Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ship of Fools

One hundred years ago today at two twenty am in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean the RMS Titanic sank.  In one of the greatest peacetime maritime disasters in history 1,514 people lost their lives.

For the duration of the short voyage the passengers and crew of the Titanic were served by a small medical staff made up of two surgeons, two nurses and a hospital steward.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm reaching and I know it...

In 1981 a syndrome was first described that baffled doctors and quickly killed its victims.  That syndrome came to be known as AIDS.  

Today AIDS or more correctly the precursor virus HIV, is more of a chronic illness in the western world.  We have good treatment and most sufferers can expect to live well into old age. 

However in the mid eighties and early nineties, this was not the case.  

Dr. Turkey is old enough to remember the large public health campaign that occurred in Australia in the late 1980s, which is the origin of today's picture interlude. 

(Copyright the QAHC)   (This is the Royal Easter Show Edition?  See, there is a link!)

Condoman was created in 1988 by a group of indigenous health workers in Queensland who felt that the Grim Reaper ads being run for the general population were culturally inappropriate.  The 'Don't be shame be game' slogan for condom use was incredibly successful amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the program eventually spread out to the Pacific Islands. (The general population from memory also responded well).

Australia's overall response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic was one of the best in the world, resulting in a halt and reversal of infection rates.  It set the standard for how to respond to the threat of a blood borne/sexually transmitted virus.  Australian public health workers are particularly proud of this and the fact that they also managed to do it in a culturally appropriate way. 

Unfortunately perhaps due to the fact that things are better these days for sufferers infection rates are once again on the rise, particularly amongst our indigenous populations.  Condoman had to make a return in 2009.  

Hopefully we won't require the Grim Reaper.