Amanda Platell, Daily Mail columnist and former press secretary to Tory leader Willaim Hague, has publicly condemned the idea of HIV preventing drugs being made available on the NHS.
The new drug, Truvada, was recently found to be 86% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV when taken by healthy adult males in a recent study. Many AIDS prevention charities have called for the drug to be made available on the NHS, available to gay men in particular.
However, Platell has made opposition to the drug being freely available as she believes that it would encourage people to engage in 'risky behaviour'. She has also argued that the NHS has already spent 'millions of pounds' on trying to prevent AIDS infection and suggests that the money would be better spent on cancer treatments instead.
She goes on to say, 'The National AIDS Trust says the cost of the revolutionary new drug can be justified because of the long-term costs of treating HIV. They insist that the NHS has an 'ethical duty' to protect men from the disease as there are 2,500 new cases of HIV in gay men in the UK each year, despite the millions of pounds of public money spent raising awareness of unsafe sex since the Eighties.'
'What kind of ethics is it to save one group of society that can be prevented by using a £1 condom, while denying cancer sufferers a longer life? In a country where the die neglected in hospital corridors, where life-extending drugs are denied to people with leukemia and lymphoma, and life-enhancing alzheimer's drugs are restricted. I would suggest it can't make sense to provide an expensive drug for a minority of healthy people who make a lifestyle choice not to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.'
'If you don't want to get HIV, use condoms.'
Personally I believe that Platell's choice of argument is a horrible one. She's essentially saying 'we've spent enough money on HIV, if you don't want it then don't put yourself at risk', whilst also advocating that the money be spent elsewhere to treat cancer, that in some cases can also be prevented.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that time and money shouldn't be given to the treatment of cancer. My mother is a cancer survivor and I have so much respect for the level of treatment she received and owe those people who helped save her life everything. However, you cannot say to one group that they should not have treatment for one disease over another because they can prevent theirs. Would Platell also deny smokers with lung cancer treatment or people who sunbathe and get skin cancer treatment because these conditions also arose from choices they made?
We can't start treating people differently based on some kind of elitist view based on what diseases they may or may not have. You cannot argue that HIV can be prevented by just using a condom and forgetting about drugs. Condoms don't always work. Sexual transmission isn't the only way you can contract AIDS.
If anything it would seem that Platells argument is coming from a place of homophobia. She doesn't think gay people should be protected from AIDS, but what about straight people? What about those who contract it by means other than gay sex?
Platell is wrong. This drug should not be denied to those who need it. You cannot argue that it would be unfair because other drugs to treat other conditions are not available, so therefor these ones shouldn't be too. Instead of trying to put other people in the horrible position of having life saving and life changing medication denied to them why don't you put your time and effort into helping those other groups get the help they need too? Get the treatment for those with Leukemia, fund the medication for alzheimers. Don't just deny this treatment to those who need it because you personally feel that it's unfair.
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