People with HIV/AIDS are at greater risk of developing severe complications from West Nile Virus, which has led to 10 deaths in Dallas County this summer. But people with HIV/AIDS could also face greater risk from exposure to the chemicals used in aerial spraying to combat the virus.
“The same people they’re trying to protect are the same people who are sensitive to the chemicals being dropped,” said Bret Camp, health services director for Resource Center Dallas.
One open letter signed by 26 doctors and other experts in 2001 said the chemical agents used in aerial spraying contain neurotoxins and can be dangerous to the treated area. The letter, distributed by groups opposed to mosquito spraying in New York City, specifically listed “immunosuppressed individuals, such as patients with AIDS and cancer,” among those who may be especially vulnerable.
“INDISCRIMINATE AND UNNECESSARY SPRAYING OF ‘FRIENDLY FIRE’ PESTICIDES, ESPECIALLY IN HEAVILY POPULATED URBAN AREAS, IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS TO HUMAN HEALTH AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT THAN WEST NILE VIRUS,” the letter states. “THE HEALTH OF MANY PEOPLE IS DETERIORATING AND WILL FURTHER DETERIORATE, SOMETIMES SERIOUSLY, AS A RESULT OF EXPOSURE TO ‘FRIENDLY FIRE PESTICIDES’ USED IN THE CHEMICAL WAR AGAINST MOSQUITOES. THOSE WHO ARE ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE INCLUDE CHILDREN, THE OFFSPRING OF PREGNANT WOMEN, CHEMICALLY SENSITIVE OR IMMUNO-SUPPRESSED INDIVIDUALS, SUCH AS PATIENTS WITH AIDS AND CANCER, AND THOSE SUFFERING WITH ASTHMA AND OTHER ALLERGIES.”