HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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Archive for the ‘HIV and race’ Category

Race, HIV, media pundits

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/03/09

People carrying black-African genes test “HIV-positive” at far greater rates than do people without that genetic ancestry. HIV/AIDS theory “explains” that by postulating greater rates of careless “not-safe-sex” promiscuity and infected-needle-sharing drug injection. Thereby HIV/AIDS theory postulates significant genetic determination of behavior, which in other contexts is dismissed as pseudo-science.

Moreover, actual observations and studies have repeatedly shown that the facts vitiate that proposed “explanation”: Africans and African-Americans indulge in risky behavior at lower rates than do white Americans (pp. 77-9 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
The conclusion is inescapable: HIV/AIDS theory is radically wrong about how “HIV-positive” is transmitted.

But that inescapable conclusion continues to escape mainstream practitioners and researchers and such media pundits as Donald G. McNeil Jr. of the New York Times (Poor Black and Hispanic men are the face of H.I.V.):

“The AIDS epidemic in America is rapidly becoming concentrated among poor, young black and Hispanic men who have sex with men”
NO. There’s nothing recent or rapid about it. The racial disparities have always been there (Chapters 5 & 6 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
Furthermore, it is black WOMEN who are most affected compared to others, 20 times more likely to be “HIV-positive” than white women, whereas for males the ratio is (“only”) 7.

“Nationally, 25 percent of new infections are in black and Hispanic men, and in New York City it is 45 percent”
Yes, of course, because it’s blackness that contributes overwhelmingly to testing “HIV-positive”. Hispanics in New York are primarily of black Caribbean-African stock, whereas West-Coast Hispanics are largely non-black, of Latin-American stock. Therefore national-average rates of “HIV-positive” among Hispanics are lower than East-Coast Hispanic rates of “HIV-positive” (pp. 57-8, 71-2 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

“Nationally, when only men under 25 infected through gay sex are counted, 80 percent are black or Hispanic — even though they engage in less high-risk behavior than their white peers” [emphasis added]; “a male-male sex act for a young black American is eight times as likely to end in H.I.V. infection as it is for his white peers. That is true even though, on average, black youths in the study took fewer risks than their white peers: they had fewer partners, engaged in fewer acts of sex while drunk or high, and used condoms more often”.
So McNeil is even aware of this conundrum which falsifies the central axiom of HIV/AIDS theory, namely, that HIV is transmitted as a result of risky behavior. Yet he does not follow this statement of fact with any explanation of this paradox which contradicts and falsifies mainstream views.
Instead, McNeil passes on without comment the usual meaningless weasel-words about some unspecified “intervention”:
“Critics say little is being done to save this group, and none of it with any great urgency. ‘There wasn’t even an ad campaign aimed at young black men until last year — what’s that about?’. Phill Wilson, president of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, said there were ‘no models out there right now for reaching these men’”.
What conceivable use could any models be, when it’s acknowledged that these supposedly at-high-risk people already practice less risky behavior than the no-high-risk white folk?
Still, of course there’s no harm in asking for more money even in absence of any clue what to do with it:
“With more resources, we could make bigger strides”.

What the mainstream says about the high rates of black “HIV-positives” is pitifully, woefully inadequate; it misses the whole point. It suggests that although their behavior is less risky, black folk have “other risk factors. Lacking health insurance, they were less likely to have seen doctors regularly and more likely to have syphilis, which creates a path for H.I.V.”
But it’s yet another counterfactual canard that syphilis and other STDs make it more likely that someone will “contract” “HIV”, i.e. become “HIV-positive”: there is simply no correlation between incidence of STDs and of “HIV” (pp. 31-5, 109 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
As to insurance, what is the evidence that having health insurance makes for lower rates of being or becoming “HIV-positive”? This is simply hand-waving bullshit* emitted because no sensible explanation can be offered.
As to seeing doctors regularly, what is the evidence that seeing doctors regularly makes for lower rates of being or becoming “HIV-positive”? Quite the opposite, in fact: The largely white gay men who first contracted “AIDS” had mostly been seeing doctors very often because of their constant need for treatment after suffering all sorts of illnesses. Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, with a practice of largely gay clients in New York in the 1970s, had in fact warned his regular customers that if they did not change their lifestyle something drastic and awful would befall them.

And then, “Other risk factors include depression and fatalism” — What, pray, is the mechanism by which those conditions produce “HIV-positive”? Among people who are acknowledged to behave less riskily than those who are not at high risk of becoming “HIV-positive”?

