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Symposium: The Radical Lies of Aids By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 03, 2005


Has the Left’s agenda spawned lies about AIDS that have caused the needless infection and deaths of millions? To discuss this question and other issues related to the politics and science of HIV and AIDS, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel of experts. Our guests today:

John Potterat, a professional researcher who, for nearly 4 decades, has focused on the epidemiology and control of sexually transmissible diseases, initially with the Centers for Disease Control (1968-1972), subsequently as Director of STD/HIV Programs in Colorado Springs (1972-2001), and currently as independent consultant. His central concern has been the elucidation of STD/HIV transmission dynamics on the community level. During the last 20 years he has consistently challenged the conventional wisdom that HIV transmission (as opposed to acquisition) can be sustained via penile-vaginal contact. He works with a group of researchers, spearheaded by David Gisselquist, whose focus during the last 5 years has been analysis of HIV/AIDS epidemiologic evidence being reported from sub-Saharan Africa.  Detailed information is available on his website:  http://www.geocities.com/johnpotterat/index.html;

Dr. Stuart Brody, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Paisley, Scotland. Previously, he worked at the University of Tubingen, Germany. He is originally from New York City, and is the author of over 100 scholarly publications, primarily in medical and related fields. His website is: www.geocities.com/stuartbrody;

 

Matthew Hogan, received his J.D. (Doctor of Law) from Southern Methodist University, and currently works in the Washington DC area with a firm that researches and consults on biomedical issues, typically in matters of litigation or public policy.  The leading AIDS medical journal, "AIDS", will be shortly publishing his critique of a recent medical injection safety study in Ethiopia, and the Washington Times just published his correspondence on the issue of HIV transmission in Africa. His views on this subject are entirely his own. They are not to be imputed to any individual, organization, or publication with which he may be associated; 

 

and

 

Steve Hands, a columnist for the Singapore-based guanxi-inc.net who currently writes for the Bangkok Post. He has worked for INSERM, the French national health service, as a statistician in an institute devoted to the epidemiology of sexually transmitted diseases.

 

FP: John Potterat, Dr. Stuart Brody, Matthew Hogan and Steve Hands, welcome to Frontpage Symposium. It is a pleasure to have you here.

 

First things first, I would like to thank Michael Fumento, the author of The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, for inspiring the idea for this symposium with his recent article The African Heterosexual AIDS Myth. Unfortunately his schedule was too busy for him to join us. However, we are honored to be joined with our panel of experts, some of whom Fumento mentioned and quoted in his article.

 

I think an appropriate way to start this discussion is to go back to a crucial time when something could have been done to stop the spread of AIDS in the United States but wasn’t -- because of radical politics.

 

Back in the early 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic was just starting to break out in the three gay communities (San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York), David Horowitz was one of the few individuals who stood up and publicly opposed gay leaders' efforts to subvert the public health system and conceal the nature of the epidemic. Specifically, in the name of "gay liberation," gay leaders denied that sexually transmitted AIDS was almost exclusively caused by promiscuous anal sex, refused to close sexual "bathhouses" which were the breeding grounds of AIDS, opposed testing and contact tracing which were the traditional and proven public health methods for containing epidemics, and promoted the false idea that AIDS was an "equal opportunity virus" when in fact it was a virus threatening very specific communities -- gays and intravenous drug users. For speaking truth to gay power, he was widely condemned by radical activists who demonized him and caricatured his warnings as, among other things, homophobic prejudice. As Horowitz has written in these pages, the success of the gay radicals resulted in a ballooning epidemic that has killed some 300,000 Americans, the majority of them young gay men. The AIDS catastrophe, as he wrote in “A Radical Holocaust,” a chapter in The Politics of Bad Faith, is “a metaphor for all the catastrophes that utopians have created.”

 

It is interesting that the most basic facts that Horowitz articulated at that tragic time, and for which he was so viciously demonized by radicals, are today considered to be just standard truths about HIV and AIDS. And yet, there has not been one mea culpa targeted in his direction by those who pointed accusatory fingers at him, but who sacrificed countless lives for the idea. Nor have the traditional public health methods that would have contained the epidemic – testing, contact tracing etc. – been restored. Instead, drugs have been substituted for behavioral changes.

