Saturday, August 12, 2006

The politics of disease

I have compassion for those suffering from disease. Really I do. But when a disease has what amounts to militant activists, then one wonders.

Cancer activists are winning their war, it seems. Having replaced the "medical model" with the "enviromental" model, success has come at the cost of personal freedoms being eroded for those less careful with their personal choices. "Big Tobacco" has been put on notice as more and more places go "smoke free." I am convinced, as a non-smoker, that the reason tobacco causes cancer is because the plant is a sponge to radon (radioactive gas) in the soils in which it grows in the USA. One wonders if the effects of "safe tobacco" grown in clean soil would be quite as devastating.

And then, there is the case of "women's health" vs. "men's health." It seems that such things as breast cancer get a whole lot more attention than prostate cancer, for instance. However, it has become a blessing to have a working remote control since network TV has begun airing commercials for "E.D." How many different medications are they to help us "horny old men" in the bedroom anyway! :-(


And now, to get REEAAL controversial. Out of curiosity, after reading yet another article on AIDS, I googled "AIDS history." Curiously, I got a few hits on the history of hearing aids! Any way, buried several pages back -- even beyond the hearing aids -- were the links to the dissidents in the medical community that disagree with the "theory" that a virus dubbed "HIV" is what "causes" AIDS. As it turns out, there has not been clear evidence that such a virus even exists.

The difficulty in isolating the virus has lead to tests that measure "markers" that appear in antibodies. False positives abound, but these are disregarded in favor of the prevailing theory. As a result, previous wisdom as to the causes being lifestyle induced have largely been ignored. Sure, the facts are still admitted as to the "risky behavior" that will "spread" the virus. But that doesn't address such enviromental factors as nutrition and drug use (both injected AND injected), which were so "obvious" in the early days before the "discovery" of the virus. Study has not been able to demonstrate just how the virus can do so much harm to the system without multiplying to detectable amounts in the blood way sooner.

I speak as a laymen, of course, after browsing the articles at a couple of websites. However, I had read certain remarks in other places in recent months that seemed to relate to this same controversy. But then again, this AIDS "virus" has somehow gained "rights" of its own, largely from those that persist in "risky behavior" that may be more the cause than the conduit for a virus. But a virus is easier to fight than a lifestyle, so it becomes a political football. It seems to me that, in the "west" anyway, lifestyle changes are the best way to combat this disease. In the developing world, on the other hand, it may very well be nutrition and hygene that need more attention.

How can we be sure that it is a virus that opens the way for other "opportunist" organisms to kill millions? The "markers" have been found to be produced by antibodies that are caused by the more than thirty such diseases which Acquired Immune Difficiency Syndrome is know for. It is, is it not, a Syndrome? That, by definition, rules out any particular single factor. One can "have the virus" and never show the symtoms of the syndrome (note, for example, "Magic" Johnson), but those that develope the syndrome will surely die a lingering death whether or not they test positive for antibodies to a particular virus.

But, I rave on. I could be quite wrong about this HIV thing. But it irks me that those of "alternate lifestyles" seem to have legitimized their way of seeing things through claiming they are victoms of an unseen virus. "Abstenence works -- every time it is tried."

Okay, readers, prove me wrong.


hondo said...

Let me tell you a story, as my grandfather used to say. Years ago, in the early 90's, the high school I taught at had an "AIDS Awareness Day" program. Because of the controversial nature of the topic, teachers were not required to take their classes to the program in the auditorium, but we were "encouraged" to allow our students to go. The reasoning was that we owed it to our students to provide them with "education" on how to not get AIDS. I took my 1st period class to the program, and discovered that the program was, in reality, an "It's OK To Be Gay" program, complete with a revival-style "come on down to the front" moment at the end. That was it for me. I didn't take any of my other classes to the program the rest of the day. One of the student organizers of the event, who happened to be in my 3rd period class, challenged me on my motives for not participating in the program. I told the student that, if he didn't want to get AIDS, I could "educate" him better in 5 seconds than by wasting an entire class period in the auditorium. I told him--don't have sex til you're married--don't ever engage in homosexual activity--don't do drugs. Period. End of discussion. Needless to say, I ended up in the principle's office for an official "sensitivity training" session. The punchline to all of this is that my sensitivity training session was "raucus" enough (I come from a long line of hell raisers!) that the AIDS Awareness Program was never again held at that high school. Score one for the good guys!

Henry Martin said...

The rules are so easy -- but human nature being the way it is, limits are "meant" to be pushed. Consequences are for the other guy!

It is sad about much of African AIDS. As dark as that continent is, the evident famine condition, along with worship of spirits, etc., all point to conditions other than an evasive virus for the 'syndrome.' Risky behavior, as defined in the west, can't be the cause of such a large portion of the population to be "infected."