Another popular non-explanation is that blacks become “HIV-positive” more often because “HIV-positive” is so much more common in the black community: It’s more common because it’s more common.

I cannot imagine a higher degree of hypocrisy, intellectual vapidity, sheer unwillingness to draw obvious conclusions from undisputed facts, than is demonstrated without fail and without end by mainstream researchers, doctors, and pundits when confronted with the plain fact that blackness makes for being “HIV-positive”.

Not that this perverse behavior is much different from behaving as though testing “HIV-positive” proved infection by “HIV” when standard authorities have long stated quite forthrightly that there is no gold standard “HIV” test, no test capable of demonstrating actual infection by “HIV”, and that the rates of false positives are inevitably high (Stanley H. Weiss & Elliot P. Cowan, “Laboratory detection of human retroviral infection”, chapter 8 in Gary P. Wormser (ed.), AIDS and Other Manifestations of HIV Infection, 2004 (4th ed.).

No technical expertise is needed to recognize the sheer unadulterated nonsense of talking about “risk factors” when the known end-result is less risky behavior. How can any number of purported risk factors be alleged to heighten risk when the facts show that the risk is lower of the only behavior that supposedly transmits “HIV”?

* Words uttered without regard to their truth — Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005.

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV/AIDS numbers, prejudice, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

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 [1], 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 [2] — 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 [2], and in the USA a factor of 20 for black females compared to white females and 7 for black males compared to white males [3]. 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 [4].

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 [3]:
“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 [2]), and anyway the racial disparities in testing “HIV-positive” are seen even among people who have STIs (Figure 12, p. 42 in [2]). 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 [5]. In Africa, “HIV-positive” rates are greater among the higher economic strata of Africans [6].

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. [1]. 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.

[1] Pp. 49-50 in Dogmatism in Science and Medicine: How Dominant Theories Monopolize Research and Stifle the Search for Truth
[2] The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory
[3] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “HIV among African Americans”, February 2013, February 2014
[4] James Chin, The AIDS Pandemic, Radcliffe, 2007, p. 64
[5] Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005
[6] Theo Smart, “Structural Factors — PEPFAR: Greater wealth, not poverty, associated with higher HIV prevalence in Africa, according to survey”, nam-aidsmap, 2 August 2006

Posted in HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, prejudice, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Why is HIV/AIDS a disease of black people?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/08/13

“Throughout last month’s International AIDS Conference, HIV advocates highlighted the enormous disparities afflicting U.S. women of color, for whom HIV infection rates are skyrocketing and reaching levels similar to those of sub-Saharan Africa. . . . the rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women and over three times the rate among Hispanic/Latina women” — “HIV/AIDS Rates Rocket for Black U.S. Women”, ForbesWoman 8/13/2012.

Note first that the disparities are NOT enormous for “U.S. women of color”, only for black women, since they are affected 3 times as much as “Hispanic/Latina” women. Moreover, “Hispanic/Latina” is a highly artificial ethnic-linguistic category, within which genetically black people are affected by “HIV/AIDS” far more than whites: West-Coast “Hispanics”, who are largely Mexican, test “HIV-positive” at about the same rate as Native Americans and not much more than white Americans, whereas East-Coast “Hispanics”, who  are largely Caribbean and black, test “HIV-positive” at about the same rate as African Americans (see copious data from official sources cited in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

As also shown in that book, the reason why black people test “HIV-positive” far more often than others — whites, Asians, Native Americans — is because the “HIV” tests are racially biased: something about the genetic haplotypes common in some sub-Saharan natives, probably related to the Bantu, produces a very high rate of testing “HIV-positive”.

But don’t go to the bother of looking at the data, which are conclusive. Just use common sense. Either African Americans and sub-Saharan natives share an inescapably determinative cultural or genetic proclivity for promiscuous and unsafe sex, or there is something physiological about their shared genetic ancestry that conduces to testing “HIV-positive” — bearing in mind that testing “HIV-positive” can result from innumerable conditions, including pregnancy or getting vaccinated.
The degree of promiscuous and unsafe sex needed to explain the “HIV” “pandemic” in sub-Saharan Africa has been calculated by Dr. James Chin, former epidemiologist for the World Health Organization and for California: 20-40% of adult Africans must be having about a dozen sexual partners at any given time and must be changing them about annually, to generate the network needed for the apparent “spread” of HIV (The AIDS Pandemic, 2007).

So which are you willing to believe?
That about one third of African Americans, women in particular, have about a dozen sexual partners at any given time, without practicing safe sex, and changing those partners about annually


  that there’s something about those highly non-specific “HIV” tests that responds to proteins commonly found in the sera of people with sub-Saharan genetic haplotypes?

