WHY UNAIDS SHOULD BE DISBANDED
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/05/31
James Chin, formerly epidemiologist at the World Health Organization and currently clinical professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, adds further weight to the call (A SMALL HITCH IN THE BANDWAGON?) to end the UN’s HIV program. In the China Post (Taiwan), Chin wrote (“Myths behind AIDS might lead to billions in misspending”, 18 May 2008):
“UNAIDS — the U.N.’s specialist AIDS advocacy body — has raised some US$110 billion for the next five years: . . . AIDS will shortly become the biggest single item in foreign aid. . . . UNAIDS has systematically exaggerated the size and trend of the pandemic, in addition to hyping the potential for HIV epidemics in ‘general’ populations. . . . But UNAIDS’s claims are not supported by the epidemiologic data.
. . .
UNAIDS has ignored this and promoted a range of myths that have more to do with political correctness than science.
For instance, UNAIDS claims that poverty and discrimination are major determinants of high HIV prevalence. In 1987, John Mann, the first head of AIDS at the World Health Organization, claimed that being ‘excluded from the mainstream of society or being discriminated on grounds of race, religion or sexual preference, led to an increase of HIV infection,’ a litany uncritically accepted by UNAIDS.
All available data suggests the opposite. In Africa, AIDS is a disease associated with wealth. The richest people in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia have HIV rates several times higher than the poorest, probably because wealthy men and women in these countries have more sex partners. [[More likely, the reason is that it’s among the wealthy that drug abuse is more common, and the illnesses that are caused directly by overindulgence in drugs]]
Poverty and discrimination present barriers to gaining access to prevention and treatment but are not primary determinants of sexual behavior . . . .
UNAIDS has consistently claimed that the world is on the brink of generalized heterosexual HIV epidemics. . . . [To the contrary, a] recent report by an independent commission on AIDS in Asia has acknowledged that epidemic sexual HIV transmission has not spread in Asia beyond the highest HIV-risk groups, such as gay men, injecting drug users, and sex workers, into any general population. However, UNAIDS’s perpetuation of the myth that everyone is at risk of AIDS has led to billions wasted on HIV prevention programs directed at general populations and especially youth, who, outside of sub-Saharan Africa, are at minimal risk of any exposure to HIV.
. . . .
At least US$5 billion has been wasted in this way in the last five years. Meanwhile, to the shame of the global health bureaucracy, a handful of diseases that are relatively inexpensive to prevent or treat — several vaccine-preventable diseases, diarrheal diseases, malaria and some acute respiratory infections — continue to account for about four million annual child deaths globally.
. . . . HIV is incapable of epidemic spread in the vast majority of heterosexual populations.
Continued denial of these realities will further erode whatever credibility UNAIDS and other mainstream AIDS agencies and experts may still have, and will seriously damage the future fight against this disease: let’s face the data and put the money where the real problems really are” [emphases added].
Chin is author of The AIDS Pandemic. The China Post story reports also that his The Myth of a ‘General’ AIDS Pandemic is to be published this month by the Campaign for Fighting Diseases. The latter is described in Wikipedia as funded by pharmaceutical companies. The Campaign’s own website is inscrutable as to its funding and governance.