May #23 : S.O.S. - by Sean Strub

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues




Table of Contents

Plastic Explosion

Who's Afraid of Reinfection?

Don't Call Him 'Poster Boy'

Saving Faces

Grandmother Theresa

Surgical Rotations

Fate Expectations

Mirror Image

S.O.S.

Mailbox-May 1997

On Native Ground

Move Over, Elmo

Devil's in the Data

Cheesehead Shalala

Don't Cry for Me, Marijuana

The Pot Thickens

Fellatio Felon

Diver Dissed

French Roast

AZT Linked to Cancer in Mice

The Philadelphia Story

Fashion Victims

Say What

Legacy-Tom Stoddard

Skin Deep

Fall

She's Going to Live!

Obitu-Parry

A Delicate Bully Pulpit

La Dolce Morte

A Delicate Bully Pulpit

Damned but Beautiful

Dressed for Arrest

POZ Picks-May 1997

Hymn to a Gym

Bodies of Work

Healing Beauty

Longtime Companion

For Doom, the Bell Tolls

Whatta Cut Up

Health Club Horrors

Detoxicology

Protein Power

The Missing Zinc

Bad Blood

Lovely Labs

The Biology of Beauty

It's My Party

Beauty



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


email print

May 1997

S.O.S.

by Sean Strub

Young girls with HIV--put the blame at Donna Shalala's cold feet

If I were the parent of a sexually active teenage girl, I would be scared to deatha nd mad as hell at Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala

Why? Because her failure to lift the ban on federal funding of needle-exchange programs has caused thousands of young women (girls, really) to acquire HIV from older, injection-drug-using male partners.

That's the underlying cause of the tremendous increase in HIV among girls 13 to 20. Most of these can be linked to dirty needles and the cold feet of Donna Shalala.

From this day forward, POZ will keep a running tally of these "Shalala Infections" until Donna Do-nothing lifts the ban on federal funding for needle exchange.

Her failure to do so will stand, historically, as an act of genocidal neglect. Elizabeth Taylor, last summer at the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, called the failure to fund needle exchange "a measured act of premeditated murder." Even The New York Times, in a lead editorial, urged the administration to find the political guts to fund needle exchange.

Secretary Shalala's record on this issue is pathetic, if not criminal. First she suppressed a pair of CDC reports urging her to lift the ban. Then she ignited an international firestorm of criticism from scientists, when she lied about research findings, claiming there was "a controversy over" whether needle exchange reduces new infections or increases use of illegal drugs. (In fact, there is unprecedented unanimity among experts on these two points.)

Then Shalala lied about whether she had the authority to lift the ban, when Congress explicitly granted her authority to release designated federal funds once these two points of science had been clearly demonstrated.

A few weeks ago, Shalala issued her long-postponed report to Congress finding that needle-exchange programs can be "effective"--yet incredibly, she still refused to lift the ban.

Shalala's inner circle would have us believe that lifting the ban would result in Congress immediately overturning her action. Even the alphabet soup of AIDS-involved groups, including NAPWA, AAC, NMAC and HRC have abdicated any leadership role on needle exchange, quietly downplaying the issue as "too controversial." (AmFAR, specifcally Mathile Krim and Jane Silver, and local ACT UP chapters are the notable exceptions.)

Others disagree and claim congressional support for needle exchange is far broader than assumed and only needs leadership from Shalala or the Infecter-in-Chief, Bill Clinton.

Either way, Shalala's failure to provide federal funds for needle exchange programs betrays a grotesquely cruel lack of morality of which she ought be ashamed. That's the real controversy.

Shalala granted former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders an OK to lift the ban, but then quickly rescinded it after the Republicans swept the 1994 congressional elections. Elders reently commented about the difference between "commitment" and "concern" when it comes to AIDS. There is no compromise on commitment, she said, while concern leaves a lot of leeway.

Secretary Shalala is perhaps concerned. But her commitment is to her own cowardly protection of a President terrified of taking any action that could be used as evidence he is soft on drugs--even if the price of that cowardice is the infection of tens of thousands.

How about Shalala's subordinates and supporters? Have they lobbied Secretary Shalala, in writing, to lift the ban? Are they willing to accept the responsibility that their silence today truly means death tomorrow for thousands? Or are they the "good soldiers," willing to overlok the impact of their actions...and their silence?

Maybe it will be a class-action lawsuit, maybe a war crimes tribunal or perhaps the scrutiny of an electorate with a long memory. But someday former HHS Undersecretary Phil Lee, Deputy Secretary Kevin Thurm, press secretary Victor Zonana, Special Assistant Sarah Kovner, AIDS Council Chair Scott Hitt, AIDS policy staffers Patsy Flemming, Kristine Gebbie and Jeff Levi, Shalala walker Tom Goodwin and golf partner Hilary Rosen will be asked what pressure they exerted.

Did they really go to the mat on this issue with Shalala? If so, let's hear it. We'll keep POZ readers updated about the difference between those who are "concerned" and those who are "committed."

For those who haven't spoken up, I urge you to do so immediately. Save your honor--and your place in history--while you can. In the process, you can also save lives.



[Go to top]

Join POZ Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV 101
HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ TV
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Women
African American
Latino
Providers
Job Listings
Events Calendar


    dave41
    Bethany
    Oklahoma


    mtaj0818
    Washington
    DC


    max38man
    Chicago
    Illinois


    robert12
    Queens
    New York
Click here to join POZ Personals!
Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Poll
Do you enjoy books with HIV-positive characters?
Yes
No

Survey
Mind Matters

more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.