Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine
Vol. 5, No. 4 (28)
The Sacred and Misunderstood Concept of "Confidentiality"
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.
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? --
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
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
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.)
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"
Letters - to - Ed
Faith at Work!
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.
Ramona B. Woodriffe, M.D.
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
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
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,
Pastor, Caro Evangelical Free Church
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.
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
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
A Pharmacist (Name withheld at Ed's discretion)
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
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
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 -
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
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
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.
"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,
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
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
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.