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Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine

Vol. 5, No. 4 (28) 

Contents:


The Sacred and Misunderstood Concept of "Confidentiality"
or
Your Medical History Motors on the Information Superhighway!

by Hilton Terrell, M.D., Ph.D.

"Confidentiality" has been a sacred cow in medicine at least since Hippocrates. Even Hippocrates, however, qualified the limits of confidentiality by holding that we should not spread abroad that which should not be noised. In his famous oath, he did not attempt to separate what should be from what should not be.

Biblically, confidentiality has definite limits, and physicians are nowhere afforded privilege to hold all conceivable secrets of patients. For instance, information about a dependent minor child belongs with the parents, and a physician who holds it back is hindering the parents from their God-given responsibility. Secrets between a husband and a wife, held by a physician, would also seem to be ordinarily a violation of the unity of marriage.

Despite all the attention to confidentiality, the fragmentation of medical care into specialties since the middle of the twentieth century has eroded it almost to the point of irrelevance. The number of people with legitimate access to some part or all of a medical record has grown amazingly. In addition to a person's primary care physician, there are the call-sharing partners of that physician (in group practices or training programs, these may be dozens of physicians). Also, there are the consultants who may be asked to help with an illness.

Insurance companies routinely now have a person, evidently not always medically trained, to receive rather detailed information about a patient prior to hospital admission or shortly thereafter. In a hospital, there are at least three shifts of nurses, not counting the occasional cross-coverage nurses provide each other, or special nursing teams who do things such as start IV's. Radiologists look at and write in records, as do anesthesiologists, and occasionally even pathologists exit their hidden domains to write in records directly. Medical records personnel in the hospital have access, as do their counterparts for those portions of the records that are sent to private offices.

Pharmacists, nutritionists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists also have access at times to medical records. Various hospital committees review selected records, as do federally mandated reviewers, often in great detail. Patients allow life insurance underwriters to view their records, as well as agencies who review disability claims. Some records have portions excerpted by law to the state health department. Laboratory technicians routinely produce data for the records, including such sensitive matters as positive tests for various venereal diseases.

Social workers, chaplains, and an occasional researcher round out the list, which could run easily from two to three dozen people in a single hospitalization and its aftermath. Over a period of years, depending on the frequency and complexity of medical contacts, literally hundreds of persons can legitimately become acquainted with various features of one's medical condition. Photocopiers, faxes, and computer data bases exacerbate the problem. One may as well post personal medical information on a roadside billboard.

If so many people can know, what does confidentiality really mean? Of course, all of these people are supposed to treat the information "professionally," but what does that really mean? If a pharmacist knows "professionally" that a person has had sexually transmitted diseases, alcoholic liver disease, and has twice attempted suicide, is he likely to remain unmoved when his daughter begins to date the individual? Would an insurance agent contemplating a business partnership follow through with it when he finds out "professionally" that his would-be partner has a malignancy? Who really believes that a nationalized medical system with its entitlement card would not contain even more leaks?

Scripture counsels discretion (Genesis 41:33; Psalm 41:4-8; Proverbs 10:18-19, 11:13, 12:23, 15:28, 17:9, 27, 28, 26:20; Leviticus 19:16; Matthew 1:19; Titus 2:5). One does not have to be professional to be discrete. Ways to enhance confidentiality include: (1) Limiting medical visits to truly medical problems. Pastoral counselors, as example, though they may be no more discrete, are not commonly embedded in a massive information-hungry network the way medicine is. (2) Reading authorization forms carefully before signing one. Limit the disclosure to what the inquirer has a legitimate interest in. (3) Consider becoming the custodian of your own outpatient medical record. You may encounter substantial physician resistance on this one, but it has advantages for both parties. Most physicians do not like to be "in the loop" for all the demands for medical data. It is a non-paying hassle and liability.

Do readers have any other ideas about maintaining proper confidentiality?

