Senator Coburn’s list (noted by Jonah below) certainly highlights some troubling and downright odd wastes of taxpayer dollars at CDC—an agency in desperate need of serious reform, and whose senior career leadership is among the worst in the government.
But one item on his list struck me as pretty unfair. It says:
$5 billion spent over seven years on HIV/AIDS prevention funding, and yet the U.S. still sees 40,000 new cases each year, with no decrease in infection rates for over a decade.
It’s actually quite striking that the United States has had no increase in infection rates for over a decade. The pattern of new HIV infections in America has changed drastically in the past decade, from an almost exclusively urban phenomenon focused in the northeast and the west coast to a far more geographically widespread problem, increasingly focused in the southeast and in rural areas. Public health officials, including the CDC, have very effectively curtailed new cases where they were most common a decade ago, and are working now to get at those that present themselves elsewhere. There are about a million Americans with HIV, and about a quarter of them do not know they have it. That means that newly discovered cases are considered new infections when they’re discovered, so that the ramped up testing the administration has put in place in recent years causes a spike in “new” cases, but is in fact crucial to getting the spread of HIV under control.
This administration has done more to fight HIV, at home and abroad, than any before it, and it has made a difference. The CDC has led that fight, and should get credit for it. As for the Hawaii office and the quarter million dollar fitness center—go get ‘em Senator!