ETERNITY

Hate takes us down.
Hate takes us down all the time.
But if your hate takes me down,
it’s a very slippery slope.

If your hate takes me down
the people who see it
will be offended,
they will be motivated,
they will be ready-
for, that hate which takes me down
will not
take down the people
who love me.
The hate that takes me down
will raise me up higher
than you could ever believe.

And that’s the paradox.
You may hate me.
You may loathe me.
But when you take me down
and make me part
of your hate
it becomes something bigger
than just you and me.

It makes me immortal.

You and your hateful life will die.

In the end, hate gives you what you hate.
It is useless.

But not so Immortality.
Eternity is freedom from fear,
freedom from hate-
knowing that I am always safe-
even should I die.
~DGS

HIV Patients Lose More Years To Smoking Than HIV

Bad news for people with HIV who smoke: you’re losing twice as many years of your life by continuing your habit. And that’s not all. You’re also going to die at three times the rate of non-smokers with HIV….

Smoking

Smoking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Science Daily:

Among HIV patients receiving well-organized care with free access to antiretroviral therapy, those who smoke lose more years of life to smoking than to HIV, according to a Danish study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online. The findings highlight the importance of smoking cessation efforts in the long-term, integrated care of patients infected with HIV.

Marie Helleberg, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital and colleagues estimated the effect of smoking on mortality, risk of death, and life expectancy, and the number of life years lost to smoking compared to years lost to HIV among nearly 3,000 HIV-infected patients treated in Denmark from 1995 to 2010. They also compared mortality associated with smoking between HIV patients and the country’s background population. Where HIV care is integrated and antiretroviral therapy is available at no cost, “more than 60 percent of deaths among HIV patients are associated with smoking,” rather than HIV, Dr. Helleberg said.

Estimated life expectancy differed significantly based on smoking status. A 35-year-old HIV patient who currently smokes had a life expectancy of 62.6 years, compared to 78.4 years for a nonsmoker infected with HIV. The loss of years of life associated with smoking was twice as high as that associated with HIV among HIV-infected patients. In addition, researchers found the excess mortality of HIV-infected smokers to be three times higher than that of individuals not infected with HIV.

Quitting smoking-along with increased exercise- are the two things people with HIV can do to extend their lives and overall health. I quit over three years ago. And yeah, it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

So if you need a New Year’s resolution, it’s staring you right in the face. And if you need help, it’s readily available here.

Read the full article at Science Daily 

Medicaid Expansion Likely To Lower Deaths

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is contentious- mostly because Republicans don’t want to give President Obama any credit- for anything. But if this study, reported today by the New York Times, is any indication, not going forward could be deadly.

Senate Passes Insurance Industry Aid Bill

Senate Passes Insurance Industry Aid Bill (Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com)

Into the maelstrom of debate over whether Medicaid should cover more people comes a new study by Harvard researchers who found that when states expanded their Medicaid programs and gave more poor people health insurance, fewer people died.

The study, published online Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, comes as states are deciding whether to expand Medicaid by 2014 under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s health care law. The Supreme Court ruling on the law last month effectively gave states the option of accepting or rejecting an expansion of Medicaid that had been expected to add 17 million people to the program’s rolls.

Seems fairly reasonable. So why would anyone reject the expansion?

Medicaid expansions are controversial, not just because they cost states money, but also because some critics, primarily conservatives, contend the program does not improve the health of recipients and may even be associated with worse health. Attempts to research that issue have encountered the vexing problem of how to compare people who sign up for Medicaid with those who are eligible but remain uninsured. People who choose to enroll may be sicker, or they may be healthier and simply be more motivated to see doctors.

The New England Journal study reflects a recent effort by researchers to get around that problem and allow policy makers to make “evidence-based decisions,” said Katherine Baicker, an investigator on the study who served on former President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“I think it’s a very significant study in part because of the paucity of studies that have really looked at health outcomes of insurance coverage,” said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan research foundation. “Actual mortality studies are few and far between. This is a well-done study: timely, adds to the evidence base, and certainly should raise concern about the failure to expand Medicaid coverage to people most at risk of not getting the care that they need.”

