Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Month of Abstinence to Break the AIDS Cycle

To stop an epidemic, it is not necessarily to catch and quarantine every case of a disease, or to vaccinate every single person who might catch it. If you picture a graph that plots the number of people who have a disease over time, the line can go up in an accelerating curve as more and more people are infected, or it can turn downward, decelerating. To stop an epidemic it is only necessary to create conditions that result in a decelerating curve, hopefully one that, as in the case of smallpox or polio, goes to zero. A level curve is undesirable, of course, an ongoing epidemic that while not getting worse is still making a lot of people sick. We want the number of people with a bad disease to get smaller.

The AIDS epidemic in Africa is out of control. Though HIV can be treated it cannot be cured, and in many impoverished areas there just isn't enough medicine to treat people. Some top researchers have proposed a plan for stopping that epidemic: a month of abstinence.
Leading scientists fighting the world's worst Aids epidemic have called on African leaders to head a month-long sexual abstinence campaign, saying it would substantially reduce new infections.

Epidemiologists Alan Whiteside and Justin Parkhurst cite evidence that a newly infected person is most likely to transmit HIV in the month after being exposed to it. An abstinence campaign could cut new infections by up to 45%, they say – a huge step in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Aids scientists call for month of sex abstinence

The thing is, in the first month or two after infection HIV is 100 to 1,000 times more contagious than it is once it is established in the body. Compounding that, most people do not know they have contracted the virus in the initial stage before there are symptoms, and so they are more likely to spread it without realizing it. If you got everybody in the whole country to stop having sex -- or, not as good but still good, to use condoms -- for one month, you could dramatically reduce the number of new infections, as all those with new infections would not be spreading it during their most contagious time.

Note that we are not talking about everybody suddenly becoming abstinent for the rest of their lives. This is not a major change in behavior overall, it is simply a call for a coordinated effort by all the people of a community, acknowledging that there is a problem and taking a month to make it better as a group.
Whiteside, of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said: "This kind of initiative could provide hyper-endemic countries with a one-off, short-term adaptation that is cost-effective, easy to monitor and does not create additional stigma."

Whiteside said a month-long pledge to use a condom could also be effective. "The main thing is to agree on a bounded period in which the entire population would live by the same rule," he said.

I think people can go for a month without sex, don't you? They could make a game out of it, or a patriotic or religious act.
In Swaziland, the idea was welcomed by the government agency in charge of Aids prevention. "We see this kind of initiative as a way of breaking the cycle. We think a good month to do it would be during the southern African spring, in October or November," said Derek von Wissell, director of Swaziland's National Emergency Response Council on HIV/Aids.

Good, they're thinking already about what is a good time to do it. It has been suggested that the effort could be timed with a religious holiday, as you could imagine such a proposal would be easier to implement during Lent in a Catholic country, and other religions have their celibate times or times when believers are expected to give up something.
He rejected suggestions that abstinence would be perceived as moralistic or be hijacked by churches. Whiteside insists that a month-long campaign in his country, South Africa, is realistic. "We have this idea that we are going to put everyone on treatment. That is actually pretty fanciful. A month of abstinence or condom use is far less difficult to achieve."

This actually sounds like a plan that can work. You want to interrupt the cycle of infection, and the fact that the initial phase is the most virulent actually provides a kind of opening for an intervention. I hope it works.


Anonymous o chicago, here I come, right back where I started from said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 06, 2010 9:24 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

You're not hijacking this thread, Anon. See if you have something relevant to say about the topic at hand.


July 06, 2010 9:37 PM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...

OK, let me read it first

July 06, 2010 10:24 PM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...

well, I didn't know that AIDS was so much more contagious in the first month but I guess the plan is worth a try

question I would have, though, is if you actually have enough sway to get people to do this, why not have a month where everyone gets married to a chosen sexual partner and then forsakes extramarital promiscuity?

AIDS is likely not at epidemic levels in Africa because of random luck but more likely because of behavioral patterns

unless this plan completely wipes out AIDS in Africa, really an inconceivable possibility, it will spread again because of those behaviors

adherence to the Ten Commandments would wipe out AIDS permanently

why is that so unthinkable?

and, then, there's the Obama failure situation......

