January 20, 1999
Rachel Sacks, New York
find it ironic that even as SEA-AIDS list members are discussing the dire
consequences of the Asian financial crisis on HIV prevention and AIDS care
programmes in Asia, Dr. Frerichs still chooses to ignore all logic and expound
upon the glories of widespread HIV testing.
is now two years since Dr. Frerichs first shared this viewpoint with us from his
SEA-AIDS soap box -- to which he commutes from Los Angeles, USA. It is also one
year and a half since he stood at a podium during the 4th ICAAP in Manila, at
the satellite session on AIDS in India, and displayed his complete ignorance
about the testing already being done there and its effects on the epidemic. The
audience at that session literally silenced him; and participants on this email
list often remind him of the simple realities in their countries and localities.
Confronting HIV in India (Oct. 26, 1997 Slide Talk)
Frerichs contributes so often, that I just KNOW in advance what he'll say. I
know it never changes, so I've never experienced even the most remote urge to
respond to him -- until today, when the juxtaposition of his submission with the
others was just too striking to ignore...... I have just a simple comment.
the real world of India, Thailand, the Pacific, and all the countries in
between, there is a choice to be made should we spend the few "development
dollars" that still float around Asia on mass testing programmes? Or should
we spend them on care for those we already know to be infected, and mass
prevention for those who may or may not be HIV positive as yet?
it. It's a simple choice.
go ahead spend all that money on testing, and satisfy academics and researchers
who itch to find new populations to test their drugs on (yes, I know there are
other reasons to test, but let's keep the illustration as simple as the
principle is). With the advent of the Asian financial crisis, even the few
positive folks who HAD access to the existing drugs can't afford to keep up
their treatments -- so we can all imagine what'll happen with the next batch of
new protease inhibitors or antiretrovirals they decide to test over
there....And, remember even AZT is only available while you're pregnant.
go on --help us establish reliable Asian baselines, and from those statistics,
we can develop perfect theoretical programmes, and on and on. But please don't
expect to have any money left over to actually HELP all of those people who test
positive in your mass testing programmes. And never mind those who know they're
will be no money left. Period. So if you think that's the only way to make the
case for funneling more development money into the region, think a little
harder. By the time the bureaucracies get working on those new statistics, no
one will be around to receive the benefits of those new and perfect programmes.
tirade is intended to note that the "human rights issues," which Dr.
Frerichs so hates to discuss, are more simple than he seems to be capable of
even imagining. And by the way -- I, too, am writing from the US -- but I did
bother to spend a few years in Asia before getting on my soapbox.
I've been waiting two years for that.
of Community Outreach
Positive of New York