Aids Is Now No. 1 Killer Here of Men Aged 25-44
Roger Signor Post-Dispatch Science-Medicine Editor, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
AIDS is viewed with complacency throughout the Midwest and in the St. Louis area, health workers here say.
But looking the other way will be much tougher now:
AIDS has become the leading killer of young men in St. Louis and St. Louis County, state health officials reported on Wednesday.
In 1992, the disease killed 144 men aged 25 to 44 in the city and county, they said.
The trend also had a big impact in that age group statewide. In Missouri and Illinois last year, acquired immune deficiency syndrome killed 341 and 823 residents, respectively, in the 25-44 age group. Only accidents killed more people in this age group.
"I've been waiting for the Midwest to wake up to AIDS," said the Rev. Beth Meyerson, of the private agency, St. Louis Effort for AIDS.
Agency workers said AIDS was killing and disabling males in what would otherwise have been their most productive years.
"We're losing a generation or two of young adults who were once supporters of the economy," said Mary Hizer, director of the agency.
Moreover, the last few months of life for AIDS patients "are the most devastating, personally and financially, to them and their loved ones," Hizer said. Meanwhile, her agency has been pushed to the limit, she said.
This year, the agency will allocate more than $50,000 for food, lodging and medicine for patients and their families, she said.
The AIDS death toll probably will increase sharply again 10 or so years from now, says Dr. William L. Kincaid, St. Louis health commissioner.
In the early 1980s, a syphilis epidemic among white gay males also spread the sexually transmitted AIDS virus, Kincaid said. That epidemic resulted in the current surge in deaths from AIDS, he said.
"Now, we have another syphilis epidemic in the city and county, with 90 percent of the cases occurring in African-Americans," he said.
Both epidemics were related to sexual promiscuity and unprotected sex - spreading both the bacterium that causes syphilis and the virus that causes AIDS. …