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Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine

Vol. 8, No. 4 (46) 

Contents:


Choose This Day What Medicine You Will Serve: Allopathic, Homeopathic, Osteopathic, Chiropractic, or Legion
or
Is All Medical Ground Sinking Sand?

Over time, various skirmishes between allopathic medicine and alternative medicine have taken place on these pages. Some have been friendly, others more vigorous. I find myself somewhere an advocate of both sides, but not an advocate toward each in the same way.

I am an M.D. -- Doctor of Medicine -- with post-graduate training in Family Medicine. I began medical school in 1965, which gives me some 32+ years of experience in allopathic medicine. For the past 16 years, I have had a two fold condemnation of allopathic medicine (which I prefer to call "modern medicine." 

1) Modern medicine is not only atheistic, it is anti-God. From this position, it has opened a Pandora's box of moral evils that have caused morbidity and mortality in the millions: abortion, infanticide, sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS), euthanasia, drug-induced mania (both prescriptive and illegal), etc. For modern medicine to promote health in the highest and best sense, it would have to return to the God of the Bible.

2) The efficacy of modern medicine is mostly a myth. Its conquest of infectious disease is based upon distorted data in which the cessation of epidemics coincided with the benefits of technical and social achievements. Other claims are almost as vacuous, e.g., advances in cures for heart disease and cancer. In fact, I contend that modern medicine (even omitting abortion) causes more morbidity and mortality than it reduces and prevents. 

I won't belabor these points. I have made them often and in detail on these pages and elsewhere. I review them here to remind readers from where I come.

A Challenge to the Alternative Advocates

To the extent that I advocate the non-licensure of medicine (and all other state licenses), the freedom of a (truly) open marketplace, and the right of consumers to choose (caveat emptor), I advocate alternative medicine.

However, with my studies and writings in medicine and medical ethics, I have not had the time to investigate many alternative medical practices. Moreover, I am not willing to reject all of modern medicine, especially its considerable data base of human physiology and pathology. I strongly believe that with an undergirding of a Biblical medical ethic and a critical review of all its practices, modern medicine could be a powerful force for the alleviation of suffering, and to a lesser extent, prevention of death.

Three people in my own family have been saved by modern medicine this year. My daughter delivered by C-section a 4-lb. baby who was in the neonatal ICU for a week. My son's appendix ruptured and sealed off, forming an abscess that also ruptured. All three would have died without modern medicine. 

What I don't hear from alternative medicine advocates is humility. Every medicine is not right for every person. Every treatment is not right for every person. Medicines and treatments have side effects. 

Like you, I'm sure, I am on many Christian mailing lists. Recently, I have gotten the same brochure from several sources on a medical approach that claims all and threatens you with disease and death if you do not subscribe to it. I have two serious problems with this brochure.

First, it is in the form of a brochure-letter, signed by the person whose mailing list is being used. The reader assumes that the writer wrote the letter and advocates the considerable claims therein. Signing one's name to a generic letter is deceptive and dishonest. I doubt that the signatories believe every word written about the medical approach. If they do, their integrity is even more compromised.

Second, the claims made in the letter for health and cure of disease cannot be anything more than preposterous. Nothing on earth exists that can make such claims. The human race is condemned to disease and death in spite of the best and truest ministrations. For Christians to make such claims is to fly in the face of Scripture and reality. I publicly call on those brothers to repent for this marketing ploy!

Come, Let Us Reason Together

After the last statement, anyone to whom it applies may not be in a reasoning mood! However, the primary purpose of this letter is not to criticize alternative medicine advocates, but to try to find common ground.

Efficacy of medical treatments, allopathic or alternative, is difficult to determine. The body is a wonderful fighter of disease and restorer of health. All approaches find most of their efficacy within the natural powers of the body to fight disease and heal itself. An antibiotic given for a cold "cures" the cold because the body will cure it anyway. A homeopathic treatment for a cold will have the same result and claim.

The question of efficacy is all important. If efficacy cannot be determined, then any treatment for any medical problem will suffice. Any practitioner of any method can make equally valid claims.

