Theme for Fourth International
Conference on AIDS in Asia.
Network, March 31, 1996
in response to:
March 25, 1996
Could I perhaps
put in my two cents on the theme proposed by Prof. Frerichs? Early
detection connected with the newer treatments certainly gives hope for adding
years to life. However as long as the treatments remain way beyond the
pocket of the majority of those who will contract the disease in Asia, they
remain a bitter joke... Following diagnosis, counseling will inevitably turn
to treatment. We have ample experience of people who when told that treatments
will cost $500 per month have disappeared, never to return to the doctor.
seems to be a mental block among those who are better off that
they cannot appreciate the condition of people who have $50 per month to
cover all the living costs of themselves and their family.
I agree that we
should not ignore the hope of reduced transmission which can result
from earlier diagnosis, although I think this can be over stressed. But
until there is hope that we can offer the means to maintain health at affordable
cost (read dollars per year, not $000s per year), we should not raise
hopes of adding years to the lives of those in Asia carrying the virus. If this
concern can be addressed within the proposed theme, it would perhaps
be easier to support.
Chris W. Green
Mr. Green is
correct to bring up cost, since money most be available if the newer drugs are to
be used. We all recognize that the costs are high, but will they remain
high? At what point is the cost too high? To me these are decisions that are
better left to the marketplace. Individuals should be allowed to decide
for themselves what they can and cannot afford.
Some might suggest
that it is a cruel hoax to offer someone a test and then offer nothing more
(except good advice) once the person finds they are HIV infected. Is it
cruel to tell an infected husband so that he can use condoms or
practice withdrawal to save his susceptible wife from becoming infected? Is
unjust to tell an infected pregnant woman so that she can avoid
breastfeeding or possibly even get zidovudine to save her newborn child? Is it wrong
to tell those harboring the virus to avoid contact with tuberculosis
patients or others harboring various microbes that might readily infect and
end their lives?
Perhaps, but I would not want to make
Instead I feel that everyone is better served by knowing that they are home
to the virus, either for what they can do for themselves or what they can
do for others. This is what self-help is all about. This is what early
detection is all about.