Not to take away from the seriousness of HIV, but it is time to let go of the fear!
How we view disease, along
with the constant bombardment of fear associated with HIV is cause
for alarm. We must educate ourselves, those in the medical profession
and our future doctors to address a broader understanding and
treatment of disease. The fear and terror associated with HIV
and the fact that the medical profession continues to contribute
to fear is the first thing we need to overcome! Studies with healthy
animals show that when subjected to constant fear and stress they
surrender the will to live. Countless deaths of individuals infected
with HIV can be attributed to fear. Telling people they are going
to progress to disease and die, just because they have been infected
with HIV is not true! Yet, these are the messages continually
expressed by many in the medical profession.
Even with the latest drug treatments and decline in
deaths, many in the medical profession still convey
information to patients in a way that promotes fear.
Patients are not recommended to take HIV drug treatments,
but patients are told to take the drugs or they will progress
to disease and die. Physicians should give test results and
recommendations for possible interventions and treatments and
should extend support without this negative dialogue.
My concern is that doctors often provide no hope!
In 1985, I was told by an AIDS specialist to go home,
inform my family, arrange my finances and funeral and that
I had six months to live! Large numbers of individuals have
been given this inhumane death sentence and this continues
today! No one should be told he or she has six months to live!
Many may give up and not pursue healthy initiatives since the
situation was conveyed with less than a hopeful dialogue.
Unfortunately, this does not occur just with HIV, but with
many physicians who treat all types of illness. This negative
dialogue has seriously impacted upon many lives emotionally.
Is it ethical in the diagnosis of disease, to give patients a
probable life expectancy? Patients are given negative messaging
by the medical profession and told they have six months to live
or told there is nothing more that can be done! Health
professionals should teach patients to take responsibility
for their health and not to be victims! Physicians should assist
patients to live! It is important to recognize an individual's
willpower. Many patients are told that they will die and do!
Many others discover through their will and through the rediscovery
of the purpose for being, the ability to live! Often, they live for
much longer periods of time than predicted!
Individuals involved in first aid, paramedics, doctors and nurses in
emergency rooms and hospitals, they all know first hand the
importance to be calm and give patients confidence, avoiding
panic and fear! This is equally important in a physician's
office and what physicians have been taught and trained to do!
It is extremely important for physicians to convey test results
and possible treatments accurately and without personal opinions,
sarcasm, ridicule and fear tactics! Conveying all available
treatments and means to provide help in a supportive and positive way.
When relaying information, doctors must presume that the patient
does not have any previous knowledge of their problem.
Explanations of test results or treatments should be
given in a supportive tone, non-threatening, non-fatalistic
and non-judgmental. The language and voice used to convey
information is very important and a part of what we call
a 'bedside manner'. It is even more important to
receive diagnostic information without personal opinions.
Relaying information to a patient ensuring they understand as
much as possible! NOT placing limitations on a patient's life!
Making individuals aware of how much control they have
over their lives. Consider to what extent information
may undermine health and lack of purpose, as well as
affecting or undermining other areas of a person's life.
Many health professionals do nothing to eliminate stress
and contribute to that stress in avoidable ways.
There are many people who are very much in touch with their
bodies and know what is going on in their body. The medical
profession can recognize this, rather than dismissing it
entirely and relying only on medical knowledge and resources.
Ron Rosenes, a Board Member of the Canadian Treatment Action
Council says, " One of the hallmarks of western or
allopathic medicine is the belief, proven with microscopes
in the 19th Century, that germs cause disease and that killing
germs or in this case HIV virus, is the best way to restore health.
CAM practices generally strive to promote healing by viewing
the individual as a part of a larger framework that includes
body, mind, spirit and environment."
Many people who are in touch with their bodies have incorporated
nutrition, exercise, controlling stress, herbal and dietary
supplements, homeopathy and naturopathy, meditation,
visualization and making plans for the future. All of which
contributed to their well-being. Recognition of this by the
medical profession is lacking. It has been my experience and
that of others that insufficient attention is given to the
patient who is aware of his or her health and body. When a patient
includes alternative therapies in conjunction with medical
resources, frequently physicians ignore anything other than
the medical resources!
Dr. Jon Kaiser says, "Many physicians have little
faith in the body's ability to heal and that is why they
promote reliance on drugs."
I was told the virus would kill me. Repeatedly, this is
expressed to others and myself during discussions with physicians.
Patients come out of doctors' offices and AIDS clinics teary eyed,
faced with fear conveyed by physicians! However, I do not feel this
is proper dialogue. This kind of dialogue does conjure up
fear in most individuals, affecting them psychologically
as well as physically. AIDS patients do not have to be
hopeless, helpless and passive in the face of the illness!
We need to find better ways for providing health care and
improving the quality of life for people living with serious
disease. We can recognize the influence that our thoughts
and emotions have on our health and the importance of holistic
therapies that nourish all aspects of being. Positive thinking,
nutrition, exercise, supplements and spiritual resources,
all contribute to wellness and a longer life span.
All this, we should be able to discuss with health professionals,
allowing for a peace of mind and a quality of life not given by
time allotted diagnosis. I realize the difficulty in making change.
However, I do believe we can all work together in order to educate,
ensuring proper information and awareness. I am committed to doing
everything I can in order to create awareness!
