HIV/AIDS comes in, thinking departs and ignorance reigns
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/11/09
“Everyone knows” that HIV causes AIDS and that HIV is spread by sex and infected needles. No further thought is then needed to explain facts and propose public policies. For example, in Ghana, the cultural practice of marrying one’s brother’s widow is indicted without further ado for the alleged spread of HIV/AIDS:
“Widowhood inheritance, . . . a cultural practice in the Upper West Region that allows brothers of a deceased to marry his widow after the funeral rites of the deceased, is said to be one of the major causes of the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Jirapa and Lambussie districts.
A Senior Nursing Officer in charge of Public Health for Jirapa, Cecilia Kakariba revealed this during the launching ceremony of the Ghana Congress on Evangelization (GHACOE) Women’s Ministry HIV/AIDS project. . . .
Mrs Kakariba said the scramble by brothers to inherit their deceased brothers’ widows without knowing the cause of death . . . was contributing significantly to the spread of HIV/AIDS as some die of the disease.”
But Mrs Kakariba can’t know that “some die of the disease” . Were it known, then of course the brothers wouldn’t “scramble” to marry the widow; or, if they did, would only take her financial inheritance and avoid the sex part — after all, we know from James Chin (“The AIDS Pandemic” ), among others, that adultery and promiscuity are so rampant throughout sub-Saharan Africa that 20 to 40% of adults are continually engaged in “multiple concurrent” relationships — several sex partners at any given time, and changing partners every few weeks or months; evidently, no male and no female need ever remain without sexual satisfaction for more than a few hours. In that context, a few extra infections from “widowhood inheritance” would be neither here nor there, they would make no noticeable difference.
The worrying spread that is to be curbed has brought “a prevalence rate of 3.3 per cent” — But that’s a level lower than in Ghana’s neighboring countries (Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso) surrounding, and indeed lower than in all the other countries in sub-Saharan Africa where rates vary from 3.4 to as high as 38% [Deconstructing HIV/AIDS in “Sub-Saharan Africa” and “The Caribbean”, 21 April 2008]. If any country in sub-Saharan Africa should not be worrying about HIV/AIDS, it’s Ghana!.
The facts are, of course, that HIV isn’t sexually transmitted, and neither is AIDS. Even the mainstream acknowledges that male-to-female transmission (which is, as we know, only apparent transmission) is merely on the order of 1 per thousand, and female-to-male an order of magnitude lower still. But Mrs Kakariba and other nurses, and indeed practicing physicians, can’t spend their time delving into the technical literature. They have to accept what the authorities tell them. So when “The project with financial support from the Ghana AIDS Commission seeks to intensify education to help reduce the spread of the disease in the two districts in particular and the region as a whole”, no nurse and no doctor has reason to question the conventional wisdom; surely governments don’t provide “financial support” unless there’s a very good reason to do so. And the media, of course, simply parrot official pronouncements without looking into what the facts are. “Investigative journalism” all too often amounts to no more than asking the experts.