Why Do AIDS Deaths Go Unnoticed Amongst EBOLA Panic?

Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus

It is interesting to watch the media and public (necessarily) panic over EBOLA. While one (1) person has died in the United States from EBOLA, due to the incompetence of a Texas hospital, 1.5 MILLION people died (world-wide) from AIDS in 2012(i) . Why is it that AIDS no longer dominates the national discussion? Is it because it is no longer the “death sentence” it was, at least here in the United States? Or is it the “MSM” category that AIDS falls into, that is, “men who have sex with men” which unfortunately continues to brand this disease as the “gay disease.”

When AIDS first came to public awareness in the early 1980’s, I was working in Massachusetts General Hospital’s blood chemistry analysis laboratory. Hospital administration decided to have any patients they “suspected” of having AIDS, labeled as such – both in their charts and their tubes of blood received a yellow warning tape wrapped around the top. It took those geniuses at the top four months to figure out the flaw in this system… people like me handing these test tubes, opening them up to conduct chemical analysis, would be more careful with the yellow tubes than those not marked with the warning. If a doctor let an AIDS patient slip by (perhaps he didn’t appear gay enough?) and his tube of blood had no yellow maker, well I might be in the lab tossing it up in mid-air between tests. So, after six months of insanity, MGH, one of the top hospitals in the world, changed the protocol and from then on, every tube of blood was to be handled as if it had AIDS in it.

There is a point to all of this. Back then, people really were scared and they had reason to be. This virus was brand new, nothing about it was known with certainty in the beginning. Nobody knew for sure exactly how it was transmitted, although it appeared not to be airborne. I was very worried, working in the chem lab, and this worry increased ten-fold when I accidentally stuck myself with a needle that didn’t even have blood anywhere near it. I had to be tested for AIDS every other week for three months, and every other month for another six before I was ruled safe. That was a frightening experience. With Ebola, which has been around since first appearing in 1976, we KNOW how to deal with it. Yet the media insists on creating as much fear and panic as possible. I have friends that are preparing Ebola survival kits. Are you kidding me? My reaction to their insanity is, “Are you insane?” The number one response is, “Hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Really? Why not walk around in a bubble to be extra safe then?

Now New York and New Jersey has begun to enforce a mandatory quarantine for anyone who has had any contact with someone else who has Ebola. This is regardless of whether they have any symptoms… for anything. Fox News responded, not questioning the quarantine, but rather whether the quarantine will be long enough. “How do we really know how long a period is safe?” Wow! Ebola first presented itself in 1976(ii) ! WE KNOW.

People do need to get a grip, as President Obama suggests. Ebola is under control and anyone who suggests otherwise is either ignorant, afraid, or both. What we need to do is focus on the source of Ebola, help those in Africa, and continue to push for AIDS treatment and research. AIDS is killing MILLIONS of people every year. If a few straight Americans died from AIDS, everyone would be up in arms, but sadly it is transmitted through drug use and homosexually active men – in a far majority of cases… so most in the U.S. will not ever care. People living with HIV continues to spiral out of control; in 1990, 7 million people were infected, by 2012, this number has jumped to 34 million(iii).

(i) http://1.usa.gov/1zwXTbf

(ii) http://bit.ly/10rVwqS

(iii) http://bit.ly/1rH91t0

WHO Says Millions of Candidate Ebola Vaccine Doses Ready for 2015

Millions of doses of a candidate Ebola vaccine are expected to be available next year, with efficacy trials beginning in certain West African countries this December, the World Health Organization said this morning. There are currently two candidate vaccines for Ebola that are ready to begin human trials, and five others are expected to get started during the first several months of next year. The vaccines must be determined to be safe and effective before a mass vaccination begins, however. The WHO says that there are no plans to begin a mass vaccination program until at least June 2015, and then only if the growth of the epidemic justifies it.

Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus

The WHO cautioned that even a working vaccine would not be a “magic bullet” for stopping the spread of Ebola, according to the BBC. Rather, the WHO says that the vaccine could be a “very important tool” should the current response not be enough. “And even if the epidemic would be already receding by the time we have vaccine available, the modeling seems to say vaccine may still have an impact on controlling the epidemic,” WHO assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny says, according to the BBC. The WHO says that by the end of the first half of 2015, a few hundred thousand doses of candidate vaccine will be available.

New York City Confirms First Case of Ebola

New York City has its first confirmed case of Ebola in a doctor who had recently been traveling in West Africa to treat patients suffering from the deadly disease. Craig Spencer, 33, was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan earlier today after experiencing a 103 degree fever and other symptoms, reports The New York Times. An initial test has since confirmed that Spencer contracted the disease, which has killed 4,877 people and infected nearly 10,000 across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Spencer’s now in isolation, though was reportedly bowling and taking Uber for transportation on Wednesday night, raising questions about whether others may have been in close contact.

In a statement, Bellevue Hospital said it “designated for the isolation, identification and treatment of potential Ebola patients by the City and State,” and that New York City was taking “all necessary precautions” to keep others from getting the disease.

This is not the first person with Ebola in the US, though it’s the first for New York, which has more than 8.4 million residents. Thomas Duncan, 42, was the first patient to develop symptoms of the virus in the US after traveling in Liberia, and died from it earlier this month. Two Texas healthcare workers then contracted the virus from Duncan, though both recovered from the virus. Since then, the US has funneled travelers coming from Ebola-stricken countries to just five US airports where they’ve undergone enhanced screening. The country’s also appointed an “Ebola Czar” to coordinate the government’s efforts to combat the virus.