HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

B***S*** about HIV from ACADEME via THE PRESS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/03/04

A few years ago, Harry G. Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton, earned his 15 minutes of popular fame by publishing a little chapbook with the captivating title, “On Bullshit”. I avoided it on the general principle that anything which attracts that sort of media attention cannot be worth spending time over. But a year later, a trustworthy friend gave me a copy of the book. Its first sentence told me nothing new:

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.”

But I read on, and am glad that I did, because I found Frankfurt’s definition of B***S*** genuinely enlightening: B***S*** is not a matter of lies or deception, 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.

“Spin”, incessantly emitted by politicians and corporations and advertisers is B***S*** in this sense; what Presidential Press Secretaries say is B***S*** in this sense.

One corollary is that “Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about”. And that, of course, is a sufficient explanation for why there’s so much B***S*** in our culture.

Assertions about HIV/AIDS by activists and in the popular media are rife with B***S***, because so many of the speakers don’t know what they are talking about and don’t care that they don’t know. They have accepted without question, taken on trust, what the white-coated gurus have told them, and believe they are serving the greater good by “empowering”, “mobilizing”, spreading “awareness”, urging “prevention”, and so on, doings that have an undeniably feel-good ring to them even as they defy attempts to understand what is meant in terms of tangible actions or tangible results.

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The foregoing diatribe was stimulated by an Editorial in a newspaper that isn’t always nor typically in the business †:

Married to HIV: President Bush’s Africa plan doesn’t acknowledge that often it’s husbands who infect wives”[Los Angeles Times, 22 February 2008]
“Religious groups are fixated on the need to stop HIV transmission through premarital and extramarital sex, but what’s killing African women by the millions is unprotected sex with their husbands. . . . Roughly 10 million African girls under the age of 18 are married each year, many to older men who seek HIV-free brides. To those wedded to HIV-positive men, marriage often means a death sentence. . . . they are more likely than young men to contract HIV.”

The UNAIDS “AIDS Epidemic Update” of December 2006 asserts that in 2004 and 2006, there were attributable to HIV/AIDS 2 million deaths of adults and children in sub-Saharan Africa. The L. A. Times, by stating “millions” of unfortunate wives in the present tense (“what’s killing”), is implicitly attributing most of these annual 2 million to unprotected sex among married couples. This is patently absurd. The editorial ghost-writer need not have read our blog (TO AVOID HIV INFECTION, DON’T GET MARRIED, 18 November 2007) to realize just how absurd this is, it would have been enough to have a concern for what the truth is, which might have led to looking at the official and readily available statistics. A concern for what the truth is might also be a stimulus to engage in thought.

I wonder on what data is based the assertion of “often means a death sentence”? How many such marriages and how many such deaths?
This typifies the B***S*** that “HIV/AIDS activists” indulge in habitually: the aim is to arouse emotion, no matter that the assertions are based on nothing but belief and guesswork.

I wonder, too, whether that ghost-writer saw any problem in asserting the dangers of sex with older men who are anxious to avoid HIV while also asserting that young men are less at risk of infection than are young women. If those older men are anxious to avoid contracting HIV, and have managed to do so during evidently long years of sexual activity, and were in any case less likely than their young female peers to contract HIV, what possible reason could there be to indict them as a class for posing any danger to their young brides? As we said on 18 November 2007, “we are being asked to believe . . . [that] the very same generation which as unmarried singles enabled the infection rate to decrease because of their scrupulously careful sexual behavior became, a few years later and when married, riotously and carelessly promiscuous”.

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The on-line version of this Editorial has a link to DJSmith.pdf, a document devoid of authorial by-line that bears the title “Modern Marriage, Men’s Extramarital Sex, and HIV Risk in Southeastern Nigeria”. The clue given by the file-name, however, permitted me to discover that this was published in the American Journal of Public Health (97 [2007] 997-1005) by Daniel Jordan Smith of the Department of Anthropology at Brown University. The abstract is a run-of-the-mill example of postmodern academic B***S***:

“For women in Nigeria, as in many settings, simply being married can contribute to the risk of contracting HIV. I studied men’s extramarital sexual behavior in the context of modern marriage in southeastern Nigeria. The results indicate that the social organization of infidelity is shaped by economic inequality, aspirations for modern lifestyles, gender disparities, and contradictory moralities. It is men’s anxieties and ambivalence about masculinity, sexual morality, and social reputation in the context of seeking modern lifestyles—rather than immoral sexual behavior and traditional culture—that exacerbate the risks of HIV/AIDS.”

