Thursday, August 29, 2019

Philomena the movie, HIV and Reagan

This week at Lakeside we have a foreign film series, but these are all in English and two are about international adoptions, Philomena (British) and Lion (Australian).  I’d seen Philomena starring Judi Dench years ago and had forgotten most of it, particularly the sub-plot about the journalist who had lost his career and was more or less forced into writing a “human interest” non-fiction story which later became the book and then the movie. That it’s anti-Catholic is probably no surprise—the Roman Catholic church may be the largest and oldest target for both religious issues and social issues. Atheists, agnostics, and Protestants can all find something to criticize.    It is not just a Christian church—it is the largest social service agency in the world, and has about 26 different branches under its name all over the world each with unique language and culture. In the end, it is Philomena (the woman) who understands forgiveness, not the nuns and certainly not the journalist/author.

But Philomena the movie is also anti-Republican and anti-President Reagan, and that’s par for the course for the Brits who think we should have been happy to remain under the Union Jack.   Philomena’s birth son was adopted by an affluent American couple and grows up to become a valuable member of both the Reagan and Bush I administrations. He dies of AIDS in 1995.  However, he was gay during a time when there was almost no hope for remission from HIV (and 30 years later—it was identified in 1981—there is still no vaccine or cure), so Reagan is blamed for not pushing the federal funding more vigorously in 1986.  That’s absurd.

The U.S. was emerging from the boomer, free-sex and legalized abortion movements of the 1960s and 1970s,  people were demanding privacy in all things sexual and personal, the gay lifestyle was increasingly being recognized for “loving and caring” relationships particularly in literature and the arts, healthy lifestyles and personal responsibility for health advocacy groups were growing.  On top of all that, in the medical field researchers and university faculty were practically assuring us that the era and threat of infectious diseases was over.  STDs were going to be held at bay not by responsible monogamous life styles, but with penicillin. I remember that from the medical journals I was handling in the library.  Infectious disease journals were gathering dust.

President Reagan was blamed for the “gay disease” charge about HIV-AIDS in this movie.  And yet if you read any CDC fact sheet today, virtually all new cases (83%) of HIV are among “men who have sex with men” and that includes bi-sexual men who then infect women.
The recommendations by the USPSTF on screening are in order of importance:
1) Male-to-male sex (every 3 to 6 months screened)
And any risky life style comes next.
2) injection drug use
3) anal intercourse without a condom
4) more than one partner whose HIV status is unknown
5) transactional sex (exchanging sex for drugs)
6) commercial sex trade (prostitution)
So you see, in many cases it is still behavior and personal responsibility, not the federal government, which is your best protection from any sexual disease from syphilis to gonorrhea to AIDS. Don’t get advice on serious health matters from a movie with a political agenda.  Trailer

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