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Out of Proportion?

Posted 8/18/2004

We applaud the recent City Paper article “Epidemic Proportions” (Aug. 11) for focusing on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and for keeping this important issue before the public. The HIV/AIDS crisis is not over, and the impact of this disease on so many Maryland residents must not be forgotten.

I did want to correct some statements in the article. Baltimore City accounts for 50 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases in the state, and Baltimore County 6.5 percent, not 80 percent and 11 percent as noted in the article. The article also mentions that the number of new HIV cases in Baltimore City has not changed significantly. Actually, new cases of HIV in Baltimore has declined significantly from 1,444 cases in 1995 to 1,123 in 2002, a 22 percent drop. This is further evidence that prevention programs are working and that we are having real success in reducing new cases of HIV.

Finally, the correct figure for Medicaid spending for HIV/AIDS in the state is $7 million monthly (not $7 billion as reported). This $84 million does not include other programs such as the Rare and Expensive Case Management Program, or the pharmacy assistance program.

Again, thank you for highlighting this important issue. Although the HIV epidemic is not over, the commitment and dedication of the groups and individuals mentioned in your article are critical in helping us meet the needs of people living with HIV.

Dr. Liza Solomon
Director, AIDS Administration
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Rebecca Alvania responds: Thank you for calling our attention to two statistics that were attributed incorrectly. In 2002, $7.7 billion in Medicaid funds were spent nationally on HIV/AIDS services. Within the Maryland population served by our Ryan White Care Act funds, 80 percent are in Baltimore City. As for infection rates, the 2002 report published by the Baltimore City Council Commission on HIV/AIDS stated that “approximately 1000 new cases of HIV infection are being reported each year.” The Commission report, as well as quarterly data from the Baltimore City Health Department, indicates that there has been fluctuation in the incidence of HIV infection in Baltimore city over the past decade, making static comparisons between two years difficult to interpret.

As for prevention, increases in HIV transmission due to heterosexual contact, the consistent increase in AIDS seen in women, and recent increases in HIV infection in youth, suggest that, as stated in the article, while prevention is a necessary component of any HIV/AIDS campaign, perhaps not enough of it is being done to effectively serve the entire at-risk population.


Playground Pee Market = Urban Myth?

“Urine Trouble” (Mobtown Beat, Aug. 4) really caused a great wave of discussion in Charles Village as it related to urine sampling.

Of particular note are the allegations that parolees are soliciting urine from the children of Dallas F. Nicholas Elementary School. Let me explain: If a parolee is required to give a sample of urine, he/she is given a sample cup and must physically provide a sample in front of the petitioner and/or he/she is accompanied to a bathroom and then the sample is taken.

There is no time lapse in which the parolee has an opportunity to locate a student who just happens to be walking around the school, enter into a conversation with the student, provide a financial incentive, and still have time to deliver the sample to the attendant. I don’t believe the parolees milk the children for their urine, and I don’t believe that there are children walking around the school with signs stating urine for sale.

Later as the conversation flowed, the real issue came to light, which verified that certain members of the community were fearful of the modernization of the facility because it might hinder the economic upturn along the Calvert Street corridor that they supported.

However, the issue of child use that has been utilized by these individuals is so unfair to the students of Dallas Nicholas that it boggles the mind. It casts a gray light over the proposed and needed rebirth of the Calvert Street corridor and makes those associated with it appear untrustworthy. This group has placed signs in the area known as Old Goucher signaling the end of Charles Village if the facility becomes modernized and states that all criminals now know where we are located. Rather than attempt to get concessions from the state about increasing the security of the facility and guaranteeing to the best of their ability that there will not be any interaction between the children of Dallas Nicholas and the parolees, they have elected to participate in fiction, rather than fact.

If these individuals want security, then work to achieve it honestly, don’t make up a new set of urban legends to frighten everyone.

Christian H. Wilson

David Morley responds: I do know someone who really did use another person’s urine when reporting for parole. The urine was stored in a small plastic flask and tucked in the front of the pants. The surrogate urinator was in his twenties and at a level of maturity where it was no longer “exciting” to break the law; he also didn’t receive financial compensation. Isn’t it possible that a 10-year-old who could make $5 would find such a proposal compelling?

Pigtown Races

I was one of the nearly 300 Pigtown residents who attended the recent community round table meeting held to discuss the possible addition of a racetrack and/or slots in our community, and I was pleased to see the community gather to address and discuss this matter (Mobtown Beat,“Bettor Off?,” Aug. 4). Pigtown is rich with history and generations of families, and this community has thus far weathered several substantial construction projects in the community, with nearly no input or feedback solicited from residents.

The officials are downplaying the proposed track/slots facility in Pigtown as nothing “official” and but one of several possibilities. We have heard this all before. Similar “research projects” led to the development of both Camden Yards and Ravens stadiums. And not long before that, a proposed freeway nearly decimated our neighborhood after residents were displaced, and then asked to return after the proposal was abandoned.