July 06, 2010 10:39 PM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...

over the weekend, on a bike ride in sizzling temperatures, I encountered a sign promoting one of my favorite TTF characters, Dana Beyers, for state delegate

was this a heat-related hallucination? was it just an old sign? is Dana a glutton for punishment? or what?

you will recall Dana tried this before and lost to a red-headed pipsqueak who puckered up to the teachers' union and received the coveted Apple Ballot Award

since that time, Dana joined the staff of an obnoxious county counciler, tried to intimidate petitioners against her boss's legislation, was found to be in violation of ethics rules, and became the only person to ever file suit under a county pro-transgender law she probably wrote

is this individual Dickensian, or what?

still, I always think of Dana as a victim of the teacher union

perhaps, though, a backlash is beginning to form:

"IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY, candidates for public office who have received the teachers union's endorsement ahead of this fall's Democratic primaries must feel as if they've won the lottery. The union, with the help of highly unusual cash "contributions" from some of its anointed candidates, sends out glossy, targeted mailings on their behalf. It places advertisements and yard signs. And it distributes thousands of its "Apple Ballots," listing endorsed candidates, to voters at polling stations on Election Day.

Now the teachers union, known as the Montgomery County Education Association, is going a step further: It's organizing a poll and inviting its favorite candidates to append their own questions. If the trend continues, union-backed office-seekers won't have to bother campaigning at all, or even leaving the house. The MCEA will take care of everything.

For ethically tone-deaf candidates in tight races, the temptation may be strong to play the union's game and write checks to participate in the MCEA's campaign on their behalf. For much less than it would cost them to arrange mailing and polling on their own, candidates get professional campaign assistance and a major leg up on their opponents. In the case of the mailings and advertisements, candidates are asked to "contribute" up to $6,000 to the union to help defray the cost of printing and distribution -- a rare example of candidates giving money to an interest group rather than vice versa. In the case of the poll, candidates pay the pollster directly. Both services are rendered at cut-rate prices and can save candidates many thousands of dollars.

But in both instances, the democratic system in the county is distorted -- and risks being corrupted -- in the same way: A single special interest is taking over critical parts of political campaigns. In the process, candidates become indebted to an interest group that will seek contract concessions and other benefits worth tens or hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars. Why can't the teachers union do what every other interest group does -- raise money from its own membership to conduct political campaigns?

Can a county whose fiscal health is as shaky as Montgomery's afford for its elected officials to be in the thrall of one powerful union. In the recent past, that arrangement has translated into officials rubber-stamping unsustainable budgets and unaffordable contracts. The school system, which accounts for more than half of all county spending, devotes about 90 percent of its budget to salary and benefits.

Montgomery County, with nearly a million residents, is a broad and varied place composed of scores of constituencies. If state and local elected officials become dependent on just one, they lose the ability to fairly balance competing interests. In the past, county politicians have lost sight of that basic principle."

July 07, 2010 7:33 AM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...

Queen of the Hollywood Liberals, Barbra Streisand herself, has turned on Obama:

"The folks attending this week's cerebral conclave pairing the Aspen Institute think tank with the Atlantic Monthly magazine might even be seen as President Obama’s natural base.

Apparently not so much.

“If you’re asking if the United States is about to become a socialist state, I’d say it’s actually about to become a European state, with the expansiveness of the welfare system and the progressive tax system like what we’ve already experienced in Western Europe,” Harvard business and history professor Niall Ferguson declared during Monday’s kickoff session, offering a withering critique of Obama’s economic policies, which he claimed were encouraging laziness.

“The curse of longterm unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time,” Ferguson said. “Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.”

Ferguson was joined in his harsh attack by billionaire real estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman. Both lambasted Obama’s trillion-dollar deficit spending program—in the name of economic stimulus to cushion the impact of the 2008 financial meltdown—as fiscally ruinous, potentially turning America into a second-rate power.

“We are, without question, in a period of decline, particularly in the business world,” Zuckerman said. “The real problem we have…are some of the worst economic policies in place today that, in my judgment, go directly against the long-term interests of this country.”

