Sunday, March 27, 2005

Michael Getler
The Washington Post

Dear Mr. Getler:

In Richard Cohen's alarmist February 17 column, A Warning From Gays to Gays, in which he delved into reasons for the "apparent upsurge in HIV infections among gay males," at least two vital facts are missing.

First, Cohen presents no epidemiological evidence to back up his claim about a rise of HIV transmissions in the gay community. I suggest you check out Andrew Sullivan's blog for cogent analysis on what Cohen alleged about HIV rates and gay men. Cohen owes readers hard facts and statistics about current HIV transmissions, which may not be surging.

Cohen wrote that his "guru in such matters is Charles Kaiser, the author of 'The Gay Metropolis,'" which bring me to the second fact missing from his column.

Kaiser is the brother of Robert G. Kaiser, associate managing editor for the Washington Post. Cohen should have disclosed this fact to readers.

Sullivan, in a posting on his blog on Friday about quarterly HIV stats for New York City showing an apparent decline of overall HIV infections and infections among gay men, wrote that, "Cohen needs to write a correction and an apology for non-existent reporting."

I second his call for a correction and apology from Cohen, and believe your paper should consider running a note to readers, both in print and on the paper's web site, explaining the familial relationship of Charles and Robert G. Kaiser.

A prompt response is requested.

Michael Petrelis

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