REYNOLDS: No One Face of AIDS

Seven-year-old Precious Thomas is as much a miracle as a painful reminder that there is no one face of AIDS.The radiant little girl with the big smile addressed the Congressional Black Caucus' National Town Hall Meeting last week and there was hardly a dry eye as she urged the legislators to keep pushing for a cure.With a picture of Thomas in your mind, it is hard not to want to sound a trumpet because she, herself, was born infected with the HIV virus and is now living with AIDS.The good news about Thomas is that her prognosis is good and she is regaining her strength as the result of a serum developed by Dr. Gary Davis an independent researcher in Tulsa, Okla.The serum is called "medical testing mixed with a leap of faith by Rocky Thomas," the girl's adoptive mother, who after learning her baby had AIDS forced herself to become a walking library on the virus. "I read everything I could get my hands on, looking for a cure. Then I happen to see a televised interview of a doctor discussing a discovery that he had derived from his independent research with goats."We're going to see the goat doctor," Rocky told her daughter and they went on a nearly three day trek by train to see Davis, a 45-year-old African- American, who is a also a Navy Captain.The serum has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but in desperation Rocky had to "steal" the serum from the doctor since it would be illegal for Davis to administer the drug."After less than eight weeks the viral load number measuring the total activity of the virus within the body and had read as high as 180,000 had fallen to zero. Also Precious is beginning to gain weight and to lose her dry hacking cough," said Thomas of Suitland, Md.Out of desperation it is very easy to look at the goat serum as a miracle- cure. But whether it is or not, you know that African-Americans must push for AIDS to become a major national campaign issueIt is hard to believe that if AIDS were hitting the white community across the board as it is blacks, there would be a national urgency. At the Caucus' 28th annual legislative conference last week, chairperson Maxine Waters, led a discussion on Killer AIDS, A public health emergency in the African-American community. The District of Columbia, home to the many federal health agencies, is among the top ten cities with the highest incidences of AIDs. Overall, HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of death among African-American men and women in the prime of life, between the ages of 25 and 44. Other statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show:-- Women are among the hardest hit by the diseases. African-American women make up 60% of all new AIDS cases reported among women. -- The incidence of all AIDS among African American women is 16 times that of white women.-- Sixty-three percent of all pediatric AIDS cases affecting children 13 years and younger are African-Americans. -- The second most likely form of transmission is injection drug use or needle sharing, which is the source of 32% of new AIDS cases. But noted AIDS specialist Dr. Jan Hutchinson warned that the main means of HIV transmission among African-Americans is heterosexual sex, the cause of 38% of all cases, but since some men who participate in "gay sex" do not tell their straight partners, these statistics can be misleading.U.S. Surgeon general David Satcher told the group that HIV is an epidemic of major proportions. "The epidemic in this country has become increasingly an epidemic of color, of the young and increasingly an epidemic of women.Even though Satcher's remarks reflected an understanding of the seriousness of the disease, the language the Caucus wants to hear is "emergency," which would result in more federal funds being funneled into black and brown areas.

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