Science and the medical profession provide HIV/AIDS information
to the media and the media disseminates it without a real balance
of understanding. The fear associated with HIV/AIDS has kept us in the dark.
We only see people dying and certainly in many parts of the
world, there is malnutrition, lack of medical attention and
affordable pharmaceutical resources, all contributing to
countless deaths. We only see the fear associated with sex
and the need for safe sex practices! We only hear about drug
cocktails and the latest approved medications. We only see people
taking a handful of pills. We only hear about the resistance to
drugs and we see through the media, only those sick with wasting
syndrome, PCP pneumonia, Kaposi's sarcoma, or crippled by Neuropathy.
The public needs to understand HIV and let go of the fear with
each person taking part in a global, prevention strategy.
These days, pharmaceutical resistance is evident with HIV and
not only can a person be infected with a strain or possible
multiple strains, but along with it, comes the possibility of
resistance to all the drugs the infected individual has taken.
We do not know how each person will react to HIV infection.
We need to put money back into wellness! We must not wane from our
efforts in safe sex education, prevention and research. Never was
it more important to keep up our efforts, creating less toxic and
affordable drugs and providing proper health care, including
complementary therapies and supplements. There is a need for research,
pharmaceuticals, studies and fast tracking drugs, but why can't
we include research, studies and the fast tracking of nutritional
supplements and complementary therapies too? Many people worldwide
have put into practice and shown us the positive effects of proper
nutrition and complementary therapies, when it comes to
living with HIV/AIDS today!
AIDS kills more people than any other infectious disease.
Infectious diseases are the 3rd largest cause of death!
Individuals should not have to suffer all losses due to illness!
Men, women and children are suffering with HIV/AIDS. We need to
assure that these people are cared for, not discriminated against!
We must provide funds for proper nutrition, housing and health care
for these individuals to aid and contribute to their well-being.
We need to get rid of the false perceptions and judgments. Like
Doreen Millman said at the 1996 AIDS Conference in reference to
how a 63 year old grandmother got AIDS. She said, "It
just doesn't matter!" Neither does an individual's race,
religion or sexual orientation matter! Don't look for differences;
look at how we can help one another.
I do not believe it is naive to think we can make the necessary
changes, but rather it is naive to think that we can continue on
our current course neglecting those who suffer from poverty,
illness and disease. People are judging those who are sick,
disabled and poor.
At the X1V International AIDS Conference 2002, Nelson Mandela
said,"Stigma, discrimination and ostracism are the
People living with illness are no different from anyone else,
except for their disease. Prior to this, they were hard working
people, contributing to society. Once sick, they are expected to
do without and not have those things they had in their life before
sickness! Why do we allow this?
Many people have nothing due to the lack of funding and the
effort it has taken for them to survive through their illness.
People should be entitled to the right to a quality and standard
of living, which promotes wellness and healing, not death and
dying. The stress that people are enduring while trying to
maintain a home, food, and health is putting them at risk of
continued health problems. This in turn means they are in
greater need of medical attention! Once again, this taxes an
already taxed health care system.
Illness and poverty can strike any one of us, at any time!
What is happening affects us all. We can no longer look at
others or view other places in the world where people are sick
and dying and continue to neglect caring for them, without
recognizing how it affects society. We have the means to
provide all that is necessary, but we will have to work
together to correct the global imbalance. The richer countries
have a moral responsibility to help out poorer countries.
We have been warned by science that we are faced with an
ever-increasing battle -- the battle against the bug! Every
country is at risk of every disease. Here in North America,
many people take for granted our quality of life, while others
here and elsewhere in the world are faced with poverty, poor
sewage and sanitation, famine, drought, environmental devastation
and disease, along with millions of people dying. These are
problems facing us all. These very same circumstances affect
people in every part of the world. We cannot continue to allow
millions to suffer and millions to die and expect we will not
We have to make the necessary changes and care for one another.
If HIV and AIDS have not brought this realization, then surely
West Nile, SARS, Mad Cow, Monkey Pox and Ebola are convincing
enough! It is time to realize that it is only a matter of time
before this major global epidemic will affect each and every
one of us and that possibly, we will have to deal with some
other new bug as well! This is happening already. Look at the
impact of SARS and its effects on health care, travel, tourism,
jobs, our economy and relationships with other countries.
We would do well to pay attention and learn from the enormous
poverty, illness and deaths worldwide caused by HIV/AIDS.
At the XIV International AIDS Conference in 2002, Nelson Mandela
in his closing speech said, "AIDS is a war against
Travel has catapulted the virus from one part of the world to
another. HIV/AIDS in Africa is not isolated to Africa; it is a
worldwide problem. The Health Laboratory Services estimates that
there are 10,000 Africans infected with HIV in Britain. An
estimated number of newly infected adults and children in Africa
reached 3.5 million by the end of 2002. One out of every three
adults is infected with HIV in the southern African countries
and 30% of pregnant women under the age of 19 are HIV positive.
In Zimbabwe, 2000 people die of AIDS every week. In places like
Mumias Kenya, HIV infection and AIDS ravage villages. People
don't even have clean drinking water, or food!
"Sixty million Africans have been touched by AIDS in
the most immediate way. They are either living with HIV, have
died of AIDS or they have lost their parents to AIDS. But the
toll of those directly affected is even higher," says
Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations
Programme on HIV/AIDS.