Saturday, January 9, 2016

Burned at the Stake, Part 2: HIV Drugs & testing for Moms & Babies

"The door to the doctor's office ought to bear a surgeon general's warning that routine physical examinations are dangerous to your health.  Why?  Because doctors do not see themselves as guardians of health, and they have learned precious little about how to assure it.  Instead they are latter-day Don Quixotes, battling sometimes real but often imaginary diseases." --Dr. Robert Mendelsohn

Dr. Robert Mendelsohn died in 1988 but his words still have relevancy in the 21st century.  I remember years ago that the only reason I could be dragged to a doctor's office was to see if I was going to die of bronchitis (gee, it couldn't be because I smoked cigarettes?).  Somehow I thought the doctor would know this. Then I had this revelation, the doctor really had no idea about whether I was going to die or not.  They can't even tell when a woman is going to have a baby unless they talk you into a planned c-section.  I realized that the knowledge of birthing and dying are truly only understood by those experiencing it.  Depending on someone else to tell you whether you are ill or well, dying or birthing is about surrendering your autonomy, your own body knowledge.  The belief that some test created by scientists is infallible or that some medicine will absolutely cure you is faith that is often misplaced.  

But it appears that in the US, if the doc tells ya that your going to die; many of us willing comply with the diagnosis and die.  Some of us die from the very medicine that is suppose to cure us.  And some of us die because we do what is expected of us.  It's like the old Voodoo curse.  We think we are so modern, so above the primitive and backward  worlds.  And instead we are cursed by our faith that our "health care" system is backed by truth. Yet our science is backed by a Corporate World in which its magical potions are based on profits.  Money is the priority, truth becomes relative.

In our modern day world, mothers and babies are truly cursed, when diagnosed as hiv-positive.  This disease is a crime in our society.  Legislation in various states makes it a crime to knowingly transmit this disease to a sexual partner or to your baby.  In Florida hiv legislation denies informed consent for pregnant mothers, criminals and prostitutes.  I find it very strange that a pregnant woman in Florida is legally lumped together with people who have committed crimes.  Civil liberties?  Gone, if you are pregnant.  Gone if you are hiv positive.

HIV laws in other states:

All pregnant mothers are to be hiv tested in Florida and pregnant women have the right to refuse the test.  Refusal will probably mean that at the birth the newborn infant will be tested.  That testing will supposedly only show whether the mother is hiv positive or not, since newborns carry their mother's antibodies until 18 months or longer.  This commitment by the state of Florida that all pregnant mothers are to be tested is a huge monetary investment in testing and faith in the infallibility of testing.  One of the 60 or so conditions that can cause a false positive on the hiv test is a mother's prior pregnancy.

According to a study done in 2010 the cost of rapid hiv testing in hospitals was $48.07 per negative test and $64.17 per positive test-counseling needed.
There are approximately 220,000 babies born in Florida (2014 data-Florida Charts).  Assuming that the testing kits are approximately $55, that would mean that about $12,100,000 is spent on testing.  This does not include pregnancies that ended by miscarriage or abortion.  Recent news releases by Florida Health Department is that in 2014 there was only 6 cases of infants born with hiv. 

The State of Florida is spending approximately $12 million per year for approximately 6 new cases of hiv in infants.  Florida is ranked 3rd in the nation for new hiv diagnoses.  We will spend $12 million on hiv testing and yet infant mortality statistics in various counties in Florida are getting worse.  Provisional data for 2015 shows a dramatic upward count of infant deaths from 2014 to 2015. In my county-Volusia, shows that in 2014 there were 21 deaths and in 2015 (provisional) there was 40 infant deaths.  Likewise, in neighboring counties Orange there was 84 infant deaths in 2014 and in 2015 there was 106 deaths and in Brevard there was 24 deaths in 2014 and 2015 there was 33 infant deaths.  While provisional data cannot be relied upon, it appears to me that there is some kind of upward trend appearing.   Infants in Volusia County aren't dying from hiv or aids.   They are dying from congenital malformations, SIDS, diarrhea, pneumonia, flu and gastrointestinal diseases.

