Volume 20, Number 31 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 14 - 20, 2007

"Support businesses and organizations that support Downtown Express"


Seaport hope
A one-day public food market will set up shop this Sunday in a spot where the Fulton Fish Market hawked their wares until two years ago. Wintermarket’s organizer, New Amsterdam Public, has two worthy goals: Promote sustainable food and show the South Street Seaport’s desperate need for an engaging market that appeals to residents as well as tourists.

General Growth Properties, which runs the Seaport mall, agrees a permanent food market is desirable and promises to finally deliver its plan to redevelop the area in six months. The firm and its predecessor, Rouse Corp., have said many times over the decades that a spectacular plan to revitalize the neighborhood is right around the corner. While Downtowners wait for that, locals have begun to invigorate Front St. and Peck Slip. But the new retailers need more foot traffic, and residents need vital shopping options such as food. The Seaport can’t be rebuilt in a day, but maybe only a day is needed to see how to do it well.

The AIDS battle
World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 each year, is one of the few times in the annual media cycle when the pandemic affecting more than 30 million people worldwide — even under U.N. AIDS’s newly downgraded estimates — still garners widespread attention.

Tragically, there are times when information that is counterproductive, even damaging, achieves marquee status, frustrating the efforts to craft sound public policy and to encourage smart choices by individuals.

In a notorious 1996 New York Times Magazine cover story, “When Plagues End,” Andrew Sullivan celebrated his own success with anti-retroviral therapies then just emerging, and concluded that the “skeptics” had to catch up with reality: If they had not yet died, they must accept that they “really missed the party.”

Yet, in the 11 years since, startlingly high rates of infection have been identified among young gay and bisexual men of color in New York and other major urban centers.

In recent years, New York City has found that roughly one-third of all new infections are discovered when AIDS symptoms surface — that is, many in this city go untested for a decade or more living and having sex with a deadly virus they don’t know they have.

Two weekends ago, the New York Times Week in Review featured an article by Donald G. McNeil Jr., “A Time to Rethink AIDS’s Grip,” which cited Sullivan’s 1996 piece and argued that the worldwide epidemic is winding down. McNeil’s essay took note of the recent report from U.N. AIDS that it had previously overstated the scope of the global crisis, but focused primarily on the fact that new infections peaked in 1998 at nearly 3.5 million, and have since declined to about 2.5 million.

From McNeil’s perspective, AIDS is finally acting like other plagues — disease carriers are dying off faster than new disease-free people can be infected. Yet tens of millions will die of the disease. McNeil concedes that. Infections continue to rise in new locales, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union and Indonesia included. The risk of viral mutation remains.

AIDS remains a killer of such awesome proportion that none of us can fathom the devastation. That fact must guide us.

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