It’s all in the news…


I was stunned by two headlines in particular today.

1. TB Victim Locked up in Arizona

PHOENIX – Behind the county hospital’s tall cinderblock walls, a 27-year-old tuberculosis patient sits in a jail cell equipped with a ventilation system that keeps germs from escaping.

Robert Daniels has been locked up indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of his life, since last July. But he has not been charged with a crime. Instead, he suffers from an extensively drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, or XDR-TB. It is considered virtually untreatable.

County health authorities obtained a court order to lock him up as a danger to the public because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others. Specifically, he said he did not heed doctors’ instructions to wear a mask in public.

Though Daniels’ confinement is extremely rare, health experts say it is a situation that U.S. public health officials may have to confront more and more because of the spread of drug-resistant TB and the emergence of diseases such as SARS and avian flu in this increasingly interconnected world.

Dr. Ross Upshur, director of the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto, said authorities should detain people with drug-resistant tuberculosis if they are uncooperative.

“We’re on the verge of taking what was a curable disease, one of the best known diseases in human endeavors, and making it incurable,” Upshur said.

But a paper Upshur co-wrote on the issue in a medical journal earlier this year has been strongly criticized.

“Involuntary detention should really be your last resort,” Harrington said. “There’s a danger that we’ll end up blaming the victim.”

My first thought when I read this was how inhumane can we get? I’d like to see us refrain from locking sick people up. However, with the risk of something like a drug resistant strain of TB becoming a world-wide epidemic, and the patient not taking this risk seriously, maybe this is necessary. But is there no other way?

2. BYU campus protests Dick Cheney speech

PROVO, Utah – Some students and faculty on one of the nation’s most conservative campuses want Brigham Young University to withdraw an invitation for Vice President
Dick Cheney to speak at commencement later this month.

Critics at the school question whether Cheney sets a good example for graduates, citing his promotion of faulty intelligence before the Iraq war and his role in the
CIA leak scandal.

The private university, which is owned by the Mormon church, has “a heavy emphasis on personal honesty and integrity in all we do,” said Warner Woodworth, a professor at BYU’s business school.

“Cheney just doesn’t measure up,” he said.

Woodworth is helping organize an online petition asking that the school rescind its invitation to the vice president. In its first week, the petition collected more than 2,300 signatures, mostly from people describing themselves as students, alumni or members of the church.

The display of dissent is rare for a university that has been voted the nation’s most “stone-cold sober” school nine years in a row in the annual Princeton Review of party schools.

I never thought I’d say this, but GO BYU! I’m with you all the way on this one!

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