Try to think of specific actions or connections that might warrant the generalizations expressed in the last two sentences (provided you can even detect what their meaning is intended to be). Of course, if you are a postmodern academic, you don’t need to concern yourself with evidence to support such generalizations, you just need to frame your writings in the contexts of “race, class, and gender” to ensure publication. If you think that’s an exaggeration, please read up on the Sokal affair, where an absurd parody passed muster for publication in the journal Social Text ‡.

At any rate, the scholarly publication that the L. A. Times ghost-writer apparently relied on suggests that married women in Nigeria are at particular risk of catching “HIV” because of the prevailing cultural milieu. A skeptic about how much reliance can be placed on “participant observer” reports and face-to-face interviews about sexual behavior (“Marital case studies were conducted with 20 couples”) might question the data and venture doubts about the conclusions, but that is really beside the point since the descriptions of those matters seem entirely applicable to Western cultures where married women are not at particular risk of catching HIV:

“In southeastern Nigeria marriage is sacred, and yet men’s infidelity is common”
think certain prominent American televangelists

“a pronounced double standard with regard to extramarital sexuality”

“marriage remains the single most important marker of moral adulthood in Nigeria, [and therefore] both policymakers and ordinary citizens remain resistant to the idea that marriage must be understood as a risk factor for HIV infection”

“Most couples seek to portray their marriages to themselves and to others as being modern but also moral, and this is crucial to explaining the dynamics of men’s extramarital sexual relationships, married women’s responses to men’s infidelity, and the risk of HIV infection in marriage”

“Many men were ambivalent about their extramarital sexual behavior, but in most cases men viewed it as acceptable given an appropriate degree of prudence so as not to disgrace one’s spouse, one’s self, and one’s family”
[note “prudence”]

“[that] a significant proportion of extramarital sex in southeastern Nigeria involves relationships that have emotional and moral dimensions—they are not just about sex—means that men imagine these relationships, their partners, and themselves in ways that are quite distanced from the prevailing local model that the greatest risk for HIV/AIDS comes from ‘immoral’ sex”
in other words, “a significant proportion” of marital infidelity is not the supposedly really risky behavior with prostitutes or “on the down-low”. What’s described is more reminiscent of the French tradition of essentially life-long lovers or mistresses than it is of the rampant promiscuity with multiple concurrent but changing partners that is ascribed to 20-40% of the sub-Saharan population in order to explain the purported spread of “HIV” (see “The AIDS Pandemic” by James Chin, formerly epidemiologist for the State of California and the World Health Organization).

Indeed, the article admits that “On its face, marriage in southeastern Nigeria seems to be changing in ways that make it increasingly similar to marriage in Western societies”, hardly a promising direction in which to pursue an explanation for a high risk of catching HIV by marrying.

Smith’s article begins, “Data from around the world, including Nigeria, suggest that married women’s greatest risk of contracting HIV is through having sex with their husbands”; but the cited reference is a Nigerian document, which in fact shows a higher rate of HIV-positive among single women than among married ones in every region of Nigeria (Figure 11, p. 45, 2003 National HIV Sero-prevalence Sentinel Survey, April 2004).

Apart from those objective flaws, the text has similar postmodern usages as the Abstract, for example:

“Male extramarital sexual practices are situated in economic, social and moral contexts, showing how the social organization of extramarital sexuality is itself located at the intersection of economic inequality, aspirations for modern lifestyles, gender disparities, and commanding and contradictory moralities….The data demonstrate that married men’s risky sexual behavior and their wives’ inability to protect themselves can be understood and explained without resorting to blaming the victims.”

