AIDS: a cause for optimism?BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39048.719525.59 (Published 30 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1179
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Balaji Ravichandran states that "AIDS is a medical condition. It must be stripped of its social, moral and religious intimacy if we are to prevent and treat it properly". On a personal and professional level I find this remark quite offensive. Humans and their medical conditions are not treated in a vacuum and science does not have the answer to all medical problems. It is our role, as medical practitioners, to look at how our scientific understanding of disease interacts with people as they exist in society, by virtue of their morality and contextually in terms of their religious beliefs. Science cannot address our entire humanity.
There is no doubt that AIDS is causing unprecendented devastation globally, yet a counter argument could be that it is making us address our position in terms of overseas aid, global economics and prejudice.
Homophobia has become less acceptable in the West and gay issues are much more publically discussed since the discovery of HIV. The lesson is that division causes discord and that only in unity and by working together, across divisons of money, politics, geography and faith can we combat this virus, not that it has "reaffirmed the power of science over religion, of reason over blind faith". Many scientific discoveries occur by taking leaps of faith. The real progress in HIV has been looking at its holistic implications as a disease on the global stage, not purely by scientific discoveries but examining our divisons and how destructive they have been.
And how all of us are vulnerable, regardless of sex, sexuality, race, religion or riches. To avoid "celebrating" the 50th anniversary of HIV we may need scientific advances, but perhaps more importantly we need to address the inequalites and prejudices that prevent us from making these advances equally available globally.
Competing interests: None declared
Competing interests: No competing interests