 

One of the reasons that there is no apology or admission of guilt by the radicals is because they continue to dominate the media culture, which is why the lies continue, along with the needless deaths. As Fumento points out in his article, The African Heterosexual AIDS Myth, the official line that AIDS in Africa is being spread heterosexually can simply not be questioned, even though the empirical evidence suggests that it is simply false. Yet because the truth cannot be spoken on this issue, since it poses such a direct threat to the radical agenda, real preventive measures are not pursued and millions of lives are put at stake.

 

Dr. Brody, let’s begin with you. Could you kindly comment on this phenomenon and give your perspective on some of the themes I have raised?

 

Brody: In the early 1980s, in my hometown of New York, it was apparent that AIDS deaths were occurring in transfusees, injecting drug users, and male homosexuals. It was also apparent to the homosexual community that given that affected population, generous federal funding would not be forthcoming. People skilled at public relations developed the "Big Lie": that HIV was a major risk to all, and was readily spread via penile-vaginal intercourse (rather than only by injection or anal intercourse) to otherwise reasonably healthy adults. This lie was understandable given the circumstances at that time. With time, generous funding became available, and the lie was no longer needed for the original purpose.


However, by that time, several political interests became very invested in the Big Lie. Those interests included those who sought to confuse political equality of homosexuals with egalitarian disease susceptibility (I suspect that only a small minority of those promoting that agenda were themselves nominally homosexual). So-called "gender feminists", inspired by the late Andrea Dworkin and her ilk, were keen to vilify intercourse, and hoped to reduce intercourse frequency (in favor of  sexual behaviors that were less exclusively heterosexual), as well as to dampen its quality and intimacy (via condom promotion).

 

In addition to the major role played by the political left, segments of the political right might have been pleased to see a means of enforcing relative sexual continence. People of any political persuasion who, for their own psychological reasons, feared intercourse, also joined the chorus. At this point, there was also a growing AIDS industry of "experts" and "educators" who had a sizable investment (in pride, as well as money) in the Big Lie.

However, it still remained clear to many people that AIDS had not spread into the general US and European population (despite the misleading and inflated "heterosexual" numbers reported by the CDC). At this point, the AIDS situation in
Africa became the new device to make people fear HIV/AIDS spread by penile-vaginal intercourse. It was claimed that 90-95% of African AIDS was due to "heterosexual transmission", and the "experts" asserted that

 

[1] needle hygiene in Africa was not a major problem,

 

and

 

[2] there was almost no anal intercourse in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

The political left has been supporting condom promotion, and the political right has been supporting abstinence, but both are wrong in that they assume the wrong transmission vector. Careful review of the scientific evidence (in papers I and my colleagues have published) shows that unsafe punctures (such as injections for medication) are the major risk, and that there is no lack of anal intercourse (both heterosexual and homosexual) in Africa.

 

In the case of Africa (and probably other regions with similar hygiene problems), the Big Lie has led not only to impaired sex lives, but to mass death. Not only have resources been wasted, but the effective method of stopping HIV has been largely ignored. This method would involve replacing the current campaigns with mass distribution of syringes (and other puncturing devices) that become disabled after each use. Syringes would also be provided for home use, to replace the popular reusable home injection kits. To the extent that any sexual messages are needed, they must explicitly focus on the one sexual behavior that is a major HIV/AIDS risk for otherwise reasonably healthy persons -- receptive anal intercourse.

 

FP: So, once again, when it comes to the radical agenda, lives must be sacrificed on the altar of utopian ideals. To admit that AIDS in Africa is not a heterosexual transmission problem, but actually the result primarily of contaminated syringe puncturing and anal intercourse, will simply shatter too many radical dreams.

 

Mr. Potterat, what do you think of Dr. Brody's perspective and the tragedy of the Big Lie?

 

Potterat: AIDS failed to receive diplomatic recognition in the United States, the epidemic's epicenter, until those desperate to obtain resources to combat it created the impression that heterosexuals "were next" (in line, after gay men and injection drug users). 

