When President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Regina Benjamin for the post of Surgeon General, there was considerable reason to be impressed with the credentials. The rural Alabama doctor won a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" last year, became the first black woman to be president of a state medical society and the first black woman and the youngest doctor elected to the American Medical Association's board, etc. etc.. But this little-reported biographical data point from Dr. Benjamin's remarks at the White House were most impressive:
Public health issues are very personal to me. My father died with diabetes and hypertension. My older brother, and only sibling, died at age 44 of HIV-related illness. My mother died of lung cancer, because as a young girl, she wanted to smoke just like her twin brother could. My Uncle Buddy, my mother's twin, who's one of the few surviving black World War II prisoners of war, is at home right now, on oxygen, struggling for each breath because of the years of smoking.
Very promising that the next Surgeon General has a personal and immediate understanding of HIV. HIV/AIDS has dramatically increased in the inner cities and the South. Black gay men are the most likely to become infected with the virus. Those numbers are unfortinately increasing.
Dr. Regina Benjamin's nomination for surgeon general requires Senate confirmation. She is almost certainly to be confirmed.