health insurance and a paucity of doctors, people with AIDS in the American rural South face prospects almost as grim as people living with AIDS in Africa.

The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report gives this summary of his op ed (emphasis added):
Over the last few years, the U.S. increasingly has "turned its attention" to the HIV/AIDS "crisis" in Africa even though in "large parts of this country, America is Africa," Patrick Moore, author of "Tweaked: A Crystal Meth Memoir," writes in a Long Island Newsday opinion piece. "With skyrocketing infection rates, poverty, lack of health insurance and a paucity of doctors, people with AIDS in the American rural South face prospects almost as grim as people living with AIDS in Africa," Moore writes. According to Moore, the "deeper story" of how HIV/AIDS in parts of the U.S. compares to the situation in developing countries "involves not just racism but our national character as a whole." The U.S. tends to "bounce along from one crisis to another, without addressing underlying, persistent problems," such as injection drug use, poverty and the "failure of the American health care system," Moore writes. According to Moore, the "solution" to fighting domestic HIV/AIDS is "not to reapportion a shrinking pool of existing funds but to increase the funding to appropriate levels for the entire country." Moore writes, "None of this is to argue that we should decrease funding to AIDS programs in Africa," concluding, "In fact, we can have greater compassion for Africa if we understand that this disease remains a crisis at home as well. When that awareness is achieved, we can be proud to say America is Africa" (Moore, Long Island Newsday, 9/6).

I could have highlighted several other phrases, but I focused on the funding issue because that one seems to be the easiest and simplest to deal with. Issues of national character (bouncing along the surface of crises without dealing with underlying causes) and chronic infrastructural probems (failure of the health care system) are neither attractive to policy makers nor amenable to solution in the near term. Full funding for the Ryan White CARE Act is. Doing so should take nothing, of course, from concern and support for dealing with HIV in Africa. That's a serious issue and really is in our national interest to address--completely apart from the humanitarian issues there. We should not, however, allow the media or policymakers to distract us--or themselves--from the serious issue of HIV at home by focusing more attention on Africa than on America when there are waiting lists for medications in this country, when people on those waiting lists die for lack of medication, when AIDS drug assistance programs cannot provide all of the medications that are needed to meet the standard of care for this nation in this nation.

1 comment:

The Editor said...

There aren't millions dead from AIDS in Africa. People! Wake up! Without adequate nutrition, without potable (safe) drinking water, without protections from malaria, people will get sick and die. Ever wonder why TB is such a problem in Africa? It's because their nutritional needs are not met.

Do you realize that only 10% of sub-Saharan Africa has a houselhold water connection? Only around 30% have sanitation systems. And only half have access to clean, parasite-free drinking water.

Let me ask you a question: do you think you'd get sick and die young in those conditions?

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