Thursday, January 26, 2006
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey should be commended for her tenacity in bringing the seriousness of the Bird Flu’s threat to the nations’ attention. My hope is that the very existence of Avian Influenza (Bird flu) will draw needed attention to the derelict state of public health in the US and around the world. However, what I missed from Oprah’s discussion with her invited guest was the overlapping of this anticipated pandemic with the already deadly very present pandemic of HIV/AIDS.
The subject is of such importance that the Keiser Institute recently sponsored a talk to discuss the said intersection of both pandemics. Because the influenza depletes the body’s immune system, HIV+ individuals will be especially vulnerable in the event of an outbreak. For health officials, the worry is that critical resources which have already been allocated for HIV/AIDS matters may now be diverted to address the Avian Influenza. This is sure to prove to be a policy nightmare for the allocation and reallocation of funds to adequately deal with both pandemics.