Zuckerman added that he detects in the Obama White House “hostility to the very kinds of business culture that have made this the great country that it is and was. I think we have to find some way of dealing with that or else we will do great damage to this country with a public policy that could ruin everything.”

Ferguson added: “The critical point is if your policy says you’re going run a trillion-dollar deficit for the rest of time, you’re riding for a fall…Then it really is goodbye.” A dashing Brit, Ferguson added: “Can I say that, having grown up in a declining empire, I do not recommend it. It’s just not a lot of fun actually—decline.”

Ferguson called for what he called “radical” measures. “I can’t emphasize strongly enough the need for radical fiscal reform to restore the incentives for work and remove the incentives for idleness.” He praised “really radical reform of the sort that, for example, Paul Ryan [the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee] has outlined in his wonderful ‘Roadmap’ for radical, root-and-branch reform not only of the tax system but of the entitlement system” and “unleash entrepreneurial innovation.” Otherwise, Ferguson warned: “Do you want to be a kind of implicit part of the European Union? I’d advise you against it.”

This was greeted by hearty applause from a crowd that included Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin. “Depressing, but fantastic,” Streisand told me afterward, rendering her verdict on the session. “So exciting. Wonderful!”

July 07, 2010 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Jim say he wasn't going to allow you to hijack this thread, "oiiohh"? Can you read??

What you think about Dana Beyer (who, incidentally, puts your puny intellect to shame) or parroting today's Post editorial are not relevant to the topic: "A Month of Abstinence to Break the AIDS Cycle"

You just find it impossible to control your impulsive ego-stroking problem, don't you?

"Tis a pity!

July 07, 2010 6:52 PM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...


How about an example?

July 07, 2010 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

I supposed Anon doesn't want to address this topic because even Anon realized the chances of getting everyone to remain abstinent for a month, let alone until holy matrimony, is rather low.

Thanks for the Free Republic crap entitled The Elite Turn Against Obama . Apparently Lloyd Grove thinks Streisand and Broland *are* the elite.

For balance, here's another take on that Aspen Ideas Festival by Salon, entitled Rich people have solution to economic crisis: Make lazy poor get jobs

Is there anything -- anything! -- worse than a bunch of rich idiots telling a bunch of other rich idiots how hard rich idiots like them have it these days, and how everything would be better if only we just put these rich idiots in charge? This heat, maybe. But just maybe.

At the Atlantic Magazine's "Aspen Ideas Festival," the idle rich go to a ski resort town and pay the Atlantic Media Co. a great deal of money to listen to rich people with intellectual credentials of some kind talk at each other for a while. It may surprise you to learn that these wealthy elites think the biggest problem facing America today is that the wealthy elite have to pay taxes, while the poor and unemployed sit around collecting "Social Security" and "food stamps" and "unemployment benefits."

Real estate tycoon Mort Zuckerman -- an intellectual nonentity who buys newspapers and magazines for the express purpose of pretending at being a Serious Public Thinker -- and historian Niall Ferguson -- a neo-imperialist who excuses or whitewashes atrocities done by empires in the name of market liberalization and who parlayed his scholarly expertise into a gig as an idiotic right-wing (occasionally blatantly racist) columnist -- apparently successfully convinced Barbra Streisand and James Brolin that our current economic woes have been caused by Obama's hatred of business and that the only solution is to "remove the incentives for idleness."

Selling pseudo-intellectual snake oil to rich dingbats is obviously nice work if you can get it, but the problem is that a great deal of the established media is made up of people who believe very strongly that our wealthy betters really are morally superior to those goddamn "politicians" (and, obviously, the unwashed masses who vote for them) and that's why people keep writing articles about how Michael Bloomberg should run for president, and why Zuckerman himself thought he should be a senator.

July 08, 2010 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Five posts of total irrelevancy in this thread as just one example, "oiiohh"

July 08, 2010 9:09 AM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...

Bea, currently 40% of the unemployed have been unemployed longer than six months.

This is a post-war record.

It's more complicated than just being "lazy".

