SIMMONS: HIV/AIDS and illiteracy are a deadly duo

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Exhibit B: “Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community. It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall,” Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield, a Republican, said recently on the SiriusXM channel “OutQ.”

“My understanding is that it is virtually - not completely, but virtually - impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex … very rarely” transmitted,” he added.

That a college-educated, 43-year-old, elected official spewed such ignorance is unfortunate during a public health crisis.

So let’s talk solutions.

When the mortgage crisis dragged us down, up sprung a cottage industry labeled financial literacy.

When the sinking U.S. economy cried out for skilled American workers, we began turning our attention to industry-specific charter schools and community-college courses.

Well, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is crying out, too.

Being health care illiterate creates a host of problems for an individual who is relatively healthy. For a person or family living with HIV/AIDS, it is critical they understand every word spoken or written on their behalf.

If D.C. and America’s stakeholders really and truly want to hold their holds high in July for the HIV/AIDS conference, they will have to do more than the usual dog-and-pony routines of handing out material that people cannot read and comprehend.

At the end of the day, they will be judged on how effectively they are stamping out health care illiteracy and ignorance - and the roots of those evils have absolutely nothing to do with homophobia, stigmatizing or hedonism.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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