Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Blame the drug companies

because gay men continue to have unprotected sex and get HIV?

That's what some HIV activitsts are apprently doing, according to this NY Times article:

Compounding this laissez-faire attitude, they complain, are drug company advertisements that gloss over the disease's effects by portraying patients as the picture of perfect health.

I can see how this would happen, but can hardly blame the drug companies. Having a safe effective treatment decreases the need to avoid the disease (if we didn't have antibiotics we'd worry a lot more about preventing bacterial infections), but that is hardly the pharma's fault.

HIV/AIDS is in many ways the medical research success story with relatively short time between emergence of the disease, identification of the virus causing it, and effective, but not curative treatment. At this time, new cases are almost all cases are preventable, as most are via unsafe sex or needle sharing. Even vertical (mother to daughter) transmission is largely avoidable with therapy, as is transmission by needle stick (and practices make contaminated sticks much less likely).

I guess the real complaint is how "normal" the patients in the ads look, but I don't blame pharma for marketing their products to those who need them.

I have great respect for those that spend their time working with those who refuse to change damaging behavior, be it those preventing spread of HIV or trying to get people to stop smoking.


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