 

In the summer of 1986 epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control simply reclassified cases among Haitians and Africans as being heterosexually transmitted because these cases were occurring in heterosexual populations.  They (deliberately) confused occurrence in "heterosexual populations" with "heterosexual transmission" not because it was scientifically defensible but because it was politically expedient. 

 

Five years of silence on the part of the Reagan Administration is what forced the CDC (in desperation) to distort reality, in my opinion. Since "heterosexual transmission", five years into the epidemic (summer of 1986), was not occurring in the developed world, the news that AIDS cases were evenly distributed between men and women in sub-Saharan Africa was a god-send. 


Now the CDC and World Health Organization could point to
Africa as the future (read: we're next).  And so the myth of heterosexual transmission was powerfully advanced, in the ABSENCE OF RIGOROUS EVIDENCE. And researchers had very little incentive to find out how HIV was REALLY being transmitted in Africa. The myth is what gave AIDS respectability.   

 

FP: Mr. Hogan, what is your angle on this myth? And what damage has it done?

 

Hogan: My take is actually not much different from the foregoing. But I might more strongly emphasize the fact that irresponsible rhetoric on the Right at the beginning of the HIV-AIDS epidemic added strong fuel, motivation, and ammunition to the Left campaign to silence dissent on the assumption of widespread “heterosexual AIDS” transmission in Africa. I refer to the charges that AIDS was God’s punishment on homosexuals.

 

Careful science has now been drowned out by an emotional battle in the developed world over whether those afflicted with HIV-AIDS deserve pity or contempt. To that battle is also joined the noise from other publicly funded ideological campaigns such as chastity/heterosexual fidelity (Right), Third World population-control (Center), or anti-homophobia/anti-heterosexuality (Left).   Africa’s gender balanced HIV epidemic became Exhibit A in those moral-theological-cultural wars. 

 

HIV is a virus, not a mystical ideology. It is neither a badge of shame nor honor. It is a tiny biochemical entity, a bloodborne virus whose means of transmission is most likely to be where blood is most readily contacted while natural immune protections are absent or readily evaded, as in "dirty" injections and specifically anal sexual intercourse.  Despite salacious background issues, HIV transmission is a boring biological question, the limited means of which a careful lay researcher can deduce from rigorous and critical digging into the primary science that exists.  When one properly assigns the burden of proof to those who have asserted “heterosexual” transmission, and then sees how sloppily they ignore a necessary examination of the role of contaminated punctures (e.g. unhygienic medical injections) and anal intercourse, the case they argue becomes quite tentative.  Add to that an uncritical acceptance for self-reports from patients on how their HIV is acquired, and the case for widespread penile-vaginal transmission, or worse, vaginal-penile transmission appears far from established.  Not to mention self-interested biases.

 

Nevertheless, sociopolitical hysteria regarding prejudice, perversion, and promiscuity, combined with the soft utopianism of high expectations from public health care spending, have made pointing out the weakness of the African “heterosexual spread” assumption the same as publicly proclaiming that the emperor has no condom. 

 

The dangers are planet-wide in terms of the risk of ill-focused health care priorities. 

 

Necessary countermeasures will dovetail with an important and growing, though sadly very late, concern over medical injection safety worldwide.  Studies now need to be made which are co-designed by the dissenters from the conventional view of widespread “heterosexual” transmission in order to scientifically establish precise transmission routes and risk factors. This ought to be done in cooperation with conventional injection safety experts, and the established international African HIV oversight institutions (UN-AIDS, World Bank, etc.)

 

Even in the unlikely event it turns out that those on this panel are dead wrong, this needs to be done yesterday to clarify prevention priorities and to address the profound independent problem of lack of injection safety in developing countries. Such safety failure can and does transmit many more diseases than HIV-AIDS.

