Oct 9, 2014

The Cost of HIV

A few weeks ago one of my best friends told me that he tested positive for HIV, and would begin treatment soon. As unfortunate as this news was, it’s such a blessing to live in a time where you can confidently say, “with proper treatment, I’ll be just fine”. If our foremothers had access to the medications we have access to today, it would have been a different world, and so many people would have been saved. As soon as he showed me how much his medications were each month, though, I couldn’t help but realize that many people still don’t have access to the proper medications, not because the medical industry hasn’t given us options, but because the medical industry needs to keep their workers rich.

I’m a little strange. I tend to make things make sense in my mind based on fictional settings and characters, and vampires are one of those things. Religion is the topic I enjoy drawing the comparisons to vampirism most, but the cost of beating a disease like HIV was presented to us this summer in the final season of the HBO show, “True Blood”. A very clear commentary on HIV (sheathed by a fictitious vampire-eliminating epidemic) showed us that in this country, more money can be made by quelling symptoms of death rather than curing them. With thousands of gay men paying nearly $3,000 a month, why give them the cure and shoot your own profits in the foot? I hate to have thoughts that make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but does the concept not make complete sense? We could quite possibly be involved in one of the most atrocious schemes in history and not even realize it.

The other side of this issue is that there are people out there that simply can’t pay to stay alive. Thankfully many people (my friend included) have the proper health insurance to cover this, but what about those who don’t? I’m not even sure that my “Obama Care” would cover that much in medications every month for the rest of my life. There are programs available to help people who can’t pay, I’m sure, but just imagine all of those forgotten souls who drop dead every day around the world not because they can’t be saved, but because they won’t be saved. We’ve come such a long way in making HIV something that people can live with, but what good is it if it’s being dangled over the heads of those who could never afford it? Do they not also deserve to reap the benefits of years of research and discovery?

So what are we supposed to do? It probably wouldn’t be smart to try and infiltrate the privately ran or government funded laboratories and make them give us the cure that some of us think exists, but we’re still not without power. Make sure you’re voting – with the right people in office we can at least guarantee the continuation of things like the Affordable Care Act, which helps people pay for their medications in some cases. Stay well read and educated on HIV, so that the stigmas behind the disease will disappear, even if the disease itself cannot. Most importantly, know your status. Discussions like these pave the way just as much as white lab coats and test tubes, and remaining silent is something we can’t afford – even more so than that $3,000 a month.
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