This is my new bow tie, making its debut on AIDS Day. The red ribbons are woven into the blue; it is a better made tie. The Beau-Tie manufacturers are donating some of the proceeds to AIDS funding.
One of the frustrating topics of Medicine is dealing with people’s belief about illness. These are the elements –
1 – Disease is the result of wickedness or sloth or sin
2 – Diseased people deserve what they get
3 – therefore people with disease should suffer their punishment.
The belief of disease as Divine punishment is no more apparent than in the diseases of sexuality. It is not too long ago research labs where cures for STDS were being conducted were vandalized by religious zealots protesting syphilis was God’s retribution on the wicked and to interfere with Heaven’s wrath was wrong.
These steps are even more applied to AIDS, for it God’s scourge on gay men. Never mind nearly 50% of those with HIV are heterosexual women. Never mind HIV is nearly nonexistent in lesbians.
This rationalization allows one to be off the hook viz. I don’t have to care for others, for it is not my disease. Why should I pay for another’s care which is from their own depravity or wickedness (viz. they deserve it) ?
Alas, I see this approach to illness growing in favor. I see it applied to addicts (They could have said “no”), the obese (they chose to eat a lot of crap), premature babies (die and decrease the surplus population) and just about everything else.
Taken to extremes, all disease is the result of ‘something you did’ so nobody would be treated.
It may be shocking to learn doctors are not trained to think like this. We are trained to heal when we can and comfort always. Not once in 20 years of being a physician have I found it useful to yell at a patient they “got this way” so go suffer. My Oath to Medicine forbids it.
And my religion forbids judgement. I am commanded to be a Good Samaritan when I find someone lying in the road, not pass them by on the grounds they have only themselves to blame for traveling in the first place.
So on this AIDS day I will treat patients, not judge them, AIDS patients or otherwise.