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World AIDS Day 2007

December 1, 2007 is World AIDS Day. Last year I wrote a short post summarizing an MSNBC article about how AIDS has changed America and you can find that post here.

Over the past two and a half decades AIDS has transformed from a strange and unknown disease associated with gay men into a global pandemic whose effects have reached into all levels of society.

The problem is that we still don’t know how to fight it. We can’t stop HIV. Sure, we seem to have had success in delaying the onset of AIDS in HIV Positive patients (i.e. Magic Johnson), but that requires a very expensive cocktail of anti-viral medication. We know that HIV is not a death sentence, but the majority of people who test positive do not have the resources to get this sort of treatment.

At this point, the most effective weapon in the fight against AIDS is information. That’s what World AIDS Day is all about — raising awareness about the disease and its prevention. Through another medical blog, I found a post at The Unofficial Stanford Blog (TUSB) titled HIV/AIDS Awareness Ads You’ll Remember in the Bedroom.

Below are a couple of Ads I found. All four were made by the same organization. The last three can be found at TUSB:

WonderWoman Aids

Female Aids Ad

Male Ad

Superman Aids Ad

According to TUSB, the Ads were created by

a French NGO called AIDES (“aide” means “support” or “help” in French), which was founded by Daniel Defert in 1984 following the death of his partner, philosopher (and former Berkeley professor) Michel Foucault. AIDES now operates in over 70 small towns and villages within France, and is recognized as one of the most important European HIV/AIDS NGOs.

I’m not too sure how to describe the Ads. It definitely has its “shock value,” which is usually a good thing when it comes to grabbing an audience’s attention. Maybe I’d use the word “disturbing.” I suppose it makes its point, though..

Finally, to finish up this post, I’d like to provide a link to an excellent, well-written post titled HIV, AIDS, safe sex, & fornication: Personal, religious, medical and social viewpoints. It’s written by another Jeffrey. He is a medical student at Monash University in Australia working on a 5-year MBBS degree.

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Reforming the U.S. Healthcare System

Related Posts: Physician Salaries on the Decline

This quarter I’m taking a course called “Medicine and Ethics.” The class is taught by Dr. X. (name withheld). There are a number of topics that was scheduled to be discussed and each topic was presented by a group of 3 or 4 students. I ended up in a group of four. Our topic, as you can probably guess by the title of this post was “Reforming the American Medical System.”

I wanted no part of this topic. I felt that the American Healthcare System is a mess but there’s not much we can do about it. I really wanted to be in the group that would present on physicians and war. But as Dr. X went down the list and waited for volunteers for each topic, it became clear that Reforming the U.S. Healthcare was not the popular one. No hands jumped up at the opportunity to tackle this problem… So I reluctantly raised my hand and said I’d join the group.

I had already heard that the United States spends more money than any other industrialized nation on healthcare. I had heard people complain that the Healthcare system in America is broken. But these were only things I heard. I, personally, had never had any problems accessing healthcare. And so when I actually looked at the stats, well, it was a bit surprising.

Some of the things I discovered in my casual research:

  • The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have a form of Universal Healthcare.
  • The United States spends at least 40% more per capita than any other industrialized nation on healthcare.
  • The United States spends more than 3 times more per capita than Canada on Health Administration costs alone.
  • Almost 47 million Americans (approx. 16%) are without healthcare insurance or are not eligible for buying affordable life insurance.
  • Eight out of 10 uninsured Americans come from working families.

Those are some incredible numbers. And while only about 16% of Americans are uninsured, the majority of Americans with insurance are only one major medical emergency away from bankruptcy. Many are well-aware of how much is available to them under their health insurance policy. And, while it may be enough for your routine physical check-up or the occasional prescription medication, it is nowhere near enough to cover $40,000 that might be billed for cancer treatment.

Why is it that every other industrialized nation can provide healthcare to their citizens at a far lower cost than what Americans spend? Its a shame that the country that won the race to the moon cannot figure out how to ensure that every citizen has access to basic healthcare.

In my mind, there are two major roadblocks preventing the United States from transitioning to a Universal Healthcare system.

  1. Doctors
  2. Big Business

Physicians are afraid of the idea of Universal Healthcare and a single payer system. Why? Because they fear losing control. I believe that many physicians are afraid that a single payer system would negatively affect physician salaries. While it may be possible for the government to force down physician salaries in a single payer system, it is not in the best interest of the government or the nation to do so. If there was not financial benefit to being a physician, most countries would have a huge shortage of physicians. But, under the universal systems in other industrialized nations, physicians do make a decent, comfortable living.

The bloated health care system of the United States benefits big business more than any other party involved. It benefits big business more than physicians. But most concerning, it benefits big business more than the patient. As health insurance premiums continue to rise, insurance companies continue to pull in a profit while more and more Americans find out that can no longer afford coverage.

Greed drives the industry. The sole purpose of a corporation is not to look out for the interests of its customers and ensure customer satisfaction. The goal of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders.

And that is the problem with privatized healthcare. If a corporation begins to lose money, its shareholders get antsy. But when healthcare is federally funded, the government can take a loss for the good of its citizens.

Reforming the healthcare system will probably mean that the big corporations in the healthcare system won’t be making as much money. But America needs to decide, as a whole and through our leaders in congress, that the health of a nation is more important than the pocketbooks of corporations. Hopefully, we decide soon.


