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Life goes on with HIV in Japan, but health care shortcomings persist

24 Comments
By Eduardo Martinez

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I lost two good friends about 15-20 years ago. I am so happy that infected people nowadays can live normal lives. I would gladly pay ¥20000 a month to keep my friends alive.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

A friend was infected for two years. I visited him monthly and, the last time I saw him, the shape of his now smaller than normal skull was clearly visible as there was little or no flesh was under a leathery brown skin. He was a gruesome and unforgetable sight. Mentally he was alert. He wrote his own epitaph which I do not remember except that it showed his sense of humour was healthily intact.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Now aged 52, Okui recalls how shocking it was to find out, in the summer of 2016, that he had tested positive. He did not know much about HIV, having only a vague impression it was a "scary disease."

This is a huge part of the problem, detailed information is readily available, for someone (specially in the high risk group) to not know much about HIV in 2016 is not justifiable, information is readily available and the importance for people at higher risk could not be more clear.

People who do not have low enough numbers, such as those who have recently been infected, are forced to wait until their CD4 count falls to a level deemed eligible for medication.

There is no medical justification for this, it is not like infected people can avoid this from happening without treatment, so delaying this treatment accomplish nothing but letting the immunity drop without any need.

According to the article in the scientific journal The Lancet, HIV among MSM in Japan could be eliminated by 2032 if just 10 percent of the group used PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, along with a moderate increase in other measures like testing, condom use and a minor reduction in the number of sexual partners.

In other words an important part of the measures that could importantly reduce the incidence of the infection is not being supported by the government, which causes higher costs by being replaced by PEP, or worse, by life long treatment after infection.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This is a major problem with the medical world in Japan nowadays-treatments are there to treat the effects of disease only.

Why should I only visit a hospital before becoming sick?

Preventative medical treatments are just not considered viable.

As an example doctors will prescribe pain killers for cancer but won’t tell the patient to give up smoking as I have heard many times.

Overweight and at risk from diabetes?

An appointment with a dietician won’t be suggested or given and diabetes will be the illness treated.

Hospitals aren’t interested in educating patients or alleviating risks as the profit isn’t there…

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

...according to a health ministry committee that analyzes the virus' trends in the country.

I would like this committee to also include reports on all viruses as well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

kurisupisu

Not my experience. Yesterday, I was at the hospital for my regular three-month medical tests. I am now slightly diabetic and saw a diabetic doctor. I am overweight and he talked about the need to lose weight. I also have a city-employed dietician who we visit every three months for advice.

I take the reports from the dietician to the doctors at the hospital who read and comment on them.

I also visited my post-cancer doctor. He spoke with me about my current options as he had in the past at all of my visits over three years.

For the last three years, I have been very pleased and impressed with my medical treatments from three different hospitals.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Jesse they even have bureaucracy to make people wait for life saving treatments.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Given how widespread brothel and call-girl usage is in Japan, combined with awful sex education in schools, I expect the true numbers of people living symptomless with HIV are much higher than the official figures.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

@wallace

Sorry, you are missing my point.

Hospitals in Japan should be focused on preventing disease not wholly on treatment, once disease has surfaced.

The emphasis should be on preventing illness not waiting for it to appear.

Example prostate cancer.

There is a simple blood test kit that could be sent to those at risk, but this is not in Japan.

Appointments have to made which entails time off work and as illness is not present then the justification for absence of leave is lacking.

As in the article shows, symptoms have to appear at a predetermined level to be treated even though by not doing so may allow disease to become chronic and ultimately untreatable.

Genetic predisposition and testing is not an item in Japanese hospitals which would allow a whole range of protocols to be adopted before illness even becomes a concern.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

kurisupisu

@wallace

Sorry, you are missing my point.

Except I am not

Hospitals in Japan should be focused on preventing disease not wholly on treatment, once disease has surfaced.

That is what hospitals are for. They are for treating the sick. That is their priority. There are many other places where preventive treatment is practiced.

The emphasis should be on preventing illness not waiting for it to appear.

But that is not what hospitals are for.

Example prostate cancer.

There is a simple blood test kit that could be sent to those at risk, but this is not in Japan.

You are not correct. Local government authorities provide free yearly healthcare. You attend and can also have a PSA test. That is what happened to me and in 2019 discovered I had cancer. My wife last week had her tests for women's cancers. Free of charge.

You can also attend a hospital and request a PSA test. I attended yesterday, had a full blood test, and saw two doctors for my PSA and diabetes. Cost ¥2550.

Appointments have to made which entails time off work and as illness is not present then the justification for absence of leave is lacking.

Time off work is given for hospital appointments and treatments. You work for yourself.

