Once in a while I come across a piece of writing that resonates so closely with my own experiences that I want to say “I wish I had written that”.
Carl Stryg wrote just such an essay recently, published at The Truth Barrier, a website founded by journalist Celia Farber. From the first paragraph, Stryg has me hooked:
I, personally, have lost count of the friends who I have watched shrivel-up and die over the years — all of them so young — since this dark, bewildering cloud of sickness blew into all of our lives. I feel shell-shocked and exhausted from the sheer numbers. Looking back, I think death stopped meaning anything to me years ago.
Like Stryg, I lost dozens of friends and probably hundreds of acquaintances in the 1980s and 1990s. My entire extended family of gay men was decimated and I withdrew from the endless grief of funerals and memorial services as much as possible.
Every one of these friends died in their 30s, which makes the notion of 10+ year incubation periods and life-extending drugs pretty unbelievable. I’ve posted a listing of some of the dead on a page of my blog I call “the graveyard“. All but one of them faithfully took their anti-retrovirals, including the highly touted protease inhibitors when those became available.
The one exception that I know of, a sweet and lovable young friend named Johnny Gutierrez, was an alcoholic and addicted to crack and gawd only knows what else. Johnny tried to take his AIDS drugs until the free health clinic denied him prescriptions due to “non-compliance”.
Johnny was haunted by his diagnosis and was terrified of a living death, which is exactly how his life ended, his spiritless body kept alive by machines at Truman Medical Center for more than 48 hours because his family didn’t want to pull the plug on Valentine’s Day.
Stryg addresses the conflict I feel about people taking ARVs to treat minor health problems seemingly associated with a positive test result on the polyreactive Gallo antibody test (aka the AIDS test):
One thing is absolutely clear to me: I have never met even one HIV positive person who felt healthy whose quality of life was improved by HIV drugs. What benefit there may be is certainly limited to those very near death, in my experience.
Where Stryg really lets loose is when he addresses the reaction of the mainstream AIDS establishment to anyone who questions the current state of knowledge about this disease or options for treating it. Their use of the term “denialist” to describe us, for example. Instead of engaging in honest and transparent dialogue, some of those who make a living promoting pharmaceutical-backed theories resort to historically obvious propaganda techniques of discrediting questioners by villifying and ostracizing them.
Funny how AIDS reappraisers who ask for transparency and dialogue, or warn of the shortcomings or dangers of HIV treatments are accused of causing unnecessary AIDS deaths. Strange that when someone dies after years of choosing not to take HIV drugs, fingers are immediately pointed at the AIDS denialists. And yet, when a patient dies after 2 or 6 or 12 years on HIV treatments, the AIDS Police speak of the extra few years treatment ‘gave’ the patient. Curiously, these self-described ‘life-savers’ accept no responsibility for those who died from high-dosage, experimental AZT monotherapy in the 1980’s, or those whose entire skin ‘detaches’ while on AIDS drugs like Nevirapine. I don’t see them clamouring to confess their guilt. I hear no cries of ‘Murderer’! I guess it’s just collateral damage to them. ‘We did our best’. So one-sided. So self-serving. Well. It seems their Ivory Towers are built much higher than I ever imagined.
The main point Stryg is trying to make is summed up nicely near the end of his essay, which I hope you take the time to go read in full:
Frankly, in the end, I really, really don’t care what causes AIDS. I just want people to stop suffering and dying from whatever it is… Looking at the pathetic, toxic fruits of HIV research, is it any wonder people look beyond it for help? Perhaps the AIDS Police shout so shrilly to distract us from their shame at having failed to cure even one patient in 25 years? Can you imagine the fuss if Cancer research had failed to yield a cure for even one case? Can you even imagine? In my view these people have nothing to brag about and shouldn’t be pointing fingers at anyone. They might more appropriately beg forgiveness for their massive failure. These are the same people who trumpeted to the world that there would be a Vaccine by 1990. I don’t know about your friends, but my friends are still dying.