Posts Tagged ‘AIDS

24
Sep
09

New Hope For An AIDS Vaccine

This is not going to be funny. This is just…well, in the words of one of the scientists, “Wow.”

A U.S.-funded study involving more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand found that a combination of ALVAC, made by Paris- based Sanofi-Aventis SA, and AIDSVAX, from VaxGen Inc., of South San Francisco, cut infections by 31.2 percent in the people who received it compared with those on a placebo, scientists said today in Bangkok. Neither vaccine had stopped the virus that causes AIDS when tested separately in previous studies.

In other words, the research into an AIDS vaccine has broken through, and is now showing promise. A lot of promise. Wow.

I may be showing my age a bit by breathing such a huge sigh of relief here. For those who are too young to remember the terror this disease inflicted on the populous, suffice it to say that it was one of the scarier disease threats I’ve ever witnessed. Not just because of its spread, nor its seeming finality, but because of the ugliness it would bring out in social discourse. The wholly erroneous, disgusting, and dangerous notion was that this disease was confined to perverts, who were doomed anyway. The thing that was especially terrifying and repulsive to me was how widespread the notion seemed, and how the idea of catching a disease suddenly seemed like a social stigma unlike any other. In no other fatal medical situation I have witnessed were so many victims blamed, dismissed, brutalized, and discarded.

I hope the possible light at the end of the tunnel in the search for a vaccine can be metaphorical here. Because the way the victims of AIDS are/were treated is not funny, and neither is the way the homosexual community is treated in the United States. Just as the experiment can now move on, after 2 years of stalling, maybe we can also push forward and recognize that civility, tolerance, and empathy are what unites us.

In short: AIDS is not, and never was, a gay issue, but rather a health issue. When it was recognized as such, and when we started taking seriously the steps that could be taken to prevent such an atrocity from happening to anyone, we moved forward, in a direction that is both productive and awesome. Likewise, being granted the right to decide how to live and love is not a gay issue; it’s a Civil Rights issue. Hopefully, when it begins to dawn on us that this is true, we can once again move forward, out of darkness, and into a place that can make us proud.

I hope the possible light at the end of the tunnel in the search for a vaccine can be metaphorical here. Because the way the victims of AIDS are/were treated is not funny, and neither is the way the homosexual community is treated in the United States. Just as the experiment can now move on, after 2 years of stalling, maybe we can also push forward and recognize that civility, tolerance, and empathy are what unites us.

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