The diagnosis of hiv in pregnancy means that drugs will be prescribed for the duration of pregnancy, birth and beyond.  The baby will also be treated with drugs.  The most common drug used is AZT for mother and baby.   AZT is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for the treatment of hiv and prevention of mother-to-child transmission.  The package insert for this drug includes many warnings and precautions and listing of adverse reactions. The warning states that there is a risk of hematological toxicity/Bone marrow suppression, myopathy, and lactic acidosis/severe hepatomegaly with steatosis (cirrhosis of the liver and/or fatty liver), Immune Reconstitution Syndrome-an inflammatory response to opportunistic infections such as cytomegalovirus, PCP or TB, and Fat Redistribution.  The most common adverse reactions in adults were headache, malaise, nausea, anorexia and vomiting.  In infants the common reaction is anemia and neutropenia.  In children the most common reactions were fever, cough and digestive disorders.  Nursing mothers are advised not to breastfeed because of risk of postnatal transmission of hiv and the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants.  Pregnant women are advised that the use of AZT does not necessarily stop transmission of hiv and that the long-term consequences for the fetus and infant exposure are unknown.  But the possibilities include the risk of cancer--research showed vaginal neoplasms in mice.

For further information on the history of AZT I recommend an article by Celia Farber called the, "Sins of Omission:  The AZT Scandal."

For studies on AZT, I recommend David Crowe's, "AZT:  Unsafe at any Dose?"

AZT sold in laboratories for research purposes has the skull and crossbones on its label.  The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on AZT has not only the skull and crossbones, but AZT is considered a flammable liquid and vapor which can cause skin irritation and serious eye irritation and respiratory irritation. If swallowed the safety sheet, says wash out the mouth with water if person conscious.

Why is this a reasonable drug for women living in  resource poor or developing countries?  This kind of drug requires careful medical monitoring.  How is this possible in areas of extreme poverty?

The other drug often used for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of hiv is Nevirapine also called Viramune.  The medication guide from the FDA states, "Viramune can cause serious side effects.  These include severe liver and skin problems that can cause death."  Women having a higher risk of liver problems than men.  "Rashes and skin reactions may be severe, life-threatening and in some people, may lead to death."

One woman, Joyce Hafford was part of a government drug trial of nevirapine and died due to liver failure.  Celia Farber wrote about what happened to this young mother who died and left two sons.

I am continually surprised at the cavalier attitude displayed by medical people who warn pregnant women about drinking alcohol or illegal drugs but have no concerns regarding the use of these toxic meds in pregnancy or while breastfeeding.  Originally hiv was the retrovirus that some scientists proclaimed was the cause of AIDS, a syndrome.  These same scientists made enormous amounts of money through hiv test kits and drugs.  Hiv, itself, was not considered to be a disease.  AIDS was the disease or syndrome.  Over the years researchers now write about hiv infection or hiv disease.  Yet originally hiv was considered the antibody to AIDS, not the infection, just a marker for a disease/syndrome they named AIDS.  

Dr Peter Duesberg interview in House of Numbers.

Not much makes sense to me regarding the policies and practices of hiv testing and drugs.  Where once we believed that antibodies to a disease meant protection from that disease now the medical profession believes it means disease.  Where once we believed that pregnant women should avoid drugs, alcohol, etc., now we believe its okay for pregnant women who test positive for hiv to take drugs that are considered chemo agents and highly toxic.  Where once chemo drugs were taken for a brief time because eventually they will kill the patient, now its okay to take chemo for life.  Hiv/aids science is making a lot of money for the drug and testing companies. In testing kits alone for pregnant mothers our healthcare system is shelling out millions despite the fact that there are very few infants being born with hiv.   Can our society really afford this investment, when more infants are dying from other health care issues? 
Copyright 2016 Valerie W. McClain