Two years after the coronavirus outbreak upended life in the United States, Americans inch closer to a new normal…
The staggering death toll of the virus continues to rise, with nearly as many Americans lost in the pandemic’s second year as in the first, despite the widespread availability of vaccines. The economic recovery has been uneven, with wage gains for many workers offset by the highest inflation rate in four decades and the labor market roiled by the Great Resignation. The nation’s political fractures are reflected in near-daily disputes over mask and vaccine rules. And thorny new societal problems have emerged, including alarming increases in murder and fatal drug overdose rates that may be linked to the upheaval caused by the pandemic…
As the third year of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak approaches, Americans increasingly appear willing to accept pandemic life as the new reality.
What is not being discussed in public is the new reality being brought about by the HIV pandemic.
HIV is the defining pandemic of our time. More than 35 million people have been killed by the virus to date …
The AIDS crisis, as we generally think of it, began in the 1980s. First as a mysterious illness primarily infecting gay men in urban areas in the United States. But that’s not really the beginning. Before the disease’s first mention in 1982 in the New York Times, people had been dying of AIDS for at least a decade, though probably not much longer. In Africa, HIV–the virus that causes AIDS–had jumped from chimpanzees to humans sometime early in the 20th century.
But the AIDS virus didn’t make a random jump from chimpanzees to humans. It body slammed the people whose immune systems were weak and couldn’t fight back.
Compare to COVID, for example.
- More than 81% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people over age 65.
- The number of deaths among people over age 65 is 97 times higher than the number of deaths among people ages 18-29 years.
- A person’s risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases as the number of underlying medical conditions they have increases.
Likewise, out of a mixed population differentiated by age, gender, and access to socioeconomic protections, it was, and remains very much in the majority, gay men who become infected with and succumb to the AIDS virus.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) have been the population most impacted by the epidemic since the beginning. If current rates continue, it is estimated that 1 in 6 MSM will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lives.
- MSM make up an estimated 2% of the US population, but accounted for 66% of new annual HIV infections in 201715
- As of 2019, 56% of people living with HIV in the US contracted it through male-to-male sexual transmission16
- As of 2018, 1 in 6 MSM living with HIV was unaware of their status13
The reason for this is the same as the elderlies’ higher risk for COVID – their vulnerability to infection.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a major public health problem in the United States. Nearly 12 million Americans are infected with an STD annually; approximately 43 million have viral STDs, which cannot be cured and thus infect the individual for life.1 For virtually all STDs, the number of documented cases has increased in the last 10 years.2 The number of Americans infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), for example, has increased steadily since the 1980s, and in 1993, more than 40,000 U.S. residents died from AIDS-related illnesses.3 Further, STDs cost society more than $3.5 billion each year.4
This alone constitutes a public health problem.
During the last century, extraordinary medical advances in the ability to diagnose STDs have not led to tremendous success in controlling them. For example, even though penicillin has been an important and effective part of the public health campaign against syphilis and gonorrhea for more than 40 years, these STDs continue to be significant health problems. In fact, in some subgroups of the population, the incidence rates of these infections have risen dramatically.5
STDs persist in the U.S. population largely because of the complex ways in which pathogens and their hosts interact with social and environmental factors that determine the mechanism of acquisition and the pattern of transmission of these diseases.6 For example, social changes, such as modified patterns of nonmarital sexual behavior, overwhelm the effects of medical treatments. The control and prevention of STDs thus calls for more than technological improvements or medical innovations: It requires an understanding of the social and behavioral linkages involved in the acquisition and transmission of infection…
Our examination of 20-39-year-old men’s sexual and health care behavior and behavior changes following the diagnosis of an STD confirm the role of behavioral factors in the persistence of STDs in the United States. To begin with, sizable proportions of the men in our sample continued to have sex while they were infected, did not tell their sex partners that they were infected, did not return to their doctor to be rescreened following therapy and did not change their sexual behavior or condom use in any way.
