Heres another from the SF Bay Times archives, specifically February 17, 2005, a bit of a departure subject-wise with a serious tone and a brilliant graphic created in production just for the piece. Funny how this story just faded away, the “super-strain” invalidated by lack of evidence. A real laugh riot huh?
Last Friday, my friend Tom sent me a link to a news story he had just read from Bloomberg.com. Usually our online correspondences leave me laughing so hard I’m gasping for air as he recounts some of his work-place office antics or sends me links to absurd news stories about child molesters named Ronald McDonald or lesbian relationships gone bad and ending with a scalping. His wicked sense of humor amuses me endlessly, but on Friday he sent me a link that alarmed me and left me feeling afraid, angered and ultimately thinking thoughts of a conspiratorial nature that usually surface nearer to local psych wards or in movies about UFO’s, not in my mind as I read the news.
The story originated in New York where doctors announced the discovery or presence of a previously unseen strain of HIV; one that is resistant to three of the four types of antiviral drugs that combat the disease. It progresses from infection to full blown AIDS in two or three months.
Part of me immediately thought it was only a matter of time before such a mutation would spring forward in the changing face of this disease. It’s only logical when considering a battle with a virus, it changes to resist the forces that contain or control it. However, I was shocked by the reported amount of time this new strain takes to progress from infection to advanced conditions of AIDS. It’s a detail that spells out a possibly very serious public health problem loud and clear. The story continued by identifying the person diagnosed as a man in his 40’s who reported multiple male sexual partners and unprotected anal sex…often while using the drug crystal methamphetamine. That’s when I started feeling suspicious. Not only is the diagnosed male a homosexual who undoubtedly infected others by indiscriminately participating in a known high-risk activity, showing a complete disregard for his own health and the health of others and safe sex guidelines that have been established for years, he is also a crystal meth user.
The medical authorities continue asserting that meth plays a significant role in facilitating the transmission of HIV, which I feel is a completely over-emphasized detail, or rather a convenient slice of the pie graph, the last element needed to create the whole profile of the evil immoral, driven by sexual perversion, self-destructive, pathological individual with no self-control, obviously as they are also drug addicted as well. What you have now is a truly unsympathetic character, the new face of AIDS, one much less deserving of compassion and sympathy and funding for research to save or programs to help provide the latest high priced drug therapies for those who are living with HIV—when they aren’t trying to kill themselves and others with their drug-addled dirty sexual habits and disregard for humanity. This new face of AIDS is sort of the same face that the Republicans created and campaigned to the retarded voters as such a threat to their normal good and god-fearing lives that they turned out to vote the King of the Retards into office. The gay profile is being downgraded with regularity in this country by manipulative media rhetoric and playing upon the fears of the ignorant. That’s not really a surprise considering, but I fear it’s actually starting to sink in to the boneheaded and pea-brained. This new strain of HIV is the perfect ticket to a renewed hatred and the hysteria is just beginning. At press time the local news is jumping on a supposed search for a lone-infected West coast individual who tested anonymously in San Diego, and health officials are setting up a surveillance system with clinics nationwide for the new strain. Gee, it’s sort of like Andrew Cunanan all over again; it’s a witch-hunt.
The Story went on to explain that the only drug the strain isn’t resistant to is Enfuvirtide, sold under the trade name Fuzeon and developed by Trimeris Inc. of Durham North Carolina and Roche Holding AG of Switzerland. Now I know that Bloomberg.com is indeed a financial and stock market focused publication, but it really offended and shook me that they charted a significant increase in the stocks closing price on the Nasdaq and quoted an analyst as saying, “This is probably positive for Trimeris.” The fact that Fuzeons require twice daily injections and need to be mixed for 20 minutes “have been significant impediments to the drugs sales in its two years on the market.” Go Trimeris! I see summer homes in the Hamptons for everyone. The drug costs the patient an average of $20,000, but hey Trimeris, you’re rocking the fat profit if this strain picks up. Never more has this seemed more blatant.
This stands as a perfect example of everything that is wrong with medical care in America, leader of the free world; profiteering drug manufacturers—what they know they can do and what we don’t know they can do because their intentions are skewed by greed and creating long term dependencies rather than that other antiquated notion…what was it…oh yeah, saving fucking lives.
As if this article could get worse, it ended with some quotes from a spokeswoman for the CDC in Atlanta, telling the average length of time from infection to full blown AIDS in an untreated person is about nine years with death following within 18 months. For those treated with anti-viral drugs the average progression to disease from infection is 11 years with death occurring within six years. I, like many others, started adding things up in my head and feeling like a duck in the line of fire in some shooting gallery, at the mercy of those straight-shooting folks who make the pills you swallow to stay alive. Maybe the CDC is right, maybe I’m already dead. No, not until they’re through with us.