January #67 : Paint by Numbers - by Katie Szymanski

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Table of Contents

Here Comes the Cure

Magical Mystery Cure

Cancer Rising

One To Watch: Frank Oldham

Opposite of Sex

Are the Kids Alright?

Paint by Numbers

Withdrawal Symptoms

Say What?

Safe-Surf Guidelines

The Down-Low Lowdown

You Can't Go Home Again

Teach Your Children Well

Personal Transformations

Lost in Disk Space

Buenas Noches

No Intermission

Tribute: Jacqueline M. Fuentes


Cardio Calculus

Herb Of The Month: Green Tea

When Chemo Calls


Kiss Lipo BUH-BYE?

Tonic for Two

Nukelier Fusion

Peppier Paps

Comfort Zone

On the Brink of Ink

Cyber Rx

Love's Labor

Heartbreak Hotel

Editor's Letter


01.01.93 Defining Moment

The Baby Blues

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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January 2001

Paint by Numbers

by Katie Szymanski

The headlines blared and sirens sounded: San Francisco's Department of Public Health reported in June a near-tripling of new HIV cases to 900, a rate that department official Willi McFarland, in a pointedly topical sound-bite, called a "sub-Saharan African" level of transmission. Breaking stories from ABC News to The New York Times warned that this jump -- particularly when coupled with leaks about a rectal gonorrhea report showing a high infection rate among gay men, generally thought to indicate a high prevalence of unsafe sex -- would soon be seen in other cities.

But none of the major media outlets stuck around for a follow-up to the "Oh no, Homos." The day after the first report, McFarland retracted the 900-case estimate and called his sound-bite "unfortunate." The rectal gonorrhea report was inexplicably omitted from the city's monthly STD report. A health department report released in September placed the number of newly HIV positive between 500 and 600. Critics pointed out that the number of gay men in the city had increased, which made the rate change markedly less "sub-Saharan" (one in four). And when the gonorrhea figures finally surfaced, they actually showed a decrease in the per capita rate, though the raw number of cases had gone up.

"The damage had already been done," said city supervisor Tom Ammiano. "It's unfortunate that through all of this, gay men have really been the victims."

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