Hope for end of terrible disease
We now have the chance to end AIDS in one generation. This would have been unbelievable not long ago. It seemed hopeless. We are now at a significant tipping point where treatment and cure can outstrip new infection to the point where the disease will become history.
AIDS treatment can prevent the spread of the virus. Treating HIV-positive people with antiretroviral therapy early in the disease cycle dramatically reduces transmission of the virus to uninfected partners. Researchers found that when treatment was initiated early in the progression of the disease, there was a 96 percent reduction in the risk of transmission. Children of infected mothers can be born AIDS-free. This discovery was named the 2011 "Breakthrough of the Year" by Science magazine. We don't have vaccines yet, but people are working on that as well. Then we can really put AIDS where it belongs: in museums.
I recently was at my granddaughter's wedding and had a vision of her talking with her own granddaughter who says, "Grandma, I was on a school field trip yesterday and we went to a museum and learned about an awful disease called AIDS that hurt and killed people. What was that like?" As wonderful as that vision was, I also have a fear it could go like this: "Grandma, how come you didn't make sure we got rid of AIDS when we could have? Why is it still around?" Let's make sure that conversation doesn't happen. We should all take this personally.
Ken Schatz, Tampa
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Positives and negatives
Gloria Steinem is to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As a leading spokeswoman for the women's liberation movement in the late 20th century, Steinem did much to further gender fairness and equality of opportunity in many important areas of society. At the same time, her ideas have contributed greatly to the relentless crumbling of cultural mores and the resulting social morass we find ourselves in today.
Consider a few of her priceless gems:
"A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after." (Isn't that called fornication?) "We will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God." (Translated: Secular worship of ourselves and the state is the goal.) "Few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters." (Translated: There is no difference between males and females.) "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." (That is, lack of marriage and family is no stigma, but rather is perfectly acceptable, if not desirable.)
Finally the best: "So whatever you want to do, just do it. … Making a damn fool of yourself is absolutely essential." On this one, Steinem has succeeded supremely well. So maybe she does deserve the medal.
Jim Connolly, Tampa
Trust NSA, Obama says | Aug. 10
Snowden deserves award
Last week, President Barack Obama announced "reforms" to the NSA spying on American citizens. These reforms would never have been announced but for the courage of Edward Snowden in revealing the NSA's trampling of Americans' 4th Amendment rights.
Snowden should not be prosecuted for espionage — he should be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in addition to the entertainers and sports figures that Obama has announced as upcoming medal recipients.
Susie Hoeller, Land O'Lakes
Public needs the truth
I like President Barack Obama and believe he is doing a reasonably good job. That said, I have great concerns when I hear him say, "Trust us." American presidents have a poor track record hiding secrets and revealing their own version of the facts.
The Pentagon Papers and two Iraq wars, as well as many other documents, have revealed the propensity of our executives to present their own version of facts. The American public deserves to know the truth now.
Jay Hall, Tampa
State allowed high rates | Aug. 9
Poor business climate
Gov. Rick Scott is busy trying to attract businesses to Florida, but what major company would want to bring their workforce to Florida, where their workers will end up paying higher medical costs than in other states?
That's not exactly a selling point for the quality of life in Florida. The message for people in other states is: "Come to Florida, where the insurance commissioner is prohibited from negotiating on your behalf for lower insurance rates. We are sure you won't mind that the insurance companies will do very well on your wages when you move here. So start packing, because in Florida we value the well-being of insurance companies over yours."
Cecilia Yocum, Tampa
Melanoma's message | Aug. 9, commentary
I also received an unwelcome diagnosis of melanoma. It was on my nose, and fortunately it was caught at a very early stage. I still had to undergo two surgeries to remove all the cancer and a third surgery to do a skin graft.
Tanning beds were not the culprit. I received most of my painful sunburns as a child in community swimming pools where the water deceptively cooled my skin until I got out and I realized I was on fire.
Wearing shirts, hats and smearing on suntan lotion are a help. But the simple act of installing a covering over a portion of a swimming pool and over all of the baby pool in our public swimming pools would not only create welcome shaded areas but would also increase public awareness of the harm sunburns can do.
After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
A. Sultan, Tampa
My frugal one-tank vacation last week at beautiful Indian Rocks Beach might not compare to President Barack Obama's expensive taxpayer-paid vacation on Martha's Vineyard, but my escape from the world of talking heads and television and radio and newspapers was just what the doctor ordered.
The real people and families I observed basking in the sun and frolicking in the surf, and spending their hard-earned dollars in the local economy, at least briefly took my mind off the bleak reality that our nation faces in these desperate times. This president hobnobs with the rich and famous, but he'd have you believe that he's one of us.
Raymond Brown, Tampa