WORLD AIDS DAY: SHARON STONE ON LARRY KING, SHARING URBAN LEGENDS (OR CELEBRITY FACTS)
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/22
“Urban legends” are widely believed stories that circulate without the benefit of supporting evidence. “Celebrity facts” are urban legends expressed in sound bites.
* * * * * *
SHARON STONE: “We will stand for the one child who dies every minute. We will stand for the one person who dies every second of AIDS. “
ELTON JOHN: “It is a huge pandemic that’s affecting the whole world.”
ANGELINA JOLIE: “Every 14 seconds a child becomes orphaned.”
SHARON STONE: “We will not be silent. We will not be silenced. We will stand for those 40 million people who are, at this moment, dying of AIDS”.
[The above from video clips included in the program.]
* * * * * *
[The following from Sharon Stone to Larry King]
“a child is dying every two minutes from AIDS. We have to look at what’s really happening. And I think the biggest number we have to look at is how many people have survived AIDS. Zero.”
“people don’t really believe it can happen to them. I don’t think that people are in the reality of how prevalent AIDS really is and how serious that it really is. . . . it’s the fourth leading killer of women in America . . . half of the people that have AIDS are women.”
Medications prevent mother-to-child transmission: “mothers of HIV [sic] were able to give birth to zero children with AIDS”.
* * * * * *
My valued correspondent Tony alerted me to this interview by Larry King with Sharon Stone, on 27 November, in honor of World AIDS Day. I got a transcript, and the quotes above are taken from that.
Stone is in her “12th year with the American Foundation for AIDS Research, now the Global Foundation for AIDS Research”; earlier she had “worked at the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation here in our community when it was just a very small thing, a local fair. And of course now it’s a worldwide foundation, which is really quite wonderful”.
Well-meaning celebrities often lend their names and their presence to fund-raising and consciousness-raising events of all sorts. How much responsibility do they bear for getting their facts straight?
If the intentions are good, do the facts matter?
If the cause is a good one, do the facts matter?
To what extent does it matter, that every one of the asserted “facts” cited above is at variance with at least one of official data, reality, or plain common sense?
* * * * * *
In the video clip, a child is said to die every minute; in the interview, it’s every two minutes. Does this difference of a factor of 2 matter, halving or doubling the claimed number?
What had struck me most was the adult dying every second. That seems an awful lot. How many does that make in a year?
I checked my rough figuring by means of a calculator, and then checked it again twice to make sure I had my decimal point in the correct place. 1 per second equals 31,500,000 per year. Stone asserted that 31,500,000 adults die each year of AIDS.
According to UNAIDS (update of December 2006), annual adult deaths from AIDS were 2,600,000. Does it matter that Stone’s number is 12 times as large as the UNAIDS figure? (She couldn’t yet have known of the UNAIDS December 2007 update that lowered the estimate from 2,600,000 to 1,700,000.)
* * * * * *
Here’s what the National Statistical Service says about the leading causes of death among women in the United States for 2004 (CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, 56 #5, 20 November 2007):
Far from being fourth, as Stone told Larry King, AIDS is not even among the TEN leading causes of death.
When the data are broken down by age category, AIDS is not in the top ten for ages up to 19. At ages 20-24, “HIV disease” comes in at #8. Accidents come first, accounting for 40.5% of all deaths in this age group. “HIV disease” is responsible for only 1.4% of all deaths, less not only than accidents but also below assault, cancer, suicide, heart disease, pregnancy and childbirth, and congenital illnesses.
For women between 25 and 34, “HIV disease” has moved up to #6, below accidents, cancer, heart disease, suicide, and assault; it represents 4.4% of all deaths in this age range.
For ages 35 to 44, “HIV disease” is up at #5 but still represents just 4.3% of all deaths. In the next group (ages 45-54), it’s back down to #9, and 1.6% of all deaths. Above age 55, it fails again to make it into the top ten.
Perhaps Stone just misspoke slightly? We’ve all heard that HIV and AIDS in the USA have become a disease of the African American community, with black women particularly at risk. Maybe she meant the fourth leading cause of death among African-American women?
But AIDS doesn’t appear in the top ten there either. It does come in at #8 among 10-14 year-old African-American females, at 2.1% of all deaths in that category. But it’s only at #9 for those aged 15-19 (1.7% of all deaths). It rises to #6 for ages 20-24 (5.5% of all deaths); reaches #1 for ages 25-34 (13.5% of all deaths) before falling to #3 at ages 35-44 (12%), #4 at 45-54 (5%); and disappears again from the “top ten” above age 55.
