Manuel Garrido Sotelo, MD
My presence in the field of AIDS is not due to purely academic interest. I have been a doctor since 1980, but also I was labeled HIV+ in June of 1987.
Excluding the first 5-6 years after this “diagnosis”, years of misinformation and confusion, I started in 1993 to delve into the issue from a dissident perspective. All these years I have been in constant contact with other people labelled HIV+, I know a lot about their problems, both physical and psychological, both common problems and those less frequent. I know enough about the way physicians approached their various problems, which are generally the same health problems as anyone else.
In general we can say that people die because they have some health problems that doctors are unable to solve. Well, I am personally tired of seeing that whatever problem HIV + people have always being attributed to HIV by doctors. It doesn’t matter to the doctors whether it is anemia, thrombocytopenia [a type of anemia], neurological problems, kidney disease or liver disease. This implies that, very often, patients are not sent to the appropriate specialist, but to the HIV specialist, (who is limited to prescribe ARVs and cannot solve the problems at hand), who bears all responsibility for their health.
Clearly, with this attitude of doctors, it is difficult for an HIV+ person to be treated for the real problems they have. What happens when a person is not treated for their actual problems? These problems are complicated and they are just dying for the cause. In other words, I see useless discussions about the significance of testing positive for HIV antibodies, when what is causing damage is the fact of testing positive (inseparable from specific medical treatment for HIV). It is the label that is causing harm to people, and the way physicians act when they see it.
Of all the people I’ve known who have died, I have some knowledge of their life and the way they were treated in hospital (medical reports, autopsy, etc.). In almost every case I have seen serious medical errors. And often is not even necessary to have medical reports, just to have an understanding of key aspects of their case. The last three deaths of those who I have knowledge, published in our website under the title “Didn’t die HIV but from medical malpractice” confirm what I say.
When I say this I do not deny the role of improving lifestyle, improving nutrition and taking responsibility for one’s own life and health, features that Michael Callen observed in long-term AIDS survivors, but they are very different, from my point of view, from the causes of the deaths at the beginning of the AIDS era, predominantly toxic causes (I include here the deaths from AZT). The causes of the more recent deaths are predominantly medical.
A big hug to all,