Posted by: Ele Quigan | July 27, 2012

‘Love is the Cure – on Life, Loss and the end of AIDS’ – Elton John

I’ve been reading a lot about AIDS lately. I was at times amazed and horrified while reading this, and am still really eager to read all I can. When this popped up as a new book about it, I immediately bought it, not least because the profits are going to Elton Johns AIDs charity.

A lot of it – I kinda felt I already knew. At least up to 1987. But there were new more shocking relevations that makes me question exactly what’s left of society today.

So Bayer – large pharmaceutical company making the Haemophiliac drug Factor VIII. I outlined in my original post, given the profitability of this drug – they were hesitant to test blood products, look at their donor profiling, and once they were in agreement that HIV was in the donated blood supply, get rid of their stock. So we all thought they got rid of their stock right? I mean it was infecting people across the world? Surely – even tho it would have a massive affect on numbers – they would destroy their stock?

No they didn’t. They on sold it to other countries.

Words cannot describe how reading this felt. ‘HOW?’ I wanted to shout at the page. ‘WHY?’ I wanted to cry at the page. ‘You knew what would happen?’ I wanted to write and tweet and facebook everyone I know to stop usage of Bayer products.

Beyond this shocking statement – there wasn’t much else I pulled from this book. After Randy Shilts I was after hard facts, numbers, responses, and personal stories. I understand more about Ryan White and bless the fact he was able to help Elton move forward with his life, give up his lifestyle and live forward with a healthier outlook on life.

But I was left wanting so much more.

I guess it’s hard as a celebrity writing a book about something you’re passionate about – but with a slightly different view on the world. For example, there is a lot made about the challenges in the US to get AIDS healthcare, but nothing mentioned about the entirely flawed US healthcare system. We’re lucky in the UK & NZ that healthcare for such a serious illness is free/heavily subsidised, I cannot imagine how difficult it must be in the US to retain an insurer, to have that weigh over your mind if you ever wanted to change jobs (healthcare is often a job benefit over there). I’ve got a book i’ve never finished called ‘So much for that’ by Lionel Shriver (famous for ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ which outlines what the American health system is like, there are Reddit threads, articles, it’s in my very humble opinion one of the biggest issues modern America needs to face – yet why is this not even acknowledged?

I did like the premise that love is the cure, but I would have loved to see how you can make a difference included. Kony 2012 is my most frustrating example of the modern view of charity. Yes people watched a video. Yes more people are Aware – but did they do anything? did they contribute to the cause? beyond sharing it on Facebook – which is a barely active action – what did they do?

Yes donate. DO donate. We can make a difference. Liking this post, reading this post – it’s soft action, and to beat AIDS, we need hard action. Donate to the foundation, March, demand that the pharmaceutical companies do more. Don’t let this light hearted review be all you do to make change today.


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