Add up all the deaths at all ages; “HIV disease” represents 1.5% of all deaths among black females in the United States in 2004. Heart disease claimed 27%, cancer 21%, stroke 7.5%, diabetes 5%. kidney diseases 3%, accidents 2.9%, Alzheimer’s 2.2%, flu and pneumonia 2.1%.
Is the hysteria about the risk of AIDS to black women somewhat disproportionate?
Among white women, “HIV disease” accounted for 0.05% of all deaths.
Among all Americans, both sexes, all races, “HIV disease” accounted for 0.5% of all deaths in 2004.
That’s Elton John’s “huge pandemic . . . affecting the whole world”. Those are the data underlying the official mantras that “everyone is at risk”.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Those numbers illustrate yet another stark discrepancy between the actual data about HIV and AIDS and the statements from those who speak for the orthodoxy. I repeat my questions, but now they are rhetorical:
How much responsibility do Sharon Stone, Elton John, Angelina Jolie and other celebrities bear for getting their facts straight?
If their cause is a good one, do the facts matter?
If their intentions are good, do the facts matter?
Celebrities take on these campaigns in the belief that people will pay attention to them, so surely they are responsible for getting things right. Of course it matters what the facts are: it’s the facts that determine whether a cause is a good one or not; and the path to Hell is paved with the good intentions of those who failed to get their facts straight.
* * * * * *
How has it happened that wrong assertions, sometimes patently absurd ones, are swallowed whole by the media, by celebrities, and by the public, on the say-so of a few gurus in white coats?
It could happen because science has become the universal religion and scientists have become priests whose sayings go uncontradicted because of a belief that only they have access to the requisite arcane sources of knowledge. Just ponder what weight the adjectives carry, when it’s said somewhere that “scientific tests have shown…”, or when it’s said that something is “unscientific”. “Scientific” is nowadays a universal synonym for “true”, and “unscientific” is nowadays a universal synonym for “false”.
Another similarity with religion: Anyone who questions the “consensus” disseminated by the white-coated gurus who hold prominent offices is excommunicated. What other word describes so accurately what happened to Peter Duesberg, described in chilling detail in the first chapter of Celia Farber’s “Serious Adverse Events”?
* * * * * *
Those actual data about female deaths in the United States revealed some more numbers that illustrate the failings of HIV/AIDS theory:
1. Why is “HIV disease” a more prominent killer of 10-14-year-old black females than of 15-19-year-old black females?
2. Why is “HIV disease” so much more prominent a killer of black females than of white, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American females?
Here are the rankings (within the top ten) for deaths from “HIV disease”, by age group (corrected 27 December):
Note, by way of preamble, that Stone said deaths from AIDS, not from “HIV disease”. “AIDS”, “HIV/AIDS”, and “HIV disease” have been made into synonyms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bear ultimate responsibility for this because, starting in the late 1980s, they expanded the definition of “AIDS” a number of times to include common diseases when the patient happens to test HIV-positive; thus people with tuberculosis have tuberculosis if they are HIV-negative, but they are “living with AIDS” if they are HIV-positive. So a death from “HIV disease” signifies a death from any manifest cause if the person happens to have tested HIV-positive: “all deaths among HIV-positives are counted as AIDS deaths . . . [even if death resulted from] liver failure, a heart attack, suicide, drowning, CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection, or a car accident, or anything else” (“Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?” by Rebecca Culshaw, p. 30; the specific example given there is for Massachusetts).
This confusion, or lumping together, of HIV and AIDS is illustrated when Stone said, “mothers of HIV [sic] were able to give birth to zero children with AIDS”, but it is also evident in the official CDC Surveillance Reports, which in several places do not distinguish “HIV-positive” from “living with AIDS”; for example, from the 2004 Report, “Table 1. Estimated numbers of cases of HIV/AIDS, by year of diagnosis and selected characteristics of persons, 2001-2004—35 areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting”.
Here then is the reason why black females die so much more often from “AIDS” than do other females. “HIV-positive” is not a sign of infection by an HIV virus, it is a non-specific indication of some sort of physiological stress. In any given circumstances, when exposed to some health challenge or stress, people of African ancestry test “HIV-positive” much more often than others do. So deaths from all sorts of common diseases are labeled “AIDS” deaths more often in the case of black people than with members of other human groups. A comprehensive survey of race-related data and associated discussion are in my book: chapter 5, “HIV discriminates by race”; chapter 6, “What is it about race?”; chapter 7, “Racism”. An earlier and shorter discussion is in an article posted at http://hivnotaids.homestead.com/RACE.html.