Sunday, January 15, 2006

UK Gay News Editor Praises CDC HIV Chief

This informative letter was emailed to me late last week from the editor of Gay News UK and is well worth sharing because it helps create a better understanding of Dr. Fenton. It seems to me a media light needs to shine on him personally and professionally, his prevention work in the UK, whatever plans he has for reducing HIV/STD rates in the U.S. and how to revise current CDC prevention efforts.

I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out why Fenton has not been profiled in the U.S. press. In addtion to the issue of him being openly gay, the fact that CDC has appointed someone from within the agency to serve as the permanent chief of HIV/STD prevention should warrant gay and mainstream media attention.

C'mon health, HIV and gay beat reporters. Report on Fenton taking charge of CDC's HIV prevention branch.


Michael … Firstly, Kevin Fention has been at CDC in Atlanta for about a year. He was originally appointed as someone very high in the STI department, so probably the appointment you mention to head the HIV/AIDS department is a “promotion”.

Dr. Kevin Fenton is (or was, as he has been “lost” to the USA) one of the UK’s “experts” on HIV/AIDS and other STIs. From what I know of him, he is not only an “academic”, but he also a “practiconer”. Additionally, he does not live in an ivory tower and is therefore very approachable. If you write anything on him, remember he is NOT English. He was born in Scotland so he’s Scottish and British!!!!

I would suggest that he is not a “name” that the majority of gay men – or even the population in general – would instantly recognise in the United Kingdom.

He rightly sees HIV/AIDS and other STIs as something that affects all sections of society, not just gays.

He takes a realistic approach to HIV/AIDS and other STIs. He feels that much more should be done in the “education” field and even advocates a robust education programme in schools. He accepts that behavioural patterns have changed in society – and continue to change – and says that medical approaches to sexual health need to keep abreast of changes in behaviour patterns.

The loss of Dr. Fenton to the UK was a gain to the USA for certain! Gays in the USA have nothing to fear over his appointment! Has there been any outcry yet?

However, it is another matter for the country’s vocal Christian fundamentalists who will probably be after his scalp in months as he does not solely advocate abstainence as being the “cure” for prevention of the spread of HIV and other STIs. He does advocate a “just say no” policy when it comes to the young (lower and mid-teens), but not in the same way as Bush! Also the “fundies” don’t seem to realise that HIV does not confine itself to gay men, so they look on HIV as a “gay disease”!

Dr. Fenton is not in the “judgment” business. He is a caring person and a good “doctor”. As for is he is gay or not, who cares? He has given his medical expertise to all sections of the UK community, whether it is though the medium of a hospital or through specialist gay men’s health clinics.

He has appeared before the House of Commons (roughly the same as the House of Representative) Select Committee on Health and, in addition to being a former lecturer at University College Hospital Medical School and the Royal Free Hospital (both in the London area), he headed the HIV/AIDS-STI division of the UK’s equivalent of the Center for Desease Control, the Health Protection Agency.

My own personal contact with him was for some “guidance” in reporting annual findings on HIV/AIDS-STIs by the Health Protection Agency two years ago. He was most helpful.

I don’t know how long he has been working for the CDC – I think since January 2005. He has certainly been in Atlanta for about a year.

One of his more “famous” lectures was in 2004 at the Royal Institution in London. It was aptly titled: “Kiss and Tell: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Health”. Alas, the press did not cover this lecture, but it was about combatting educational, social and religious barriers when dealing with STIs.

UK Gay News

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