Here, I will try to establish some truisms to govern both allopathic and alternative medicine. I call them "truisms" because they generally apply, but they do have many exceptions.

A refusal to dialogue by advocates of alternative medicine is as condemning of their approaches as is the closed mind of many in modern medicine. As my initial foray into this quicksand, some truisms may be modified or even deleted, but the effort must be made if any sense is to be made of the healing enterprise. I have an uneasy feeling that we may not end up with much to stand on in either camp.

Truisms Toward Efficacy and Common Ground

Some truisms can be established from the preceding presentation. 1) The human body is usually able to limit disease and heal injuries. This fact alone ought to invoke humility and caution about claims of amelioration or cure. The example of a cold is given above. It can also apply to more serious problems. Several studies have shown that the treatment of most heart attacks have the same outcome in the hospital or at home. Thus, any mode of treatment could be claimed to have been effective in those with positive outcomes. (One must remember that in these studies, patients were screened for life-threatening complications of the heart attacks, and these patients were excluded from the study.)

There have been some (rare) spontaneous cures of advanced cancer. Prayer, radiation and chemotherapy, vitamin therapy, and chiropractic (old school) would get great boons from coincidental timing of treatment in these instances!

2) Living organisms are quite variable in their causes and effects. I say "living organisms" because I include disease-causing pathogens, as well as human beings. Viral influenza may incapacitate one person with high fevers and body aches for a week and in another may cause "sniffles" that are barely noticeable. The difference could be caused by a difference in the virulence of the organism or the resistance of the host (nutrition, rest, immunity, etc.) or a combination of both.

One person lives for many years with breast cancer, another dies within months. One heart attack kills, another causes no residual damage. One broken bone heals, but another fails to do so. Hepatitis causes no noticeable illness in one person, but it spreads to a family member who dies from it.

The efficacy, or lack thereof, of any treatment in any one of these situations seems at the mercy of the natural course of the medical problem and its host.

3) Origins and identities with the occult should be investigated and avoided. Perhaps, this truism is the most important relative to a Bible-based belief and practice. If Christians cannot agree here, then we are unlikely to agree at all relative to medical diagnosis and treatment. For example, acupuncture is derived from Taoism, a Chinese mystical and philosophical view of reality (Reisser, Reisser, and Weldon, New Age Medicine, InterVarsity Press, 1987, pp. 53-62). 

Chiropractic has occultic roots and practitioners, especially relative to applied kinesiology and (now in vogue) "touch therapy" (Weldon and Wilson, Occult Shock and Psychic Forces, Master Books, 1980, pp. 204-217). Thus, the origins and practices of all alternative approaches should be investigated for their religious, "psychic," and occult connections.

Of course, modern medicine does not escape this connection. In a recent issue, I identified professing Christians identifying with all sorts of Eastern religious and occultic practices, all in the name of "spiritual" healing. And, I have already named the "anti-God" posture of allopathic medicine.

4) Advancements in physiology and pathophysiology should not be ignored. Perhaps, the evolution of chiropractic illustrates this truism. All diseases were once thought to be caused by misalignments of the spine. (Those of the "old school" still believe this theory.) As anatomy and physiology have advanced, many modern chiropractors limit themselves to treatment of back problems based upon this knowledge. 

Indeed, a recent study (The New England Journal of Medicine, October 5, 1995, pp. 913-917) showed that outcomes for patients with "common" low back problems were equivalent for patients seeing orthopedic specialists, primary care physicians, and chiropractors. (There should have also been a category for no treatment or self-treatment.) The only differences were that costs to the patients were almost twice as much from the orthopedists and chiropractors as from the primary care physicians.

By contrast, one family has lost two children by choosing prayer over modern medicine. The first child died in 1991 from an ear infection. The second died this year from diabetes (Chicago Tribune, June 11, 1997, Section 1, p. 6). Many Christians may not like it, but prayer becomes an alternative method when there are clear indications of illness and its treatment by modern medicine. Answered prayer may often be in the form of modern medicine.

