Colour me confused. I was under the impression that any suggestion of AIDS being ‘the gay plague’ was the ultimate example of homophobia? Didn’t David Cameron and Nick Clegg both demand that the ‘horrific slur’ that was the ban on gay men donating blood, ‘in case’ they had AIDS, be removed?
Anybody who lived through the 80s will remember the ‘tombstone ads’ commissioned by Norman Fowler and Willie Whitelaw:
“There were people in government and also people in the media who said, ‘Why are you spending all this time concerned about gay people and drug addicts?’,” Fowler recalls. “But that was a minority view.”
The message of both was simple, but apocalyptic – a deadly disease was a threat to everyone, not just the “small groups” who had largely been affected by it so far.
So millions were spent educating the ‘bigoted minority’, such as the then-Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, James Anderton, who referred to victims ‘swirling about in a human cesspit of their own making’. Anyone holding such views was beyond the pale…
Then 18 months ago, the Department of Health’s funding for HIV Prevention England, the national HIV prevention programme in England, was cut in half. Now there was only a budget of £1.2million for 2015-16. The National AIDS Trust (NAT) was quick to point out that:
‘there is a total of around 1.2 million men who have sex with men and black African adults living in England. A budget of £1.2 million means that the national programme only has £1 to spend a year for each person in its target audience.’
Not one penny piece left over for the women who were not, apparently, in the ‘target audience’.
Last week, NAT took the NHS to court and won a declaration from the High Court that NHS England can pay for “game-changer” drugs that prevent people being infected with HIV by their partners.
Even the Guardian, which in 2010 was sternly lecturing us that ‘HIV is NOT a gay disease‘, now cheerfully comments on the court case by saying:
It comes after the results of a trial, published in February 2015, suggested that rates of HIV infection could be slashed by treating gay men with the anti-viral drug when they are healthy.
Not a woman in sight…
What, I ask, about the women who are married to the men who haven’t yet made sufficient progress in their career to risk admitting to being gay? What about drug addicts. What about the sex workers who have no way of knowing what other predilections their client may have? What about the many bisexual men? Does ‘split condom syndrome’ only afflict those who admit to being gay?
Why is it suddenly publicly acceptable to treat HIV and AIDS as though it were a homosexual disease, generating column inches as to whether it is right that the NHS should provide for preventative prophylaxis medication for ‘lifestyle choices’.
The NHS already provide prophylaxis medication – I take one myself. Letrozole. Designed for women who no longer had any sign of a particular breast cancer to ensure that it destroyed the conditions in which it could return and thrive again. I have a different cancer, ovarian rather than breast, and still very much in evidence; however there was a vague similarity between the two cancers, enough to make it worth my while taking the drug, and it has indeed reduced an aggressive cancer to one that is ‘staggering and stumbling through a vat of treacle – with a monumental hangover’.
If wanting to stay alive isn’t a ‘lifestyle choice’ then I don’t know what is.
Are not Statins a lifestyle choice? Nobody forced you to binge on greasy fry ups, or family sized trays of ready-made Lasagne. Now your blood vessels are bulging at the seams, groaning with the strain of it all; you don’t like Tofu, think that salad is for ponces – so down to the Doctor for your statins to prevent a heart attack. We don’t get column inches telling us that 15 premature babies will have to be tossed onto a hillside to die in order to fund your ‘lifestyle drug’.
Isn’t HRT a prophylaxis against Osteoporosis? Around one million British women take HRT.
Contraception is free on the NHS, including the ‘morning after’ pill. You don’t have to put your money in those machines in every toilet and purchase a condom. You can buy yourself one more double Sambuca, throw caution to the winds, and the NHS will pick up the bill in the morning. There are no announcements from the NHS that cataract operations for the elderly will be suspended unless they are actually walking into lampposts.
NHS England made it clear that the fight to get PrEP – pre exposure prophylaxis – to everyone at risk is far from over. Not only will it appeal against the judgment, but it will weigh up the cost of PrEp – which could be £10m – £20m a year – against other calls on NHS funding for specialised services.
When did it become socially acceptable for the NHS to be homophobic? Why?