After a while, this situation begins to do damage to one's ability to ever have meaningful employment.

Obama is creating long-term problems that will haunt us for years.

Our only hope, as a country, is to elect an opposition majority in the legislature large enough to neutralize him.

He has thrown down the gaunlet and started to descend into the dark valley so many socialists go to.

First, he has refused to submit a budget. Refused to release long-term deficit projections. And, now, appointed a health rationing advocate to CMMS without the approval of Congress.

He has concluded that he can not achieve his goals by democratic methods.

Look for attacks on the freedom of the press next.

History has shown that socialists always eventually go this route.

July 08, 2010 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Bea, currently 40% of the unemployed have been unemployed longer than six months.

This is a post-war record.

That's right, and as the bikini graph clearly shows, Obama's policies have reduced job losses that were nose diving as Bush left office and turned them into modest but real job gains. He has urged Congress to continue long-term unemployed people's unemployment benefits as a way of pumping money into the economy and preventing the waves of lay-offs, foreclosures, and bankruptcies caused by 8 years of GOP rule to continue to increase.

What does the GOP want to do about the still sagging economy and long term joblessness? They want to cut off unemployment benefits when America has NEVER before, since the 1950s, stopped unemployment benefits when the unemployment rate was above 7.2%, that's what!

This libertarian/tea bagger tactic of failing to govern by saying no every proposed law that brings the changes Obama was elected to bring, along with a collection of fringe ideas from "Second Amendment remedies" to overturning Civil Rights protections will cost the GOP dearly according to some GOP insiders like Michael Gerson and Bob Inglis.

In an interview after being defeated in his primary by a tea bagger after 6 terms in Congress, Bob Inglis pointed out 'There were no death panels in the bill ... and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It's not leadership. It's demagoguery," said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.

Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you're "preying on their fears" and turn away.

"I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading," he said. "What it takes to lead is to say, 'You know, that's just not right.'"

Inglis said the rhetoric also distracts from the real problems that politicians should be trying to resolve, such as budget deficits and energy security.

And Gerson said "The response of many responsible Republicans to these ideological trends is to stay quiet, make no sudden moves and hope they go away. But these are not merely excesses; they are arguments. Significant portions of the Republican coalition believe that it is a desirable strategy to talk of armed revolution, embrace libertarian purity and alienate Hispanic voters. With a major Republican victory in November, those who hold these views may well be elevated in profile and influence. And this could create durable, destructive perceptions of the Republican Party that would take decades to change. A party that is intimidated and silent in the face of its extremes is eventually defined by them."

July 10, 2010 12:22 PM  
Anonymous oiiohh said...

"the waves of lay-offs, foreclosures, and bankruptcies caused by 8 years of GOP rule to continue to increase"

actually, Republicans "ruled" from 1980-2008 except for short period of 1992-1994

it was the most prosperous period in our history

the recession in 2008 was bad timing and hyped by the Democrats for political gain

they won election and proceeded to destroy our economy

if McCain had been elected, we'd be booming by now

"What does the GOP want to do about the still sagging economy and long term joblessness?"

they want to remove the uncertainty of coming higher taxes and health care costs that is keeping businesses from expanding and hiring

let Obama tell you about it:

“Government doesn’t have all the answers. Ultimately, government doesn’t create all the jobs. Government can’t generate the jobs or growth we need by itself.

So our goal has never been to create another government program. Our goal has been to spur growth in the private sector.”

on to Gerson:

"Significant portions of the Republican coalition believe that it is a desirable strategy to talk of armed revolution, embrace libertarian purity and alienate Hispanic voters. With a major Republican victory in November, those who hold these views may well be elevated in profile and influence. And this could create durable, destructive perceptions of the Republican Party that would take decades to change."


liberals always try to create fear

Gerson seems to think the Tea Partiers will get elected and then destroy the party's image

but what makes him think that if they can avoid image problems in 2010, they won't be able to do it in 2012 too

doesn't make sense

truth is, they will likely deliver on their promises, which will contrast nicely with BO's gang in the history books, and begin Reagan Era II: the sequel

July 11, 2010 8:15 AM  

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