Friday, September 23, 2022

Disease

Luckily I have a post or two cooked earlier when I have a lazy day.

There was a window between when I became very sexually active in the late 1970s and the appearance of what we now call HIV in the 80s. The advent of HIV made me very cautious and as I am still here, the measures I took protected me. I can tell you tales of many who I knew back then did not and did not survive. It was a rough time.

As a very sexually active gay man pre HIV, a dose of Non Specific Urethritis, NSU and the clap, gonorrhoea were occupational hazards. A visit to the doc, a dose of antibiotics and told to not have sex with anyone for two weeks fixed things until the next time.

The miracle of antibiotics, drugs and immunisation. Polio has almost disappeared throughout the world. Measles too. I don't know about chicken pox. 

Gay men can now have unprotected sex if they take their PREP as prescribed. There is morning after pill if you have mucked up your PREP. There are very effective anti viral treatments if you do catch HIV. You won't die from AIDS now.

Lordy, and still we have anti vaxxers.

I had chicken pox when I was young. The thing with chicken pox when young is that at an older age, you are susceptible to shingles. Dame M broke out in shingles and suffered terribly. Brighton Antique Dealer had her turn. R's mother lost her sight in one eye and had to wear dark glasses all the time after contracting shingles. If you have had chickenpox when young, you are susceptible to shingles. What can you do?

You can get vaccinated. There are two vaccinations available in Australia and while anyone over the age of 60 is susceptible to shingles, the first is not available for free until you reach the age of 70. This vaccination uses a small part of the live virus and is not 100 percent effective and does wear off to a low level over a period of about ten years. 

The second newer one is much more effective, much longer lasting and has less chance of side effects. The government subsidising this vaccine would in the long term make a saving, as there would be many less cases of shingles requiring treatment.

However, the government and the drug company cannot reach agreement on the cost of subsidy and so the full price of around AU$300 has to be paid by the person to receive the vaccine. My doctor wrote me a prescription for the new vaccine but it is so much money. But then shingles can be a horrible thing. I will be very annoyed if I go ahead and pay full price and then soon after it becomes subsidised, as happened to me this year with the flu vaccine. Admittedly only $25 before it was free, which is rather different than the $300 I would pay for the shingles vaccination. If subsidised it would cost me $40.

19 comments:

  1. One of our friend's very first partner after he came out was HIV positive. Our friend survived, his first love did not. And the reaction from many of his friends and some professionals at the time was horrific.
    Several of my friends have had shingles, and suffered. I will talk to my doctor about the vaccine. Soon.

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    1. Yes, talk to your doctor soon EC. It was a bad time, one where some thought touching a gay man would result in a contraction of HIV. I too had a bad experience with a local doctor at the time, more used to dealing with elderly widows. I have written about it but it is lost in the mists of times.

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  2. How is it that I, a well educated woman, know nothing about shingles?

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    1. Indeed Hels. How do you not know? I only really know from from what people I knew experienced and what I heard about on a recent episode of Swan's Health Report.

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  3. I have read this blogpost Andrew but I didn't like it as it made me think about nasty things.

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    1. YP, I expect in your country you can receive the latest vaccine for free. If you haven't looked into it, you should.

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  4. I am pleased to hear about PREP. It must be fairly new as it wasn't discussed in my pre and post HIV/Hep C testing counselling course I did in 2008. Although when I take off my shoes and socks and count them it was 15 years ago. Shingles are horrible but, if it's any consolation, you are more susceptible if you are run down or immuno-compromised. So stay fit and well and you might be able to wait until our beloved government takes pity on us oldies and subsidises the vaccine.

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    1. Caro, maybe ten or so years ago I heard about Prep. An obviously gay ABC Sydney TV reporter really fleshed it out for me a year or so ago. Re shingles, who of us can guess when we will be run down? And what you have suggested is correct with what knowledge I have. I've decided now, next doctor visit.

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  5. The second, newer vaccine is not available free for those 70 and over? I'm supposed to book a vaccination anytime soonish now that I am 70, but I'd rather not have one that is not 100% reliable. Of course it would be better than nothing, so there's that to think about.

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    1. Correct River on all counts. The free one works, but is not nearly as effective as the new one, for which you would pay $300. It is really quite absurd. Get the free one and may if the later one becomes subsidised, people can have that on top.

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  6. Interesting read Andrew. HIV was a dreadful thing and still is but treatable as you say. I was in charge of the VD Clinic here in our city for a couple of years - interesting.

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    1. Margaret, that must have been interesting, especially in a not so large city where people know many people.

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    2. We were all very discreet :)

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  7. Well, it's an investment in your health, so it's probably worth it to pay the price. It would be a drag to then have it subsidized but all things considered it's probably worth the gamble.

    I may be wrong, or maybe my info is outdated, but I don't think PREP for HIV is 100 percent effective. It's still best to have safer sex. But guys understandably don't always want to do that, and certainly PREP is much better than being completely unprotected.

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  8. I am going to have the vax Steve. Without research, I thought PREP is almost perfect, but I'll stand corrected. At my age, it is quite irrelevant knowledge.

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  9. I can't recall if I had chicken pox or not. I know one of my brothers had it, so likely at least I was exposed and may have had it without symptoms. I'm getting the first vaccine in November. Its a two series. I don't know the copay here with my insurance. My older brother already got his series a year ago. Its really nice we don't have to suffer these horrible things with the advent of vaccines. If the anti vaxxers want to suffer, not my problem.

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    1. Strayer, that's good to hear that you are getting the vaccination. Crazy non believers in vaccines.

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  10. I don't understand anti-vax sentiments. How awful that shingles can take your sight! I didn't know that. My husband, who's eight years older than me, and I both got our shingles vaccinations. I was so grateful to get it because there was a waiting list and I expected to get a lower priority over older folks.

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    1. Well done to you both. Really it is in the financial interests of health funds and governments that people do not contract shingles.

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