Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Legionnaire's Disease

Just saw in "today in history" that on today's date in 1976 the bacteria causing Legionnaire's Disease was identified by the CDC. (it's good when you read what's on your own page.) In what could have been a very different scenario, the MLB had used this hotel just a few weeks before as their hub for the All-Star game which was held in Philly that year. If the All-Star game had been a few weeks later, or the bacteria had spread a few weeks earlier we could have had a differently named disease. Major League Disease? Baseballitis? (Linda would say I have both of these)

Something else to note is how different the AIDS outbreak might have been had the health community, the CDC and the rest of the government focused as much attention on that disease and finding its cause as they did to finding the cause of what was killing the Legionnaires. Would it have made a huge difference, maybe not, but my guess is that it would have, but no one outside of the gay community was concerned about gay men dying. You know that whole "it's forbidden in the Bible and they deserve their punishment" thing.

Until very recently I have had more friends and acquaintances die of AIDS than from anything else, so it's of interest and concern to me. For what I think is the best treatment of the AIDS epidemic in the 80's read And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, who himself died of AIDS. When I saw Milk and then read Shilt's biography of Harvey Milk (The Mayor of Castro Street)I couldn't help but wonder if the epidemic might also have been different had he not been assassinated.

Here is a prayer from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on HIV/AIDS (altered):

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
you are the God of health and wholeness.
In the plan of your creation,
you call us to struggle in our sickness
and to cling always to the cross of your Son.
Holy God, we are your servants.
Many of us are now suffering with HIV or AIDS.
We come before you, and ask you, if it is your holy will,
to take away this suffering from us,
restore us to health
and lead us to know you and your powerful healing.
We ask you also to be with those of us who nurse your sick ones.
We are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers,
children, and friends of your suffering people.
It is so hard for us to see those whom we love suffer.
You know what it is to suffer.
Help us to minister in loving care, support, and patience
to your people who suffer with HIV and AIDS.
Lead us to do whatever it will take to eradicate this illness
from the lives of those who are touched by it,
both directly and indirectly.
Trusting in you and the strength of your Spirit,
we pray these things in the name of Jesus.

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