Thursday, February 18, 2010

UCLA: US PWA Drug Resistance:
'Quite High . . . Clinical Problems'

(Were they separated at birth?)

The Daily Bruin paper for UCLA ran a gushing article on February 10 about supposedly brilliant campus AIDS researchers and their fabulous findings. Half of it was all about Sally Blower, whose latest sky-is-falling HIV-related math model is the straw breaking the camel's back, after more than a decade of similar gloomy models.

Part of what's of interest here is her new claim that it's not just San Francisco people with AIDS suffering drug resistance, the problem is now nationwide:

“Because the level of drug resistance is really quite high (in the U.S.), it’s causing lots of clinical problems,” Blower said. “It’s harder and more expensive to treat people.”

Um, if it's not too much trouble for Blower and the Bruin, could we all see the independently verified research and stats on the supposed clinical problems, and exactly how it's become harder and costlier to treat us PWAs?

I'm not aware of anyone else in the scientific and public health communities, or indeed anyone in the AIDS Inc and PWA communities, backing up Blower's national claims.

The Bruin stenographer omitted any voices challenging Blower, and as of the date the article ran, Dr. Grant Colfax of SF DPH had made disparaging remarks about the study and its potential impact to the Chronicle and BAR. If only the stenographer had used Google to locate a front-line, public health doctor to give an opposing view.

In keeping with the apocalyptic nature of Blower's standard operating methods, the Bruin had this say about the alleged lethality of the new resistant strains of the virus:

Though it may be too late to save the U.S. from these drug-resistant strains of HIV, Blower said the new findings can be applied to places where HIV treatment is beginning.

Oh, my gosh. America is doomed! It's too late to repent, ye sinners! If only we had listened to Blower, maybe the nation could have been spared.

The problem we're really seeing with this multi-pronged crisis for UCLA is what we saw quite a bit over the past two decades with that campus and other UC campuses, particularly UCSF. Patterns are well-established and run by themselves, impervious to the communities and real people affected by the researchers.

In 2008, we saw UCSF's gays and staph infection study, with the sensationalistic aid of the campus media office, crank up the "fags in Frisco are still fcuking and spreading diseases" machine. Scary headlines soon followed. Weeks into the controversy, UCSF's school paper, the Synapse, ran a stenographic article that ignored existing criticism of the study.

Two years later, not having faced the justifiable wrath of the San Francisco gay community, UCLA naively tried to pull off that scenario, and they've run into trouble. Unfortunately, unlike the smarter folks at UCSF who recognized the larges mistakes made, honestly came forward to deal with the gay health crisis disturbing the local community.

Even with sustained and very vocal criticism from SF DPH, people with AIDS, gay advocates, a politician, our local gay newspaper, and another study challenging UCLA's prediction, the Blower and colleagues steadfastly maintain their silence.

Silence is not an acceptable component to gay male and PWA wellness.

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