Sources:

 

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Thankful

The other day I got home around 10:45 PM. I had been studying in the library in the dungeon (basement floor). Since there was no cell phone reception down there, I didn’t find out I had a voicemail until I got back home.

My mom had left a message. I wasn’t sure what she called for, but in the message she left she complained about my voicemail greeting. My voicemail greeting is an Italian-accented male voice. It sounded funny at the time… so that’s what I chose to use. So I’m listening to this voicemail message from my mom and she’s complaining about my “ugly” greeting and then offers to record a message for me.. lol.

Well after listening to the message I call home. As the phone is ringing, I’m just hoping that my parents didn’t go to sleep yet. Before the third ring, my mom picks up the phone. I say hi. She says hi. I tell her where I was and why I couldn’t pick up the phone. This whole time I’m wondering why she called me earlier.

Then she tells me (paraphrased):

I don’t want you worrying about anything now. Don’t worry money. Don’t worry about your stocks. If you need anything, tell me, and I’ll do it if I can. Your job right now is to study.

And the conversation continued something like this…

Mom: Do you need any food? I can cook you food.
Me: Okay.
Mom: What do you want me to cook?
Me: Uh… I dunno

I’m kind of taken back by this conversation… I’m not too sure why she needed to call me to say this. I’m.. slightly speechless? I can’t think of something I want her to cook for me.. lol

Anyways, the point of this post is just to say thanks. Last week during Thanksgiving I was so caught up with the stress of school I didn’t really think about what I was thankful for. I even studied on Thanksgiving Day! But on an evening where I find myself unable to sleep, there is some clarity. I’m thankful for my parents who have always been there, always supportive.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

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Professionalism 101

I was just browsing through Facebook and looking at a few of my classmates pages. Here’s an interesting post I found on Jane’s (not real name) page. She received an email that I’ve quoted below (with her permission, of course).

Jane,

We noticed on your most recent CSF Quiz that you just wrote down

Jane

While first name use does allow for larger letters and neater handwriting on the line provided, it is not considered very professional for a future physician. If you find that you must shorten your full name for space purposes, we would prefer this version:

J. Doe

Thank-you, in advance, for helping us out in this matter. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please feel free to contact us at anytime.

Sincerely,
Sharon and/or Rachel

hmm… i’ll have to write that down and file it away under “lessons of the first year”… its great that they teach us these things. i mean, when you’re paying $30,000+ per year, i wanna squeeze out every last bit of advice on how to be a better doctor one day. i would hate to sign only my first name on a prescription pad and have the DEA come after me or something…

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I’ve got this sick feeling…

First day back after Thanksgiving break. I’m kinda feeling sick… well its more like this sick feeling that I didn’t do enough over break. I think I should get used to this feeling.

It reminds me of the movie Schindler’s List where he regrets not doing more to save people at the end of the movie. Okay… maybe I don’t feel that bad… at least the tears are not streaming down my face…

Anyways, lecture is starting… gotta learn about MHC Molecules now!

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Test Week 2 Over, Thanksgiving coming up

Well we got through the second set of exams. Now we are working our way through the pulmonary system. Already I feel like I’m falling behind and we’ve only had one week and 2 days since the last set of exams. I’m hoping to be able to catch up over this coming weekend and Thanksgiving break. I can’t believe I actually want to study during Thanksgiving break… Well I don’t really want to study… I just want to catch up… So I suppose on some levels I do want to study…

I’m finding respiratory physiology to be tricky. Thankfully I find our textbook (Respiratory Physiology by West) very helpful. Although, it is pretty dense… The thing costs about $40 an is a small paperback book. I’d almost call it a booklet. But in all fairness, I think its 12 chapters long. Its also the same book used at UCSD School of Medicine. Dr. West, the author of the book, teaches there.

Cell Structure & Function is looking a little intimidating. We have a huge stack of notes for the Christmas exams. It will probably have close to 80 questions on it… by far the largest test of the year in the class. The class is very front-loaded. The majority of lectures will be given before Christmas Break.

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MSNBC.com: Monkey Embryos Cloned

Source: MSNBC.com: Monkey embryos cloned, scientists say

Humanity is one step closer to human cloning. Recently, some researches in that state of Oregon claim to have successfully cloned monkey embryos and extracted stem cells. This is supposed to pave the way for the procedure to be done in humans.

This still does not make the controversy go away. The debate has raged for years about whether or not it is ethical and moral to obtain stem cells from embryos. When stem cells are harvested from embryos, the embryo does not survive.

The situation would all go away we just started using adult stem cells. There is no controversy in this area because… well the human is destroyed in the process. And neither are embryos. The problem is that we, as a society, have put so much money into embryonic stem cell research. It isn’t cheap to suddenly switch over to harvest adult stem cells.

Well I think we should just deal with it. Let’s just assume the burden of the cost. The potential benefit to humanity is worth the money.

And where will this money come from? How about all that money Uncle Sam is putting to fight a war in Iraq that we probably should never have started? One article at MSNBC.com says that estimates of the total cost of this war could be up to $1 trillion US Dollars. One trillion dollars!!! That’s $1,000,000,000,000.

Maybe I should go into politics and run for office, huh?