Dr. Terrell is editor of the Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine and teaches Family Medicine at the McCleod Regional Hospital in Florence, SC.

Bob's Banter

I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want -- an adorable pancreas?" (Jean Kerr in "Dear Abby" column, Chicago Tribune, May 17, 1994, Section 5, p. 7.)

"Let's kill two birds with one stone. Put health care on hold so that Hillary can fix the post office mess. If she does, health care will seem like a 'piece of cake.'" (Terry G. Wodder in a Letter-to-the-Editor, Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1994) Ed's note: Where is the source of this ditty? -- Chicago!

The AMA: Part of the Problem...
or Part of the Solution?

"We agree. Every state medical society, 64 medical specialty societies, and the American Medical Association agree that any health system reform legislation must contain the principles outlined in the letter below..."

Thus appeared a full-page ad (p. A11) in the March 8, 1994, issue of the Chicago Tribune. The "letter" went on to require "universal coverage"; "choice of health plans, physicians, and other providers"; "competition in the (medical) marketplace"; "information" (for patients) for "informed decisions"; etc.

There were also some particular requests for physicians: "significant antitrust relief"; "physician-directed health care networks"; "enhanced powers" (for physicians); and "caps" on "non-economic damages, limits on plaintiff attorneys' fees."

Commentary: Baloney! Pompous, arrogant self-serving diatribe! The AMA is inherently part of the problem that health-care faces in this country. In this letter, they are trying to placate the public and the government by appearing to be for the best of everything for everyone. However, it is clear from this letter and the actions of the AMA for the past 30 years that they are interested only in their pocket books and preservation of their power status.

They embraced the government in 1965 for Medicare and later adopted Medicaid. Since that time, there has been a struggle between physicians to get as much from third-party payers (primarily the government) as possible, and third-party payers to limit these increasing demands for payment. This battle is primarily the cause of the so-called health-care crisis. And, we expect the agents (i.e., foxes) of this crisis (the government and the AMA and allied medical organizations) to make health care better (i.e., guard the hen house).

Once again, I call for all Christians to withdraw from the AMA and supportive organizations. These institutions are causing far more disease and death (for example, abortion, promotion of sexual immorality and the dissolution of the true family) than they are helping. They are disease-and-death-care providers rather than health-care providers. Do not be unequally yoked! (II Corinthians 6:14-18).

Note: After writing the above, I received a book review (Chicago Tribune, June 12, 1994, Section 14, p. 3) of The Serpent on the Staff: The Unhealthy Politics of the American Medical Association, written by Wolinsky and Brune and published by Putnam ($24.95). Their thesis is that the AMA is a "political entity that claims to be tending to the public's health while in reality looking after doctors' interests," i.e., "doctors' professional autonomy and wealth."

Only 245,000 of the nation's 640,000 physicians belong to the AMA, yet the AMA claims to speak for all. Its political action committee (AMPAC) "ranks second out of 4,000 political actions committees in direct contributions to federal candidates during the past two decades.... AMPAC has also nurtured long alliances with pharmaceutical companies and the tobacco industry" (Ed's emphasis). "The AMA and AMPAC transformed Medicare "into an open checkbook in which doctors billed the government for expanded services."

As a criticism of the AMA, the book is even more powerful because the authors obviously come from the more liberal side of politics and social reform. The authors' suggest a name change to the "American Doctors' Association." I suggest that it be choked to death by a huge withdrawal of membership.

A Follow-Up: Dr. Nigel de S. Cameron,
CMDS, and Others

In the May 1994 Reflections, I voiced concern over the label "evangelical" for "The Christian Stake in Bioethics," a conference on medical ethics held at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, May 19-21, 1994. Admittedly, I was hesitant with those concerns because I was not familiar with all the speakers and their writings. However, knowing some, I was suspicious that the speakers at this conference were not all "evangelical."

Now that the conference is over, I have talked to some participants. One attendee began our conversation with, "Your suspicions were confirmed!"