Admittedly, knowledge of physiology and pathology is problematical. Today's knowledge may be corrected, or at least changed, by tomorrow's knowledge. For example, peptic ulcers are now thought to be an infectious disease rather than stress-related. However, relative to diabetes, any practitioner (alternative or allopathic) who attempts to treat most insulin-dependent diabetics without insulin is flying in the face of time- and research-tested knowledge.

5) Treatments ought to correspond to some established knowledge of physiology or pathophysiology. This truism is even more problematical: whose knowledge? Acupuncture is based upon some theory of yin and yang. Chiropractic is based on a theory of pressure on nerve roots. Who can say that their theories are wrong? Perhaps, it is possible if one can take a more objective view, if that is possible in these highly charged issues.

a) For Christians, connections (and especially origins) with other religions (including secular humanism) and the occult should virtually make them untenable. (I have previously noted this strong objection to psychology and psychiatry.) 

b) Are there not some rational conclusions that can be drawn from some practices? Is chiropractic reasonable? Colonic irrigation? Iridology? Rife electromagnetic waves? Perhaps my training blinds me here. However, these and a myriad other practices just don't conform to known physics, biochemistry, and human physiology. 

Modern medicine gives digitalis to strengthen the pumping mechanism of the heart, conforming to knowledge of physics (pumping mechanism), biochemistry (cellular effects of digitalis), and physiology (Starling's law). Where are the correlations for alternative medical practices? This question leads us to the next truism.

6) There ought to be some scientific evidence for the practice. A corollary would be, individual testimonies have little credence. As I have said above, if we are not to accept any treatment for any problem, there must be some way to decide efficacy.

Individual testimonies are poor sources of verification. The effects of placebos (both medical, mechanical, and surgical) is well known (see below). The inaccuracies of subjective interpretations of events is well known. The intent to deceive by personal testimonies is well-known. 

Somehow, patterns of outcome must be determined. Modern medicine strives for large-scale, double-blind studies, but even these are not infallible. Perhaps, somewhere in between is a reasonable approach. To eliminate most individual variations, research must be done on groups. While this method is not infallible, it is far more likely to overcome biases and subjectivity.

In this vein, it must be said sooner or later, that nothing relative to medical care will be infallible. So, we seem to have these extremes. At one end is any treatment for any problem evaluated on a case-study of one. At the other end are large-scale, double-blind studies which for the near future (at least several decades under ideal circumstances) is a practical impossibility.

But, patterns ought to be established among groups of people. Is there any other way to avoid total anarchy in medical treatments? The size of the groups may vary according to prevalence of diseases, the treatment being studied, and other factors. "Statistical probability" (e.g., the 95 percent confidence level) is mostly a contrived notion of modern medicine to convince itself of efficacy. It seems possible to achieve reasonable certainty without such mathematical games.

As a brief sidebar, we should be thankful that God has not left us with such difficulty relative to beliefs about Him. He has given us His objective Word, which is truth without the need for empirical confirmation. Further, the difficulty, nay impossibility, to know "truth" in medicine ought to cause us to value the Scriptures all the more. For certain, we can know truths about God with far more certainty than we can know concerning the understanding of disease and the treatment of patients (and everything else).

7) Every method has a wide variation in its application by individual practitioners. This observation is true of both allopathic and alternative medicine. Among M.D.'s, one cardiologist might recommend coronary bypass surgery, while another would recommend medical therapy, while still another might recommend strict diet and exercise alone (less likely than the other two approaches.)

In chiropractic, I doubt that each practitioner does the same adjustments. Probably, each has those that he prefers and seem to work better. Various practitioners of colonic irrigation probably have their favorite solutions. And, various sound and energy machines are certainly different with different theories.

8) A distinction should be made between life-threatening situations and chronic conditions. Chronic conditions are those that are have their effects over a period of months and years. They range from the merely annoying, such as "old age" (degenerative) arthritis, to the eventually life-threatening, such as lupus erythematosus (a connective tissue disease that can affect every organ in the body). 

