AIDS Propaganda

‘How about instead we require every American to contribute, say, $1000 towards this? Not a tax increase, that just gets lost in the bureaucracy’

Say what? The american government has funded, directly or indirectly, pretty much every major invention of the last century.

It’s not like we’re talking about tacking on 10 years to the life of every schmuck in Africa; it’s more like 40 years for the 25% that are going to get it and die before 40, costing their society an incredible amount in medical care, lost earnings (which directly translates into a lower calorie in take in most of the countries we’re discussing; they’re that poor), and social stability.

It’s the African equivalent of the bubonic plague. Really, the government should be funding a crash program and just buy the rights to every drug produced for it outright, but for unknown reasons development is going the regular-old-boring-drugs route, like this is fucking foot fungus or something.

‘Next - why don’t we do the same for cancer treatments?’

Cancer doesn’t kill a quarter of a country’s population in the prime of their life.

You can make a pretty good case for free drugs for Africa strictly on national security grounds; the anarchy the continent will descend into if nothing’s done won’t be pretty.

Here’s an extremly terrifying Foreign Affairs article by Nicholas Eberstadt. The “intermediate” model predictions, much less the severe ones, are enough to keep you up at night.

  1. Russian GNP will be 40% less in 2025 than it is today.
  2. Indian GNP growth will be cut by 75%.
  3. Chinese GNP growth will be cut by “much more than 33%.”

Oh, and here’s his opinion on retroviral drugs for the third world:

Eurasian states’ responses to their respective HIV crises may also be circumscribed by economic considerations. For now, the most effective medical intervention for prolonging HIV patients’ lives is the complex “drug cocktail” of anti-retroviral drugs. It is true that many people with HIV in the advanced industrialized West have been given a new lease on life by taking these drugs, and that this has made the disease less of a life sentence than it was before. The problem with thinking that this advance represents a solution to the developing world’s HIV/AIDS problems, however, is that the cocktail is extremely costly – typically $15,000 or more per patient per year.

Even the generic versions of the drugs, a year’s supply of which can be manufactured for $600, are not affordable by most countries for most of their people with AIDS. And even if they had the money, the unfortunate fact is that they would probably not spend it on this cause, because the cost of distributing the treatment (even assuming that the drugs were given away free) would often be more than the economic value to governments of the lives thus saved.

The tragic truth is that until some kind of actual cure is discovered, most people with HIV/AIDS in the developing world are essentially doomed.

In my opinion, Majic Johnson has given people this false hope that they to can live a normal life if infected with the Aids virus. But do they realize that the only way he survives is because he’s a millionaire…

He gets supreme treatment that only money can buy. He has a personal nutritionist that takes care of him 24-7. He has a personal gym that he can go and work out in any time he needs to. He doesn’t need to work so he’s not subjected to the many virusus that are out there and he doesn’t encounter stress as much as a average Joe worker would face. He get’s to try out the Aids treatments before anyone does. Do you really think that if we were infected with the Aids virus, that we would be able to get our hands on the cutting edge medication that is presented to Majic Johnson? Hell no!! I seriously doubt that if anyone here became HIV infected, that we would live as long as Majic has lasted. We would have expired in 7-9 years. if that. But because he’s wealthy, and world famous he gets thet treatments that would not be offered to the average person.

just a fact of life I guess.

“Say what? The american government has funded, directly or indirectly, pretty much every major invention of the last century.”

Where do you get that idea? Outside of the military research programs and NASA? Research has been what I’ve done for a living for about 20 years and my experience wouldn’t reflect that statement,

“It’s the African equivalent of the bubonic plague. Really, the government should be funding a crash program and just buy the rights to every drug produced for it outright, but for unknown reasons development is going the regular-old-boring-drugs route, like this is fucking foot fungus or something.”

You’ll note that I’m not arguing this isn’t a terrible plague in some countries. Just wondering why America, and in particular American private companies, should be covering all of the costs. Why isn’t there a world fund, with the U.S., the EU, Asia, etc. chipping in? Why isn’t the U.N. organizing a fund from all of it’s member nations, each contributing according to their ability and economy? Why is this a U.S. only issue? If there was ever an issue for which the world should unite in terms of funding and commitment, this should be it.

As for why the development is taking so long, it isn’t a lack of priority from the pharmaceutical companies or research universities. In fact, I know people in the cancer research community and immunologists who are perturbed because their funding was killed (in one case a major childhood leukemia program that was showing great progress) by the government in favor of moving the money to AIDS. But realize the risk in this country of releasing a drug that hasn’t been proven safe to the nth degree - a few deaths and you’re being taken to court and sued for billions of dollars. Fix that and things will move through the system a lot faster.

“Cancer doesn’t kill a quarter of a country’s population in the prime of their life.”

What’s the magic number?

Translation: they’re brown people in another country, so who cares? We have no moral obligation to help anyone else in the world, unless they have oil. Or are white.

If that’s a kneejerk reply to my post, learn to read. I didn’t say we shouldn’t be helping; my question is why it seems to be our obligation alone. This is a problem of global size and impact; why isn’t there a concerted global effort?

It’s not as much “invented” as “infrastructure and the all-important initial market.” Off the top of my head: radar, goretex, airplanes, the basic science supporting virtually all medical innovations, nuclear anything, the telegraph, the entire computer industry, and so on. There’s a ton of chemistry, but you’d have to ask someone else.