"You would never have known (from the content of the speakers) that the conference was sponsored by the Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS) or this evangelical seminary."

Another attendee described the conference as "not Biblically constrained." He was concerned about speakers promoting a philosophical basis for medical ethics rather than a Biblical basis. Another attendee described some of the speakers as simply "liberal."

Interestingly, there were several laments in the final convocation about the lack of Biblical basis found at this conference. My question is, "Why lament what was already determined to happen from the poor choice of some speakers?" What happened was predictable.

Philosophy vs. the Bible

I suspect what is being attempted. First, there is an effort to defend the Biblical position philosophically within the overall debate of medical ethics. In most medical and ethical arenas, the Bible is irrelevant, especially concerning any "dogmatic" positions.

Second, there is an effort to gain credibility with non-Christians in medical ethics. Christians want a voice in decisions and policy. They want to be heard in public debate.

Both goals are noble and right. However, two mistakes are made. First, there is rarely an honest philosophical debate today. For example, Martin Luther could debate Erasmus on more or less equal grounds. Then, scholars understood the nature of philosophical debate. Today, religion (really and almost exclusively Christianity) is just excluded from debate. There is not "honest" debate. There is ridicule and rejection instead.

Second, in an attempt to be credible and knowingly (or unknowingly) aware of the contempt for Christianity, attempts are made to blunt the sharp edge of Biblical truth. "Dignity" is used relative to man instead of his being created in the image of God. Scientific methods are used to "prove" that Christianity is healthy. "Patient autonomy" is explored, instead of submission to Almighty God.

All this reaching out to non-Christians is misguided at best and accommodating at worst. As representatives of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we hope to gain credibility with His enemies? Better to be martyred than to dishonor Him! Better to be laughed at than to water down His Word.

For sure, Christians must strive to enter the arena of medical-ethical debate, as they must strive to enter all areas of debate. However, in so doing we must be certain of and clear about our distinctives. We probably even need to frame the debate for our opponents, as most of them have lost or rejected the true concept of philosophical and metaphysical debate.

Admittedly, my goals are to teach Christians an understanding of Biblical-medical ethics. I would like to attempt debate with non-Christians, but I have not the time to do that (although I believe that I could.) I hope that others within my audience will eventually enter that arena.

I invite a response (of reasonable length for this newsletter) from any of the attendees or organizers of this conference. I have criticized at a distance and with some speculation. However, it seems that this conference fell short of its being consistently and formidably evangelical (Biblical).

Evangelical Leaders Love the World...
and Bill Clinton

"Is Bill Clinton really a Christian? Christianity Today set out to answer that question in its April 25, 1994, issue (Phillip Yancey, editor and author of this editorial). The answer. We don't know. The question of Bill Clinton's faith is a riddle." (The Forecast, May 15, 1994, p. 3)

Phillip Yancey also defended the President in the February 7, 1994, issue of Christianity Today in his editorial, "Breakfast at the White House." (Religion and Society Report, July 1994, pp. 7-8).

Billy Graham, speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said that the press had gone too far in its examination of Mr. Clinton's private life. "None of us is perfect," he said, calling for a "wall of prayer around Bill Clinton." Dr. Harold O. J. Brown asks, "Is Dr. Graham's wall of prayer intended to shield Mr. Clinton from criticism on moral issues?" (These include active promotion of abortion and homosexuality through his policies and appointment of like-minded people to high office.) (Ibid.)

On the day before the National Day of Prayer, May 5, 1994, Mrs. Bill Bright, Mrs. James Dobson, and other "highly placed evangelicals" were invited to pray with Bill Clinton in the White House. "As they reported on the Christian radio station WMBI (Chicago), the ladies were delighted. They joined hands and prayed for six minutes with -- not 'at,' -- the President." (Ibid.)