The conclusions in Smith’s article are not only ironic but also repeat the usual self-contradictions that are inseparable from mainstream discourse about HIV/AIDS:

“Ironically, the HIV epidemic has further complicated possibilities for condom use because, in a context where the risk of HIV is popularly associated with sexual immorality, suggesting a condom is tantamount to asserting that one’s partner is risky and, hence, guilty of sexual impropriety. . . . Perhaps the most important step is to design interventions that help reduce the popular association of HIV risk with immoral sexual behavior”.

Once again that extraordinary breach of logic:
“X” is spread by unsafe promiscuous sex, which society regards as immoral. The way to stop “X” from spreading is to persuade people that there’s nothing immoral about the behavior that leads to its spread.
In many other contexts, this same idiocy is expressed by talking about the need to remove the stigma associated with testing HIV-positive (see, for instance, HIV NONSENSE: TODAY AND EVERY DAY, 22 November 2007).
When will we hear propaganda to that effect about gonorrhea or syphilis?

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Footnotes:

† The L. A. Times does not typically engage in B***S***ing . . . except regarding HIV/AIDS, that is to say; recall, for example, its scurrilous and unsubstantiated stories about Christine Maggiore

‡ Instructive articles about the Sokal hoax include Paul Boghossian, Times Literary Supplement, 13 December 1996, 14-15 and Steven Weinberg, New York Review, 8 August 1996, 11-14. The hoax article itself is “Transgressing the boundaries: Toward a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity”, Social Text 46-47, Spring/Summer 1996, p. 217 ff. Sokal revealed the hoax as soon as it was published, in “A physicist experiments with cultural studies”, Lingua Franca, May/June 1995, 62-64.

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Postscript:
As happens to me so often, checking a source brings unforeseeable benefits. One of the most curious regularities in rates of testing HIV-positive is the apparently universal trend to higher rates at higher population densities, which I first noted in the US data (The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory)http://failingsofhivaidstheory.homestead.com/ and then found reported also in Rwanda (see HIV DEMOGRAPHICS FURTHER CONFIRMED: HIV IS NOT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED, 26 February 2008). It popped up again in Nigeria, where this trend was found in six of the country’s seven regions, with ratios for urban/rural rates averaging 1.7 (0.87 to 3.8, Figure 2 in “2003 National HIV Sero-prevalence Sentinel Survey”).

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV transmission, HIV/AIDS numbers, M/F ratios, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

TO AVOID HIV INFECTION, DON’T GET MARRIED

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/11/18

“BANGKOK (AFP) – Married people accounted for more than 40 percent of all new cases of HIV/AIDS in Thailand last year, the country’s health ministry said Thursday, despite an overall decrease in infections” (Google Alert, 12 October 2007).

“UN warns of Thai housewife HIV/AIDS crisis”, Apiradee Treerutkuarkul http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/21Aug2007_news12.php
“In Thailand, up to 40% of the 18,000 new cases found each year are housewives, which was previously identified as a low-risk group. . . . The number was high compared to so-called high-risk groups, such as men having sex with men (28%) and sex workers (10%)…. the situation has worsened in Papua New Guinea, where half of new AIDS cases are housewives. Housewives also account for at least 46% of all new cases in Cambodia”

“Press Release: Secretariat of The Pacific Community – SPC
SPC headquarters, Noumea, New Caledonia, Thursday May 31, 2007: Women are most at risk of contracting HIV from the men they should trust the most – their husbands….
This was the sobering message delivered to delegates at the 10th Triennial of Pacific Women, being held at Secretariat of the Pacific Community headquarters in New Caledonia.”

“‘Uganda: Rising HIV infection – where did we lose it?'”, by Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, New Vision (Kampala), 12 December 2006; http://allafrica.com/stories/200612130724.html
[Earlier, government programs had led to] significant behaviour change, especially among the young generation, by delaying sex, reducing the number of sexual partners, using condoms, testing for their HIV status and seeking improved health services. . . . The 2005 HIV survey by the Ministry of Health shows . . . married couples and rich women . . . to be at high risk.”