However, a characteristic of these diseases is that they wax and wane. If fact, they may rapidly deteriorate into life-threatening complications or they may virtually disappear from any effect on the body. Thus, the efficacy of any treatment of these conditions is highly dependent upon its timing. If started as the disease wanes, a new "cure" is born. If started as the disease waxes, the treatment will be rejected as ineffective, even harmful.

This variability is one of the great difficulties of determining efficacy and debating allopathic vs. alternative medicine. Perhaps, with these diseases, the treatment modality really does not matter (more later). Its efficacy will be almost impossible to determine. 

My observation is that most people make this distinction between life-threatening and chronic conditions. Even most practitioners and their patients will go to an allopathic emergency room when they have their heart attack. They will have surgery when their appendix ruptures. Many, if not most, will undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation for advanced cancer.

There seems to be a confidence in allopathic medicine in many, if not most, people when "push comes to shove." If not pursued for oneself, then for one's wife, husband, and children

Certainly, there are many shades of gray here. What appears to be life-threatening, may not actually be. Some alternative approaches for emergency situations may be better than allopathic medicine can offer, e.g., patients saved from spinal fusion for back problems by chiropractic (personal observation). 

9) What is alternative today may be allopathic tomorrow. Some allopathic medicines came from what we would call "alternative medicine" today, e.g., digitalis, aspirin, ergotamines, and caffeine. More recently, aloe for burns has become decidedly allopathic, where it was once alternative and a word-of-mouth recommendation. Within the past few years, a branch of research has sprung up to test some alternative approaches to determine whether they may become allopathic.

10) We must beware of the placebo effect. Pills with virtually no known active ingredients relieve headaches, decrease tension, decrease blood pressure, decrease pain, etc. One experiment in the 1960s even compared real blood vessel surgery to relieve heart pain with operations that only incised the skin and did nothing internally. Both methods were comparable!

With the placebo effect, we do approach the "any treatment for any problem." Possibly, any treatment will make any condition better, at least subjectively, and sometimes objectively as well.

(Believe it or not, I did not set out with 10 truisms. I just seem to have ended here!)

Where in the World Do These Truisms Leave Us?

Based upon these principles, I suggest these guidelines as a beginning dialogue between allopathic and alternative medicine.

1) For Christians, our bonds in Christ far exceed any commitments to any type of medicine. To suggest that one cannot be a Christian or that one Christian cannot fellowship with one another because they differ on some medical approach is an outrage (in most instances). Matthew 18:15-20 might even apply here.

2) Relative to most chronic, non-life-threatening conditions, neither side has much of a claim of efficacy. As discussed above, chronic conditions have such an ebb and flow within a high degree of subjectivity as to almost preclude certainty of efficacy.

3) Humility and some doubt ought to exist for any type of treatment. We ought to revere the body and its ability to heal far more than some medical approach. Within allopathic medicine, possibly no more than two percent of methods have any "scientific evidence."

4) For immediate, life-threatening conditions, allopathic medicine is far and away the preferred approach. This guideline may be the one most agreed upon: if not verbally, then by action.

5) Far and away, Biblical knowledge and obedience will produce the most healthy, disease- and accident-free life. I speak here not only of the obvious, such as absence of sexually transmitted diseases, but observing the Sabbath, getting sufficient rest, avoidance of a chaotic daily activities, etc.

6) This Biblical religion must be exercised by both allopathic and alternative medicine. Alternative medicine must root out the occult and pagan religious origins. Allopathic medicine must return to a Biblical ethic.

7) Allopathic physiology and pathophysiology should not be ignored. While this body of knowledge is not unchanging truth, it has established a basis for disease and its treatment. 

8) The state must get out of all regulation of medicine. Licensure and government programs that provide medical care must be ended. Government does retain a limited role in public health measures and a central role in the prosecution of criminal intent and negligence in medical matters.

9) Ideally, the terms "allopathic" and "alternative" should not exist. This situation existed before modern licensure. Even today, practitioners based primarily in either camp utilize the practices of the other. Some alternative practices have become allopathic. Many allopathic approaches have been found to be ineffective and stopped or modified. 