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV/AIDS numbers, prejudice, uncritical media | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Rewriting the Histories of AIDS and HIV

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/07/31

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) likes to advertise itself as “the most trusted” something or other. Yet in July 2012 its FRONTLINE series featured a drastic and misleading rewriting of history in the program, “ENDGAME: AIDS IN BLACK AMERICA”, billed as “A groundbreaking two-hour exploration of one of the country’s most urgent, preventable health crises”.  This was written, produced, and directed by Renata Simone, who has been covering HIV/AIDS since 1987 and therefore had every opportunity to know better than to get crucial facts so wrong.
The central misdirection:
is a labored attempt to rewrite how AIDS has affected black Americans. AIDS has become essentially an African-American disease after beginning as essentially a gay disease affecting blacks to only about the extent to which they are present in the population as a whole. There has been a dramatic quantitative change from that beginning, and the reasons for it are quite clear: the re-definition of AIDS as requiring a positive HIV test and the fact that the tests are racially biased. ENDGAME, however, alleges that from the very beginning black Americans were affected by AIDS about as severely as they are now. That is plainly, undeniably wrong. Official numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that blacks accounted for less than 30% of AIDS cases in the early 1980s, but 60% by the end of the 1990s (MMWR  50 #21), and by 2010 black Americans were being diagnosed with AIDS at the rate of 43/100,000 compared to 4.4 for white Americans, 13.7 for Hispanics,  9.7 for Pacific Islanders, 7.2 for mainland Native Americans, and 3.5 for Asians (CDC Surveillance Report #22).
The labored case, that African Americans had been severely affected from the earliest days, had Dr. Michael Gottlieb saying that there were appreciable numbers of black Americans among early AIDS cases, it was just that no one thought to mention it; the first 5 were white, #6 was a Haitian, but #7 was an African American. Exactly: one out of seven, just as in the population as a whole; not, as in 2012, diagnosed at ten times the rate of diagnosis of white Americans; in 2010, Gottlieb would have seen 3 black AIDS cases for every 2 white case, not 1 in 7. Dr. David Ho seconds the view that appreciable numbers of AIDS cases were among African Americans, it just happened not to have been noted or reported anywhere, especially not to the CDC, apparently. Phill Wilson, founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute, asserts that gay African-Americans in Chicago just presumed AIDS was a West-Coast phenomenon — but it’s not at all clear how AIDS could not have been noticed in black communities in Chicago if appreciable numbers had been exhibiting the blatant symptoms of Kaposi’s sarcoma, thrush, and Pneumocystis carinii (now jiroveci) pneumonia. A lady in Oakland explains that gay blacks there, which is 45% black, didn’t talk about “HIV” in the early days whereas everyone was talking about it in San Francisco which has only 4% African Americans; and others support her opinion that it wasn’t talked about in Oakland because of certain features of black culture: keeping secrets, especially about being gay. But no one was talking about “HIV” in the early days (~1980-84), because it hadn’t yet been discovered; and, again, had AIDS been rampant, it would have been obvious.
Much of the nonsense in this program illustrates the damage done by taking HIV and AIDS as synonymous.
Iatrogenic harm to African Americans:
HIV/AIDS theory has caused inestimable damage to untold black Americans by breaking up relationships (see examples cited at p. 247 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory). ENDGAME illustrates this vividly with the story of Nell, a middle-aged widow who re-married and later discovered a letter from a blood bank to her husband advising him to seek medical assistance because his blood had tested “HIV-positive”. This story is featured more than once in ENDGAME, yet nowhere are two vital points made:
1. For screening in blood banks, tests for any condition are made as sensitive as possible, at the cost of lower specificity: it is essential that no infected blood be used, so false positives do not matter, it’s better to discard some perfectly good blood than to infect someone. Therefore there is a high proportion of false positives on blood-bank screening tests.
2. Specifically for HIV, all the respectable mainstream sources stress the need for confirmatory tests after an initial positive.
Yet nowhere is the point made in ENDGAME that Nell’s husband’s “positive” test should not and could not be accepted on its face as a diagnosis of infection, in absence of further testing.
Other black women are shown who had similar experiences and immediately blamed their partners for infecting them. Yet copious data show that black women are about 20 times as likely to test “HIV-positive” as white women, no matter what the reason may be — and there are dozens of possible reasons for testing “HIV-positive” that have nothing to do with a sexually transmitted retrovirus. One young lady describes her foolishness in having intercourse with an older man who had charmed her, only to fall ill within weeks of a mysterious illness that brought her to death’s door before doctors realized it was AIDS. Nell, too, relates that she felt ill already during her honeymoon. Whatever happened to the average latent period of about 10 years between infection and illness? Has there ever been an officially described case of AIDS following so soon after infection? Did “HIV” in her case collapse the immune system almost instantaneously?
Other misinformation:
There are plenty of other aspects of ENDGAME that deserve censure. A stylistic one concerns the narration. You need to listen to it yourself, because I don’t quite know how to describe it: the voice is somewhat hushed, breathless, low-pitched — one might take it as coming from a severely depressed woman; at the same time it is portentous, rather like the lead-in to the punch line of a horror story.
In terms of substance, many dangerous shibboleths are disseminated, for instance that the epidemic in the black community could have been nipped in the bud, were it not for “silence”, “stigma”, lack of testing, lack of treatment.
Many of the comments from a range of individuals indicates that illness and death in the black community are almost routinely ascribed to HIV/AIDS.
Phill Wilson tells at least a whitish lie when he describes himself as “HIV-positive” for 32 years, given that there was no HIV and no HIV tests for the first five of those years. He also insinuates that antiretroviral drugs have kept him healthy all those years. If so, he must be a very rare survivor of AZT poisoning from 1987 to 1996, when about 150,000 individuals were killed by AZT.
The fact of the matter is that no amount of testing and no amount of safe sex and no amount of pre-exposure prophylaxis will alter the relative rates at which black, white, Asian and Hispanic Americans and Native Americans test “HIV-positive”. Those rates have remained the same for a quarter of a century, because the tests are racially biased; something in the tests responds to racially correlated genetics — see the copious official data collated in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory.
ENDGAME closes on a supposedly optimistic note by mentioning that the US government announced a new strategy in 2010, focusing on 12 cities most severely affected by AIDS. Washington DC leads, with “5-8%” of the adult population infected. Phill Wilson points out that if the African-American community were a country, it would rank 16th in the world for prevalence of HIV/AIDS and would qualify for assistance under the PEPFAR program.

