Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

AIDS Expert Speaks at Medical Convention
by Ross Forman
2006-10-01

This article shared 3845 times since Sun Oct 1, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Dr. Michael Alkan brought a world of experience to Chicago when he gave his keynote speech at the 56th annual American Medical Student Association ( AMSA ) Convention, held at the Palmer House Hilton.

He talked at the AMSA event about medical stints in the Congo, India, Ecuador, Botswana, China and other Asian countries. He also addressed his numerous stints in Africa, usually Ethiopia and Kenya.

Most of his work has been AIDS-related. Truly an expert on the disease, Alkan has been dealing with AIDS patients since 1982, when he saw his first AIDS patient, an Israeli youngster with hemophilia. 'We had absolutely no [ effective ] treatment in 1982,' recalled Alkan.

'I will never forget that first [ AIDS ] patient, as well as another AIDS patient from, oh, about a year later. In both cases, the families moved away from our area because they were afraid of the stigma. One of the families even pleaded with me to tell everyone that their loved one died of cancer.'

Alkan, 64, is an internationally renowned expert in global health issues. He graduated from medical school in 1965 in Jerusalem and is now the chief of infectious diseases at the Soroka University Medical Center as well as a professor of medicine at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.

Alkan has taught at Moi University in Kenya and at the Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador. He has participated in planning and teaching a curriculum in international medicine for students in a joint program involving Colombia University and Ben-Gurion University.

Alkan has also been involved in disaster relief in Cambodia, Congo, Kosovo, India and Louisiana.

But AIDS is his forte.

'From the time I saw my first AIDS patient in 1982 until, oh, about 1990, we had nothing,' for the patients, he said. 'Then AZT came along and we thought we were doing something. But it basically was like a deferred sentence. Instead of dying a year later, they'd die two years after the diagnosis.

'It was not until about 1995 that we started giving anything more meaningful. And it wasn't until about eight years ago that we had the combination that we give today. What we have, and what we do now [ regarding treatment ] , this transformed AIDS from a fatal disease into a chronic disease, sort of like diabetes; as long as you take your insulin, you're OK.'

But Alkan certainly remembers the early years of AIDS.

'In the early 1980s, I was thinking, 'Oy vay; I chose the wrong profession,' because I had so many patients who I couldn't do anything for other than be passionate and polite to their families,' Alkan said. 'We could treat some of the complications and prolong life a little with suffering, but it was nothing like how the disease is today. It was very depressing.

'At the time, I thought the patients were in dire straits. And, when we started giving the combination treatments, I was still skeptical. I thought it was just another stunt. It wasn't until I saw my patients, months into the treatment, gaining weight, going back to work, leading a normal life. That's when I said, 'Wow; this is better.''

'The older I get, the more direct my observations are to the family of the patient,' he said. 'Sometimes with the patient, I try to make things look at little prettier than they are. But, with the family, I tell them everything. There's no reason to prevent the family from knowing what [ lies ] ahead of them.

'When I was more insecure, I was more afraid of the truth. But now, as I gain more and more experience and have more interaction with patients and families, I am very confident. Even if the truth is horrific, like someone is about to die, there are ways to save this, so [ the remaining ] time is passable.'

Alkan said AIDS treatment over the past 20-plus years is simply 'unbelievable.' In fact, most medical conditions have received incredible advances over time. Take, for instance, SARS.

Dealing with AIDS patients has been 'taking and quite difficult,' over time, he said. But, over the last 10 years, it's also been rewarding, too.

And over the past couple of years, there really has been a big revolution, especially in Third World countries, he said. 'Nowadays, there are several countries in Africa that have very good AIDS treatment programs,' he said.

AIDS cases in Africa didn't really start spreading as a catastrophe until the mid-1990s,' said Alkan, who, in 1985, started working and treating the Jewish Ethiopian community.

'We know for a fact, through wide-spreading testing that, in 1985, all Ethiopian immigration to Israel was HIV-negative. The first cases of HIV-positive Ethiopian Jews came in 1989 or 1990. And the numbers went up from there,' said Alkan, who had a clinic at the time that gave consultations on infectious diseases to doctors in the community for Ethiopian patients who were very difficult to deal with because there was no proper form of communication.

Alkan had an Ethiopian woman at his clinic who volunteered to work with him. She started in 1985, and is still the backbone of his AIDS clinic today. Now, though, she's a paid worker.

About 70 percent of the patients he treats at his AIDS clinic in Israel are Jews from Ethiopia.

Alkan's family and job are in Israel, but he still goes to Africa for two- or three-month stints. Of his work, up to 60 percent is AIDS-related, mostly in Israel and Africa. He often teaches other medical professionals, including doctors.

For example, there was his trip to rural China right before coming to Chicago, where he was asked to train 10 Chinese doctors regarding the treatment of AIDS. However, when he arrived, with a budget for 10, there were 15 at his lecture. Alkan welcomed the five extras.