 

FP: To be sure, certain “right-wing” religious elements played a destructive role in the Big Lie, as it served their interests to perpetuate the lie of a heterosexual AIDS to try to make sure that as few heterosexuals as possible were having a good time. But more than anything, this tragedy emanates from the impulse of the radical Left to exonerate any potential “marginalized” group from any kind of “wrong-doing.” The focus has to be on waging a war on established institutions and societal norms. To concede that certain sexual behaviours might perpetuate disease in ways that so-called “normal heterosexual sex” does not is too much of a surrender to the radical agenda. And if it means to waste resources and to apply the wrong cures, and to put millions at higher risk, then so be it, as long as the “established order” of capitalist democracy is not seen as having the moral high ground.

 

Mr. Hands, thank you for being patient. What’s your take on this phenomenon?

 

Hands: I do agree that in the early 1980s there was indeed a “Big Lie”, about an imminent heterosexual epidemic. However, I think it was as much due to scientific stupidity as gay activist conspiracy.

 

Even as late as 1987 I read in Nature a mathematical model for HIV transmission suggesting a possible heterosexual epidemic. Its basic assumptions were wholly implausible and its modeling amateurish. I was shocked it could have passed peer review. Such papers were the norm, not the exception.

 

If vaginal intercourse was indeed a vector for HIV transmission, we should have had an explosion of the problem amongst prostitutes.

 

This never occurred in the West, and it was argued it was because we’d got there in time (with 100% condom usage programs).

 

But the same people then went to look for the problem in Africa, and sure enough, found high HIV incidence amongst prostitutes.

 

Yet when they looked closer, they found it was not just prostitutes, but all women, who were suffering massive HIV rates.

 

To explain this, a host of explanations were offered - Africans indulged in more anal sex, they had genital sores, it was a different strain of HIV etc. Subsequent investigation has failed to find confirmation of these factors.

 

Generally, when you point out that the data doesn’t support the models (of exclusive sexual transmission), researchers in the field say “what else could it be?”, rather than examine other modes of possible transmission (e.g.) iatrogenic. Hardly scientific.

 

And if you did wish to investigate scientifically, I doubt the funding would be forthcoming. It’s now twenty years since the African “anomaly” has been around, and the work of Gisselquist et. al. in investigating alternatives to sexual transmission is remarkable in many ways - for its quality, its rarity, and the vilification it has attracted.

 

On the other hand, the world is perfectly willing to accept iatrogenic transmission in China. Everyone now knows about the Human blood donor scandal, and estimates of the number infected have run into the millions. Yet China has a much more developed health system than sub-Saharan Africa.

 

So I wouldn’t point the finger of blame solely at politicians of one hue or another. The scientific community and the media are all victims of fads and not the disinterested seekers after truth they portray themselves as.

 

In the meantime anyone who questions the sexual transmission model will continue to be regarded as an irresponsible heretic, rather than a true scientist.

 

FP: Ok, so, just for the sake of our readers who might not be familiar with the word “iatrogenic,” it just means that, in terms of an infection, it’s a physician’s activity that transmits it to the patient.

 

So, Dr. Brody, kindly tell us, in simple words, if AIDS in Africa is not a heterosexual phenomenon, how it spread so massively. For instance, how exactly does a physician’s activity give a patient AIDS and isn’t this easily preventable?

 

Brody: HIV is transmitted by bypassing the usual defenses of the body. These defenses include reasonably intact skin and vaginal tissue. One can bypass the defenses by either puncturing the skin (by injections, ritual scarification, hydration lines, dental procedures, sloppy shared shaving razors, etc) or through anal intercourse, because the later involves tissue which easily allows the passage of large molecules (whether nutrients or
HIV).


Instead of warning about the risks of penile-vaginal intercourse, the focus should be on foolproof medical and paramedical procedures: hypodermic syringes that auto-disable after a single use, and the development of similar instrumentation for other procedures. The one sexual warning should be with regard to anal intercourse, and topical antimicrobials must focus on being compatible with that activity.

 

Mr. Hands also raises a couple interesting points. Mr. Potterat and I have published scientific papers that 1) show the inaccuracy of the claims that HIV risk is proportional to number of penile-vaginal intercourse exposures, and 2) in the largest US study of prostitute mortality, found that AIDS deaths occurred exclusively in those women identified as injecting drug users.

