I’m HIV-Positive, and I Have No Interest in News About HIV Cures



Philadelphia is all atwitter currently with news out of Temple University that researchers there have gotten a step closer to a so-called cure for HIV. Basically, medical researchers are doing their jobs. Being medical researchers, though, they need to gin up some interest and rationale for more funding, so they’ve decided to recklessly issue a statement so slippery you can’t exactly disagree with it: “This is one important step,” says Temple’s Dr. Kamel Khalili, “on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.”

Thanks to those four little letters — “cure” — many journalists who have no experience or strong understanding about HIV/AIDS are writing about HIV/AIDS and society is yet again unfurling the “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner. HIV/AIDS is about to be over! Will the last the person out please shut off the lights? Thanks.

Most people are zooming by the fact that this Temple discovery has no relevance to people living today or even in the near future; the discovery is simply a “proof of concept” with a completely uncertain future use, particularly if it’s anything like past “steps on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.” More on that later.

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Women Outraged Over Rittenhouse Doctor’s New Membership Fee


The Rittenhouse Women’s Wellness Center has been taking care of the medical needs of Center City women — and exclusively women — since its opening at 1632 Pine Street in 2008. Most of the women who went there loved it. And what’s not for a woman to love? An all-female staff. Same-day sick appointments. Quick callbacks from the doctors. But last week, the practice instituted a policy that has some women furious. Read more »

Turmoil Over Testosterone Study Leaves Doctors, Patients Dangling

The news was enough to make a testosterone induced manly man shrivel.

It was late last year that JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, published the results of research that claimed that men who use testosterone supplementation have a 29 percent greater chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke within three years of use.

Until the study, testosterone was the hottest medical product on the market. You couldn’t listen to talk radio or watch a sporting event without being asked if you had “low-T” during the commercial break. That would explain why you were sitting on your couch instead of playing basketball, having sex and generally enjoying your life. The announcer then promised that a gel, a pill, or an injection would transform you from a disinterested lump of flesh into a man again.

Now those ads have been replaced new ones from law firms looking to sign up clients for class action lawsuits. Read more »

Corbett Asks Obama Admin to Approve Non-Obamacare Plan

Tom Corbett, in a final effort to push his alternative to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, will now ask the Obama administration to formally approve it. It would function similarly to the current Medicaid expansion–which 25 states, including all of PA’s neighbors have agreed to–which offers Medicaid to all those living within 133% of the poverty line. Except for a couple thorny factors.

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Why Did Al Roker and Matt Lauer Undergo a Dangerous Prostate Exam on Live TV?


In November, the men of the Today show stopped shaving to raise awareness for men’s health, specifically testicular and prostate cancer. November is a key ratings month in television and the Beards for Better Balls stunt was attention-getting for a good cause.

But when a couple of the Today men decided to get their prostates checked live on the show. Well, pardon the pun, but they scraped bottom. It was inaccurate, unethical and dangerous. All of which I found out from my doctor when I went in for a physical the other day. He wanted to talk more about Matt Lauer and Al Roker’s prostates than mine.

“I watched it live,” my doctor told me, “and couldn’t believe they were pushing the PSA test.”

The test is no longer recommended or even considered safe by most in the medical world, but you wouldn’t have known that from the Today show-and-tell.

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Meet Krokodil, the Dangerous New Drug Narcotics Officers Really Hope Doesn’t Make it to Philadelphia

Heroin injection

These days, it’ll cost you anywhere from $10 to $50 to get high off of Oxycontin, depending on the size of the pill and the quality of your hookup. Heroin is cheaper, though, at around $100 a bundle—a grouping of 10 to 13 bags, only one of which is required for a dose. It’s also stronger, longer-lasting and readily available here in Philly, making the switch a no-brainer—economically speaking, anyway—for the hopelessly opiate-addicted looking for a consistent high. Never mind, of course, that that high comes via a more dangerous route of administration from a more dangerous chemical.

This is the train of thought that has driven the rise of heroin usage in Philadelphia, and, indeed, nationally. Prices for either drug, however, aren’t going down anytime soon, and with the economy being the way it is, even junkies might need to start tightening their belts to get by. What stands to replace heroin as the cheap opiate of choice, though, is proving itself hellishly unmanageable. Enter krokodil—and at about a tenth the price, too.

“It’s essentially a cheap alternative to heroin,” says Lieutenant Charles Jackson, a veteran of the Philadelphia narcotics unit of more than 15 years. “It can actually eat your flesh.” Read more »

Toomey Joins Wacko-Bird Caucus

Pat Toomey, Joe Manchin

Senator Pat Toomey has joined marathon-pseudo-filibusterer Ted Cruz and 17 other Republicans in voting against a bill that would keep the government running. Why? Because it wouldn’t include a provision that also sought to defund Obamacare. (Next up: The Senate sends the bill back to the House, which then gets to decide whether or not they want to let the government die.) It’s one thing for unruly populist Tea Partiers in the House to bring the country to the brink of shutdown every few months or so; it’s another altogether when 19 members of the more cautious (read: sane) upper chamber join the “wacko-bird” caucus too. Toomey, for the record, said he would vote to keep the government running if the Senate added a provision repealing Obamacare’s controversial medical device tax. It did not, so here we are. [Slate]

PA Republicans Think Gun Owners Have More Rights than Cancer Sufferers

Last year during a visit to New England my wife slipped on ice and dislocated her shoulder, leaving her in excruciating pain. It wasn’t the first time it had happened.  Since suffering a bad skiing accident in the 1990s, Kate’s left shoulder has been increasingly unstable and prone to pop out at the slightest provocation.

It hadn’t happened in a while, but having been through this ritual at least four times in as many states, she thought she knew what to expect: A trip to the emergency room where a doctor would greet her with a stiff shot of morphine and then pop the errant ball joint back into its socket. Simple as that, she assured me.

If only.

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Sarah Murnaghan Develops Pneumonia After Second Lung Transplant

The challenges aren’t yet over for Sarah Murnaghan, the young cystic fibrosis patient who recently received a second lung transplant at CHOP after her first one failed. According to a Facebook message posted by Janet Murnaghan, Sarah’s mother, the 10-year-old has developed pneumonia in her right lung, which poses substantial problems for her recovery despite her being more stable today. Murnaghan, however, remains hopeful:

“Sarah has developed pneumonia in her right lung. They believe its caused by aspirations from her belly. Yesterday was tough. Today she is more stable, but this is definitely a large set back. Thank you for the love and prayers. We have an amazing team of doctors who go above and beyond but also walk this road with us in such a kind and compassionate way. Thankful to God for this day!”


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