Commentary: No wonder the President believes that he is a Christian. Prominent Christian leaders embrace him as their own. As I have said before, Bill (and Hillary) Clinton are not just misguided and morally bad, they are evil. They promote in every way with their great power the death of millions of unborn children, sexual degeneracy, totalitarian government, coddling of vicious criminals, instability of the international scene, and the destruction of the true family and the Church of Jesus Christ.

If the Holy Spirit exists in the souls of the Clintons, all that I believe about Biblical truth is a lie. "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-18).

Letters - to - Ed

Faith at Work!

Dear Ed,

It was really nice meeting you, Dr. Terrell, and Dr. Adams at the San Diego conference in February. And as I promised, I am sending you a letter to let you know how much the newsletter and the Journal have influenced my practice of medicine. I was able to open my own practice last May, and now we are practically one year to the day since we've been open. Since I'm no longer working for anyone, I can tailor my practice according to the truth.

I was able to listen to the conference tapes from the 1993 conference and was convicted and inspired by a lot of what I heard Christian physicians should be involved in and doing. I began immediately incorporating all of these things into my practice of medicine. Since I am a member of a very strong evangelical church, getting the word out and evangelism is of utmost importance to us.

I want you to know that we have seen well over 40 conversions in just 8 months of practice. Many of these families are attending church and doing well. They have given up their sinful ways, and God is at work in their lives, restoring what has been eaten away by years of sinful behavior and activity.

As I was able to interject at the conference after Dr. Grant's lecture, serving God in obscurity is not a waste of a life. As a Christian physician in a small rural town that almost no one has heard of, God is able to use my life to reach people all over the world, as some of these people are now planning on going to our missionary fields in Africa and other places in the world.

Please be encouraged and continue, for we have but a short time before Jesus comes back. My husband and I both plan on attending the next conference, God willing, and should that not be in His plans, I'm sure that we'll be meeting on the other side.

Sincerely,

Ramona B. Woodriffe, M.D.
Globe, AZ

Ed's Note

I am greatly encouraged by this letter. It is also a little frightening for someone to believe and implement so wholeheartedly what we have been teaching. But then, if we have truly been Biblical, then spiritual fruit should result. In Dr. Woodriffe's case, it obviously has.

Medical Failure and Spiritual Healing

Dear Ed,

I appreciated the opportunity to speak with you briefly on the phone last Friday evening. As you suggested, I have compiled some of the facts of my history in an unpolished form for your review.

1. As a junior health-care administration student at the University of Illinois, I came down with numerous symptoms: constant fatigue, tremors, enlarged lymph nodes and spleen.

2. Over the next year, I visited numerous physicians (about, 10 including specialists at the University of Chicago), experienced a variety of diagnostic tests (CT scans, biopsies, bone marrows, and even a splenectomy), and incurred thousands of dollars of medical expenses, all in an effort to find some answers for my collection of symptoms. Yet, no answers were found.

3. During this time (at the age of twenty), I began to wonder seriously about my eternal destiny. After a clear presentation of the Gospel, I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior. This removed fears about my eternal destiny, but my medical symptoms remained unabated.

4. Over the next couple of months, the Lord began to convict me about my need to grow in Him. During this time, I did grow spiritually, and at the end of some intensive Bible study the Lord made it very clear to me that He wanted me to go on a short-term missions trip. This direction seemed impossible, since I was still sleeping about twelve hours per day and feeling awful during my waking hours. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God was compelling me to go, so I made plans to do so.

5. Within the next week (and weeks to follow), my condition greatly improved. My need for sleep decreased, as did the constant tremors I was having in my hands and legs. Two months later, during the missions trip, my symptoms were gone completely, never to return.

Upon my recovery, it was evident that what was necessary for healing in my was submission to the will of God in my life. Also, I was convinced that the world didn't need another health-care administrator offering man-centered solutions, but more people presenting the truth of God. For me, this meant entering seminary, and then pastoral ministry.

I relate this to you because I believe that it illustrates much of what you have been communicating through your writing -- especially what you have been writing about the need for God for total health and the vast limitations of modern medicine.

