“HIV/AIDS” in Estonia: Demographics and Shibboleths
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/08/18
The role of drugs — the “Drug-AIDS” or “Chemical-AIDS” hypothesis
In an earlier post, Estonian data were cited in support of the view that the majority of so-called “HIV” and “AIDS” cases there — and by extension in much of Europe and Asia — are really cases of people having become ill through abuse of “recreational” drugs. That becoming ill is a plausible consequence of such abuse hardly needs to be proved (except perhaps to aficionados of the HIV/AIDS orthodoxy), but its specific plausibility in the Estonian circumstances is underscored by these facts from Tallinn, capital of Estonia, gathered because of the brief epidemic of drug abuse in the early 2000s (1):
· Drug abuse (without injecting) started at an average age of 16.3 (median 16.0, range 9-40)
· Injecting of drugs started at an average age of 18.7 (median 18.0, range 10-42)
· Duration of drug abuse averaged 7.9 years (SD 4.4)
· Frequency of drug abuse averaged 22 days (median 28) in every 28 days (4 weeks), and >60% injected daily, an average of 3 times per day
· At least one overdose had been experienced by two thirds of the addicts
· One third supported themselves and their habit through theft.
It is rather difficult to imagine that this behavior could be rendered health-supporting by the provision of clean needles, which is the approach recommended by HIV/AIDS gurus. After all, 8 years of imbibing drugs, 3 times daily and occasionally at overdose- or near-overdose levels, is not highly recommended even for such non-prescription medications as acetaminophen.
More than 1300 of the new “HIV” cases in Estonia in 2001 were drug addicts, and something like 2000 of the >4400 “HIV” cases (38-63%) from 2002 to 2007. It’s rather remarkable that this led to no more than a total of 212 deaths from “HIV disease” by 2008. Perhaps this high survival rate reflects the very young age at which drug abuse typically started, teenagers and young adults being able to withstand all sorts of physiological insults — for a few years.
The median age for “HIV” diagnoses increased from 20.3 to 27.8 among males, and from 18.4 to 25.6 among females, between 2000 and 2007, consistent with a decreasing proportion of diagnoses being among drug addicts, who started abusing in their teens. Overall, the median age (through 2007) for an “AIDS” diagnosis was just under 30, quite consistent with the ill-health effects of an average of 8 years of drug abuse beginning in the teens (2).
Demographics: Age and Sex
One of the demographic features that had convinced me that “HIV-positive” does not represent an infectious condition is the manner in which the tendency to test positive varies with age and sex in every tested group for which I found data:
The Estonian numbers show (qualitatively or perhaps semi-quantitatively) the same variations: the male-to-female ratio is 1.4 at ages 0-19, 2.5 at 20-24, 3.6 at 25-29, 3.4 at 30-34, and 2.5 for ≥35.
That is surely remarkable, given that the Estonian data come from a population in which drug abusers constitute the majority whereas the American data come from populations where drug abusers comprise a very small percentage only. This supports my hypothesis that the tendency to test “HIV-positive” is strongly influenced by normal variations with age and by sex of whatever the physiological conditions are that stimulate an “HIV-positive” response.
Shibboleths — Synergy of HIV and STDs?
One of the hoary shibboleths of HIV/AIDS lore is that the presence of a sexually transmitted infection makes it more likely that one will contract “HIV” upon exposure, and vice versa (CDC Fact Sheets for trichomonas, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis):
“The genital inflammation caused by trichomoniasis can increase a woman’s susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the virus. Having trichomoniasis may increase the chance that an HIV-infected woman passes HIV to her sex partner(s).”
“Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life threatening. In addition, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV-infected people with gonorrhea can transmit HIV more easily to someone else than if they did not have gonorrhea.”
“Women infected with chlamydia are up to five times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed.”
“Genital sores (chancres) caused by syphilis make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually. There is an estimated 2- to 5-fold increased risk of acquiring HIV if exposed to that infection when syphilis is present. . . . Ulcerative STDs that cause sores, ulcers, or breaks in the skin or mucous membranes, such as syphilis, disrupt barriers that provide protection against infections. The genital ulcers caused by syphilis can bleed easily, and when they come into contact with oral and rectal mucosa during sex, increase the infectiousness of and susceptibility to HIV. Having other STDs is also an important predictor for becoming HIV infected because STDs are a marker for behaviors associated with HIV transmission.”
One would therefore be inclined to expect that incidence of “HIV” and of these known STDs would show a distinct correlation. Not in Estonia, however:
In Estonia, “HIV” correlates strongly with the incidence of drug abuse and not with the incidence of sexually transmitted infections.
(1) Prevalence of HIV and Other Infections and Risk Behaviour among Injecting Drug Users in Latvia, Lithuania And Estonia In 2007, http://www2.tai.ee/TAI/PREVALENCE_OF_HIV_AND_OTHER_INFECTIONS_AND_RISK_BEHAVIOUR_eng_2009.pdf, accessed 24 July 2009
(2) Calculations based on Tables 2 and 17 in Report on HIV/AIDS through 31 December 2007, http://www2.tai.ee/uuringud/HIV_AIDS/HIV_AIDS_arvudes_12_06_2008.pdf, accessed 24 July 2009.