Yolanda Foster compares Lyme disease to HIV, ‘it’s an epidemic’

November 10th, 2016 | by staff

Yolanda Foster, formerly of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has been something of an activist for Lyme disease following her diagnosis in 2012. She’s shared multiple sickbed selfies to social media, she’s tried many alternative treatments and she’s generally raised awareness, with some people questioning the validity of her claims. That’s to be expected with a subjective illness that has no definitive diagnostic test or treatment. It’s sad for victims who often face disbelief from people who tell them their suffering isn’t real. It’s also sad for society in general, although I get why people are skeptical of Foster specifically.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was in a wheelchair for six months more than a decade ago after coming down with a sudden mystery illness which left me dizzy, confused and always tired. I went from being in the best physical shape of my life to being unable to walk or think straight. I never got any answers from doctors (except “stress”) and have since recovered but it’s likely I had Lyme disease. This issue is personal to me, I also have relatives who have active Lyme, however I can’t relate much to Yolanda Foster, nor do I cosign her comparing Lyme disease to HIV. She did it in a roundabout way, comparing a lack of awareness for Lyme to the way the HIV was gradually understood by the public. Yolanda made these comments at a recent event in Australia for a new women’s website launched by channel nine called Honey. It’s not like she was speaking at a Lyme conference when she said this.

“We all pull together so beautifully for HIV,” Hadid said.

“Lyme is three times more prevalent right now, it’s a world-wide epidemic, the first case was diagnosed in 1972… yet we haven’t done anything about it.”

Since its outbreak, HIV-AIDS has killed an estimated 35 million people globally. Around the same number currently live with the disease worldwide.

Fatality rates for Lyme disease are difficult to measure however the Centre For Disease Control in the US analysed health records from 45 states and found 114 deaths between 1999 and 2003.

Sydney GP Dr Brad McKay said Ms Hadid’s comparison was a long bow, with the two not on par.

“If HIV isn’t treated, people die. If Lyme Disease isn’t treated, then people can feel unwell for a very long time,” McKay said.

It was rare for Lyme disease to cause mortality, he said, and it’s “easily treated with antibiotics” if diagnosed early enough.

“If it’s not diagnosed, then it can cause damage to many different parts of the human body.”

Nic Holas, founder of The Institute of Many, a grassroots movement for people living with HIV, said comparisons between diseases were understandable but ultimately unhelpful.

[From News.com.au via Daily Mail]

I don’t think it’s fair to compare Lyme to HIV or AIDS. I somewhat get what she’s saying, that we need to increase public understanding of Lyme and reach a point where sufferers aren’t considered malingerers and fakers, similar to how AIDS patients were shunned at the beginning of the epidemic I guess although that’s a much different disease. This is a shaky argument full of potential landmines. Nothing is like HIV except HIV. I know there’s no perfect advocate and that Yolanda is just sharing her experience but it does seem to be a myopic one.

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