Letter to the editor:
I was amused at Terry Cosgrove's article regarding geese ( "Good for the goose, good for the gander" in the Feb. 18 issue of WCT ) . His column suggests, but offers no proof, that the Knights of Columbus and the Mormons are responsible for some of the anti-abortion tactics of recent decades.
Since Mr. Cosgrove is good at throwing out cliches, here's one: Two wrongs do not make a right. I know for a fact that there were no violent acts against abortion clinics organized by the LDS church. I also know for a fact that responsible LGBT organizations are not responsible for organized terrorist attacks and vandalism of Mormon churches. Violent acts on both sides are the result of someone taking the law into his or her own hands and acting out in a way that society should not accept. Mr. Cosgrove is a pinhead for suggesting that an entire group of people should be condemned because of the actions of a few—a few who may not even be of their number. You are a pinhead for allowing this kind of irresponsible journalism. Let's talk facts, not speculation. Something foul is in the air.
Terry Cosgrove responded: "Since Peter Smith asserts he knows about the activities of every individual associated with the Mormon Church and Catholic Knights of Columbus, then certainly he should be able to come up with the official LDS and Knights of Columbus statements condemning the murder by anti-abortion activists of seven doctors over the past decade.
While Smith is at it, the LDS and Knights statements condemning the harassment and violence against women seeking birth control and abortion would be instructive as would their statements respecting the right to privacy of every woman and GLBT person pertaining to private medical decisions about reproductive matters, who to love and who to marry. I eagerly await these statements from the LDS, the Knights and other right-wing religious zealots who are so certain they know what is best and right for everyone else. Or, am I a 'pinhead' for asking? No Peter, spring is in the air. Take a deep breath."
Fighting a pandemic
There have been a number of stories recently about the world spending too much in the fight against AIDS. I would like to say that millions of people, loved ones, are alive today thanks to the HIV/AIDS treatment and care that has been made available. There are hundreds of thousands of children who need treatment because they contracted HIV from their parents, who have since been lost to this disease. It is imperative that we continue funding comprehensive, age-appropriate HIV/AIDS education and prevention activities to stop the spread of this disease and work toward its elimination.
Approximately 33 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1.1 million in the U.S. and 34,500 in Illinois. More than one-fourth of people living with HIV do not know they are HIV-infected, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) recently announced a new, higher estimation of annual HIV infections in the United States. "These data, which are based on new laboratory technology developed by CDC, provide the clearest picture to date of the U.S. HIV epidemic, and unfortunately we are far from winning the battle against this preventable disease," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "We as a nation have to come together to focus our efforts on expanding the prevention programs we know are effective."
Here in Illinois, we have worked diligently to expand prevention programs, educate communities about HIV/AIDS, expand access to HIV testing and counseling services and provide funding for individuals who need help paying for HIV/AIDS prescription medications and treatment.
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program ( ADAP ) provides HIV/AIDS drugs and drugs to alleviate complicated side effects for almost 5,000 HIV-positive clients in Illinois who qualify for the program. Without this program, many of these people would not be able to afford necessary medications.
The Illinois Department of Public Health provides housing grants to community based organizations across Illinois to help prevent people with HIV or AIDS from becoming homeless or being forced into an unstable living situation while confronted with this devastating disease. Necessary medications and treatment for HIV/AIDS can be extremely expensive and it can be difficult to afford these drugs, housing and food.
In an effort to address alarming trends that show HIV/AIDS is disproportionately impacting African Americans, the state of Illinois created BASUAH ( Brothers And Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS ) to reach the African-American community with education, prevention and testing.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has also been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) for its efforts to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Along with community partners, we have worked to make sure every pregnant woman in Illinois receives mandatory HIV counseling as well as HIV testing and support services if needed. Through the implementation of our Perinatal HIV Prevention program we have dramatically reduced the number of children born in Illinois with HIV and have saved lives.
Without continued funding for ADAP, housing, BASUAH and the Perinatal HIV Prevention program, the HIV/AIDS epidemic will grow and we will continue to lose loved ones to this disease. These are people who are teachers to our children; CEOs running major companies that provide jobs to thousands of people; and technicians ensuring you have power when you turn up your heat or turn on a light. Preventive education, testing and treatment must continue to be funded if we are to eliminate this devastating disease.
Damon T. Arnold, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Illinois Department of Public Health