June 4th, 2011
Earlier today, on NPR, there was an interview with a doctor who would be a contemporary of mine; this gentleman chose the path to become a leading expert in AIDS, while I took a different direction. Apparently, this is about the time, thirty years ago, that the disease was first announced, long before it was understood. Assuming that we truly understand it, at present.
One thing that he mentioned, I recall vividly of the time: Many doctors refused to see/examine/treat those afflicted with the disease, since the spread/vector/agent was unknown at the time. Though most doctors did what they could, and protected themselves as best they knew how, a number stated "I didn't sign on for this".
Well, IMO, they did. One of the reasons that doctors received higher remuneration was that they spent time with the sick and dying, and that they risked their own lives doing so. Plague, viruses, fungi; these were all things that doctors deal with/dealt with on a daily basis, and those refusing to treat patients with AIDS disgusted me.
Nowadays, with the various medication/antiviral cocktails, AIDS is like hypertension, or diabetes mellitus, in that it is a chronic illness that can be controlled, but not cured, and those folks can now live a normal life. But the cowardly, self-serving attitudes that first showed up among some doctors shocked me to the core.
I must say that I was surprised to realize that I'd forgotten this, and the NPR interview was valuable to me to have jogged that memory.
Current Mood: angry
I qualified as a radiographer in 1992, started training in 1989, so AIDS was pretty well known when I started.
I vividly remember trying to find a doctor to do procedures on HIV+ patients, who were always booked in at lunchtime when the department was empty. One young bloke who was coming for that most invasive(!) of procedures, a chest x-ray, was astounted that I took him to a changing room and gave him a gown to wear, he said he was usually shuffled in and out of the x-ray room without any of the usual courtesies which we gave patients.
I started volunteering with the local AIDS charity as soon as I got my first real radiography job. I share/d your shock.
Utterly disgusting. I guess some people who became doctors didn't really think through the realities of their duties.
I keep rewriting this because I don't know what to say that wouldn't sound over the top, bitter, and angry. At the very least, I can say it doesn't surprise me in the slightest.
There. That was concise.
Things are, for the most part, different now, but at the time, too many were frightened.
Sometimes, humans just suck.
I'd say most of the time.
Is chocolate with no sugar bitter?
Ah, but it's still edible...
Somewhat. I bet you have, but have you ever tried a cocao bean?
I hate to say it, but most doctors are just in it for the money and prestige, don't care much for the patients and tow the "company line". The kind that throw drugs at you whenever there's any mention of a problem.
That being said, there are still some that genuinely want to help people.
Not most. Many, but not most.
Right on top of my head...
Now, now. It takes strength and (sadly) courage to take an honest ethical stance these days. Most people rally behind the easy position, 'what's in it for me' position - so I'll applaud anyone who takes a more difficult, less self-centered and better reasoned one. :)
Well, I took that position in the late 80s; I'd just forgotten about it as the treatments for AIDS began to be effective.
I too, heard the interview. Thank you for taking the time to comment on it.
Apparently, I posted before I was done writing. What I meant to add was that it really makes a difference to know that not all doctors reacted so horribly when the AIDS epidemic began. I suppose this would seem like a 'no duh,' today, but it really pains me to think about how people were treated so poorly because of this virus.
I remember that such negative behavior from doctors, nurses, and lay people (when I worked in a hospital) were standard in the late 80's and early 90's, and it really helped make the decision for me not to go into medicine. The behavior wasn't just in response to dealing with HIV+ patients, or AIDS patients, but towards patients of all kinds. The schools weren't much better with educating us about prevention. The "Abstinence only" education style was used for our schools, and it still is today. The level of ignorance about HIV and AIDS is still so high, that quite frankly, it's depressing. I could go on, but I'm super tired, and probably incoherent.
Anyway, sorry to be vague still, but maybe this clears up the previous comment a little? The interview moved me too, and it was nice to read what I felt was a sincere response to the NPR interview.
Thanks for the commentary!
In his Ford County short story collection, John Grisham talks about the reaction that neighbors have to a gay man with AIDS who has come home to die. It was a sad story to some extent.
Indeed. But at least NOW we can do things about it.
Earlier today, on NPR, there was an interview with a doctor who would… - This ain't no party, this ain't no disco... — LiveJournal
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