Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The needle and the damage done (by those oh so moral people in the Bush administration)
I'm a few days behind on blogging--this was in a NYT editorial
earlier this week:
Also last week, however, the administration was on a moral crusade that could lead to a significant rise in AIDS cases in Russia, China, elsewhere in Asia and in the former East bloc. In these places, drug users who inject are a prime risk group for AIDS, and the gateway through which the epidemic will spread into the general population. As many as a third of new AIDS infections outside sub-Saharan Africa are in drug users; in Russia, Unaids estimates that injecting drug users are 80 percent of the infected. Needle exchange programs can help control this part of the epidemic.
But at a Unaids policy meeting this month, a Bush administration official asked that all references to needle exchange be dropped from the group's governing policy paper.
Unaids doesn't control much money, but it sets world policy on how to fight AIDS, and usually operates by consensus to give its recommendations more force. Although America is virtually alone in its opposition to needle exchange, its clout as the largest Unaids donor means it might be able to win a vote this week in the group's program coordination board. If Unaids could no longer work on needle exchange, nations would lose a valuable source of technical help. And a lack of consensus could keep countries from starting needle exchanges.
American law already forbids United States money from financing needle exchange programs. For Washington to decide that it wants to stop everyone else from doing that as well is a breathtakingly dangerous step.
What would this Jesus guy I keep hearing about have to say about this? Didn't he have some penchant for helping sick folks, no matter what society thought of them? What possible good does the Bush administration think they are doing with this kind of crap?