The reality of health care is that changing human behavior is the best preventive and cure for disease. Medicines can help, but they only work with a functional immune and metabolic system.
And yet government agencies blame society for failing to eliminate HIV and other STDs.
Despite the advancements in HIV prevention and care, the state of the epidemic today reminds us of the role stigma and discrimination play in increasing risk. There are many social, economic, and structural barriers that continue to prevent some people from accessing the care they need.
This LGBT-biased perspective is utterly biased against the barriers that prevent the majority of the population from protection against disease.
What truly boggles my mind are the barriers that government agencies’ discrimination in favor of LGBT freedom of action by the stark contrast in public health laws
- minimizing the transmission of the COVID virus by demanding vaccinations for employment by health care workers, use of masks by the general public, and shut down of public services like schools and small businesses,
- while knowingly increasing transmission of HIV by permitting HIV-positive persons unrestricted privacy in spreading a fatal disease into the public domain.
Throughout much of early epidemiological history, isolation…was the primary method of halting the spread of pandemics…
One of the earliest mentions of isolation is found in the Biblical book of Leviticus…the relevant chapters could have been written as early as the twenty-first century BCE…in response to a skin disease (most likely leprosy, caused by Mycobacterium leprae). Jewish Rabbis certainly had no knowledge of the bacteria, but they did know the value of isolation:
The priest is to examine the sore on the skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is a defiling skin disease… he shall pronounce them ceremonially unclean [isolated from crowds / public interaction].
If the shiny spot on the skin is white but does not appear to be more than skin deep and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest is to isolate the affected person for seven days [only]. On the seventh day the priest is to examine them, and if he sees that the sore is unchanged and has not spread in the skin, he is to isolate them for another seven days.
Quarantine differs greatly from isolation; it requires a theoretical knowledge about the causes and methods of disease transmission…first postulated in the mid-nineteenth century…by the work of Louis Pasteur…
An important offshoot of germ theory…is the incubation period of disease. Anyone who carries a pathogen responsible for a disease is considered infected, though not all carriers may be symptomatic.
However, this alone did not prevent the spread of the disease.
Pathogenic bacteria take time to grow and multiply within their host. Until they do so in sufficient numbers, they are often overlooked by the immune system. The time between when a pathogen enters the body and when it first causes symptoms is the incubation period.
“The sequence of events during a simple, directly transmitted disease.
The dynamics of the disease are shown in A and the dynamics of infectiousness in B.
1. Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan, Biology of Plagues:
Evidence from Historical Populations,
(Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 22.I had visited the patient face to face for a routine check prior to her becoming symptomatic of COVID, i.e. during her latent period. Five days later I became symptomatic. Following Infection Control guidelines,
- my illness was linked to my contact with our Patient Zero,
- to prevent transmitting infection to other persons I was not allowed to return to work as soon as I felt symptom-free, I had to remain quarantined from the hospital for 10 days to ensure full clearance of the infectious agent from my body.
the Black Death of the fourteenth century….exploded onto the Western world…altering the fabric of every society it touched…
1/4 of the population had died in Europe alone…it would take Europe more than 150 years to return to its former population…
The doctrines of contagion set up in Italy [to limit the spread of The Black Death] led to two vitally important “forms of public health control”…quarantine and isolation…[which were applied to subsequent] diseases, such as tuberculosis, smallpox, cholera, and yellow fever…
[T]he Black Death lingered and tormented people for several hundred years. England’s major cities were particularly vulnerable; poor sanitary conditions and [inability to implement quarantine due to] massive overcrowding facilitated outbreaks. The last in a long series of pandemics, the Great Plague of London in 1665, killed between 75,000 and 100,000 of the capital city’s citizens…peaking in September “when 7,165 Londoners died in one week.”
[A]n epidemic of yellow fever struck the capital of Philadelphia in August 1793…until November…killed as many as 5,000 citizens and forced about forty percent (20,000 people) of the population to flee the city. In response to the epidemic, the Commonwealth of Philadelphia established the Lazaretto Station on the Delaware River in 1799 [which]…processed ships, cargo and passengers sailing for the port of Philadelphia for nearly a century.”
