South Africa needs Donald Rumsfeld
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/12/15
NO — I’m not suggesting that South Africa needs Rumsfeld because of his connection to the antiretroviral drugs-peddling Gilead, it’s because of his oft-quoted bon (?) mot that “you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want to have”.
In fact the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, not just South Africa, needs Rumsfeld so that it may feel comfortably safe with the state of its armies, since African soldiers are “HIV-positive” at rates of between 25 and 90%; as high as 90% in the Zimbabwen military, ≥50% in the Angolan and Congolese armies, and 40% in South Africa “according to Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, the deputy defense minister” (Stefan Lovgren, “African Army Hastening HIV/AIDS Spread”, Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies 1  2).
I was apprised of this circumstance by the story, “South African troops with HIV win biggest battle” (1 December 2009, Karen Allen, BBC News, Durban). Isn’t it curious that my Google Alert picked this up only from a British source? Why were not all the mass media thrown into a tizzy by this revelation? After all, the media all know that HIV is a fatal infection that can be staved off only by antiretroviral drugs, and that those have barely begun to be available in Africa and in nowhere near the needed amounts. Evidently the armies of sub-Saharan Africa must have seen their soldiers dying wholesale from AIDS.
But perhaps the media also know that African soldiers have not been dying of AIDS in any significant numbers. So if those scary percentages of “HIV-positive” soldiers are correct, being “HIV-positive” cannot have been leading to AIDS and death. But in that case, the media have been broadcasting incorrect information about HIV and AIDS for a couple of decades: what Winston Churchill liked to call terminological inexactitudes and an Australian would call bloody lies.
That BBC story was about the battle to enable HIV-positive South African soldiers to be deployed outside South Africa: “After a test case brought by one of South Africa’s military unions and the Aids Law Project, the government reviewed the evidence and agreed that in certain circumstances HIV-positive soldiers can be deployed overseas if they pass a battery of some 39 fitness tests.” (The story says “overseas”, but since one mentioned region is Sudan, the meaning is obviously outside the country of South Africa.)
This was obviously important, given that so many South African soldiers are HIV-positive:
“A staggering 30% of South African soldiers are infected with the Aids virus” — not quite the 40% stated by Lovgren but still, high enough to trouble anyone who thinks HIV causes AIDS.
How could this have come about? Is South Africa like Italy, where the Ministry of Health behaves as though HIV were not the cause of AIDS and did not present a health problem? Apparently so, because “Aids testing for South African soldiers is voluntary”.
In the United States, by contrast, where the national prevalence of HIV is well under 1%, military personnel are HIV-tested at least every two years. In South Africa, where the national prevalence in 2007 was supposedly ~18% (CIA Fact Book and UNAIDS), HIV-testing has been voluntary. Evidently “HIV, the virus that causes AIDS” represents a clearer, more present danger in the United States than in South Africa? How could that be?
“Army surgeon general Lt Gen VJ Ramlakan says . . . . ‘The fittest soldiers will go where the task is most demanding. If you are HIV-positive and sick, you will not be on the frontline. If you are fit and your CD4 [white blood cells which fight infections] count is above 500 then you may be considered’”.
Of course this does not sit well with people like “defence analyst Helmoed Roemer-Heitman” who “argues it is a massive breach of trust for ordinary soldiers . . . . we are now exposing them to a situation when one of their comrades could totally inadvertently infect them with a fatal disease’. The reality is that there are already HIV-positive soldiers operating in peacekeeping missions but their status simply is not formally acknowledged because of a lack of testing facilities in many African forces.”
Ah, yes. Since there is a lack of testing facilities in Africa, it is simply not known how many African soldiers have been HIV-positive for how long.
However, it is known — at least to the computer gurus at UNAIDS and the World Health Organization — that HIV prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa is very high: from as low as 5% or so in the northern regions like Liberia or Nigeria to nearly 40% in southern regions like Botswana and Swaziland [“Deconstructing HIV/AIDS in ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ and ‘the Caribbean’”, 21 April 2008].
All this raises many intriguing questions that could be answered only by much data that may not be easy to gather, indeed may not exist, for example:
“What was the rate of HIV-positive in the South African Army in 1985 and in each subsequent year? What was the incidence of AIDS in each of those years? What was the rate of HIV/AIDS deaths in each of those years?”
In absence of those data, it may be enough to comment by way of a few rhetorical questions:
What is one to make of the (un)reliability of statements from mainstream sources about the prevalence of HIV? The BBC reports 30%. PlusNews reports “almost 25%”. Lovgren (above) had it at 40%.