“‘Married couples top HIV infection rates in Uganda’, Kampala, 4 December 2006 (Xinhua);
http://www.chinaview.cn 2006-12-04 19:19:03
Apuuli Kihumuro, the director general of the Uganda AIDS Commission said . . . [that] between 1996 and 2005, 42 percent of the 130,000 HIV new infections occurred within wedlock. . . . [presumably] caused by unawareness of their HIV status, engaging in sex with multiple partners and their reluctance to use condoms. [Whereas] ‘The low rates of infection among the youth and unmarried people according to the findings are ascribed to their vigilance in having protected sex'”.

“New Vision (Kampala) 3 July 2007, reported by Fred Ouma
A detailed analysis of the 2004/05 Uganda HIV/AIDS Sero-Behaviourial Survey revealed the need to refocus HIV preventive measures to married people. . . . According to the survey, from an estimated 1.1 million Ugandans living with HIV/AIDS, married people were identified as the most risky group…. Contrary to the common perception that young people were at the greatest risk of HIV infection, the report shows an unprecedented shift, with 74% of new infection among people above 25 years of age. Only 10% of new infections were recorded among single people during the period of the study. New infections were highest (66%) among married, followed by 20% in widowed or divorced.”

” ‘A look at HIV – where are we now?’ Sabin Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 August 2006;
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/08/13/MNGSNKHMRQ1.DTL
In India, for example, 80 percent of women infected with HIV are monogamous married women. ‘The fastest rates of infection are among housewives and young women, because the men who go to sex workers also go home'”

“For a growing number of women in rural Mexico – and around the world – marital sex represents their single greatest risk for HIV infection. . . . because marital infidelity by men is so deeply ingrained across many cultures . . . . These findings are published in the June 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. . . . The article’s lead author, Jennifer S. Hirsch, PhD, associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is principal investigator on a large comparative study showing that the inevitability of men’s infidelity in marriage is true across cultures. . . . in rural Mexico . . . in rural New Guinea and southeastern Nigeria” (http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/marital-sex-biggest-hiv-risk-women-around-world-13170.html)

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The greatest danger of contracting HIV, says the official wisdom, comes from having sex without condoms with someone in a high-risk group, namely, injecting drug abusers or highly promiscuous gay men. Yet at the same time, according to the above reports, it is married women who are the group at greatest risk of contracting HIV–“around the world”: India, Thailand, Cambodia in South-East Asia, Uganda and Nigeria in Africa, Mexico in the Americas, Papua New Guinea and the whole Pacific region . . .
If you can believe that, then you will also send money to Nigeria to someone you had never heard of before and who offers by e-mail to share with you a large unclaimed inheritance. Or perhaps you are already part owner of a Brooklyn Bridge.
These reports, absurdly unbelievable on their face, illustrate several features of the misguided notion that HIV causes AIDS:

  • The media pass along, without further thought or critical comment, press releases from researchers and official institutions, no matter how contrary to plain common sense the “news” may be.
  • Innumerable reported facts and statistics clearly show that HIV-positive is not the sign of a sexually transmitted agent.
  • Not the media, not researchers, not official institutions, seem concerned to consider how reported findings could be consistent with the dogma of “HIV, the virus that causes AIDS”.

Would anyone believe it for even a moment, if it were claimed that married women in many parts of the world are at greater risk of contacting syphilis or gonorrhea or chlamydia, than are adolescents, or than are prostitutes (“sex workers”)? In Uganda, we are being asked to believe, the very same generation which as unmarried singles enabled the infection rate to decrease because of their scrupulously careful sexual behavior became, a few years later and when married, riotously and carelessly promiscuous. When it comes to “HIV/AIDS”, hysteria seems to trump thought every time.
Rather than accept such nonsense, one ought to recall certain established facts:

