Lorenzo’s Oil and HIV

July 11, 2013 in Publisher's Corner

Lorenzo Odone and his childhood friend Oumouri Hassane at home in Fairfax, Virginia.

Lorenzo Odone is cared for by Oumouri Hassane, a Muslim and childhood friend from the Comoro Islands, at home in Fairfax, Va. Odone is one of the first males beneficially treated for adrenoleukodystrophy, a rare genetic disorder. He survived until the age of 30, dying in 2008. Source: The Myelin Project.

Watching Lorenzo’s Oil recently, this writer cannot help but be reminded of the early struggle against HIV and AIDS. Once known as GRIDS and considered by some the “gay plague”, a universal cure is now deemed viable by the National Institutes of Health. This once impossible disease now is on the verge of being permanently cured and relegated to the realm of medical curiosity, not religious dogma.

As with Lorenzo Odone, the path to a cure for HIV became possible by dispensing with arbitrary prejudices and timetables available only to those not afflicted. Imminent death was a critical factor. AZT was a first step. Further developments were a continuation of cultural enlightenment. Those awaiting a cure have not all survived FDA fiats, however.

It would be the supreme response to bigotry and misunderstanding if the solution to the HIV crisis were as simple as Augusto Odone’s salad dressing. Perhaps it already is: Social gravy is necessary to fomenting the cure.

The civilized world now knows HIV is not relegated to homosexuals. The disease reserves itself to no one. Worldwide, HIV infection and AIDS is recognized as a pandemic among all classes of individuals. Africa and Asia have been hit the hardest by the disease. Expanded consciousness regarding an infected population has produced its own miracles, however.

There is now hope. It came from faith in science. It came from the belief those ill deserved to be well. It came from the grief and determination of the sick and dying. It came from those who refused to simply watch.

The Russians have a saying: “God sees the truth but waits.”

Perhaps god has seen and waited long enough. Russia, too, be not a stranger to your own wisdom. Bigotry everywhere must end.

This human family must heal together.