Why has it not been newsworthy, that great swaths of South African soldiers have been dying of AIDS for many years, given that the Government refused to provide antiretroviral drugs until recently?
— after all, given the present 30% rate of infection, which could scarcely have come about overnight, the army ought to have been decimated several times over during the past decade or so. The AIDS Law Project “had been fighting the military ban on HIV for the last 13 years”, which implies that a significant rate of HIV-positive has existed for at least that long in the South African Army.
An interesting aspect of the high rate of “HIV-positive” in the South African military is that this rate is higher than in the general population there. The BBC story gives the Army rate as 30%, whereas the CIA Fact Book and UNAIDS had the population average at ~18% in 2007; South African sources had it even lower, 11% in 2008 (Human Sciences Research Council , “South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey, 2008: A Turning Tide Among Teenagers?” ). So soldiers, selected presumably for physical fitness and lack of immediate illness, are 2 or 3 times more likely to be infected with a debilitating disease than is the general population from which they are drawn?!
This will seem strange only to believers in HIV/AIDS theory, however. Admittedly, recruits have not been routinely tested so “HIV-positives” were not prevented from enlisting; but then the South African Army should reflect fairly accurately the state of “HIV-positive” in the South African population as whole, not be 2 or 3 times greater. Why is this?
The answer will be obvious to readers of this blog and of The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory: the rate of testing “HIV-positive” in any given group varies with age in a characteristic, predictable fashion:
The exact “middle age” at which the maximum occurs varies somewhat by race and sex, but the same general variation is seen in every group, including that the female-to-male ratio of “HIV-positive” is at a maximum between childhood and mature adulthood — in babies and young children, males test positive significantly more often than do females, and from adult maturity into old age, males test “HIV-positive” about as often or more often than females, while in between those ranges females test “HIV-positive” more often than males. That’s one of the remarkable regularities which demonstrate that “HIV-positive” cannot be an indication of infection by a contagious agent, it reflects some universal physiological characteristic.
Now, the latest South African source reports the national rate as 11%, but for females it is highest in the age range 25-29 at 33%, for males highest at ages 30-34 at 25%. The reason that South African soldiers test “HIV-positive” at about 30% or more, a rate 2 or 3 times greater than in the general population, is that soldiers are typically within the range of ages — twenties and thirties — when Africans are most likely to test “HIV-positive”.
It is not only this extraordinary predictability of the age variations of “HIV-positive” that disprove HIV/AIDS theory; there is also the fact that the purported latent period between “HIV infection” and AIDS and death is not seen in the actual data.
In the case of South Africa, this is seen clearly albeit indirectly by comparing the relative rates among females and males of “HIV-positive” and of AIDS deaths:
HIV data from
South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey, 2008
AIDS death data are the average for 1997 and 2004,
from Report No. 03-09-05. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa; available at www.statssa.gov.za
Under HIV/AIDS theory, the ratio for “HIV-positive” should predict by about the latent period of 10 years the future ratio for AIDS deaths. The data show nothing of the sort; the magnitude of the deaths ratio is often 2 or 3 times greater than the HIV ratio 10 years earlier.
Quibbles: Didn’t take into account that the HIV data are for 2008, AIDS deaths are for about 8 years earlier.
Answer: Whereas numbers and actual percentages have undoubtedly varied significantly over the last decade or more, there is no indication that the male-to-female ratios have. Moreover, any sampling errors are likely to apply equally to males and females — in a sense, using such ratios is a form of internal calibration. Even if overall rates of “HIV-positive” and AIDS deaths have varied significantly, there is no obvious reason why the female-to-male ratios will have. Indeed, those ratios are one of the regularities seen in most HIV/AIDS data from a variety of countries.
If the differences between the HIV ratios and the death ratios were small, perhaps that quibble would need further attention; but the differences are so great that no minor fiddling or adjusting could make them comport with HIV/AIDS theory.
Under HIV/AIDS theory, it is absurd to find African armies with “HIV-positive” rates between 25 and 90% without any corresponding indication of high rates of AIDS deaths. This is yet another illustration of the failure of HIV/AIDS theory, and it is noteworthy and troubling that the mass media in the United States have failed to pick up on the story.
Male-to-female ratios for “HIV-positive” and for AIDS add yet another disproof of HIV/AIDS theory, and yet another confirmation of the remarkable regularity with which “HIV-positive” varies with age and sex, a regularity not seen in infectious diseases.
This entry was posted on 2009/12/15 at 11:24 pm and is filed under antiretroviral drugs, HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, M/F ratios, uncritical media. Tagged: Donald Rumsfeld, HIV in African armies, Karen Allen, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Stefan Lovgren, V. J. Ramlakan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.