Friday, August 05, 2005

A taste of recent medical history.

In my line of work, I am blessed with hearing tons and tons of stories about peoples lives. Some of them are completely reliable and some of them.... well, let's say not so much. Either way they can be very entertaining.

I did recently have the opportunity to hear a story about a homosexual man who has had HIV since 1981!! To many of you that may mean very little, but let me assure there are not many people around that were diagnosed that long ago and are still doing well. At that time it was still called the "gay disease" or "gay pneumonia." It wasn't until ~1983 that AZT was remarketed as apotentially useful drug for HIV, after it's time in the early 6o's as a cancer drug.

The sensationalistic journey of this man and those others like him, is not one of common knowledge. Imagine, currently an HIV patient may take 4-5 pills a day. You may think, so what so people take more than that for blood pressure problems. That is, in fact, my point. Over the course of these patient's treatment, it was not uncommon to have to take multiple pills a day. So how many pills are too many for you? I take two vitamins a day, and I sometimes find that a small struggle. Would 15 pills be too much to ask? 25? 50? There was a time when this man, and others like him approache 100 pills per day. Let me repeat that: 100 pills per day.

Now, maybe all of this still means little to you. Let me give you a couple of other broad stokes with this brush. If you were to get pissed off, depressed, or let's say even just plain ole tired of taking this pills for a month or two; the result could be catastophic. The pills could then lose their efficacy for you. This man has diligently taken whatever HIV meds he has been told to take since 1985. I have seen people who have been diagnosed in the past several years in worse shape than this man. His viral load is nearly 0 and his T cell count is approaching 600 (for the non medical people, that's damn good).

I say stayed tuned. For better or worse, the medical field is going to continue to move forward with ever more rapid understanding and control. Other diseases will emerge and be treated in our lifetime. Who knows we might even cure one or two.

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