 

FP: Mr. Potterat, in the context of these facts connected to how AIDS is spread, let's crystallize this matter therefore. And although the answer may be politically incorrect and taboo among cutting-edge progressive milieus, let's put it on the table: why exactly has Africa been devastated by AIDS and not other continents and countries etc to the same degree? What is it about the culture, behaviour, societal conditions, attitudes etc. in Africa that has made it so vulnerable to this deadly disease? 

Potterat:  The short and brutal answer is that we don't KNOW.  We do know that there are about a dozen serious anomalies with the view that heterosexual (read: penile-vaginal) intercourse is driving the epidemics in sub-Saharan
Africa
.

This "fact" (that sex was driving
Africa
's epidemics) was simply asserted, ex cathedra, by the end of 1988 by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and by our own Centers for the Disease Control (CDC).  What's astonishing is that even the scientifically weak studies that had been done in Africa by then (1988) suggested that a roughly equal amount of HIV transmission could be attributable to "sex" (specific practices were, however, not investigated) and to medical injections.  Hence both WHO and CDC concluded that HIV was being driven by heterosexual sex IN SPITE OF THE EVIDENCE.  Mr. Hands earlier correctly labelled this as "scientific stupidity" -- what I've referred to elsewhere as "First world researchers doing second rate science in Third World countries". 

In brief: there simply is not enough (heterosexual) sex going on in
Africa
to account for the turbo effect noted: rates of transmission that are 6-18 times greater than in developed countries.

The other brutal fact is that neither Gisselquist's team of dissenters nor anyone else KNOWS what's driving the various epidemics in
Africa, because the correct data have not been collected.  HIV is not a sexually transmitted disease; it's sexually transmissible, meaning that there are ways other than penis-to-something that can transmit it: via punctures by sharps or needles.  And yet formal studies in Africa
during the last 17 years (since the 1988 consensus), except for maybe a half dozen papers, have COMPLETELY ignored assessing risks via punctures when evaluating risk factors. Is this reliable science?

What continues to amaze me is that the rapid and persistent accumulation of anomalous observations (pointing away from a sexual explanation) during the last ten years has been overlooked, discounted, or explained away using improbable speculation --- speculation intended to defend the heterosexual orthodoxy.

The most brutal fact is that, after two decades of formal study, researchers in
Africa
have failed to identify even a single sexual variable that is an important personal risk for HIV acquisition and that is consistently higher in communities with higher HIV prevalence. The scope of this failure is staggering.

HIV epidemiologic "science" in
Africa
has been based on mostly ecologic evidence ("because HIV is roughly equally distributed between men and women in the sexually reproductive age groups, it's heterosexually transmitted").  Ecologic evidence relies on proxies and is inferior to evidence closer to the ground, like linking HIV cases and strains through contact tracing and through well controlled risk factor probes (read: asking detailed questions about exposure to punctures as well), NONE of which has been done in Africa. 

Given the dozen serious anomalies noted so far and the surprisingly weak empiric basis for asserting sexual transmission as the primary force in
Africa
's HIV epidemics in the first place, it is now imperative to do the proper studies to find out what none of us knows. Because the quality of studies has been so mediocre, we are all condemned to speculation   ---  and, of course, we will each lean on speculations that fit our leanings and preconceptions. What Gisselquist and his colleagues have that is truly impressive is a constellation of evidence that consistently points to factors other than heterosexual transmission as primary driver.  It is now up to the folks subscribing to the orthodoxy to PROVE their assertions using quality evidence, not ecologic reasoning.  Instead they have summarily dismissed the Gisselquist papers as hogwash or (especially in The United States) simply chosen to remain silent. (Talk about silence equals death!). Hence neither the major newspapers nor medical journals have done what they are entrusted to do: permit space to debate the evidence and anomalies.

Dr. Brody's comments seemingly dismiss the importance of penile-vaginal intercourse as a risk factor for HIV; I suspect he would be the first to admit that, in the presence of genital inflammation or disease, this risk is very real. Such genital pathology is likely to be common in
Africa and other poor regions. My GUESS is that about 20% of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa
is transmitted peno-vaginally, a non-trivial burden. Thus I think prevention messages in Africa MUST continue to pay attention to advocating safer sex.  But they also must warn of the dangers of non-sterile punctures AND specifically discourage unprotected receptive anal intercourse.  Squeamishness and civility be damned; we're talking about lives here. 

