HIV scare in St. Louis School—a footnote
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/11/12
I had concluded my post about this with the words, “Those facts cause me to dread the further ‘news’ and rumors that will be leaking out from those ignorant, panicked, ‘everything is normal’, school administrators and health officials in St. Louis.” The foreboding was warranted:
“November 9, 2008 — H.I.V. Scare Unnerves a St. Louis High School — By MALCOLM GAY
ST. LOUIS — Walking the halls of Normandy High School between classes, Mya McLemore, a senior, pays close attention these days to the faces of her fellow students. She keeps an eye out for those who avert their gaze, whose lips quiver or who allow a telltale tear to roll down their cheeks. ‘I’ve been observing people, trying to see who’s acting different,’ said Mya, 16. . . . Life, . . . has been far from normal for students at this struggling high school in suburban St. Louis since they learned last month that as many as 50 of their classmates may have been exposed to H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. . . . Ninety-seven percent of the students chose to be tested. Results are expected this week. . . .
‘It’s the only thing we talk about,’ said Jamar McKinney, a junior. ‘Who could have H.I.V., who started it, how many people may have it. We always agree on who we think has it. . . . I don’t trust nobody until I see the results,’ he said, adding that he plans to display his negative test results on a T-shirt. . . .
Stephen Perkins, 16, a Normandy junior . . . said that whenever he meets girls at the mall, ‘the first thing they ask is, “What school do you go to?” . . . After I say Normandy, . . . “The H.I.V. School? AIDS High?” Normandy’s got a bad name.’”
One can only hope that McKinney’s T-shirt idea doesn’t catch on; but it’s exactly the sort of thing that is all too likely to become a fad.
As I pointed out in my earlier post, “an individual may test positive after being vaccinated against flu, or taking an anti-tetanus shot, or having TB, or for a large number of other reasons . . . . We also know that the probability of testing positive for any of those reasons is far greater for people of African ancestry than others; black females in particular are typically 20 times as likely to test positive under one of those numerous conditions. We also know that in the lower teenage years, females are more likely to test positive than males — perhaps under the physiological stress of menarche, the onset of menstruation.”
But I hadn’t then known that the “student population is 99 percent black”.
The school superintendent can of course be excused for swallowing HIV/AIDS dogma, but someone in his position ought to be more adept at dealing with such a situation. “We didn’t have a playbook,” he was reported as saying. That strikes me in about the same way as when the (briefly) head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, tried to defend his appointment of his lover to a highly paid position. It’s simply an admission of being unfit for the job.
The media, again of course, find ways to further stir the troubled waters by re-emphasizing the falsehood that HIV is a threat to the whole United States:
(from NBC’s Channel 7 News, Boston, cr. Awareness Blog)