On Monday, June 26, [1832) the first case of cholera was reported in New York City…[Within a few months] over 3,500 people died…70,000 people fled the city…reducing the city’s population by thirty-five percent. Through the New York City refugees, the epidemic spread…as far south as New Orleans and Mexico…
Beginning as early as three thousand years ago, quarantine and isolation were employed as technologies against the proliferation of disease…success against the plague established quarantine as a standard procedure to stopping the spread of epidemics and pandemics.
Essential Components of a Public Health…Prevention, Control, and Elimination Program
July 31, 2020
This report reemphasizes the importance of well-established priority strategies for [disease]
- prevention and control:
- identification of and completion of treatment for persons with active disease;
- finding and screening persons who have had contact with diseased patients;
- and screening, testing, and treatment of other selected persons and populations at high risk for latent infection and subsequent active disease.
But that is only for tuberculosis and COVID.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic January 2020 through December 31, 2021 we estimate that 18·2 million people died worldwide because of COVID (as measured by excess mortality) over that period.
From a statistics perspective, this is an unreliably high estimate since it doesn’t factor in or out any other causes of “extra” deaths during that period such as war or severe weather.
Or persons with HIV whose pre-existing weakened immune systems was the real cause of the last of a series of infections, not COVID itself.
Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in 1982 through 2020 an estimated 36.3 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
Does this statistic overlap with the COVID death statistics for 2020-2021, or are there actually more people who have died from “AIDS-related illnesses” but whose numbers are buried in COVID statistics?
Whether or not 18.2 million deaths attributed to COVID is an accurate number, the fact remains that COVID was rapidly brought under control in America through application of standard and highly effective quarantine measures.
Imagine the number of dead if quarantine hadn’t been immediately implemented.
Imagine the impact on our daily lives if, as with the Black Plague, 25% of the world’s population had died in the first year of the epidemic, leaving us worse off that we are.
The coronavirus has had an immense impact on the economic health of individuals and families across the globe, leaving people worldwide jobless at record rates.
The biggest loser from the coronavirus will be the American middle class, which is existentially threatened by the redistribution of wealth from the crisis response.
How can we possibly ignore the fact that the HIV epidemic is also transforming our society?
And yet, despite being The Epidemic Of Our Time, HIV is the only disease not subject to monitoring under these strategies.
That is specifically WHY HIV became The Epidemic Of Our Time.
Legal protection of patient privacy and confidentiality depends on whether or not public health concerns outweigh the interest in preserving the doctor-patient privilege. The balancing of these interests is a particular challenge when it comes to privacy concerns associated with HIV status…
Partner notification is critical so that individuals know they are at risk, receive HIV counseling and testing, and get appropriate medical care. One of the most controversial issues is whether physicians may disclose the HIV status of their patients to known contacts and, further, whether failure to do so may give rise to liability if the known contact becomes HIV-positive…
In other contexts, physicians have faced liability for not warning third parties of foreseeable harm…case law contains legal precedent that justifies dissemination of information to prevent third-party harm. Yet, to date, attempts to create a duty for physicians to protect endangered third parties in HIV cases have been unsuccessful. In 2 such cases, the…parties sued, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress[by the physician] because of their fear of contracting AIDS…
Furthermore, punitive damages have been allowed for wrongful disclosure of a plaintiff’s HIV status in violation of a confidentiality statute…
However, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 5.05 states that information disclosed to a physician by a patient is confidential but subject to certain exceptions that are ethically and legally justified because of overriding societal considerations…
The Code also notes that communicable diseases should be reported as required by applicable law. This utilitarian approach fulfills the physician’s duty to be an agent of the individual patient but in the context of the potentially greater good of the society in which he or she practices.
