Monday, October 6, 2008

XDRTB - TB's Ugly Twist & The News We Haven't Heard

In the bubble that is the United States, it's easy to forget there's a world beyond our borders.

We forget, for example, that our financial crisis - regardless of where we lay the blame - extends to markets worldwide.

We often overlook the fact that our next president isn't only the man who will, say, determine the direction of our Supreme Court with his selections or determine the resurrection or final demise of our education system.

He will also shape the future of our health intervention and policy throughout the United States and the world.

In case we've forgotten how critical that is, we don't have to look much farther than the recent increase in the numbers of American teen pregnancy, the skyrocketing rates of HIV and AIDS among U.S. teens and young people ages 13-24, and the continued explosion of the HIV/AIDS in India, China, and various African countries where the U.S. funds or provides health "intervention" and "care".

The abstinence-only, anti-condom, anti-woman, sex-ed phobic, counter-common sense policies of the current administration have certainly made their mark.

It doesn't have to be that way. Opportunities to offer meaningful assistance abound. is promoting awareness of the work of James Nachtwey, who won the TED prize in support of his photograpy project documenting the impact of Extremely Drug Resistent Tuberculosis, or XDTRB.

Drug and healthcare have become strained topics of late. Too many companies employ nefarious practices - the type that kill. Often, the least powerful pay the price. So few of them are decent that it's easy to dismiss all health and pharmaceutical companies and orgs as corporate drug dealers with expensive suits and massive PR contracts.

Sure - any talk of medication intervention brings these companies to the table.

So I can't tell you what to do about the information I'm sharing. But members of the human family ought to at least know what plagues our brothers and sisters.

And maybe we should also ask ourselves why threats of this nature continue to be overlooked by our government and the media when people of color and poor nations are the victims.

Because before I received an email on the topic, I hadn't heard a thing about this mutated version of an age-old threat. And there's no excuse for that.

In all of our raging about the election, it's fine to play politics and spoof the debates. But we'd do well to consider what we want our next president to stand for once he gets into office and be willing to hold his entire administration to the fire for as long as he's there. It's time to set a new standard for policy and action that recognizes our influential place in the world - so long as we hold it.

Like so many other things, we can't afford to ignore another growing health crisis ravaging our neighbors.

The world is too small for that.

If you'd like to learn more, visit the XDRTB action website.

For more on HIV/AIDS in the context of culture and race in America, see this article and other work by health and culture writer Kai Wright.

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