10) I issue a warning to alternative medicine. There is an increasing effort to make alternative medicine more mainstream. A federal board to review and govern research in alternative medicine has already been established. At first glance, alternative medicine advocates might rejoice in an expectation of greater acceptance by allopathic medicine and the public. However, this increased scrutiny and oversight will inevitably lead to regulations that will severely restrict the practice of alternative medicine as allopathic medicine is now restricted.

In Conclusion

There needs to be more openness among Christians in both allopathic medicine and alternative medicine. Both camps have serious deficiencies, even sins, that are more or less unique to each. Little is being done to address these deficiencies and sins. I offer this article as a place to start discussion. Its brevity may limit its usefulness, but I have attempted to cover a variety of issues (more or less) in outline form with examples. As I have written, exceptions to virtually everything have danced around in my head and nagged that agreement is not really possible.

At this point, I am unwilling to give up the best of allopathic medicine. For example, how can an insulin-dependent diabetic be treated in any way other than through allopathic medicine? However, a non-insulin diabetic may benefit from the more personal and caring approach of an alternative practitioner. To me, most of alternative medicine seems foolish and without scientific merit. But, I am willing to fight for the freedom for it to flourish and to fight for the best that modern medicine has to offer. Our patients and their families will be the beneficiaries.

Brief Reports with Commentary

The Truth Is Out There

"Elaine Showalter is pursued by tired people.... the perpetually tired people who can get alarmingly energetic when someone disagrees with them about the nature of their illness."

Dr. Showalter is "an active feminist and a professor of English and American literature at Princeton University. She has "additional expertise" in psychiatry. Having done scholarship on hysteria, such as the Salem witch trials and shell shock among combat soldiers in World War I, she concludes that certain "illnesses" are actually modern cases of hysteria.

In her book, Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media (Columbia University Press, 1997), she discusses the modern hysterias of chronic fatigue syndrome, recovered memory, multiple personality, and Gulf War syndrome. She also includes people who claim to have been abducted by aliens and exposed to satanic rituals. (The Augusta Chronicle, July 24, 1997, p. 3B)

Commentary: I love it! "Tired people getting alarmingly energetic" if you disagree that they are sick. Chronic fatigue syndrome and other "illnesses" placed in the same category as alien abductions. (Yes, avid Christians, satanic rituals are not widespread, but are rare. Even so, we should remain guarded about their reality and possibility.)

Now, I abhor feminists, but that makes her work even more substantial from my perspective. And -- it proves one of the major points of my lengthy article on allopathic and alternative medicine: the truth is out there (in the scientific and scholarly literature). Truth is not perhaps the right name, because I believe that truth is only found and linked closely with Scripture. Choose your appellation: "solid facts," "empirical proofs," "factual reality," etc. I like empirical proof. It shows its somewhat tenuous, but factual origin, and is a sort of proof.

One irony is that adjacent to this book review was an advertisement by a psychiatric clinic for "post traumatic stress disorder," which I would place under the hysteria umbrella, as well.

Some Christians Don't Discern the Truth

"This writer apologizes for the length of this report, but its content could affect hundreds of thousands, or millions of lives -- including your own and its recommendations need to be acted upon. Please copy and distribute this report as widely as possible to Desert Storm vets, active duty personnel, Congressman, Senators, to doctors (medical and alternative), to the media, etc." (Ed's emphasis). (The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, August 1996, pp. 1-40).

Commentary: So begins Donald McAlvany's "Special Report: Germ Warfare Against America: The Desert Storm Plague and Cover-up." McAlvany writes a newsletter, "The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor" ("An in-depth monetary, economic, geopolitical, and precious metals analysis.") He writes much that is very good. He writes some that is very bad -- including this report on the Gulf War Syndrome (GWS).

Even if the GWS were a reality, then the numbers ("millions") are certainly inflammatory. This fact alone condemns the report. Calling it a "plague" is also inflammatory.

The "facts" presented are inconsistent. He give four causes of the GWS: biologicals, immunizations, pyridostigmine bromide, and destruction of facilities that housed or manufactured chemical and biological weapons. However, he focuses on one cause, a form of mycoplasma.