As for "iatrogenic" (which means physician-caused), it's probably most fair to think of non-sterile punctures as being mostly perpetrated by non-physicians.  There are too few physicians in
Africa to cause such a massive epidemic (or so it seems to me); they tend to practice at the district or academic institution levels.  Rather I suspect that it is the "barefoot doctor" medical or dental provider, or the informal village injectionist, or family members who inject each other (a common practice in Uganda
, for example) who have probably done the most damage.  Thus prevention initiatives to discourage iatrogenic HIV transmission won't be as easy as you may think: these folks may be hard to reach and teach.  My guess (who knows?)

Given what I know of human nature and the nature of turf defense, the suggestion by Hogan that the proper studies be co-designed by the Gisselquist (or other) dissenters is unrealistic.  But I'd love to be proven wrong.

 

Hogan: I want to be more optimistic than – and about -- Mr. Potterat, and others here. Also, as someone whose background is less clinical and scientific, let me emphasize that this is a citizen’s issue. A public issue.  Precious finite public funds are thrown at solving the African HIV-AIDS tragedy, and whatever institutional turf wars exist, it is we citizens who should decide that turf. Not just the politically connected, the politically correct, or the scientifically incorrect. Or even the scientifically correct for that matter.

 

If a vise-grip of harmful orthodoxies spreads false assumptions endangering the health of millions – Left orthodoxies, but others I feel as well – then it is up to us as citizens to make the difference.  It’s not so hard.  When a newspaper or broadcast categorically asserts the unproven or ill-proven – that the HIV epidemic in Africa is largely “heterosexually”-driven: pick up the phone, write a letter.

 

Newspapers have editors and ombudsmen. Not all might be receptive but I would suggest politely but firmly noting that “heterosexual” transmission in Africa should be most accurately called the “assumed” means of transmission, and that the term is vague and unscientific. One word can make a world of difference, and foster better journalism too. 

 

Call your Congressperson, especially those involved in appropriation of humanitarian foreign aid. Tell them to have their research staff reassess this issue before they vote again. Better still, write them, after doing a little homework. Left orthodoxy is not ironclad everywhere: the World Bank, a key HIV-AIDS combating organization, is now headed by Paul Wolfowitz. He’s hardly a hostage to the radical left.  If you have access, use it.

 

OK, it’s uphill for now.  I was reminded why when I was recently forwarded a speech of a key international organization figure on African HIV-AIDS, passed around approvingly by a colleague of similar rank.  Well, it almost read like a feminist parody.  It was wrong-headed in a pity-without-thinking way, invoking HIV-AIDS as a scare/shame tool against sexual abuse of women in Africa, along with stray ramblings irrelevantly celebrating affirmative action. Fighting sexual abuse of women, while a noble cause, is only somewhat relevant to a serious fight against HIV-AIDS in Africa. Another Left-bred bias was present – a lack of realistic appreciation that African data can be tainted by widespread official corruption, as well as endemic poverty, ignorance, and superstition. 

 

To reassure readers – even if we are all wrong here (I doubt it) and “heterosexual” transmission is the major route in Africa -- inspiring better data and scientific rigor is worth the effort.  Moving injection safety to the forefront is still beneficial for fighting HIV, hepatitis, and many other infections, including the recent Marburg virus outbreak.  Sexual hygiene education will continue no matter what; even skeptics of the  “heterosexual” African spread assumption still feel that sexual transmission of a certain type is a key route (and some significant penile-vaginal transmission may be yet the case as well), along with the sense that accurate sex education and hygiene benefits general health care. 

 

Hands: First, John Potterat is spot-on as regards the present state of play in sub-Saharan Africa. It's not (predominantly) heterosexual transmission, but we can't yet say what else may be causing it, and hardly anyone is looking for alternatives to the heterosexual transmission hypothesis.

Thus my further comments here are a bit of ragbag.

