Dan Werb

Epidemic in the Borderland

Dr. Thomas Patterson Is Pioneering Hiv Prevention in Tijuana’s Most Dangerous Districts—and the Results Are Staggering.

DISCUSSED: Palou’s Rock, Marketing by Socialist Revolutionaries, Sparrow-Song Dialects, The Birth of a Standard of Care, Cartel Ranches, Hit Doctors, La Mallila, A Bespoke Jacket, The Same Old Shit, The Blessing of the Tijuana Bar Owners’ Association, Professional Empathy

On August 19, 1773, roughly three years before America declared its independence from Britain, a Franciscan friar named Francisco Palou erected a cross on a rock near Tijuana, Mexico, to mark the division of power between the Reverend Franciscan Fathers of Alta California and their rivals to the south, the Dominicans of Baja California.1 Despite this division, both Californias remained the property of the King of Spain and then, in 1821, of the newly independent state of Mexico. Throughout this time, Tijuana remained a bubble district, the southern edge of an economically integrated urban area that was centered in the larger settlements to its north. In 1848, during the Mexican-American War, the United States conquered territory southward across California. The unassuming cross came to mark the site of an international border, and Tijuana was politically severed from the Spanish-speaking settlements to its north.

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Dan Werb is an HIV epidemiologist with the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. He is an inaugural recipient of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Avenir Award, which recognizes innovative new investigators.

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