Thursday, August 06, 2020

Sickness and Societal Changes

Someone I know, a friend, was posting on FB about the media hysteria surrounding the current Covid-19 pandemic. He asked if anyone remember when the AIDS issue broke in the 1980s and said he remembered that it was going to kill everyone but that we were still standing. it was an idiotic comparison and I felt like just telling him off. I didn't. Instead i thought about it for a few minutes and think i came up with a much better response than telling him off. Here is what I wrote;

I think there is an important lesson or two to learn here. When AIDS hit, people were not certain about the cause. It wasn't a disease. It was a condition in which the immune system got overloaded and broke down. Mostly it got overloaded from needle sharing and unprotected sex with lots of partners. But some people got their immune system overloaded from blood transfusions — my friends with hemophilia, Barbara and Kenny Jenks were two of them — and others had their immune systems blown out by simple hepatitis shots. Of course, once the immune system is really blown out, your body can't defend against much of anything and even minor infections and viruses can lead to death.
    There was hysteria and it was warranted. Not only were drugs developed to help maintain the immune system, but the first needle-exchanges were established. People who had multiple sex partners, if they were intelligent, began to use condoms even if they hated them. And those changes were not only helpful in reducing those awful deaths, but were necessary across all levels of society.
    Now we have Covid-19 and there is some hysteria. It is warranted. There are medicines being researched that will hopefully help. Masks and social distancing might suck as bad as using condoms but they saved, and are continuing to save a lot of lives. Societal adaptations are always difficult, and met with skepticism, anger, denial, conspiracy theories. But in the case of AIDS, changing habits was necessary for a lot of people. Now, with a virus that does not care whether you are contributing to your illness with your behavior, those changes are even more vital. And they are not a big deal at all.

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