  • Testing HIV positive does not prove infection by a human immunodeficiency virus.
  • Testing HIV positive signifies only that a few proteins (or bits of genetic material) have been detected that are often found in people who are ill from any one of a large number of conditions, or who display a temporary reaction to a vaccination or a bout of flu, say (see posts of 12 and 16 November).
  • In any given group, the probability that an “HIV-positive” reaction will follow exposure to a given health challenge varies according to individual physiology, which correlates with (among other things) age, sex, and race. In every tested group, the probability of testing HIV-positive varies in predictable fashion with age, sex, and race–see The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory.
    The variation with age follows qualitatively this general scheme (from The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory):

agevariations.jpg

This explains in quite straightforward fashion why married women and rich women are the most likely to be HIV-positive, followed by the widowed and the divorced, while the least likely to test HIV-positive are women under 25, adolescent women, and prostitutes: married women are on average of middle age, prostitutes and single women are on average younger, and the divorced and widowed who are likely on average to be beyond middle age.
The older women are, from teens into middle age, the more likely they are to be married; and as shown in the diagram, they are more likely to be HIV-positive; therefore married women are more likely to be HIV-positive than are single women. Beyond middle age, since widowed and divorced women are likely to be older than middle age, it follows again predictably that the widowed and divorced are less likely to be HIV-positive than married women. Women who are rich are likely to be older than those who are poor, since some will have acquired their wealth through marriage. And prostitutes (“sex workers”) are of course likely on average to be younger than married women.
That fits all the facts, and is vastly more plausible than the extent of unsafe promiscuity by husbands that the official view and explanation so readily assumes.
The absurdity of the official explanation is seen yet more starkly when one realizes how difficult it is to contract HIV through sexual intercourse: on average, the chance of becoming HIV-positive after unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person is about 1 in 1000; for citations to this fact in the published literature, see pp. 44 ff. in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory.

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The following comment was submitted in error to the ”Re Comments” page, but it seems to belong here:

fraorlando Says:
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 2:13 pm e
nteresting. I cannot remember such a high number of infections in this group. If I understand you right, you claim that this is because of accumulated exposure to different immune stressors in married or middle-aged woman, so HIV is a factor of time and number of immune stressors; not an actual virus–but why is it that the same pattern hasn’t shown up in all other countries as well? Also, married woman are not necessarily elderly, maybe this is true in Western countries, where more educated women may marry in their late 20 to early 30’s on average, but I don’t believe in those countries described in your article, where marriage is more a matter of survival and other options are limited. Also, I assume that the curve in your diagram works for every other infectious disease, since, as time passes by, chances increase to get infected by one or the other pathogen–so I cannot see why this is an argument against the viral theory of AIDS?
On another front, though, it’s interesting that HIV does not seem to co-vary with other STDs. But also, diseases are very complex, so my question is if it can be reliably shown that, in epidemiological studies, there are co-variations between every other STDs, but not HIV?
Regards,
Roland

hhbauer responds:
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 2:56 pm e
Roland, thank you for insightful comments. I think you were responding to the post on “Getting Married” of 18 November?
My view is that HIV-positive may reflect any one of a large number of stresses, not necessarily an accumulation–see the diagram in “HIV TESTS, 16 November.
I don’t know how many countries would show this pattern, because there have never been truly population-wide studies done. Different countries and different researchers carry out tests for different reasons. All we can do is to try to interpret the data that happen to be available.
Certainly the age at which women get married can be very young in many of the countries from which these reports come. But on average they will stay married until death, whereas on average prostitutes tend to leave that profession before they are at the end of their lives. So married women on average will be older than prostitutes and, under my view, more likely to test HIV-positive at some time or other for some reason or other–especially pregnancy (HIV ABSURDITIES, 9 December).
I don’t believe that the age variation in that diagram is the same for other infectious diseases. As to STDs, adolescents and young adults are generally at highest risk; and certainly children below teenage are hardly at risk for STDs. Non-STD infectious diseases do not show a characteristic difference between males and females. So the fact that these variations of “HIV” show up in every group for which data are available, indicates that “HIV” is some non-specific physiological response.
I have a longer discussion in my book about differences between “HIV” and other STDs, including geographic variations. I don’t know about co-variation of STDs in general, I’m afraid.

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV risk groups, HIV varies with age, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »