Dragon Within the Gates: The Once and Future AIDS Epidemic

Stephen Joseph, Author
Stephen Joseph, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $20.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-88184-905-9
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Taking on those who have politicized the disease, Joseph, a former New York City health commissioner and now dean of the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, offers a spirited defense of his handling of AIDS matters and a compelling argument for further public health measures. A straight shooter, he presents himself as a concerned scientist in a political thicket: while gay activists decry the tracing of AIDS-afflicted people's sexual partners as potentially repressive, Joseph sees it as a routine public health procedure. Black and Hispanic leaders, he claims, responded late to AIDS and remained suspicious of white health officials; they opposed Joseph's 1986 plan to distribute clean needles to drug addicts, which was adopted after he left office. Discounting popular beliefs about scientific stumbling, he suggests that researchers know a great deal more about AIDS now than they did a decade ago. Still, with no cure or vaccine in sight, only controversial public health measures like contact-tracing and the developing drugs that block transmission--a goal he argues is closer at hand than a cure--can vitiate what Joseph predicts will be significant harm inflicted by AIDS on gay and minority communities, as well as the New York City economy. (Oct.)
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