Tag Archives: Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1

It’s the early days of AIDS all over again

Probably no one under 50 has any idea of what the first few years of AIDS were like.  Well, it is exactly like what the past 2 years of the pandemic have been.  In both cases there was/is  something out there that we don’t understand which can kill you.  The first cases appeared 40 years ago in June.  The cause (Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 — HIV1) was isolated in 1984.  The fear until then  was palpable.  We didn’t know what it was or how it was transmitted.  Eventually it became clear that sex was  involved, and I remember reading the riot act about protecting themselves to a roomful of my teenaged sons and their friends.  It was probably one of the most useful things I ever did.

I personally knew physicians and dentists who refused to treat AIDS patients.  Sick jokes like this one were prevalent

Q. What is the AIDs diet ?

A. Pizza and Pancakes

Q. Why that?

A. Because you can slide it under the door.

It really isn’t so different from now even though we know the cause of the pandemic and we know how it is transmitted.  But we do not know what the virus will do next.  We do not know how often we need boosters, or even whether they will work against the new variant (omicron).  We are far from certain just how much to isolate ourselves (this clearly depends on our age).

One day the news is good — like this from the BBC earlier this week

There is community transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant in multiple regions of England, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed.
He told MPs the variant was continuing to spread “here and around the world” and there were now cases here “with no links to international travel”.
There have been 336 confirmed cases of the highly-mutated variant across the UK, he said, a rise of 90 from Sunday.
There are concerns about how Omicron could interact with current vaccines.
Of the confirmed Omicron cases, 261 were in England, 71 in Scotland and four in Wales – while Northern Ireland is yet to have a confirmed case.
Mr Javid said that as far as he was aware none of those people had been admitted to hospital.

The next day it gets scary again —  from the Massachusetts Department of Public health — also this week.

“There are now 1,151 COVID patients in the state, a daily jump of 33 patients. Hospitalizations have been spiking in recent weeks, reflecting a 129% jump from 502 patients a few weeks ago.The state reported that 239 patients are in intensive care units, and 126 patients are currently intubated.

Of the 1,151 total hospitalizations, 407 patients are fully vaccinated — or about 35%. It’s the first time the state has reported more than 400 breakthrough hospitalizations on one day. Those who are unvaccinated are at a much higher risk for a severe case.”

It is clear that the vaccines, while helpful are not a panacea, and a personal friend came down with it again 2 months after receiving a booster.  There is no question that the vaccines are protective to some extent, just nowhere near what they were originally billed as.