There is no Gulf War Syndrome per se. Like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it is a compilation of symptoms both real, psychosomatic, and psychophysiologic that have no distinct pattern and no one etiology.

For sure, there were illnesses from the Gulf War from infections and exposure to toxic agents. But, they were surprisingly few and failed to be statistically significant. (See above report and Reflections, March 1997.)

My review here is indeed a brief report on his 40 pages. However, I name McAlvany's article only to illustrate the irresponsibility of one who claims the name of Christ. As I pointed out in my last newsletter, I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness. I want to scream and I want to weep when I read such a report as McAlvany's. 

As noted in the first article in these "Brief Reports," "the truth is out there," that is, in the world literature if we have the willingness and understanding to find and accept it. Should Christians have a higher standard of scholarly endeavor? I think so, but I find too many whose tangents severely detract from their good work.

Irrational Fear: Breast Cancer vs. Heart Disease

In 1993, some 375,981 women (all ages combined) died from heart disease, and 43,555 women died of breast cancer. Among women aged 35-54, some 12,032 died of heart disease, and 9,279 died of breast cancer. However, the number one fear of American women is breast cancer.

Commentary: These numbers are not to put women down. With the fascination and exhibition of the female breast in our society, perhaps women's fear of breast cancer as part of their identity is not so irrational. 

At any rate, this contrast of perception vs. reality is only one example of the irrationality of fallen men and women. For example, I fear a knife attack more than being shot, when the latter is far more likely to be the deadlier of the two without a route of escape (i.e., run!).

Abandon Cancer Research!

"Frankly, I'm not convinced that there are wonderful cancer cures waiting to be discovered. We have given it our best effort for decades: billions of dollars of support, the best scientific talent available. It hasn't paid off." (John Bailar of the University of Chicago, who with colleague Heather Gornick argues in a The New England Journal of Medicine article that the 30-year war on cancer has achieved little in reducing deaths and should be abandoned in favor of greater efforts at prevention. Printed in Chicago Tribune, June 13, 1997, Section 1, p. 23)

Commentary: I like to quote people who agree with me! However, research ought to be a private, not government-funded endeavor. Then, its direction would simply be determined by those paying the bills.

RU 486 Has Yet to Hit the American Market

"The boycott against Hoechst Marion Roussel regarding RU 486 is having an impact. In spite of their aggressive efforts, pro-abortion activists haven't been able to make this drug available in the U.S. Even with an unlimited amount of money and the total support of the Clinton administration, no drug company wants to touch it. (Life Issues Connector, July 1997, p. 6)

Commentary: Pro-life peoples have great reason to celebrate this fact. At times, it seems that all possible forces are arrayed against us. But, so far, David has at least stunned Goliath and may yet take his head on this issue.

The Boycott of Disney: Why Not Evolution?

Commentary: The Southern Baptist Convention (and now some other groups) has boycotted Disney, a conglomerate with tentacles into almost every nook and cranny of American life. The boycott is over Disney's policies and favoritism to homosexuals -- a just action with which I agree.

But, aren't we a little late? I have been to Disney World several times, the last to Epcot Center, probably 10 years ago. While not so apparent in the Magic Kingdom, the evolutionary bias in many Epcot exhibits drips as much as any rain forest ever did. Evolution and eons of time are "in your face" at these exhibits. At least that was my experience.

Does not acceptance and promotion of homosexuality directly proceed from an atheistic, evolutionary point of view? Are Christians as watchful as they ought to have accepted evolution at Disney long before the homosexual issue?

I raise this point as only a mild challenge. I am proud of the Baptists for taking a stand. They seem to have struck a chord and gained far more attention than I would have expected. But, we must not only challenge the limbs on the tree, we must go after the roots. Then, we will have proper discernment.

Fact and Fiction: The Practice of Medicine

"Is it my fault that I am depressed?" 

"The answer is 'no.' Depression is an illness, not something you choose to get." (American Family Physician, April 1997, p. 1695)

Commentary: In my medical career, spanning 30 years, the treatment of depression has moved from being primarily a problem of life-situations to a medical illness. This "Patient Information" question and answer marks the completion of that transition. The only answer is that a person who is depressed has a medical illness.

