HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

AIDS activists spout b***s***; media pass it on

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/04/03

It’s admirable and to be applauded when a man who was homeless and a sometime male prostitute turns his life around, studies addiction counseling and business management, and gets a job working for an organization that “offers prevention services to communities of colour that are at high risk of HIV”.

Unfortunately, in that job he spreads demonstrably wrong information, for example:
“in recent months I’ve noticed that an increasing number of guys coming out of the penal system are infected. . . . A lot of the men who go to jail in Georgia are HIV negative when they go in — I know that because they’re tested prior to being locked up. But they come out infected with HIV. . . . If prisons did HIV tests on inmates as they exit, they’d be able to document the alarming rates of infection, but they only test them on the way in. They don’t want to know about what goes out, because they would have to share some of the responsibility for the infections”
— Michael Banner, reported in the British on-line guardianweekly:
“HIV infections in US prisons—
HIV is spreading fast among male inmates of America’s penitentiaries, where sex can be a ticket to survival and access to condoms is limited. Michael Banner, an Aids [sic, British usage] prevention campaigner working in Georgia state, says the lack of resources to combat this epidemic will hit the predominantly poor and African-American communities first”

However, there have been studies of exiting prisoners — even in Georgia, about which Banner was speaking. I mention this at p. 47 in my book:
“Sex between men is common in prisons, yet here too there is no sign of any appreciable transmission of HIV. In a military prison, no seroconversion occurred over several years during which there was a 2 percent transmission rate of hepatitis B (Kelley et al. 1986). A maximum seroconversion rate of 1.7 per 1000 was reported in a 3-year study of Nevada inmates (Horsburgh et al. 1990). In Georgia prisons, a study extending over 15 years found 88 men out of 45,000 became HIV-positive while incarcerated, about 6 per year on average, 1 in every 7500.”
Brown, D. 2006. Study refutes idea that many inmates get HIV in prison—surprise finding was frequency of sex with staff. Washington Post, 21 April.
Horsburgh, C. R., J. Q. Jarvis, T. McArthur, T. Ignacio, and P. Stock. 1990. Seroconversion to human immunodeficiency virus in prison inmates. American Journal of Public Health 80: 209-210.
Kelley, P. W., R. R. Redfield, D. L. Ward, D. S. Burke, and R. N. Miller. 1986. Prevalence and incidence of HTLV-III infection in a prison [letter]. Journal of the American Medical Association 256: 2198-2199.

From the amount of space it takes in the Guardian’s report, the claim that “HIV” is spreading significantly in Georgia prisons probably reflects with reasonable accuracy what Banner actually said. It can hardly be true, though that he said
“Certainly, in Georgia alone, about 70% of the African-American community is infected with HIV. We make up less than 30% of the state’s population, so there’s a huge disparity of infection rates”.

These numbers are so absurd that one might have hoped that  whoever garners and passes on this sort of “news” at the Guardian would have realized that something here is wrong. Perhaps Banner said that 70% of all “HIV” infections in Georgia are among African Americans, who make up only 30% of the State’s population? That would be more than plausible. But if the Guardian lets this pass, who knows how many unwary readers just absorb these ludicrous numbers — “70% of Georgia’s blacks are HIV!” — and pass this “news” on to friends and  to acquaintances in the local pub, where some pundits no doubt cite it as proof of what they always said about those *——.

As to b***s***, please recall [B***S*** about HIV from academe via the press, 4 March 2008]  its definition by the learned Princeton Professor Harry Frankfurt: “it is a lack of concern with the truth; B***S***ers just don’t care whether what they say is true or untrue or neither.”

Re Georgia prisons, Banner’s concerned not with disseminating truth but with doing his job — accepting the official dogma, spreading it, and asking for more funding:
“The reality is, with thousands of people in jail, organisations like the one I work for don’t have the resources to make a dent on the problem.”

Re that ludicrous 70%, readers and circulation for its print edition are what matters to the Guardian, and the more startling the “news”, the better. Concern for truth is not top priority, it seems clear enough.

5 Responses to “AIDS activists spout b***s***; media pass it on”

  1. David said

    Dear Dr. Bauer,

    This nonsense really is maddening. Have journalists lost every bit of their investigative spirit? Have you or anyone else requested a retraction and correction to this horrendously sloppy reporting on the part of the Guardian?

    David

    • Henry Bauer said

      David:
      I sent a comment to guardian on-line. I didn’t see a specific reporter’s name attached to the report.

  2. David said

    I found Michael Banner on Facebook, and sent him a message. Hoping he will respond so we can start a dialogue about his statement.

  3. David said

    Dr. Bauer,

    Do you know if anyone has written a book focused mainly on examples of distortions, sloppy journalism, and outright inaccuracies found in the media’s coverage of AIDS? I think this would be a very good way to encourage the public to look with new skepticism towards the mainstream- and corporate-driven media’s take on AIDS. I wish I had the time to do it.

    Would be great if Michael Fumento, John Stossel, or some other contrarian media gadfly would look into this information and bring this to the public’s attention. Such a book or investigative report would not have to deal with the problems of the HIV paradigm. Simply showing the public that AIDS is not the epidemic the media claims it to be would generate a lot of buzz and stimulate much needed skepticism. If only Skeptic magazine had the intellectual consistency to dispute exaggerations about AIDS as they do other phenomena.

    • Henry Bauer said

      David:

      That’s a neat idea.

      Having time… Ah, yes. ’nuff said.

      Re Skeptic magazine and others like it: They’re great when they agree with my view and dreadful when they don’t 😉
      Over many years I’ve learned that there’s not much correlation, if any, between being a “Skeptic” and being skeptical. Many organized Skeptics view religion of any sort as irrational, yet some of their fellow Skeptics are deists, Catholics, etc. Some who take Nessies seriously also take UFOS seriously, and others don’t. Lots of highly intelligent, accomplished people believe various things that I find unbelievable.

      Michael Shermer and Skeptic are good on some things and bad on others — in MY opinion!

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