Letters for November 16, 2000

13 years and counting

Re “The HIV Disbelievers” by Amy Yannello (SN&R, Nov. 2):

I felt your article was very well-written and well balanced.

Congratulations for giving your readers the opportunity to read about both sides of the issue and letting them make up their own minds as to what they wish to believe.

I admire your lack of “editorializing,” which most reporters seem to fall into at times. I have little to add to your knowledge base except that I have been diagnosed HIV-positive for 13 years now and have never taken any of the HIV-related drugs and am in extremely good health at the age of 64. I have a Web site telling my story if you care to visit it: http://home.thirdage.com/Health/drugskillnothiv/

I may be a drop in a bucket of water. But a bucketful, we are!

Edward E. Sherbeyn San Diego

Lead with the facts

Re “The HIV Disbelievers” by Amy Yannello (SN&R, Nov. 2):

I was appalled at the tone of your piece on the AIDS disbelievers. Although as a whole the article was balanced, its lead paragraphs implied that there was actually some slim evidence that people such as ACT-UP have a point when they say that HIV is not the cause of AIDS.

They don’t. It’s utter nonsense, and you should have led with the facts before featuring the “dissidents.”

First, the correlation between being HIV-positive and being likely to get Aids is 100 percent. No HIV, no AIDS, an association that holds even in countries that can’t afford to have most of their at-risk population tested.

Second, in people who have AIDS—however you define it—studies of large groups have shown that those who take the nasty drugs—and they ain’t no picnic, I take them myself—are between eight and 12 times less likely to die than those who don’t.

I was one of those people who nearly died. I was desperately ill with several AIDS-related conditions in 1995-96. I weighed 130 pounds. I’m now alive, well and a chubby little fellow at 170 pounds. I held off taking treatment for so long because I, too, was skeptical about the drugs, but I wouldn’t be here to write this if I hadn’t. ACT-UP and co. are making a few good points amid the garbage they spout.

In the United States in particular, people were probably put on the drugs far too early. Some people who might have stayed healthy for several years suffered side effects unnecessarily. And the pharmaceutical industry needs its butt kicked repeatedly to make AIDS-curing drugs tolerable in the long term. At the moment, they are a Band-Aid, and people like me take them in the full knowledge that our health may be damaged later.

But if I hadn’t taken them, I’d be dead. And if one person reads your piece, puts off taking them and comes down with a lethal AIDS-related illness tomorrow, then you will be guilty for not leading [with] the facts.

Gus Cairns deputy editor Positive Nation Magazine London, England

Heal thyself

Re “The HIV Disbelievers” by Amy Yannello (SN&R, Nov. 2):

We support ACT UP/SF in their quest to educate their community about the many challenges to HIV testing and treatments based on our 18 years of direct experience in helping people with AIDS-related fears and conditions.

We also note that wherever we find people who have regained their health or who are at risk and staying healthy—one key factor is their refusal to take HIV-related treatments.

Perhaps the HIV-ists can explain why approximately 60 percent of current AIDS cases are made up of people who have surveillance, rather than clinical AIDS. In other words, these people have tested positive for HIV and have T-cell counts that reflect immune deficiency by conventional standards, yet they do not have AIDS related diseases.

Something else is going on!

Michael Ellner president HEAL-NYC New York City

We should’ve asked

Re “If You Have to Ask …” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Food Pick, Oct. 26):

While your reviewer had some information that was accurate, we feel there are a few details that are worth clarifying.

Many of the items we have available are delivered fresh most mornings. The Ahi tuna is one of those items. The fish is hand-selected for our store and delivered to us fresh from San Francisco that morning. This fish is never frozen; the dark meat is trimmed, and the bloodlines are pulled before display. This type of freshness and preparation of product is not found at most establishments. Ahi of this quality is very fairly priced at $18.99 per pound.

The self-named David Berkley club sandwich is a combination of two ounces of turkey and a little more than an ounce of prosciutto with mashed avocado (mashed fresh every morning), fresh tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise. I’m sorry the reviewer didn’t like it. It is very popular. The demand for it has kept it on our menu since our opening 15 years ago.

The reviewer was correct in describing David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods as an upscale grocery store. We do, however, have many items at very reasonable prices. The fresh salads and hot foods in our cases (which change day to day, hour to hour) sell rapidly, making it very difficult to put prices on each item as it comes from the kitchen. However, you will find prices marked on all of the items on our shelves.

Beverly Berkley general manager David Berkley Fine Wines & Specialty Foods Sacramento

Cruelty in cartooning

Re Kloss cartoon (SN&R, Oct. 26):

The cartoon lampooning the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op’s concern over the impending arrival of Trader Joe’s in Midtown appeared the same week as the arrival of a newsletter from Animal Place News that also carried a comment on Trader Joe’s.

The Animal Place News story quoted Trader Joe’s’ response to a request that Trader Joe’s refrain from buying chickens and eggs from factory farms that practice forced molting (withholding food for 10-14 days to increase egg production). Trader Joe’s reportedly responded that they had no problem with this factory farming practice and would “let the consumer decide.”

To return to the subject of Kloss’ cartoon: Yes, a person sometimes pays more at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, but you never have to worry that you are subsidizing cruelty.

Ellen Dillinger Sacramento

The green flavor

Re Gore endorsement (SN&R, Oct. 26):

I am sure you thought long and hard about whom you would support for president and vice-president. I appreciate your final choice and believe that your support of Gore/Lieberman, and your reason for that support, was unquestionably wise.

I would’ve liked to have seen the Greens become a party to be taken seriously. The most intelligent [thing] they could have done, would have been to run a candidate for a lesser office than president. Once that person was elected, voters would get a flavor for the party. If we liked the taste, we’d want more. The Greens scared me away this time, however. They wanted the big prize too soon. That desire is puppyish. I am finding it difficult to seriously consider the Greens, because, as a whole, their party is looking immature.

Laurie B. Ferns Sacramento