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Faith and HIV
Jan 7, 2007

Hello Dr. Franscino. I enjoy reading your responses, you have an excellent knowledge of the HIV virus and have helped hundreds, if not thousands of people. However, I've noticed you seem to have a grudge against a religious view about HIV. I won't condemn you for your choice or view on faith and religion, but perhaps you shouldn't be so critical about someone else's views or opinions regarding faith and religion. I am a Christian and have been having some medical problems. I still go to the doctor when it's necessary, but I've also had good experiences with prayer as well, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. So once again, don't be so critical of faith and prayer. In a world of medicine and technology, sometimes faith is all we have.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

If you have had "good experiences with prayer physically, emotionally, and psychologically," fine and dandy. I'll never argue with success; however, scientific fact is fact. Religion is merely a belief. There is a difference.

As it turns out, loads and loads of folks "believe" prayer will help them through a medical crisis. And if a large group of people in addition to yourself, your family, friends, the 700 Club, whatever, add their prayers, that's even more helpful, right? Well apparently no, that's not right! Researchers have been trying to analyze and measure the effect of prayer for a number of years. Two often quoted studies suggested that third party prayers are helpful, but two other studies concluded there was no benefit. These conflicting results pushed researchers to design and conduct the most scientifically rigid investigation to study prayer to date. It involved 1,802 coronary bypass surgery patients at six different hospitals from Oklahoma City to Boston. It cost $2.4 million and was paid for by the John Templeton Foundation and the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation of Memphis. The results were a clear setback for those who believe in the power of prayer. Let's just say their prayers were not answered! The study found that prayers offered by strangers did not reduce medical complications of major heart surgery. Perhaps most surprising was the fact that patients who knew that others were praying for them actually fared worse than those who did not receive this spiritual support or who did, but were not aware of receiving it. The research trial was called STEP (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer). The full report was published in the April 4, 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal, if you'd like to see all the details.

I'm not anti-faith or anti-God and I do not have a grudge against anyone . . . well, other than Dubya and his "can't wait to surge" cronies, but that's another story. Personally, I, too, call on the Higher Powers to help me through challenging times. However, we shouldn't confuse science with myth or facts with fables.

"In a world of medicine and technology," if all you have is faith, then you are one of the 46,000,000 Americans who currently have no health insurance, which brings us back to the faith-filled Dubya!

Finally, it's Frascino, not Franscino. So, I suggest you just call me Dr. Bob, OK?

Dr. Bob



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