Friday, March 16, 2012

Magic's Paradigm

I recently watched an ESPN made for TV movie about Magic Johnson of the L A Lakers, basketball fame. It was called The Announcement. As you recall, back about 20 years ago Magic announced that he was HIV positive. He had contracted the disease through one of his multiple 100's of heterosexual encounters as he starred for the Lakers. This announcement shocked the world as this ailment had been pretty well qualified as a gay man's disease, prior. Now that you were to understand that you could contract the illness through a sexual encounter of your own choosing with some loose floozy at the orgy du jour everyone was more petrified of this disease. There was an enormous amount of misinformation flying around about it. If you will recall, Karl Malone, the star of the Utah Jazz declared he would not play on the same court with Aids infested Johnson for fear of being infected by casual contact.

I worked in the pharmaceutical industry and our company had a candidate for treatment. The government was making all sorts of tax concessions to the pharm industry to come up with treatment for this dark illness. At the time of Johnson's diagnosis there was one drug only, ATZ. This was a antiretroviral drug classified as an NRTI, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. After 100's of millions of dollars of research there are 20 or so compounds today that treat the virus. Protease Inhibitors, Non Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors, and on and on. Research is still pressing for a vaccine. The greater bulk of the disease now is found in Africa, amongst children who are born to HIV positive mothers. Little children who had no choice in the matter are afflicted with this fatal disease. The most famous child who was dx'd early was a young boy with hemophelia named Ryan White. He died at 17 from fully engaged AIDS.

Nowadays, if you are dx'd with HIV you get on the meds. You are placed on cocktails of the various drugs and are able to proceed though life living pretty normally. That is if you have access to 10's of thousands of dollars to procure the meds. If you are so unfortunate to live in South Africa where the median income is $500 per year then you are out of luck. You are going to die.

I had an acquaintance through my church who died from the illness in the early 90's. He was an attorney who had contracted the virus through a gay lifestyle. He found the Saviour and changed his lifestyle. He was a brilliant fellow and worked for a prestigious Association of high level corporations. He ultimately became one of the sickest people I had ever laid eyes on. I had been around these patients at a rotation I went through with my company. They were Hatians and the attending physicians at Jackson Memorial Hospital told us that they really did not know how that disease was transmitted. For all they knew, at that time, it could have been airborne during one of it's phases. He had told me that he had the ailment and how he had contracted it. As I mentioned, he had become my friend through our church association. He died at the young age of 37. If he had lived now he would have the prospects of a long life into the 80's. He would simply need to swallow the pills.

In America most of the HIV drugs are purchased through third party payers, the largest of course is Medicaid and Ryan White Title 21 funds. President Obama just signed a new version of the Ryan White funding. It makes it a little more understandeable why there are so many people in our country looking to pass a national healthcare bill with or without individual mandate. The country we live in has the highest standard of healthcare on the globe. Used to be if you had AIDS you wanted to be in the prison system because they were fighting desperately to contain the AIDS epidemic. You sure would not want to be a south African with the disease even today. Not unless you owned a diamond mine.

One thing we know about the disease is that it is spread through serum to serum contact. If you really think about that it gets down to a pretty earthy conclusion. You can greatly reduce your risk of infection by practicing safe sex simply by using a $1 condom. If you want to totally avoid the most minimum chance of contracting AIDS then keep your intimate, serum producing, body parts to yourself. That is until you have qualified a sexual partner through appropriate blood testing and within the holy bonds of matrimony.

Simple conclusion from a simple lesson. Thanks for the Magic lesson Mr. Earvin Johnson.