Friday, June 1, 2007

From Rock Hudson to Andrew Speaker

Lots of consternation at this morning's panel on drug-resistant tuberculosis that Andrew Speaker's name was published in connection with his case of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. The docors and public health experts attending the panel expressed concern that Speaker, who successfully eluded health authorities in order to get back to the U.S., might get turned into some kind of super TB villain.

Shades of the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when there was talk of publicly identifying folks who were infected so that the rest of the community could protect itself, whatever that meant.

In fact, if history is any guide, the sensation over Speaker's case will subside as people adjust to the new situation.

In fact, Andrew Speaker, who is not your typical TB patient--because he is white and certainly not poor, may do for tuberculosis what the actor Rock Hudson did for AIDS years ago. He may help more and more Americans realize that "TB anywhere is TB everywhere."

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