Bush White House Plan to Create Health Cops
for HIV, HCV, and STDs?
5 , 2003
C Intelligence Report
Hep C Alert: BY
The Bush White House plans to integrate Hepatitis C (HCV)
and HIV/AIDS into existing programs coordinated through Sexually
Transmitted Disease clinics and create "health police"
for HIV, HCV, and STD "contact tracing," Houston
HIV-HCV activist Ray Hill said delegates at the annual Conference
on HIV Prevention were told in Atlanta this week.
Hill, one of the nation's first HIV/AIDS activists, represented
the Houston Health Department's HIV Committee at the conference
sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Hepatitis C is thought to infect up to 5.2 million Americans
and is now four times more prevalent than HIV/AIDS. Twelve
thousand Americans will die this year from the blood-borne
While most medical experts believe the disease is rarely,
if ever, transmitted through sexual contact, Hill said an
Under Secretary of Health and Human Services told delegates
that HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has decided to "integrate"
HCV and HIV prevention programs into the network of sexually
transmitted (STD) clinics and programs already set up throughout
"He (the under secretary) said it was a cost-cutting
measure," Hill reported.
According to Hill, the White House intends to take the get
money fund to program from an existing Minority AIDS Prevention
"In short," said Hill, "the new White House
strategy is to integrate HCV, HIV, and STDs into one program
based on sexually transmitted diseases, even though Hepatitis
C is not a sexually transmitted disease."
Hill accused President George Bush of "catering to Pat
Robertson" and other right-wing Christian coalition politicians
"who want to cram their moral values down the throats
Hill said the new White House plan for HCV and HIV prevention
boils down to two categories:
"Consolidate everything under one roof -- STDs."
Hill said HHS decided to adopt the new program based a North
Hill called the North Carolina program "a clear failure
and a joke" designed by people who "think like Jesse
"In North Carolina, they have contact tracing,"
said Hill. "They tested 1400 people in STD clinics and
19 of them were found to be HIV positive and did not know
they were HIV positive."
"I could line people up getting off of a Greyhound Bus
and find more than 19 people who are positive and did not
know it," he said.
Hill called the White House policy a "John Ashcroft,
Homeland Security approach to infectious disease control."
"That means they will have to hire health cops to conduct
contact tracing on people who test positive for Hepatitis
C and HIV at STD clinics," he said. "That is the
Bush Administration's way of doing things -- treating everything
like it is for homeland security.
Hill explained that health counselors, or "disease cops,"
who find people positive for infectious diseases such as HIV,
HCV, and STDs, will require those individuals to list all
sexual contacts, or intravenous drug use experiences, for
up to a given period of time.
"That is ridiculous, especially since Hepatitis C is
not thought to be transmitted by sex," he said. "How
can you ask someone to list sexual encounters or experiences
of shooting up dope for a disease whose symptoms do not show
up for five years to two decades?"
Most Americans with Hepatitis C are not aware they have the
disease. Symptoms do not show up for 20 to 30 years after
a person is infected with the disease, Hill pointed out.
He said the under secretary announced that the Bush Administration
has concluded that the use of condoms as a means of HIV prevention
is a "failed experiment." Hill said the administration
insists that "abstinence" is the best means for
"When we started the condom use drive," Hill said,
"it was estimated that up to 200,000 a year were being
exposed to HIV. Thanks to the condom programs, that number
has dropped to 40,000."
"They are basically saying that 'no sex' is the only
solution. They want to treat adults the same way as teenagers
-- abstinence from sex until you are heterosexually married."
Hill helped develop the first HIV/AIDS pamphlet in Houston
back in 1984. He was a key organizer of a demonstration at
the CDC headquarters when the National Democratic Party Convention
was held in Atlanta in 1984.
Hill said Hepatitis C is fast becoming the nation's latest
"pandemic that the Bush administration is failing to
"This is not something that should be integrated with
STDs," he concluded. "You will have very many people
with HCV falling through the cracks of the STD nets."