A Republican-appointed official calling this “evidence based”- will it be enough? Probably not. But the evidence is still there:

“So often you hear, ‘Oh well, poor people just shoot each other, and that’s why they have higher mortality rates,’ ” said Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit group. “In the midst of many claims about what Medicaid does and doesn’t do, it actually shows that it cannot only be beneficial for health, but in preventing some of the premature deaths of the uninsured.”

Janet M. Currie, director of the Center for Health and Well-Being at Princeton, said the new study, combined with the Oregon research, should help transform the Medicaid debate into one about dollars, rather than over whether covering poor people improves health.

“This says, well there is benefit to giving people insurance,” Dr. Currie said. “Maybe you don’t want to pay the cost, but you can’t say there’s no benefit.”

MSU-Northern to Present ‘The Laramie Project’

Montana Actors’ Theatre will present The Laramie Project in Havre, MT on October 21-22, 27-29, and November 3-5.

The Laramie Project play originated from a series of interviews conducted by members of the Tectonic Theatre Project following the tragedy of Matthew Shepard which transpired on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. The creators of the play aimed to shed some light on specific faults in society regarding homophobia and hate crimes. If you’re curious about this play, come watch The Laramie Project on one of the previously mentioned dates. Please be aware: the play does contain adult themes and may not be suitable for children or young teens.

The play will be performed in the MSU-Northern/MAT Theatre. It will begin at 8 PM nightly. The doors and backstage lounge will open at 7:30 PM. Adults can view the show for $15. Students and seniors will be admitted for $10 while MSU-Northern students will be admitted free of charge with current student I.D.

Local news story here.

INSPIRING

The death of Amy Winehouse has pulled a lot of press. But the reaction that touched me deeply was from someone unexpected- Russell Brand:

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.

His amazing essay (which should be required reading for anyone even remotely associated with the reality of addiction) is here.

At the very least, please read the last paragraph. It’s powerful.

What To Feel Upon The Murder Of A Murderer?

Like so many of you, I watched in horrified fascination as the Twin Towers were maimed and finally toppled, killing and injuring thousands of people and terrifying a nation. I also watched our president, almost ten years later, report that the man responsible for that action had been shot and killed in a raid on a compound outside of Islamabad, Pakistan. The President’s demeanor was appropriately somber and yet had hints of the triumphant. So many cliche`s come to mind:

Serves ‘im right.

An eye for an eye….
You reap what you sow.
Justice is done.
Mission accomplished.
He got what he deserved.
Hooray, Hooray it’s the First of May…etc.

I’m conflicted. As I watched the people gathering in front of the White House last night, I understood the relief they exhibited. I realized I didn’t want to understand the celebration.

On the one hand, the man was a terrorist, a murderer and a complete wacko. On the other hand, he was a human being- with all the dignity and flaws imbued thereof, and completely worth saving. Did he love? Did he show any kindness to another person? Probably.

Could he have repented for his actions? Would he?
We’ll never know.

This is not to impugn the sense of justice felt here- this man was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of fellow human beings. But if I rejoice in his death, if I celebrate it, am I giving up on the goodness of humanity I so profoundly believe in? Am I substituting revenge for justice? Is patriotism predicated on the murder of enemies? Is this the easy way out? Have I become the terrorist who has lost sight of the humanity of the people I kill?

Probably unpopular things to ask, but still, these questions haunt me.

Do they haunt anyone else?

Meth To The Madness

Edge New England has a great 2-part article on crystal meth and the gay community, highlighting work by Project Neon in Seattle and my friend Arnold Martin. I wish the author had spent more time talking about prevention, but on the whole, very informative.

 

Warning: pictures in the story may be triggers for former meth users.

They didn’t back-link the parts, so Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.