Thank you again for the valuable work that you are doing. It is needed more than ever with the threat of national health-care and the increasing denials of personal responsibility. If you can use my story to help illustrate your teaching in some way, please do so.

May the Lord continue to give you strength and wisdom as you serve Him.

Sincerely in Christ,

David Bostrom
Pastor, Caro Evangelical Free Church
Caro, Michigan

P.S. Because your writing addresses so many current ethical issues, it has proved to be a great help to my personal ministry -- both in preaching and counseling.

Ed's Note

What was the origin of Pastor Bostrom's illness? Did God cause it (John 9:1-3) to lead him to salvation and to a re-directed career? Was his illness truly organic and modern medicine was just not (yet) sophisticated to diagnose it? Was his illness demonically caused (Luke 9:37-43) in an attempt to prevent his change of heart and career?

My only answer to these questions is that his healing was not "coincidental," whatever its cause. With God, coincidences do not occur. Regardless of other answers, as Pastor Bostrom points out, modern medicine is extremely limited. It was powerless to either diagnose or to cure. Further, it would never consider any involvement of supernatural beings or events in his course.

The hope of modern medicine is explicit, "Someday we will know." Less explicit, but consistent with this hope, is that "Someday we will know everything!" For, if all will be known about disease. Then logically, all will be known about everything, because disease is directly or indirectly related to every facet of man's being and existence. Thus, medicine without a Biblical understanding is an alternative religion. The vigor and blindness with which it is being pursued today is only explained by its religious nature.

If men will not have the One and only God before them, they will have other gods before them. We have only exchanged gods of wood and stone for some complex biochemical compounds and electrical gadgetry that may be no more effective in offering present hope and which certainly enhance the eternally fatal error of false gods -- the loss of one's soul.

I believe that many, many diseases are directly or indirectly caused by one's spiritual life. These diseases are not just the obvious, such as sexually transmitted diseases, alcoholism, and cigarette smoking. Many are much more subtle: family strife, an overly busy life, irregular schedules, etc. Unfortunately, Christians are as guilty of these as the pagans.

Pastor Bostrom stands with a hero of the faith, Dr. David Livingstone. Dr. Livingstone went to Africa as a physician to treat the prevalent endemic diseases of the people there. However, his practice of medicine took so much time that little was left for evangelism and preaching. Thus, he quit medicine altogether and ministered through the Great Physician.

Don't get me wrong. There is a place in medicine (and medical administration) for Christians. However, if one's goal is to promote health and healing as widely as possible, he will accomplish that goal only through spiritual means. I am convinced that preaching and teaching of the Word of God over one's lifetime will do more to promote physical health and healing than all of one's medical ministrations. This accomplishment, interestingly, will be only an unintended "side effect" of the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

RU-486 and Christians in Medicine

Dear Ed,

Thanks for the great publication! It has helped me a great deal in my thinking, as well as the practice of pharmacy.

I'm concerned about the possible legalization of RU-486 in this country. I work for a large HMO and would like to give some forethought as to how I might approach this if my employer was going to carry the "abortion pill." Of course, as a Christian I would not consider dispensing it. Your thoughts?

Thank you,

A Pharmacist (Name withheld at Ed's discretion)

Ed's Note

Frances Schaeffer wrote somewhere that the increasing immorality of certain professions (not just medicine) could become so thoroughly immoral that a conscience-awakened-and-trained Christian could no longer practice that profession. Medicine and pharmacy may be approaching that point, especially with increasing third-party intrusion (especially the state) into medicine and pharmacy. This letter-writer has raised a difficult issue, although she has focused it too narrowly.

We are directly or indirectly involved in immorality and evil every day. Our taxes directly or indirectly pay for abortions and other evils. We buy stocks in conglomerates that manufacture instruments and medications used in abortions or that produce alcoholic beverages (or materials that are used in the manufacture of alcoholic drinks). Many of us work for or in hospitals that do abortions. I suspect that this letter-writer's HMO pays for abortions, at least in certain "extreme" cases.