Predicting is fraught with pitfalls, especially predicting the future, as Yogi Berra reminded us. But I make this prediction with utter confidence. Nothing will prevent blacks from testing “HIV-positive” at rates of between about 5 and about 20 (in the lower range for males and the upper ones for females). Administering prophylactic antiretroviral drugs will lead to increased rates of illness and death.
What I cannot predict is how long it will take for this genocide to become undeniably obvious.

ENDGAME is replete with well-meaning, well-intentioned, dedicated individuals spouting shibboleths that are factually wrong and whose consequences in action and in practice are bringing enormous harm to innumerable people.

Posted in experts, HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV/AIDS numbers, uncritical media | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

“HIV/AIDS” “science” news unfit to print

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/05/06

Scientists understand what the purpose of publishing is: to make a name for oneself, to impress those who dole out research funds, to provide padding for one’s curriculum vitae.
Outsiders don’t always understand this, and journalists are among those outsiders, regrettably. As a result, the media are replete with announcements of scientific breakthroughs that are nothing of the sort. The overall damage may not be obvious, certainly not at once, but it is surely quite high.
For instance, how many women were misled into hope over the announcement, many years ago, that a gene responsible for breast cancer had been found (Elisa Segrave, “Still living in hope”, Sunday Times (UK), 9 July 1995, p. 7-5; review of Kevin Davies & Michael White, Breakthrough: The Quest to Isolate the Gene for Hereditary Breast Cancer, Macmillan)? How many women opted for prophylactic mastectomy because they had that gene?
The truth, of course, was that researchers had found an association, a correlation, between a certain gene mutation and about 5% of cases of breast cancer. Furthermore, by no means everyone with that mutation gets breast cancer. It is still not agreed what the odds are (though of course one can read all sorts of claims about it), and it is still not known  what the undoubtedly several others factors are — even in those women with that particular mutation — that also increase the odds that breast cancer will ensue. Consequently there is no rational way, no objective guidance, for a woman with that gene to estimate the benefit in risk reduction from a mastectomy as against the psychological cost.
The “news” about the discovery of that correlation was not fit to print, as was obvious even at that time since the observation of a mere correlation with a mere 5% of cases should have brought only yawns and an understanding that this sort of thing is suitable for publication in a research journal but not worth mentioning to the wider public. Yet it was ballyhooed all over the media. There are innumerable other such instances. The media, and especially television, need a continual supply of newsworthy material — which doesn’t exist when news is defined as startling as well as new; especially concerning science or medicine, since real science just isn’t news. To the general public “science” means reliable, certain, trustworthy, and nothing can be known to be that if it hasn’t been around long enough to be thoroughly tested under all sorts of conditions and by people with different scientific prejudices and beliefs.
One suspects that journalists are hesitant to apply common sense to matters that seem highly technical. If so, then that would reflect a high degree of ignorance, because the flaws in these “breakthrough” announcements are obvious on quite general grounds and without delving into the technicalities. For one thing, anyone “covering” anything about science or medicine ought to know that a single study, even if published in a peer-reviewed journal, cannot be taken as more than possibly suggestive, even if they have not learned from John Ziman (Reliable Knowledge, Cambridge University Press, 1978, p. 40)that even in physics about 90% of research articles, the “primary” scientific literature, turn out to be wrong in some way.

