The Lyme Wars: Meet The Players

Whether you know it or not, there has been a fierce battle — called “The Lyme Wars” by everyone from The New Yorker to NPR to Dutch scientific researchers — for at least a decade. Lyme disease arguably is politicized as much as AIDS was when it emerged in the 1980s, and the warriors for the most part fall on one of two sides.

First, a disclaimer: Given that many news stories like this one present the there-is-no-chronic-Lyme opinion authoritatively, without discussing counterarguments and without stating any inherent financial or other conflicts of interest, I will state up front that as someone who has lived with long-term, progressive damage to my health from Lyme disease, my bias is that chronic Lyme disease exists. It exists in my reality and in my body, and it has responded mostly favorably to various treatments that not all patients can access or afford. And so the purpose of this essay is to offer an overview of the two sides — those who say there is no such thing as chronic Lyme disease and the countless thousands who live with it and the medical practitioners who treat them. Other articles sometimes present these patients as mentally ill people who believe they have a physical illness but do not, and many of these articles describe doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers who opt to treat Lyme disease patients rather than rejecting them or giving them psychiatric medications. Let it be known that the opinion of this author, based on 20 years of experience with Lyme disease, believes that the latter group is inverting the Hippocratic Oath, “first do no harm” into a perverted new mantra to “first do harm” to patients with this condition. It’s not new. This was done to HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s, and to black men with syphilis for a 50-year period before them.

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  1. They claim that treating patients with long-term antibiotics poses health risks to those patients;
  2. They claim that doing so poses a high public health risk because of the growing preponderance of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

Washington, D.C.-based professional writer and unprofessional painter with many passions, including health, decency, Earth, asking questions and lots more.

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