The issue is where to draw the line in our involvement indirectly (or perhaps directly) in these immoral activities. For me, I have chosen to work against abortion as I have opportunity, yet I work for an employer (the State of Georgia) who pays for and does "therapeutic" abortions in the hospital here. However, I will choose to lose my job and/or my license to practice medicine before I will do an abortion, assist in an abortion, or even tell a woman where she can get one. I will take the same position against euthanasia, if it should become prevalent.

Others may draw their lines at different places. Some may not work for a hospital or clinic that does abortions. Many pharmacists have chosen not to prescribe combination birth control pills because of their abortifacient potential. While we may draw our lines at different places, no one can escape indirect support of immoral activities. This involvement was one meaning of Jesus' instruction to "be in the world but not of the world."

Even so, RU-486 may be direct participation in an abortion. RU-486 will have other therapeutic indications (at least that's what advocates tell us), so every prescription filled for RU-486 will not be for an abortion. However, there is no question that the large majority of prescriptions will be for abortions.

I am not sure that filling a prescription for RU-486 is any different than handing an abortionist the curette or suction tube to perform an abortion. A pharmacist would be more than 90 percent certain that abortion was the intended effect of the use of RU-486. Thus, I would have to take the position that it would be wrong for a pharmacist to dispense RU-486.

What action the letter-writer takes will be her decision before God and those whose counsel she chooses to seek. Once RU-486 is legalized, she may try to influence the policy-makers of her HMO not to prescribe the drug. A good argument can be made solely on the serious side effects and the lawsuits that may result. Or, she may simply decide to quit her job once RU-486 becomes available through her HMO. Or, she may have other options that do not come to me at this time.

There Is No AIDS (HIV) Epidemic - Part II

Dear Ed,

I enjoy and look forward to your Biblical reflections.

AIDS statistics are past history. They are recorded so in a way you can say there is no AIDS epidemic, but there is an HIV epidemic. Many thousands of young people are infected with HIV - they don't know they are infected & continue infecting others. What testing is being done and HIV figures being compeled show that the disease is doubling.

Sex "education" is not helping. People continue in their immoral life style, thinking "it" will never happen to them, so the HIV epidemic is well on its way. Only time will tell of the horror ahead. I truly believe that we are almost at a point of no return. HIV is winning, because government and health officials are letting it happen.

Name withheld at Ed's discretion

Ed's Note

This writer missed my point from my last newsletter. First, when I said "no AIDS epidemic." I was including HIV as the cause of AIDS Second, what I meant about there being "no AIDS epidemic" was that AIDS is almost entirely a deadly symptom of the epidemic of immorality worldwide. Even with a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS or a treatment to cure AIDS, disease and death would continue in these populations because of their immoral practices.

HIV/AIDS is not "winning" because of government and health officials are letting it happen. People are not being forced to inject IV drugs, practice sodomy, or promiscuous sex. All these things are practiced quite voluntarily, even happily, in many instances.

True -- "officials" have not applied traditional methods of epidemiological control to HIV/AIDS. True -- they have done more to encourage (e.g., sex education and birth control) than to discourage such practices. However, let's not blame "officials" for voluntary behavior. There is plenty of blame that they do deserve, as I often describe on these pages

Finally, HIV/AIDS has not doubled its numbers since 1988. As Christians, we must strive to be accurate about our facts, or we are part of the problem, rather than the solution.

AIDS: Issues and Answers*

Vol. 8, No. 4 (53) July 1994

Casualties of War: AIDS

War and its disruption is spreading the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Ruwanda and elsewhere in Africa, a continent where 67 percent of AIDS cases in the world have been reported. Soldiers gang-rape teenage girls and women. With the HIV infections as high as one-third in some areas, infection of the victims is quite likely. Those who are attacked with machetes but are not killed stand a good chance of being infected with HIV from wounds inflicted on previous victims. Victims bleeding on each other and those who help them pose another risk.

