Monday, August 1, 2011

Why Lying About HIV Transmission in Africa is a Form of Extremism

The simple answer: because it is dehumanizing. It dehumanizes Africans to say that HIV is endemic in some countries 'because of the people's sexual behavior'. And dehumanizing people is an advanced step in many kinds of excess, such as discrimination, persecution, racial, sexual and gender based hatred, impoverishment, violence, terrorism, and many others.

As a result of the dehumanization of Africans over the thirty years of recognized HIV transmission, many extremist suggestions have been made about 'containing' the epidemic: mass forced sterilization, castration and isolation, to name a few. Some suggestions have been put into practice: mass testing, 'pledges' to avoid sex, 'payments' to avoid sex, use of Africans as research guinea-pigs, unethical research on humans, mass forced treatment, stigmatization of sufferers and mass circumcision.

As a result of the dehumanization of Africans, there is talk of putting even more people on drugs, whether they are HIV positive or not, even whether they choose to accept treatment or not. These strategies include pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, for more of which, see my other blog), treatment as prevention, microbicides and even vaccines, if such vaccines are ever developed.

African people are not treated like non-Africans: if someone here is diagnosed as being HIV positive, they are told they were infected by 'unsafe' sex. This is not generally how people diagnosed with HIV in non-African countries are treated. Especially if the patient denies having any kind of 'unsafe' sex.

When infants are found to be HIV positive in non-African countries, the mother is tested. It is not assumed that the mother is positive. If the mother is found to be negative, the issue of how the infant was infected is investigated in non-African countries. In African countries, it is implied, even stated, that infant rape can not be ruled out.

When you diagnose a disease in animals, you put them on treatment. You observe their behavior and make conclusions about what steps need to be taken to ensure that such behavior does not continue. But you don't need to take this approach when you are dealing with humans. So why is that they way Africans are treated by the HIV industry, WHO, UNAIDS and various 'academic' institutions?

We have gone a long way down the road of dehumanizing Africans when a mainstream media outlet can publish a story about Swazis 'eating cow dung' because they are starving and need food to take along with their antiretroviral drugs. We have gone a long way down the road when hundreds and thousands of others link to and spread that story throughout the World Wide Web, much like a virus, you could say.

I thought carefully about mentioning Nazis in relation to the story about Swazis. But Nazis really did attribute such things as eating feces to Jews, it was just one instance of the many stigmatizing things they would attribute to those they hated. Hitler really did believe that propaganda need not consist of true things about its target, that a mixture was quite sufficient.

If we are not yet aware that while HIV CAN be transmitted sexually, it CAN ALSO be transmitted non-sexually, we have been deceived by those who purport to be educating us about the virus. We should know that HIV is difficult to transmit through heterosexual sex among healthy people, but that it is much more easily transmitted through anal sex, through intravenous drug use and even through heterosexual sex among people who are suffering from serious health problems, including certain sexually transmitted infections.

Those living in non-African countries should be aware that most of the people who have HIV in their countries were not infected through heterosexual intercourse. This is a reflection of the sort of virus HIV is. It doesn't mean that HIV infects 'bad' people, despite the tone of much media content on the subject.

But if HIV is almost always spread through means other than heterosexual intercourse in non-African countries, why would 80% (or even 90%) of HIV be spread through heterosexual intercourse in African countries, as claimed by the HIV orthodoxy? The fact that a HIV positive person has had sex, even 'unsafe' sex, does not mean they were infected sexually.

We know, we have known since the 1980s, that HIV can be spread through unsafe healthcare such as blood transfusions and unsterilized equipment, especially  injecting equipment. And we have known there are other risks, such as cosmetic treatment with unsterilized equipment, tattooing, especially in prisons, traditional medical and other skin piercing practices, home deliveries, etc.

In addition, we know that healthcare facility conditions are appalling in many developing countries, especially high HIV prevalence African countries. Even UNAIDS advises UN employees to avoid health facilities in Africa. We know that many blood transfusions are administered without adequate precautions taken to avoid infecting the patient with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases, that skin piercing equipment is frequently reused without sterilization.

As long as we continue to point the finger at HIV positive Africans, implying, or even stating that they were infected sexually, we are allowing the virus to be spread. As long as we continue to pretend that we know how people are becoming infected with a virus that should never have reached endemic levels, we are allowing people to become infected. We have not yet investigated non-sexual risks in African countries. Why do UNAIDS studiously avoid doing this?

We dehumanize Africans by assuming things about their sexual behavior when no adequate investigations have been made about other, non-sexual HIV risks and this is just a part of an extreme racist phenomenon of allowing an epidemic that should never have occurred to continue to infect people, kill people and destroy their families and communities. The orthodox account of how HIV is transmitted in African countries is inherently racist. It is also a lie, the propagation of which has profound consequences.


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