Two-thirds of people who are "depressed" get better over time with no treatment. Two-thirds of people get better over time with treatment. Now, how can "treatment" of depression be proven when "treatment" has no better outcome than non-treatment?

The medical profession has produced a drug-dependent society that is worse in its social effects than the use of illegal drugs. And, people are mostly content with this approach because they do not have to take personal responsibility. Their contentment is short-lived, however, because their problems only multiply and become worse over time.

I am not saying that organic depression does not occur. However, such cases comprise only a small portion of the diagnoses of "depression." Only, now, every one who is feeling the stress of life and is "down" gets labeled as "depressed." Such mis-treatment is one of the tragedies of modern medicine.

Another Modern Medical Tragedy: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

"Approximately 12 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. -- with 86 percent of cases occurring in 15- to 29-year olds. It is estimated that one in four -- and perhaps as many as one in two -- Americans will contract an STD at some point in their lives." (Credenda Agenda, March 1997, p. 28)

Commentary: Here is another tragedy of modern American medicine. "Just say no" can be a slogan against illicit drugs, but not against immoral sexual activity. Physicians and their institutions have gone along with this acceptance of sexual immorality with almost no protest. Nay, they have actively promoted it.

If I were to stand in front of the Medical Class of 2001 and warn them purely on the medical problems and life stress (not even a moral argument), that they ought to avoid sexual activity outside of marriage, I would probably be fired that day. However, we pretend that "they will do it anyway" (a lie), and "we have medicines to prevent STDs and pregnancy" (more lies). And, so the epidemic continues, promoted by modern medicine, even its teaching institutions.

A Different Word from Martin Luther

"On March 29, 1523, Martin Luther wrote in a letter: 'There has never been a great revelation of God's Word unless God has first prepared the way by the rise and the flourishing of languages and learning, as though these were forerunners, a sort of John the Baptist.'" (The Issachar File, May/June 1997, p. 4)

Commentary: I am not knowledgeable enough in history to know whether Martin was correct. If he is (and I suspect that he is), however, any hope for reformation any time soon is illusory!

The Nose of the Camel... The Camel Owns the Tent

"Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize any Federal officer or employee to exercise any supervision or control over the practice of medicine or the manner in which Medical services are provided, or over the selection, tenure, or compensation of any officer or employee of any institution, agency, or person providing health services, or to exercise any supervision or control over the administration or operation of any such institution, agency, or person." (Article 1801 of the 1965 Medicare law in AAPS News, July 1997, p. 1)

Commentary: I have cited only one paragraph. There are many others. All such restrictions have been violated to the extent that those who resist such "supervision and control" are now the guilty and punishable parties.

The role of government in medicine and other areas of family and society is no small matter. It is no cheap matter either. The nose of the camel (state licensure) is hardly more than a nuisance, but now the camel owns the tent and tells you where and when you can sleep -- sometimes in a federal prison.

It Gets Worse: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

"In most cases, investigators are coming in with the presumption that you have violated the law and the provider needs to prove otherwise.... You're defending the negative, 'I am not a crook.' The system is supposed to be built on the presumption of innocence. But, that's not how the government is working." (American Medical News, June 9, 1997, pp. 1, 7)

Commentary: In 1965, President Johnson wooed physicians to accept Medicare. Then, they forced us to abide by their regulations, whether we "participated" or not. Now, we are guilty until proven innocent (it happened first with the IRS), a violation of our constitutional rights. I remind you again that the role of government in society is perhaps the most important social issue for any nation, but Christians treat it as though it doesn't really matter whether we exist as a kingdom, a republic, or a democracy. Since they see few governing principles in Scripture, then almost any laws are acceptable. Because of this blindness, we have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind (and world-wind).

IVDAs in Whites and Blacks

In 1996, 70 percent of newly reported AIDS cases in white men occurred in homosexuals and 11 percent were in intravenous drug abusers (IVDAs). In blacks, 33 percent of new cases were in homosexuals and 31 percent in IVDUs.

