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September 2008
Vol. 18, No. 9
Policy and Advocacy
IDSA and HIVMA Urge Presidential Candidates to Put Science Before Politics

With the presidential election heating up, IDSA and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) have reached out to both campaigns urging the next administration to promote a science-based approach to public health policy.

In a joint letter sent to Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, the societies listed four areas in particular where politics and other agendas have intruded into the realm of science and medicine: immunization safety, sexuality education programs, access to clean syringes and needles for injecting drug users, and diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

“As physicians, our goal is to help all our patients become well,” wrote IDSA President Donald M. Poretz, MD, FIDSA, and HIVMA Chair Arlene Bardequez, MD, MPH. “To do so, we must be able to rely on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies that are supported by the medical and scientific evidence.”

In their letter, IDSA and HIVMA outlined the scientific evidence debunking the alleged link between vaccines and autism. The two groups advocated investing federal prevention dollars into practices that are empirically proven to prevent the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Noting that no data have demonstrated any long-term benefit to abstinence only programs, the letter called for educating young people in an age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and value-neutral manner. The two groups called for widespread availability of harm-reduction techniques such as needle and syringe exchange and drug treatment programs. And they pointed out the scientific rationale for IDSA’s recommendations on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

The letter called on the presidential candidates to “foster public health strategies that are well grounded in science,” and offered IDSA and HIVMA as a source of credible, science-based information about the full range of infectious diseases.
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