In refugee camps, rape is common, and sexual promiscuity (including prostitution) is rampant. Elsewhere, "Peace-keeping armies bring an increase in consensual activity with locals." Many medical workers avoid giving blood transfusions for the seriously wounded because so many of the donors are HIV- infected. (The Augusta Chronicle, July 14, 1994, p. 15A)

Let's Not Forget About Hepatitis B!

Eighteen (13 percent) patients operated on by a surgeon-in-training became infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV). In every patient who was tested, the HBV was "identical" to that of the surgeon. Investigation of these cases has provided a previously unknown route of infection.

With repeated tying of knots, the surgeon's fingertips became bruised. The HBV was then cultured from his skin surface! The HBV is so small that it could have penetrated the pores of the intact gloves. Because of the highly infectious nature of HBV, only a few viral particles are needed to cause infection. (The New York Times, March 22, 1994, p. B6)

Commentary: While HIV/AIDS gets all the attention, HBV continues to be a prevalent cause of morbidity and mortality. For health-care workers, HBV is a far greater threat than HIV. Some 100 health personnel die each year of liver failure caused by HBV. Far fewer than 100 have been infected with HIV from patients over the 13 years of the AIDS epidemic.

HBV is preventable. A good vaccine is now available and recommended for all health-care workers. Because vaccination programs were not being effective in selected groups, it is now recommended by various authorities that all babies be vaccinated against HBV at birth.

Update on an AIDS Vaccine

And now -- an update on an AIDS vaccine. There is none! That's correct. After millions of dollars on research and the most intensive, comprehensive investigation of any virus or infectious process in the history of man, we are probably not any closer to an AIDS vaccine.

"The Frenchman (Luc Montagnier) who discovered the AIDS virus says scientists have hit a dead end in their efforts to produce an effective anti-AIDS vaccine and must now explore new ways of making one work. 'This is the time to rethink the vaccine because the first avenues we explored are wrong. They have reached a dead end.'" (Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1994, Section 1, p. 23)

"At least five volunteers in the government's principal AIDS vaccine study have become infected with the AIDS virus despite receiving the vaccine, raising concerns not only about how well the vaccine works but whether it may have increased the likelihood of their infection and -- in one case -- even accelerated the progression of the disease" (Chicago Tribune, May 29, 1994, front page).

There is, moreover, further evidence of the unique nature of this virus.

"Scientists do not understand why vaccine-induced antibodies, which represent a potent weapon against nearly every other known virus, apparently fail to neutralize the AIDS virus" (Ibid.)

Commentary: Fascinating. Very fascinating. 1) HIV is a virus that infects very few people outside those with hard-core, risky behaviors. 2) HIV seems to be innocuous to antibodies produced by the host. 3) HIV does not infect animals so that laboratory models cannot be studied. 4) HIV can (at this time) be prevented only by avoiding the very sins that our culture loves, and it prefers to bury the AIDS dead, rather than to even consider repentance.

There Is No AIDS Epidemic - Part II

See Letters-to-Ed in this issue.

The Cost of HIV/AIDS Is Coming Down?

"Originally, it was believed that an HIV-infected employee could cost a business a whopping (sic) $85,000-to-$100,000 during the first five years of treatment. This is no longer true because new early-treatment strategies have lowered costs dramatically. The average cost is now placed at $16,000. This cost includes health insurance, short- and long-term disability benefits, employee life insurance, and pension costs." (Business Briefing, published by the National Institute of Business Management, Inc., May 1994, p. 4)

Commentary: This "treatment" is of doubtful efficacy, and decreasing costs are in part driven by government and societal pressure for making HIV/AIDS victims a special class of people. Nevertheless, this decrease (if true) is good news for small businesses whose profit-margin could be severely compromised by one worker with HIV/AIDS.

