Statistics on AIDS in the United States are not 'myths'

March 14, 2004

Dear Editor:

I am sorry my letter to the editor March 4 was interpreted as myths by Mykol Hamilton. My information regarding AIDS being introduced to the United States by a gay male flight attendant was from a detailed book (which I don't have now) that I read five or six years ago. I concede that he may not have been the first, but he definitely spread the virus rapidly. If the book is proven to be just fiction, I will retract my statement and apologize.

The rest of the information comes from communication with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at San Francisco and the CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention Web site, under "statistics and trends," then "basic statistics," etc. Briefly, it states that there have been 501,000 deaths in the United States from AIDS. Cumulative AIDS cases through December 2002 are estimated at 886,000 people, with 718,000 males, 159,000 females and 9,300 children (infected from mothers). Exposure category (method of receiving the virus) is: Male from male, 420,000; males from contaminated needles, 172,000; male to male contact and injection use, 59,000; heterosexual contact (from females) 50,000. Female exposures: from needles 67,000; heterosexual contact (from males) 84,000. Does this not indicate that male homosexuals represent the largest group of AIDS cases?


Because of medical and anatomical reasons, men can give the AIDS virus to women much easier than women can donate the virus to men. Certain rare conditions (which I won't elaborate on here) have to be in place for women to contract the virus from women. As Ms. Hamilton stated, lesbians rarely have AIDS for this reason. Plus, they aren't exposed to infected men.

These statistics (not myths) relate only to the United States. The AIDS situation in Sub-Saharan Africa is much different from that of the United States. Extreme poverty, ignorance, bigamy and women being treated as "third-class" citizens, and lack of medical care and condom use, all contribute to their pitiful state.

I do not intend nor desire to hurt gay people. I respect Ms. Hamilton and others for defending their stance. I only wanted to present medical facts about the methods of transmission of AIDS in the United States and clarify some misconceptions that had been published in the letters to the editor.

Unfortunately, AIDS is a communicable, debilitating, fatal disease consuming many health-care dollars, but fortunately, AIDS, unlike many cancers, is a preventable disease.

Dr. J.W. Ramey


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