This general preamble was set off by the press release, picked up by several news media, that a presentation at a forthcoming conference would explain why black men are so much more likely than others to become “HIV-positive”:

“Higher HIV risk in black gay men linked to partner choice, risk perception”
03 May 2011
“[EMPHASES ADDED IN THE FOLLOWING] Young black men who have sex with men (MSM) get infected with HIV nearly five times more often than MSM from other races, even though they don’t have more unprotected sex.
The discrepancy has long mystified public health experts but a new study by investigators at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere now offers a possible explanation for it.
The study found that young black MSM — a group that includes openly gay and bisexual men, as well as those who have sex with men but do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual — select partners and judge these partners’ HIV status in a specific way. These men show a clear preference for masculine men, while also equating masculinity with lower HIV risk. This dynamic, the researchers say, can help explain why young black MSM contract HIV more often than their counterparts from other races.
The results are based on interviews with 35 black men ages 18 to 24 who have sex with men. The most notable findings include an overwhelming preference for masculine partners, accepting masculine partners as dominant in the sex act and leaving to them decisions about condom use, perceiving masculine men as low risk for HIV and feminine men as high risk.
“There may be no difference in HIV prevalence between masculine-looking and feminine-looking men, but because black MSM perceive masculine men as lower risk, their sexual encounters with such men may make HIV infection more likely,” said investigator Jonathan Ellen, M.D., a pediatrician and teen health expert at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
In other words, even though young black MSM have unprotected sex just as often as others, they may be having unprotected sex in riskier ways with partners whose HIV status they often miscalculate, the researchers explain.
The findings offer new insight into how black MSM judge risk based on perceptions of masculinity and can help inform public health campaigns to reduce new HIV infections in this disproportionately affected group. The findings, the researchers say, can also guide safe-sex conversations between primary care physicians and patients.
Errol Fields, M.D. Ph.D., currently a resident at Boston Children’s Hospital, was lead author on the research, which he conducted as a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and Emory University also participated in the study.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine”

This striving for public attention was a press release from Johns Hopkins, also featured on the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center site, and picked up by EurekaAlert  and ScienceDaily  among many other sites. Yet it’s garbage, and quite obviously so: anyone who disseminates in any media ought to understand the limitations of material collected by interview; and even a moment’s thought will make plain that information from 35 people hardly warrants extrapolation to everyone who is also black, male, gay (or MSM), and aged between 18 and 24.
Possibly a bit more subtle but still hardly recondite is the fact that if you claim to be comparing black men with others, you should actually do so; yet there is no mention of interviews with 18-24-year-olds of other races, to learn whether perhaps they too have the same preferences in sexual partners and (allegedly) mistaken inferences about the risks that those partners might be “HIV-positive”.
That there in fact “may be no difference in HIV prevalence between masculine-looking and feminine-looking men” is hardly a basis for alleging, as the “conclusions” of this “study” do, that there isn’t in fact any difference.
And of course it’s purely speculative that they “may be having unprotected sex in riskier ways with partners whose HIV status they often miscalculate”.
Anyone familiar with the epidemiology of “HIV” would also balk at the claim that black men are “nearly five times” more likely than those of other races to become “HIV-positive”: African-American men are about 7-8 times more likely than white American men, and about 10 times more likely than Asian American men, to be “HIV-positive”. That this “has long mystified public health experts” stems from the mistaken acceptance by those experts of HIV/AIDS theory; others have long offered explanations in terms of race-linked physiology, see several chapters in my book and sources cited there.
That this was work carried out by a graduate student, and that it was featured in a press release from Johns Hopkins, illustrates what I said at the outset about the purpose of “scientific” publication.

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities, HIV and race, uncritical media | Tagged: | 2 Comments »


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