As in the article shows, symptoms have to appear at a predetermined level to be treated even though by not doing so may allow disease to become chronic and ultimately untreatable.

The article is about HIV. There are many online sites about HIV and support groups. I also use sites for checking my own medical conditions. You can visit a hospital and request an HIV test.

Genetic predisposition and testing is not an item in Japanese hospitals that would allow a whole range of protocols to be adopted before illness even becomes a concern.

You can visit your local clinics for advice and treatment. My wife attends a local skin clinic because she suffers from hives. There are many places besides hospitals.

You have to start with yourself for preventive medicine. No smoking, cut down drinking, exercise, healthy diet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

December 1st was Worlds Aids Day.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Now aged 52, Okui recalls how shocking it was to find out, in the summer of 2016, that he had tested positive. He did not know much about HIV, having only a vague impression it was a "scary disease."

The ignorance is due to the lack of sex education as well as the myth that it is a gaijin problem!

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

kurisupisuToday  01:09 pm JST

The emphasis should be on preventing illness not waiting for it to appear.

Example prostate cancer.

There is a simple blood test kit that could be sent to those at risk, but this is not in Japan.

Good points. Healthcare here is extremely lacking on many areas..

This is a huge part of the problem, detailed information is readily available, for someone (specially in the high risk group) to not know much about HIV in 2016 is not justifiable, 

There is detailed information available on every disease. No one needs to justify their knowing or not knowing about it. If the person is not involved in the industry, like all here, then he would not be aware of such information unless he actively researches it.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Blood tests are very easy to have at hospitals. Had one yesterday covering a very wide range.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There is detailed information available on every disease. No one needs to justify their knowing or not knowing about it. 

If they are in a very real risk of the disease of course this is necessary, taking care of your own health is a responsibility and using ignorance is a terribly bad excuse when it is so easy to know all the necessary information about HIV.

If the person is not involved in the industry, like all here, then he would not be aware of such information unless he actively researches it.

That is completely false, information about HIV, how it is transmitted, who is at risk, what are the problems it causes, is not some kind of secret only known to specialists but instead something that is heavily promoted in the media and public health services.

These are some examples of the information being actively pushed towards the population, none of which depends on the people to be "involved in the industry".

https://www.gov-online.go.jp/useful/article/201305/2.html

https://www.hivkensa.com/knowledge/whatis

https://www.hok-hiv.com/knowledge/process/

3 ( +4 / -1 )

gay men and men who have sex with other men, sex workers and their clients, people who inject drugs, and transgender people and their sexual partners -- accounted for 70 percent of global HIV infections in 2021, according to UNAIDS.

Aids, Hepatitis and now monkey pox..... It seems that certain practices of the homosexual community are not very healthy. Too bad we have to subsidize their health care when their actions and lack of precautions make them ill.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

In some countries now high rates of HIV/AIDS due to the refusal of men to wear condoms and have casual sex outside of their marriages. Then take it home with them and pass it on to their wives and unborn children.

HIV/AIDS is also passed on from drug addicts and sharing dirty needles.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, 84.2 million [64.0–113.0 million] people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 40.1 million [33.6–48.6 million] people have died of HIV.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Given how widespread brothel and call-girl usage is in Japan, combined with awful sex education in schools, I expect the true numbers of people living symptomless with HIV are much higher than the official figures.

Higher chance of being struck by lightning than catching HIV from insertive vaginal sex. The guys with HIV didn't catch it from a woman.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

and have casual sex outside of their marriages. 

... with other men.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If they are in a very real risk of the disease of course this is necessary, taking care of your own health is a responsibility and using ignorance is a terribly bad excuse when it is so easy to know all the necessary information about HIV.

In the medical field, the medical professionals do not blame their patients for their ailments or illnesses.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

In the medical field, the medical professionals do not blame their patients for their ailments or illnesses.

Saying that patients have a responsibility to take care of their own health, and that being informed is terribly easy is not blaming them for their illness, people do need to take care of themsselves and refusing to accept readily available information (not some well keep secret as you mistakenly thought) have consequences that they will then have to accept.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In the medical field, the medical professionals do not blame their patients for their ailments or illnesses.

Yes, in the case of covid, doctors just nod sympathetically and helplessly as patients on their death bed cry to them that they should have listened to the advice regarding vaccines

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Occasionally one can't help but say I told you so

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The article forgets to mention the infection through blood contamination or indeed becoming infected through various other means other than the above mentioned.

Regardless as to how you got it, I think it is shameful that here in Japan, they simply want you to get the Full Blown infection before attempting to suppress it before it becomes a drain upon Medical resources. And when you do have this infection, the stigma that sticks with you, is troubling - particularly if you have to declare it to your Employer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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