The material was translated into Chinese and, a week before the end of the course, Alkan was told that some of the doctors have friends who wanted to take the final examination as well. Surprised, Alkan questioned it because these friends had not even been to the course. Well, Alkan learned that the original 10 had copied the CDs and literature, and others just learned from the CDs. So, 20 took the exam—and all 20 passed.

'Hopefully I made a ripple in the water that will go further than I first expected. That's very gratifying,' he said.

Alkan said the future of AIDS treatment is either classified as realism and wishful thinking, with clear differences between the two.

'The wishful answer is that there will be a way to change the course of the disease dramatically so that the patient will not be a slave of the treatment for the rest of his or her life. That would be either a vaccine or some completely different way to kill the virus,' he said. 'But the realistic answer is: I don't see the AIDS vaccine within the next 10 years, at least.'

However, he added, 'The number of scientists working on the vaccine is so big. And the competition between all of these scientists is a good catalyst for better work, quicker results. So, from that standpoint, there's a lot of room for optimism. And the technology of the laboratory work has come a very long way.'


This article shared 3845 times since Sun Oct 1, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

HHS awards $2.21B in FY2021 for HIV care, support services, medication 2021-10-05
--From a press release - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced approximately $2.21 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding for cities, counties, states, and local community-based organizations in fiscal year ...


Gay News

30th Annual AIDS Run & Walk raises more than $400K 2021-10-06
- CHICAGO — More than 1,800 advocates, community partners, runners, walkers, volunteers, staff members and more gathered at Soldier Field on Oct. 2 for the 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago. The event raised approximately $420,000 ...


Gay News

Illinois HIV Care Connect launches HIV Innovation campaign 2021-10-05
- On Oct. 5, Illinois HIV Care Connect launched its HIV Innovation web and social-media campaign, showcasing several Illinois HIV initiatives that are helping to prevent or treat HIV more effectively. Articles about five initiatives so far ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Black AIDS Institute, non-binary person attacked, Rachel Maddow 2021-10-03
- The board of directors of the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) announced the appointments of Toni Newman as its interim chief executive officer and Dr. Kemal M. Atkins as managing director, a press release noted. In addition, ...


Gay News

AIDS Run & Walk celebrates 30 years with annual event 2021-10-03
- Following a year where AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) held its annual AIDS Run & Walk fundraiser virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event returned to Soldier Field on Oct. 2 with the theme "Forward ...


Gay News

Proceeds from 30th Annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago to help 26 HIV/AIDS organizations 2021-09-22
--From a press release - CHICAGO — On Saturday, Oct. 2, at 9:30 a.m., more than 1,700 advocates and supporters will gather safely at Soldier Field to participate in the 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago (ARWC) to support individuals ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Carl Bean dies, LGBT History Month, military events, Dykes on Bikes 2021-09-19
- Archbishop Carl Bean—an openly gay former Motown singer, longtime AIDS activist and leader in the LGBTQ church movement—died at age 77, The New York Daily News reported. In a statement entitled "The Giant Sleeps," the Unity ...


Gay News

HHS awards $48M to health centers to expand HIV prevention, treatment 2021-09-16
- On Sept. 16, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $48 million to 271 HRSA-supported health centers across 26 states, Puerto Rico and ...


Gay News

New safety precautions announced for 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago Oct. 2 2021-09-08
--From a press release - CHICAGO — AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) has announced proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of event will be required for all in-person participants for the 30th annual AIDS Run & ...


Gay News

HIV AT 40: Global activist Phill Wilson talks Chicago, the '80s and vaccines 2021-09-01
- Phill Wilson is one of the best-known HIV/AIDS activists/educators around the globe. The Chicago native was the co-founder of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention. He ...


Gay News

Feds expand insurers' requirements for PrEP coverage 2021-08-26
- Insurers and service-providers have until September to comply with a new federal guidance requiring insurance companies to cover the entire cost of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) interventions. Many insurers have been ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Ann Arbor ban, Buttigieg, NYC settlement, Gloria Allred 2021-08-22
- Using gay conversion therapy on minors to try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity is now officially banned in Ann Arbor, Michigan, according to MLive.com. "So-called conversion therapy is, of course, an abomination," Mayor ...


Gay News

Chicago Academy's 25th annual AIDS benefit show Sept. 24-25 2021-08-12
- Each year, Chicago Academy for the Arts students produce and perform in a variety show to support HIV/AIDS research and organizations. The 25th Annual AIDS Benefit will take place Sept. 24-25 at The Academy, 1010 W. ...


Gay News

U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS moves to virtual 2021-08-10
--From a press release - Aug. 10, 2021 - NMAC today announced that the 2021 US Conference on HIV/AIDS will move from an in-person conference to a virtual meeting due to the continued spread of the Delta variant of the Covid ...


Gay News

DaBaby apologizes for 'misinformed' comments about AIDS, LGBTQ people 2021-08-03
- After his headlining sets at Lollapalooza, Governors Ball and Day N Vegas festivals were canceled within 24 hours of each other, rapper DaBaby issued another apology to the LGBTQ community, Variety reported. "Social Media moves so ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.