* Note for new readers: This page is a continuation of the newsletter by the same name that I published for 6 1/2 years. Also, I published a book, What Every Christian Should Know About the AIDS Epidemic, in 1991. A few copies are available ($5.00 each - slightly scuffed covers).

Briefs and Commentary

Contributions vs. Taxes

"Black's Law Dictionary gives as the definition for "tax" this description, 'Essential characteristics of a tax are that it is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, executed pursuant to legislative authority.'" (Cited in "Report from Counsel" to the Subscribers of The Christian Brotherhood Newsletter, May 1994.

Commentary: This definition is good ammunition against the deception of the Clintons et al who want to avoid the word "tax." If you aren't aware of this deception, listen to Rush Limbaugh or go back to sleep.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

During my wife's stay in a university hospital for back surgery, I remained at her bedside virtually around the clock for about four days. Other than the surgeon, who stopped by regularly, and an internist who peeked in the door once a day, I saw no other doctors enter the room. But the bill paid by the insurance company (approximately $25,000) included at least 15 consults a day from various doctors, to the tune of $100 to $300 each. I would not have noticed except that one consult was billed by a (former) family friend, a gynecologist who stopped by to chat for less than two minutes during his rounds. I concluded that if a doctor passed by the room and looked in, that counted as a consult. All in all, the whole thing appeared to be a mutual, and very lucrative, back-scratching exercise. I'd venture to say that if you were to trim a few of these "consults," hospital bills would drop drastically. (Letter in Consumer Reports, June 1994, p. 368)

Commentary: I deeply hope that none of my readers are guilty of such "consults." I wish that all Christians were not guilty of this sin. However, knowing that Christian physicians often mimic the practices of their (worldly) colleagues in other areas, I suspect that many Christians have adopted this padding of their income, as well. This letter-writer has described all too clearly one dimension of the high cost of health care.

National Association of Evangelicals' and...
(Incomplete) "Health Care Reform"

"The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) calls upon the President and members of Congress to diligently seek to make health care accessible to all..."

The above is the beginning statement of the concluding paragraph of a resolution entitled "Health-care Reform" and adopted at the 1994 Annual Convention of the NAE.

I have two questions for the NAE. 1) Where is the Biblical basis for government's being responsible for "making health care accessible to all?" 2) Where is the U.S. constitutional basis for the same responsibility?

In fairness, the NAE's resolution has some good standards. It opposes abortion as being any part of the health-care reform. It opposes euthanasia. It argues for personal responsibility and personal payment for the excesses thereof. It argues for judicial and tort reform of medical liability cases. It even argues for "provisions which will maximize the creativity of the private sector while minimizing government control."

However, to ask the President and Congress to act is to ask for legislation. To ask for legislation is to ask for its implementation with the full power of the local police, federal agencies, and the U.S. military to enforce the law! Also, to ask for legislation is to ask for the power to tax to implement that law with the same enforcement powers! Perhaps, if we framed any request of the federal government in this way, we might be more careful of asking for anything from them.

The NAE is supposed to be a leadership Christian organization with an office in the nation's capital. Perhaps, its thinking is corrupted by the "inside-the-beltway-mentality" (or "La-la-land on the Potomac"). But, then, what is the excuse for all the Christian organizations outside the beltway? May our country be delivered from Christians who prefer to call upon the government instead of the Living God!

Would You Be a Conference Sponsor?

Our San Diego conference in February of this year was a great success with its speakers and the quality of attendees. However, it had a large financial shortfall. Thus, we are hesitant about another conference. Yet, these conferences are a vital source of updating information and establishing ties with other Christians and other organizations.

Thus, some of you may want to be a sponsor. With $5,000 of "up-front" money, we could venture forth and plan another conference. If you can help with $1000 or more toward this end, please call me at 1 (800) 766-7042 any evening 8:00-10:30 P.M. E.T.


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