Commentary: As pointed out often on these pages, the occurrence of HIV/AIDS in the American population is quite variable among sub-groups. It is a disease that one has to go looking for, it does not just randomly infect a person.

AIDS: Issues and Answers

Vol. 11, No. 4 (71) July 1997

Expanding Medicaid HIV Coverage

"Vice President Algore has directed the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA, pronounced "hick-fuh") and the Office of National AIDS Policy to explore ways to expand Medicaid eligibility to allow more people with HIV to access promising new drug therapies (see costs above).... Expanding Medicaid could (Ed's emphasis) save money and lives in the long-run by getting life-enhancing drugs to people earlier in their illness, Algore said. More than 53% of people with HIV/AIDS rely on Medicaid for their health care..." (American Medical News, 4/28/97, p. 2)

Commentary: I don't see new Medicaid money for people with cancer and other chronic, deadly diseases. In fact, those funds may be cut back with the (minimal) downsizing going on with the federal budget. However, whatever we do, we must continue to give priority to HIV/AIDS patients, since they are not responsible for their actions, having had this dreaded disease just visit them out of nowhere. That is the only politically correct course of action. After all, political correctness is our religion and deserves our worship.

AIDS Deaths Decline

"AIDS deaths in the United States fell by 19 percent during the first nine months of 1996, compared to the same period of 1995, indicating that the decline in deaths from the epidemic first reported earlier this year has accelerated.... The drop in deaths ... is greater for men than women and greater for whites than for blacks or Hispanics.

"The decline is partly caused by a 'slowing of the epidemic' .... fewer people are becoming infected due to changes in behavior ... (and) advances in treatment.

"A further decline is likely (from new drugs for HIV/AIDS)." (The Augusta Chronicle, July 24, 1997, pp. 1A, 12A)

Commentary: The greater part of the decline is most likely due to the stage of the epidemic. First, the number of cases of AIDS has declined considerably. Second, the virulence of an organism wanes after its initial onslaught in a population. 

I am willing to give some credit to treatment, but I have not studied it closely. The few studies that I have read measure short intervals of time, making projections over years virtually impossible. I give no credit to "change in behaviors." There is every indication that behaviors have not changed significantly even with deadly HIV/AIDS.

HIV-Positive People in the Workplace

"Currently, one out of every 10 small businesses employs at least one person infected with HIV -- and that figure is growing, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"With this trend comes the potential for higher health care costs and more workers requesting work accommodations. One reason: drug related side effects.

"Another impact: AIDS-related complaints have caused more lawsuits than any other disease. Remember: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents you from asking about their HIV status or what medication they are taking. It's also illegal to deny a job or health insurance to applicants because they are HIV-positive." (Research Recommendations: Business Briefings, June 30, 1997, p. 1)

Commentary: None is really necessary. I have commented often on the favored status of HIV/AIDS patients. Many prominent Christians argued for the ADA. Personally, I really don't know how small businesses make it today with all the government regulations governing them. I suspect that all are in violation of several regulations: the government just does not have enough resources to catch them all.

Needle-Exchange Programs: An Update

The numbers on a Vancouver study are in. 

"After only seven months, nearly 10 percent of initially HIV-negative participants in the Vancouver program had experienced 'seroconversion,' that is, had become infected with the (AIDS) virus. Moreover, 40 percent of IV-drug users who reportedly knew they were HIV-positive had lent their needle to others, while 59 percent of HIV-negative IVDUs reported borrowing a used needle.... 95 percent of the IVDUs under study routinely received sterile hypodermic needles free of charge." (Vital STATS, June 1997)

Commentary: Immoral programs never promote health in the long run, and often do not (as this study shows) in the short term. While this study has limitations (Canadians, not Americans; whites in the study, not blacks; etc.), IVDUs in any culture are not exactly health-oriented, or they wouldn't abuse themselves in the many ways that they do. The whole idea of needle exchange programs to prevent infection is silly -- but then we live in a time when silliness reigns supreme.


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