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STD 'punchline' wasn't funny 

Grover Beach

On behalf of the San Luis Obispo County HIV Prevention, Advocacy, and Care Consortium, I am writing to address the tone of the article in New Times, “STDs are on the rise in SLO County” (Aug. 4). The consortium is a community-based group addressing the full continuum of HIV-related services in the county, from education/prevention programs to the direct service needs of people with HIV/AIDS and their families.

While the members of the consortium welcome informing our community about the growing numbers of STDs—including HIV/AIDS—over the past several years, we don’t see the need for the offhand remark at the end of the article (“New Times was unable to determine whether there’s been a local corollary increase in Barry White albums as of press time.”) With that one sentence glibly remarking on the “cause,” it leads the reader to dismiss the importance of the alarming statistics that precede it.

The consortium would like to underline the significance of the statistics and remind people that HIV and AIDS is still a reality in our community. In view of the rise of other STDs, indicating a higher incidence of unprotected sex, we can ultimately expect growing numbers of HIV diagnoses. That, coupled with the lack of state support for prevention and testing programs, has left our county even more vulnerable. This is the message that needs to be emphasized.

We’re concerned and disappointed that a punchline may have diluted it.

Ed. note: Fair point. New Times didn’t intend to trivialize the grim reality of HIV/AIDS and other STDs in the community or elsewhere with that final line—not written by the brief’s original author, by the way—and apologizes for any lessening of the impact of the facts and figures.

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