Our community is reacting not merely to the concept of a racetrack or slots (this is another debate in and of itself), but the idea that we will again have activities thrust into our community (along with the accompanying negative impacts of increased parking, congestion, and crime) without any input from, or consideration for, those that the project will impact the most—Pigtown residents. And with the immense size of the proposed racetrack, whether it is 189 or 230 acres, it will completely dwarf the impacts of either of the two stadiums on our community.

I wish the various officials and entities would be more forthcoming with their agendas and work to include city residents in the planning processes that impact our neighborhood and the community at large. No matter how far off this project might be, the mere fact that this is the only new proposal floating around for review, that previous stadium-building efforts failed to include meaningful community input, and that there seems to be a propensity for plausible deniability until plans become more concrete greatly alarms me. None of this is new to Pigtown residents. But including us in the early stages of the planning process would be.

Bill Elrick

Keyes to Success

As “a voice in the darkness,” I don’t mind being juxtaposed with big spender Alan Keyes (The Nose, “Keyesian Economics,” Aug. 11). At least you spelled my name right (one “f” and one “n” in Kaufman, one “o” in Bob). And as far as comparing Keyes’ $715,000 assessed house to mine of $93,000—at least I got mine the old-fashioned way: I inherited it!

A. Robert Kaufman

Words’ Worth

In your Aug. 11 letters section, Liam Flynn makes the remarkable assertion that “Republicans are notorious for using rhetoric to create a political playing field that makes their program seem reasonable and forthright.”

I have no way of knowing how long Mr. Flynn has been observing the political scene, but it is difficult to believe that he could have missed the many, many examples of the political Left using the very same rhetorical tricks he accuses Republicans of using.

Take the self-identifying leftist term “progressive,” which establishes its opposite as either “stagnant” or “regressive,” take your pick, both unpalatable. Or “pro-choice,” a term that euphemistically refuses to confront the reality of one of the choices it offers, and whose opposite would seem to be the undesirable “no choice.” Or the manner in which the term “feminist” has somehow taken on all qualities one might consider to be positive ones, leaving the undesirable traits to be borne by benighted nonfeminists.

Mr. Flynn might also have noticed the way what was once the rather frightening “jungle” magically metamorphosed into “the rain forest,” even as messy “bogs” and “swamps” became the much-desired “wetlands.” He might have observed the manner in which “bums” and “vagrants” became “the homeless,” and how what were once “agitators” or “radicals” are now sainted “activists,” and former “illegal immigrants” have become “undocumented workers.”

Mr. Flynn is correct to identify the rhetorical trick of making a political opponent appear to be defending the indefensible. He is most certainly incorrect, however, when he claims that one side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on this technique.

Matt Richards

Liberals—Soft and Absorbent

I have finally concluded why I only grab a City Paper when I’m low on toilet paper. Your “Political Animal,” Brian Morton, is stupid. (His own words from previous editorial.) I don’t think this surprises anyone with half a brain. I love using the word “liberal.” When I think of the “L” word, liberal comes first; then reality sets in and I think of the word “loon.”

Have you seen your liberals lately? Mayor O’Malley loses $85 million. Whoops! Can’t explain that, but we’ll blame previous administrations. Or better yet, blame Gov. Ehrlich and President Bush. Just look at the liberals with education: Lowering standards and still cannot improve student results, even after electing to influence grades in the books on graduating senior classes. Don’t blame Andre Bundley—these educated liberals don’t look at the students as just numbers do they? They look at them as ass-ets.

Maryland has been a liberal, Democratic state for 30-plus years, and yet you find the same morons running on the same principles. Free health care, more money for public education (although producing some of the most illiterate students in the world even after spending more funds on education than other country in the world), and the environment. And liberal results are? You’ll have to wait until the November election, right?

And the best example of a liberal is Sen. John Kerry. If every liberal is like Kerry, the “War Hero,” you better start using the “L” word with words similar to “shit demon.” War hero my ass. Strange how this “war hero” returns from Vietnam, makes a brave decision to protest his country’s involvement and his own actions (using his selective rhetoric in not blaming JFK for putting us there), discards other officers’ ribbons and medals—earned and received for their brave actions—in protest rallies and marches, yet somehow miraculously retains his own. Sounds like a great leader, as he is not self-indulgent at all.

Year after year, the people of this state vote for liberals under the same rhetoric they permanently echo, devoid of any resolve. I continue to watch the people of this state continue to vote for candidates they think possess integrity. But with liberals like Mayor O’Malley, I have to inform them that the only integrity in this liberal state will be found in sperm counts.

To the best damn toilet paper in the world . . . happy flushing.

Brian Ring

Address letters to The Mail, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201; fax: (410) 523-0138; e-mail. Only letters that address material published in or policies of CP, are no more than 500 words long, and include the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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