Race, HIV/AIDS, peer review
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/02/16
Reading recently a critique of peer review reminded me of the experience I had with the DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race , and it also reminded me that I continue to regard the race-associated epidemiology of “HIV” as a salient Achilles’ Heel of HIV/AIDS theory.
The mainstream has completely avoided, refused, to face an inescapable dilemma: If HIV/AIDS theory is correct, that “HIV” spreads primarily by sexual intercourse and secondarily via infected needles, then adults who become “HIV-positive” did so in one of those ways. If an identifiable social or ethnic or racial group is always “HIV-positive” more than other groups, then the members of that group are more carelessly sexually promiscuous or more addicted to drug-injecting than are other human beings.
People of African ancestry test “HIV-positive” at a higher rate than others, always and everywhere  — in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Europe, in the USA. In the latter, most noteworthy is that Hispanics on the East Coast, who are largely of African ancestry, test “HIV-positive” at rates comparable to those of African-Americans, whereas West-Coast Hispanics, who are predominantly Central and South American, test “HIV-positive” at the much lower rates found among Native Americans. So African ancestry determines being “HIV-positive” even within a socially defined cultural or ethnic or language group like American Hispanics.
Therefore, if HIV/AIDS theory were correct, then African ancestry would significantly determine behavior that includes a much higher rate of careless promiscuity or drug-injecting addiction than is seen in people of non-African ancestry. “Much higher” might better be “extraordinarily higher”: a factor of more than 20 in Africa , and in the USA a factor of 20 for black females compared to white females and 7 for black males compared to white males . Furthermore, since the observed or calculated rate of sexual transmission of “HIV” is so low, a phenomenal rate of promiscuity would be called for: 20-40% of adults having something like a dozen sexual partners concurrently and changing them about annually .
Never before has sexual behavior been ascribed by mainstream science to genetic determination in this fashion. Nor has any other behavioral characteristic ever been acknowledged to be so genetically determined and race-associated. Indeed, the very notion of behavior being significantly influenced by genetic factors (“sociobiology”, “evolutionary psychology”) remains highly controversial. HIV/AIDS theory is at odds with the mainstream consensus on the relationship between genes and behavior, moreover in a way that is consistent with now-largely-repudiated racial stereotypes.
I was taken aback, therefore, when the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention insisted to me that racial disparities in testing “HIV-positive” could be explained on behavioral grounds (p. 75 in 2]). In any case, the conundrum is quite plain, irrespective of theories about genetic determination of behavior:
Either African ancestry determines extraordinarily careless promiscuity of an extraordinarily high rate, possibly also an inconceivably high rate of sharing infected needles, or HIV/AIDS theory is plain wrong.
I continue to believe that this ought to be of prime significance to African-Americans. Official explanations try to skirt the issue and thereby make no sense, for example :
“The greater number of people living with HIV in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter” — In other words, a classic tautology: there’s more HIV because there’s more HIV. But why are more African Americans “living with HIV” in the first place?
“African American communities have higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with other racial/ethnic communities in the United States. Having an STI can significantly increase the chance of getting or transmitting HIV” — First, it is simply not true that African Americans always and everywhere have higher rates of STIs. Second, it is simply not true that rates of STI incidence correlate with rates of “HIV-positive” (p. 31 ff. in ), and anyway the racial disparities in testing “HIV-positive” are seen even among people who have STIs (Figure 12, p. 42 in ). Third, even if STIs and “HIV” did correlate, the same conundrum would apply of apparent racial determination of carelessly promiscuous sexual behavior.
“The poverty rate is higher among African Americans — 28% — than for any other race. The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty — including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education — directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection” — This is waffling, no real explanation, simply bullshit . In Africa, “HIV-positive” rates are greater among the higher economic strata of Africans .
Current official statements and practices emphasize that “HIV/AIDS” has become largely a problem for African-Americans and their communities. That is damaging in several ways: increasing the pressure on black Americans to be tested and thereafter subjected to toxic antiretroviral drugs; causing untold harm to people and their families who happen to test “HIV-positive”, for which there are innumerable possible causes (see The Case against HIV); and providing apparent support for racist stereotypes;
Half-a-dozen years ago, such considerations led me to submit a manuscript posing this conundrum or dilemma to what would seem the most obviously appropriate journal, the DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race. I’ve already described briefly the fate of that MS. . I said there that the journal did not give me permission to reproduce the reviewers’ comments verbatim, but looking back on the e-mail correspondence, I see that they did not refuse permission, they simply did not respond to my query. Furthermore, the reviewers’ comments were not marked confidential, neither was my e-mail correspondence with the journal. So I’ve decided that the full story might interest some of my readers, and I post here copies of my manuscript, of the reviewers’ comments, and of my correspondence with the journal.
 Pp. 49-50 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth
 The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
 Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “HIV among African Americans”, February 2013, February 2014
 James Chin, The AIDS Pandemic, Radcliffe, 2007, p. 64
 Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005
 Theo Smart, “Structural Factors — PEPFAR: Greater wealth, not poverty, associated with higher HIV prevalence in Africa, according to survey”, nam-aidsmap, 2 August 2006