i saw a quote in a Reuters story the other day that made me stop and reread it.
The virus that causes AIDS is rapidly developing a resistance to antiretroviral drugs designed to prolong the lives of sufferers in countries that can afford them.
there are just so many things that bother me about that quote. first, of course, is that one of the deadliest diseases is quickly learning from the tools we use to control it. it's sort of an impressive vidication of Darwinism and biological adaptation. but it's scary as hell.
we've lived with this disease for so long. it's become a part of the fabric of our lives. it's been around, in a recognized form, given a name and identity, for more than half of my life. and we're not any closer to figuring it out. it, on the other hand, is quickly figuring us out.
and sufferers is such a bad term. yes, of course, AIDS patients suffer in unimaginable ways, beyond most of our understandings. but to call them sufferers? why not just say AIDS patients? by painting them as victims, you're not helping the situation.
but what really got me was this - 'in countries that can afford them.' maybe the syntax was unintentional. maybe the point the author was trying to make is that we're seeing the resistant strains primarily in countries like the US and other places where AIDS patients are more likely to be able to afford good health care. maybe, maybe, maybe.
what it sounds like, tho, is medical snobbery, plain and simple. ARVs are available only to the wealthy. by and large, that's probably true. but it shouldn't be. the people who contract this disease should be treated regardless of status or income. it simply isn't fair to let them suffer when we have the means to ease the effects of the disease.
yes, i suppose that's pie in the sky dreaming. call me a naive Florence Nightengale. realistically, there needs to be money behind it. maybe i'm overly cynical, but i don't believe that the drugs need to cost what they do. i haven't been following the research closely for some time (you numb out on some things after a period of time), so i don't know this for a fact. but i'd be willing to bet that there is no generic, low cost alternative to the ARV cocktails currently available. the pharmeceutical companies have a lock on any patented medicine, and can dictate the cost. because they like to make money, the cost is high, in many cases prohibitively so. if i'm wrong, please tell me. hell, i'd be thrilled to be wrong on this one.
and get me the name of that reporter's editor. i need to have a long talk with him.