I don't want to split hairs with John Potterat, but iatrogenic, my
Oxford
dictionary says, is "disease induced by medical examination or process". It doesn't mean you have to be a registered MD. So under iatrogenic transmission you can include the "barefoot doctors", vaccination programs, and even dentistry. Thus I would think iatrogenic transmission is the most probable culprit. But again, almost no one is looking into it, despite the fact we know from injecting drug-users and hemophiliacs just how dramatic transmission can be when we're dealing with punctures or other blood-to-blood contact.

Another thing about the sexual transmission hypothesis, is that in the absence of proper data collection routines it becomes self-fulfilling. As soon as someone tests HIV-positive he/she will be quizzed by their physician on his/her sexual behavior and other risk factors. In many countries drug abuse and homosexuality are illegal, whereas paid-for sexual relations are not. Thus the patient, who in any case has been indoctrinated to believe that heterosexual transmission is the typical manner of acquiring HIV, will be more than ready to offer up a past visit to a prostitute as "that's how I got it", and likewise the physician will be more than willing to accept this.

One argument the heterosexual transmission camp likes to use is that by dishing out condoms not only are you stopping Aids, but you're also stopping other STDs, like syphilis. Well, if your main interest is in stopping syphilis, then why not say so?

I think its always dangerous to deceive the public and claim such activities are "for the public good". The public always benefits from being properly informed, and should be able to act in a rational manner.

And once people have the mindset that each 10-cent condom they hand out is one life saved, it's hard to get them to think about funding proper scientific studies to examine alternative transmission hypotheses, which cost money. You just have to go to one of the huge Aids conferences to see how much people love to hand out condoms.

The data that the heterosexual transmission camp use are hugely flawed. It's not
Africa, but in Cambodia
a UN report claimed the number of HIV cases had dropped from 180,000 in 2001 to 170,000 in 2002. In that same time period, 1,000 people had died of Aids.

The UN made 2 absurd claims. First, that the drop in HIV cases (10,000) was due to the 1,000 people that had died of Aids. Second, that there was still an epidemic, but that it had been brought under control by condom use campaigns. A "controlled epidemic" is a de facto contradiction. Yet the local media accepted this nonsense at face value, as did medical researchers in the field whom I questioned at the time.

 

FP: Fair enough. We begin our last round gentlemen. Feel free, of course, to respond to what the other panelists have stated. In your final comment, I would like you to conclude on and crystallize the following:

 

[1] The main lie about Aids.

 

[2] The political agenda that bares the responsibility for this lie.

 

[3] One of the truths that need to be spoken to counter-act this lie and political agenda.

 

[4] Several actions that can be taken to start saving lives rather than abiding by comfortable and death-engendering pc ideals.

 

Brody:


[1] The main lie about Aids.

The main lie about AIDS is that it presents a significant risk of transmission to reasonably healthy persons via penile-vaginal intercourse. Although a severe vitiation of tissue integrity (syphilis or gross open wounds) could present a risk to people, it is important to remember that is not only the case for the genitals. The politically correct CDC has quietly published multiple reports of HIV transmission via simply touching affected persons with hands that were seriously chapped or cracked. Of course they published this information in scientific journals, and not in their public service announcements. Clearly, it is politically correct to impugn penile-vaginal intercourse, but not to imply that there is any risk in casual contact with HIV or AIDS cases. In the one study that bypassed all the problems of epidemiological studies, inundation of vaginal tissue with HIV under optimal laboratory conditions did not infect any of the samples, but easily infected rectal tissue. My point regarding transmission risk is that the data show that reasonably healthy people do not have a significant risk by either non-genital touching or vaginal intercourse. For those people who have something political, psychological, or material to gain by focussing fear on penile-vaginal intercourse, they can take comfort in my saying that the risks are non-zero. But then such is the nature of science.

[2] The political agenda that bares the responsibility for this lie.

