The article is written by a gay man, who lost his first partner to AIDS and dedicated himself to spreading information about HIV prevention and campaigning for governmental attention to the problem in order to save ‘other gay and bisexual men from losing the ones they love’ (Williams, 2006, para. 6).
Clark Williams also served as the interim executive director of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center at the moment of the article’s release and as a manager of county’s HIV prevention, counseling, and testing initiatves in 2001-2003.
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The article reports the LGBT community of Santa Clara County joining other concerned citizens at a meeting where the county’s Board of Supervisors Chair promised to attract additional financial resources to strengthen public health system in the face of accelerating rate of HIV transmission.
The focus of the effort should be prevention and early diagnosis. The article recalls the start of HIV/AIDS epidemic that was first regarded as a rare form of cancer endangering gay and bisexual male New Yorkers. In 2006, the number of Americans who died from AIDS reached 550,000 and continued to grow. Approximately 40,000 citizens are getting infected with HIV every year.
Santa Clara County, for its part, has lost 2,000 residents to the disease. More than 2,500 were living with HIV/AIDS; this number might have been considerably higher because one in three citizens having HIV remains undiagnosed. 80 percent of new infections with the virus in Santa Clara County were among gay and bisexual males.
Santa Clara County is reported as being ‘near the heart of our nation's HIV/AIDS epidemic’ (Williams, 2006, para. 5). Apart from focusing on the human tragedy of living with HIV diagnosis or loosing a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a neighbor to the disease, the article discusses the problem of HIV/AIDS through the prism of financial burden on the county’s social security system.
Lifetime cost of HIV treatment is estimated to be as high as $155,000 per patient. These costs are much higher if the disease is not diagnosed at early stages, which is often the case in Santa Clara County, where patients learn about their HIV status in an emergency room.
However, the author notes several positive developments in the field of public health, such as risk reduction counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS and public HIV test counseling locations. Santa Clara County is compared with San Francisco, where HIV test counseling facilities are abundant. In Santa Clara County, there is only one public testing facility, despite the fact that the number of LGBT is over 100,000 in the area.
The Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center is deemed as the most appropriate place to establish another full-time test counseling facility, since it is known for its excellence in providing HIV prevention to at-risk population.
One additional testing facility will not solve the problem in the county. It is not only LGBT population that is especially affected by the spread of HIV/AIDS. Other vulnerable groups include ethnic minorities, homeless and runaway youth, and drug addicts. Therefore, five part-time testing centers should be opened across Santa Clara County.
One of the main strengths of the article is the fact that it is written from an insider’s perspective. Rapport between the author and readers is immediately established when Clark Williams shares his personal tragedy of loosing his loved once to AIDS.
However, emotional pathos is not the main component of the writer’s credibility: Williams is a leader of Santa Clara County’s LGBT community, knowledgeable of the actual Status Quo with regard to HIV/AIDS prevention and counseling.
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