Historically, the government has been the only entity willing to make the really big bets.

The relevance to this discussion is that a good number of people basically accuse the drug industry of acquiring government-funded research and selling it under a different name. Even ignoring that, we spend an absolute ton on medical-related infrastructure.

a) Asia is mostly either undemocratic(China) or uncaring (Japan), b) the EU is willing to spend, but we own all the drugs for AIDS and c) we’re 1/3 of the world’s GDP.

Heck if I know, but 25% of the working population is enough for me.

I agree that the drug companies are probably doing as best they can; I just can’t figure out why the government isn’t funding a manhattan project-style crash program.

Well, a lot of private companies invest a billion or so of their own money in R&D every year, and I’d argue that more came from non-government funded than not - but wrt to this discussion, the drug companies get practically nothing from the government to cover their investments. A generalization, of course, but largely true.

There have been a lot of people pushing the government for the last 10 years to fund a crisis sized (manhattan project size, as you put it) effort. I’ve been involved in some aspects of immunoligical R&D for a while, which has allowed me to work with companies and universities around the world who are working on AIDS, cancer, etc. From what I can see, there is a lot of money being thrown at the problem, both tax funded and private, and a lot of the best minds in the world are working on it. It’s just a damned tough problem, and more money isn’t really the hold-up. Just as we’ve spent billions for decades trying to cure cancer. Remarkable advances HAVE been made, we’re talking about some of the drugs that have been developed in (for drug development) a remarkably short period of time. But viruses are hell. They mutate, they adapt, hell, we still can’t cure a cold, much less AIDS.

I’d just like to see a coordinated, global AIDS effort. A global pooling of funds and volunteers and expertise, etc. Instead it seems like people always revert to pointing fingers, usually with a political subtext, which accomplishes just the opposite.

We are not winning the war on drugs, because we are not attacking the source of the problem.

Why do those words seems so obvious to the smarty types, but when it comes to something like AIDS, you are racist for daring to say the same thing? Why should companies throw money down the drain in an unwinnable situation? In fact, AIDS would probably get worse in Africa if they thought the West would just come in and save them with free drugs that would let them live longer with AIDS, why not? Getting AIDS doesn’t seem to scare them.

Compare South Africa to Cambodia.

So if it doesn’t make sense to build more jails and arrest more drug dealers because you will never win the war that way. Why does it make sense to use the same tactic in the fight on AIDS?

Yes, this is a bit of a strawman, but the basic logic is the same.

Chet

I really have to know… how do you honestly think that people in non-industrialized nations will get 10+ extra years of life out of taking the AIDS drug cocktail?

Do you realize how strict of a regiment you have to be on to keep a handle on HIV? We’re talking on the dot medication taking, constant visits to doctors to make sure your strain isn’t developing resistance (requiring a tweak to your meds), and never, ever, ever missing a dose. Even then, you have to catch the disease before it progresses into the final stages or all the meds in the world aren’t going to help. That requires you to visit a doctor, and the doctor must have the resources to test for the presence of the virus.

This isn’t the small pox vaccine we’re talking about here. Every day, every dosage, for the rest of their lives must be taken.

In order to effectively treat AIDS in developing nations, a hell of a lot more than medication is needed. We need to build state of the art medical facilities, start a massive prevention program, and set up an extensive drug education system in each of these nations.

The drug companies could send shiploads of meds to these nations, but they aren’t going to do much good until the infrastructure of these nations is established.

There was a great line from the West Wing that covers this topic perfectly: “…they don’t wear watches”.

‘I really have to know… how do you honestly think that people in non-industrialized nations will get 10+ extra years of life out of taking the AIDS drug cocktail?’

Brazil seems to be doing just fine. That said, it’s a bit of a strawman comparision; the more important question is whether the alternative is cheaper/better. People with AIDS don’t die quickly.

‘In order to effectively treat AIDS in developing nations, a hell of a lot more than medication is needed. We need to build state of the art medical facilities, start a massive prevention program, and set up an extensive drug education system in each of these nations.’

Fine, it’s cheap. Well, more accurately, it’s not cheap, but the total cost compared to world GDP is virtually zero.

Considering the insignificant sums of money used to fight malaria, a disease that kills 1.5-2.7 million people every year, I don’t think you need to worry about poor countries getting medicine for free. And malaria treatment is rather cheap. You could also substitute malaria for other non-lethal (if you have money) diseases that are cheap to cure but kill lots of people every year. Few care.

I’m not following this thread closely, due to still being in the throes of a drunken Thanksgiving weekend in Paris that has seen me smoke three dozen shishahs, drink 10 bottles of whiskey, eat forty pain au chocolats, molested by strange girls thrice, and nearly mugged once.

However, I haven’t seen anyone say the obvious: that the problem with sending any sort of relief to Africa is generally that it never reaches the people, but is seized up by some tribal warlord or dictator and either ends up sitting in a warehouse indefinitely somewhere or is sold on the black market.

Also, to whomever said that I was naive and ignorant of exactly how cheap it would be for these sinister, Snidely-Whiplash-esque pharmaceutical consultants to distribute free AIDS medication around the world: I’m currently working as a biopharmaceutical consultant group, helping build the largest biopharmaceutical facility in the world.

loathsome rituals resurrect the topic

An excellent NYT magazine article on adopting AIDS orphans.