Specifically with regard to HIV-infected patients, exceptions to confidentiality do exist. As stated in Opinion E-2.23:
If a physician knows that a seropositive individual is endangering a third party, the physician should, within the constraints of the law (1) attempt to persuade the infected patient to cease endangering the third party; (2) if persuasion fails, notify authorities; and (3) if the authorities take no action, notify the endangered third party.16
As a policy matter, the AMA strongly recommends that all states adopt requirements for confidential HIV reporting to appropriate public health authorities for the purpose of contact tracing and partner notification…
The AMA encourages…public health departments…to address, through the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, the patient confidentiality and ethical issues raised by known HIV-positive patients who refuse to inform their sexual partners or modify their behavior.
The AMA also supports legislation on the physician’s right to exercise ethical and clinical judgment regarding whether or not to warn unsuspecting and endangered sexual or needle-sharing partners of HIV-infected patients and promulgates the standard that a physician attempt to persuade an HIV-infected patient to cease all activities that endanger unsuspecting others and to inform those whom he or she might have infected…
That was written in 2005. Nothing has been done because laws are written by the powerful to benefit those in power, not to safeguard the powerless. Note the unprecedented transfer of wealth through COVID laws.
An estimated 35.0 million persons live with HIV; 2.1 million new infections occurred and 1.5 million persons died of HIV in 2013 (World Health Organization, Despite effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)… cART does not normalize life expectancy, as premature aging, metabolic complications and chronic inflammation complicate HIV therapy.
HIV is incurable due to the presence of a latent viral reservoir. During the life cycle of the virus, HIV integrates into the host DNA. A subset of integrated HIV provirus remains transcriptionally silent, producing neither viral proteins nor viral progeny, until reactivation by various physiologic stimuli. This latency of HIV allows some infected cells to escape immune detection and elimination, and these latently infected cells constitute the viral reservoir. The latent viral reservoir allows viral rebound within weeks of interruption of cART, 1,2 where the magnitude of viral replication approaches that present pre-therapy.
And yet medication has been trumpeted as society’s responsibility and the individual’s human right.
June marks the 40th anniversary of the first scientific report describing pneumocystis pneumonia, which later became known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). More than 32 million people have died worldwide from AIDS and 38 million people are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The last 40 years of the HIV epidemic have given us an in-depth look at society, science, medicine, and socioeconomic impacts of disease on communities and countries…
Unfortunately, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s was steeped in…discrimination, especially against gay men who were disproportionately affected by the disease. Much progress has been made since that time, but there is still more work to be done.
“Being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS has a different meaning than it did just two decades ago, says Dr. Rizza. “It’s a whole new world, and, for those of us who are a little older and started treating HIV in the ‘90s and saw that world, it was tragic. We watched wonderful people who were brave and fought their virus but unfortunately, we weren’t able to stop the virus from replicating.”
truly innovative research into how the virus replicates and how the immune system responds to the virus allowed bio pharmacy companies to develop what we call anti-retroviral drugs or medications to slow down the viral replication.
The first drug approved for HIV was in 1987, which was AZT (now known as zidovudine). At that time, it was the fastest drug ever approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and started the fast-track mechanism through the FDA…
In the last 20 years, we’ve gone from people taking multiple medicines with lots of side effects to… a combination of medicines coformulated into one pill a day that’s extremely well-tolerated and completely suppresses their virus. We know it does not eliminate the virus. If they were to stop taking that medicine, the virus would come back…
The reason why it is so difficult to cure HIV is that once HIV infects a person’s body, it integrates into the host genome of several cell types. Those cells then hide in any of the lymphoid tissue, such as the lymph nodes, the liver and the spleen. And they lay there as what we call “latent” or “hiding”…To cure HIV, you have to eliminate those hiding viruses in the cells or that latent viral reservoir, which is the term…
Where is the research now?
One of the more popular ways that have been investigated is something called… “kick, and kill”, which is essentially giving medications that first wake the virus up from latency…When the virus is awake, and the cell is susceptible to dying, it kills itself…
It really seems to me that the government’s public support of sexual libertines is a cover for a secret campaign to wipe them out.