Friday, January 14, 2011

Giving Up Sex Will Not Protect You From HIV in Africa

All the HIV/AIDS industry has to do is put out a press release and the global media reproduces it over and over again, without question or analysis. It's hard to believe that such slavish repetition is what counts as journalism.

Even, with their pretentions of offering something different, just pick up whatever is thrown at them. A recent article, typical end of year stuff, rehashes all the hypes of the year about HIV, how it is all going to be sorted out in the end by technology.

The main worry about this sort of article is not that technology will never develop to the extent that it can treat, prevent and even cure HIV one day. The worry is that we don't have to wait till that happens before we do anything to prevent a lot, perhaps the majority of HIV infections in high prevalence countries. Yet, we are still waiting.

UNAIDS and their pharmaceutical industry chums have been putting about the idea that if only people would have less sex, everything would be ok. But some people don't have sex, or they are very careful when they do, and they still end up HIV positive. Others have lots of sex, even unsafe sex, and they generally do not end up HIV positive.

We even know who is likely to be infected. If they are female and living in a handful of mainly African countries, between one third and half of them will be HIV positive or dead before they are 40. Doesn't that strike people as a bit odd?

If they are not from one of those countries in question, they can have as much sex as they like, as long as it is penile-vaginal sex. Outside of high and medium prevalence countries, where epidemics are 'generalized', that is, not confined to high-risk groups, HIV is transmitted by intravenous drug use and anal sex, generally.

Unless you subscribe to the racist and sexist 'oversexed African' view of HIV transmission, and you're in the esteemed company of the entire HIV/AIDS industry if you do, you have to conclude that there is something we are not being told about HIV.

How can it be an almost exclusively sexually transmitted infection in a handful of countries and almost exclusively transmitted by anal sex and intravenous drug use in all other countries?

Even the HIV/AIDS industry knows that HIV is not exclusively, perhaps is not even mainly, sexually transmitted. They don't like to admit it, but sexual transmission of HIV is not very efficient.

However, non-sexual transmission modes, such as unsafe healthcare, are higly efficient. UNAIDS and the UN as a whole are well aware of this and they warn their own employees to avoid medical facilities in high HIV prevalence countries.

For some reason, they don't think it necessary to warn people living in high prevalence countries. Every tourist coming to African countries can read warnings about using health facilities in these countries. It's just people living in them who are not warned.

Worse still, UNAIDS denies that unsafe healthcare plays a significant role in transmitting HIV. They estimate that it may account for 2-5%, but that is certainly not enough for them to consider warning people who have to use health facilities that lack trained personnel, basic equipment and even soap and water.

Testing is of little value to populations as a whole if no attempt is made to find out how people are being infected. And no attempt is being made to find out. If someone is African, it is assumed they were infected sexually, even if they don't have sex, don't have unsafe sex or have a partner who is not infected.

Never mind the technologies that so many billions of aid money is going into, or the technologies that may one be developed. People are being infected, suffering, infecting other people and dying because they are being told half truths and outright lies.

HIV is tranmitted non-sexually, especially through unsafe healthcare. We need to tell people that so they can protect themselves and protect their partners and families. People will not be fully protected if they have 'safe' sex, take various drugs, use condoms or take any other precautions against sexual transmission. They also need access to safe healthcare.


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