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To Live and Die

September 30, 1990

On July 31, I was one of 39 protesters arrested at the Board of Supervisors who were trying to call attention to the appalling conditions referred to in your piece: overcrowding, inadequate staffing, unconscionable (and lethal) waits at the 5P21 clinic. The Times' coverage of the protest gave no clue as to why we were there. Now, after the crucial County budget decisions are made, you run a human-interest piece strangely detached from the ongoing political battle over health care funding.

A few other facts your readers may not know: the county health system serves fully one-third of the people with AIDS or HIV-related illness in Los Angeles County; the wait for an appointment at 5P21 has now increased to 4 1/2 months, even for those with critically damaged immune systems who could literally be dead before they are seen, and 3) the newly adopted county budget cuts health services even further.

None of this, of course, stopped the Board of Supervisors from giving Pete Schabarum $500,000 to continue fighting to preserve the board's gerrymandered districts. That money could have paid for 12,500 outpatient visits or provided AZT to 100 patients for an entire year.

BRUCE MIRKEN

Los Angeles

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