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Women and AIDS

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Summary
Alexandra Marks reports that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that women are the fastest-growing segment of the HIV population. Marks reports that many believe that the CDC has radically underestimated the number of women with AIDS. Marks notes that a conference on women and AIDS was held in Boston recently. Marks interviews Jean McGuire (Harvard School of Public Health) and Martha Moon (Fenway Community Health Center) at the conference. McGuire and Moon believe that many women are dying of AIDS without being diagnosed. Moon says that the CDC definition of AIDS does not include the symptoms of female victims. McGuire and Moon say that many female victims are not eligible for medical benefits because they do not meet the CDC definition of the disease. Marks reports that the CDC says that there is not enough evidence to link the symptoms of women patients to AIDS. McGuire and Moon criticize the CDC's lack of initiative on the issue. Marks' report includes an interview with April Moore (recovering drug addict). Marks notes that Moore has recently been diagnosed with AIDS, but has no health insurance and no steady job.
Topics
AIDS (Disease), Discrimination, Medical care, Medicine, Women, Civil rights, Segregation, AIDS (Disease) in women, Center for Disease Control
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Log

1:00:04: Visual: Footage of April Moore (recovering drug addict) walking with Alexandra Marks (WGBH reporter) through a local park. Moore and Marks sit down on some stairs outside of the playground. Marks reports that Moore is a former drug addict and prostitute who is now in recovery. Marks reports that Moore recently completed her GED (Graduate Equivalency Diploma); that Moore is looking forward to finding a job. Marks notes that Moore was diagnosed as HIV positive last year. V: Footage of Moore being interviewed by Marks. Moore says that she was in a state of disbelief when she found out about her condition; that she has known for a year now. Moore says that she does not know how long she has been infected with the HIV virus. Shots of Moore; of Marks. Marks reports that Moore is low-income, a minority and has no health insurance; that Moore is a typical woman with AIDS. Marks reports that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that women are the fastest-growing segment of the HIV population. Moore notes that the CDC estimates that women comprise 11% of the HIV population. Marks reports that some experts believe that the CDC radically underestimates the number of women infected. V: Footage of Jean McGuire (Harvard School of Public Health) being interviewed by Marks. McGuire says that women are dying before they are diagnosed with AIDS. McGuire says that the medical field does not have an accurate image of the AIDS population. McGuire says that the women who die without being diagnosed were never eligible for benefits like Medicaid and Social Security. Marks reports that McGuire spoke at a conference on women and AIDS in Boston today. Marks reports that McGuire believes that the CDC has a narrow definition of AIDS. V: Shots of the conference on women and AIDS. Shots of a small AIDS quilt hanging on a wall; of attendees and panelists at the conference. Footage of McGuire being interviewed by Marks. McGuire says that the CDC definition was constructed to track an epidemic; that the CDC definition is constructed around narrow presentations of the disease. McGuire says that the CDC wants to be sure that it is definitively tracking the disease. McGuire says that the CDC definition narrows the population to males with AIDS. Footage of Martha Moon (Fenway Community Health Center) being interviewed by Marks. Moon says that women develop symptoms unknown to men with the disease; that the symptoms of women are not counted in the CDC definition. Moon says that women with HIV experience chronic yeast infections, recurrent cervical cancer, uterine tumors, and other pelvic diseases. Marks reports that Moon is the clinical director of the Fenway Community Health Center; that the Fenway Community Health Center was the sponsor of the conference. V: Footage of Moon being interviewed by Marks. Moon says that surgery eliminates cervical cancer in most women; that some HIV-positive women have recurring bouts of cervical cancer. Moon says that some of these women are completely disabled by the disease; that they are not eligible for medical benefits because they do not meet the CDC definition of the disease. Marks quotes Thomas Skinner (CDC Spokesperson) as saying that "We established this case definition of AIDS for our surveillance purposes. We do not control the use of the definition by other government agencies." V: Skinner's quote appears written on-screen in text. Footage of McGuire being interviewed by Marks. McGuire says that Medicaid has relied on the CDC definition; that the CDC refuses to take responsibility for the reimbursement structure of the government agencies. McGuire says that HIV-positive women do not care which agency is responsible. Footage of Moore being interviewed by Marks. Marks asks Moore what she will do if Medicaid will not cover her medical bills if she becomes ill. Moore says that she has not thought about it; that she tries not to think about it because stress could make her become ill. Marks stands on Commonwealth Avenue. Marks reports that the CDC says that there is not enough medical evidence to link female opportunistic infections to AIDS; that the CDC refuses to change its definition. V: Footage of McGuire being interviewed by Marks. McGuire says that the CDC refuses to include some symptoms in its definition; that those symptoms are those which are experienced by poor people and people of color. McGuire says that poor people and people of color are those who will need benefits. McGuire wonders if the dynamics of race, gender and class have anything to do with the government's reluctance to move forward on the issue. Marks reports that Moore has been unaffected by this issue so far. V: Shots of Moore walking on Commonwealth Avenue with Marks. Audio of Moore saying that she must keep an open mind; that she must stay aware in order to remain alive. Footage of Marks being interviewed by Moore. Moore talks about being afraid.