Did you now that being HIV positive is, like, so hot right now?
It used to be that your immune system would swiftly collapse, you'd break out in horrible sores, waste away, and die. Now, being pos is a new frontier in "coming out": another great opportunity to be so, so brave by confronting the "stigma" that still somehow attaches to a lifestyle we're all required by law to approve of.
But there's a new drug treatment on the block, and it's threatening to remove all the righteous pathos from a disease that some bigots might see as divine and\or natural retribution for engaging in the kind of behaviours that would make a normal person not want to be in the same room/universe as you.
That might sound a little "up-tight," "square" and even downright homophobic—as indeed it is. Listen, daddy-o, the average anal sex-haver, engaged in the act with an HIV-carrier, is only about 0.5% likely to contract the virus per membrane stress-test.
So of course, from this we can conclude that people who do manage to contract the so-called "gay plague" are probably just responsible, monogamous folk who are just really, really unlucky, right?
As reported in The Conversation:
PrEP is the most powerful prevention tool currently available for people at risk of HIV infection. In people with high adherence to PrEP medication, it reduces the risk of acquiring HIV by 99%.
This compares to an HIV risk reduction of 70% for men who have sex with men (MSM) and 80% for heterosexuals who choose consistent condom use alone to prevent HIV infection.
Oh wow, so I guess gays are only 10% more likely to get HIV than straights then?
Of course, we could just make sodomy illegal again, block Grindr and close all those sex-on-premises joints on public health grounds—and sure, it might stop a few innocent people from being infected—but we have to remember that the human right to bugger a stranger in a bathouse is way more important than the right of a child not to be infected with HIV in utero.
And it's sort of a moot point anyway, now that child can just take antiretrovirals for the duration of its life.
So it's a great thing all round (including for drug companies) that, as the ABC reports, this new wonder-drug will be listed on the PBS as of April 1:
The cost of HIV-prevention drug PrEP will be slashed, with the final hurdle now cleared for adding it to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Hailed as a "game changer" for gay men, the preventative medicine is up to 99 per cent effective in stopping the spread of HIV, if taken daily.
The $180 million federal subsidy for the drug, "puts Australia in reach of being one of the first countries in the world to end the transmission of HIV", Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
In February, pre-exposure prophylaxis was recommended for listing on the PBS by a panel of experts and Mr Hunt will today announce the cost of the medicine will drop significantly from April 1.
"PrEP is a medical innovation that will save Australian lives and the decision to list it is one of the most significant advancements in HIV transmission Australia has ever seen," Mr Hunt said.
"32,000 patients each year will pay a maximum of only $39.50 per script … without subsidy, patients would pay $2,496 per year for this medicine.
"Access to PrEP will not only benefit gay and bisexual men but will also drive down rates of HIV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrant communities and other population groups which have seen increased transmission rates over recent years."
The drug is being trialled in several states, but advocates have been lobbying for it to be more accessible and affordable.
$180 million. I guess that's just a one-time spend though, right?
Besides, it's nothing considering that the Federal Government has wasted a whole $187 million over the last three years on research for all forms of cancer. I mean, cancer only kills, like, 50,000 people a year in Australia, whereas we've got, like, 25,000 brave little rainbow soldiers strutting around shooting their undetectable viral loads all over the place, just needing a little bit of recognition for their fabulous heroism in this cruel, homophobic world.
But some people overseas have their priorities all mixed up. Instead of just accepting cancer as a fact of life, like nonwhite immigration, juvenial transsexualism and the gradual transformation of Australia into an Integral Part of China, they're out there fighting an quixotic struggle against nature which, if she didn't intend us to die of cancer, presumably wouldn't have created, for example, melanomas as a retribution against white people for our hubris in colonising the Southern Hemisphere:
“T cells” play a vital role in our immune system. Typically, it is those lymphocytes that recognize and target cancer when it appears in the body. But as a tumor grows, it begins to suppress the function of those cells, rendering the body defenseless against the deadly, creeping mass.
The immunotherapy injection simply reactivates those cells, stimulating them to ignore cancer’s oppression and fight back. Rather than the less effective — and substantially more difficult — process of CAR T-cell therapy, in which cells are removed from the body and then engineered to fight the cancer before being returned, the two agents in the injection combine to do all the necessary work “in-house,” so to speak.
Stanford University School of Medicine Professor of Oncology Dr. Ronald Levy, the senior author of the Science Translational Medicine study, said that the treatment is “attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing.” Not only that, but the rejuvenated T-cells are even eliminating metastasized tumors that have spread to other parts of the body.
Still, many questions still need to be answered before this potential cancer eradicator changes the world. Northwell Health Cancer Institute’s Regional Director of Breast Surgery, Dr. Alice Police, said that while the promise of the treatment is “exciting,” doctors have “been able to cure a lot of cancers in mice for a long time.”
Unfortunately, those results don’t always translate to humans. “We’ve [gone] one step further down the road,” Police said, “but it’s [still] a long way to go.”
For the neatly 1.7 million people expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2018 alone — as well as for the many millions already suffering around the globe — it is a vital ray of hope.
Look, we're all of us going to die one day. The important thing is that nothing should hold us back from living a full life of depraved hedonism, and prolonging such a life to the maximum extent made possible by medical science.