He got it wrong

This is a reply to Phil Dalton’s column in which he argues that AIDS research is overfunded based on the number of deaths it causes.

I will agree that the funding of research into diseases should be based on objective criteria, not politics; however, AIDS is an infectious disease and as such money spent on it now is more valuable than money spent later.

What really moved me to write this letter was Mr. Dalton’s unfortunately worded assertion that “nobody on the planet can justify placing AIDS in a category with … bubonic plague, smallpox and cholera.” I have heard mortality numbers ranging from 25 percent to 75 percent of the population in some countries for the next 10 years. These same countries have health budgets of less than $20.00 per capita. I suspect that the health ministers of those countries would strongly disagree with Mr. Dalton’s assertion.

I also want to point out that the numbers that Mr. Dalton quotes are the number of fatal AIDS cases, neglecting the number of cases of people who are HIV positive, which is an order of magnitude, or greater. These people will, by all current knowledge, get AIDS and die.

Mr. Dalton further asserts that “(the number of deaths) is even smaller when one considers the fact that (most deaths were among gays and I.V. drug users).” Apparently one counts a dead gay as less than a dead heterosexual. It is precisely this kind of thinking and writing that has caused some to sensationalize any studies showing that AIDS is making inroads into “straight” America in the hopes of building support for research funding.

While the Bush administration has (under pressure) increased funding for AIDS, they have also killed any studies on sexuality that would suggest the most efficient way to deal with the problem.

To those who make pronouncements about abominable lifestyles, I will confine myself to suggesting that since the vast majority of heart disease is caused by poor eating, exercise and smoking habits (i.e. it is caused by lifestyle) that we stop funding research into it.

As for Mr. Dalton’s “Liberal Media” bashing: I have been aware of the “overfunding” for quite a while and my major source of news is National Public Radio, accused by some of being the epitome of the liberal media.

Robert Morphis