 

In this field, just as in the related fields of sex education, sex research, and sex therapy, much of the damage that has been done eminates from the political left. As I noted earlier, there has been a  confluence of a) seeking to equate anal intercourse with penile-vaginal intercourse (first to obtain otherwise unavailable research and treatment funds, and later for promotion of homosexual rights), b) a radical feminist anti-intercourse agenda, c) an anti-intercourse agenda from other portions of the left seeking to blur the differences between the sexes and/or diminish the quality of penile-vaginal intercourse, and d) the eventual defense of the HIV/AIDS industry by its "experts" and underlings who seek to defend the status quo in the face of impeaching scientific evidence. However, portions of the political right also bear some responsibility, as they a) made inferences regarding divine punishment and failed to respond early to the HIV situation in the USA, b) seek to impose sexual continence, and c) seek to avoid well-designed sex research and sex education.

[3] One of the truths that need to be spoken to counter-act this lie and political agenda.

AIDS does not present a significant risk of transmission to reasonably healthy persons via penile-vaginal intercourse. However, unsafe punctures and anal intercourse do present major risks. The ideological focus on the politically correct (but factually incorrect) vector of penile-vaginal intercourse has likely resulted in not only damaged sex lives for hundreds of millions, but has also resulted in mass death in poor countries.

[4] Several actions that can be taken to start saving lives rather than abiding by comfortable and death-engendering pc ideals.


1) Mr Potterat and I have published a paper on how one might go about conducting the first  properly designed comprehensive study on HIV/AIDS risks in sub-Saharan
Africa or other locales with similar hygienic features. Such a study should be conducted by persons who are not invested in the party line.


2) Some of the basic things Africans can do to reduce their risk in medical and paramedical settings include use of auto-disable syringes (whether at the doctor or at home), and not accepting medication from multi-dose vials.

3) Rather than a focus on condoms, there should be more work on developing topical antimicrobials that are suitable for the sexual route that is a major risk: anal intercourse. Sexual warnings need to be comprehensively refocused on anal intercourse.

 

4) Stop intertwining different goals (STD control, AIDS elimination, population control, abstract political objectives).

 

Poterrat: Dr. Brody has done a fine job of replying to questions 1 through 3.  I'm also confident that Messieurs Hands and Hogan can provide additional perspective.  Permit me, therefore, to confine my reply to question 4 only ("Actions that can be taken to start saving lives...").  Since folks in Africa are fond of advocating the "ABC (Abstinence, Be Faithful, and Condoms)" approach, I venture my own ABC:

A. Irrespective of what proportion of sub-Saharan HIV epidemics is actually caused by unsafe medical/dental care or other puncturing exposures, the priority must be to minimize unsterile punctures in both formal and informal settings where such exposures can occur. Importantly, the African consumer must immediately be made aware of non-sexual risks and be encouraged to demand safe puncturing. My guess is that such a bottom-up approach is likelier to succeed than a top-down one. Let the consumer beware and learn to become a better shopper.

B.  It's hard to save lives when you don't KNOW what is threatening them. Scientifically rigorous studies must be conducted as soon as possible in diverse regions of sub-Saharan
Africa
. Here, the idea is to help Africans help themselves. They live there (and are exposed to whatever risk factors propagate HIV in their midst) and have a profound stake in getting it right. As citizens of rich countries, our job should be to help with funding and research advice; the key, in my view, is to let Africans be in charge of their own epidemiologic destiny.  For those of you who are skeptical, please reflect on the essentially mediocre scientific quality of studies done to date in Africa by researchers from rich countries. My opinion is that Africans can do better (at least, they are unlikely to do worse). 

C.  Break the silence and argue the evidence. Not only have the Gisselquist group's analyses and criticisms not been aired in the world's most prestigious organs (Newspapers, magazines, medical and scientific journals published in the
United States
) but the few comments that have appeared have been dismissive and/or based mostly on ecologic reasoning/evidence. It is time to debate the evidence and to deal globally with the stubborn facts represented by the multifarious anomalies. Critics have provided some evidence that medical injections may not be a major culprit in a specific region, yet have failed to deal with the anomalies. Gisselquist's group used "medical injections" because that was the only "puncturing" evidence (occasionally) available from published studies.  The Gisselquist group may be wrong in some of its specific claims and, when shown proper evidence, will have no difficulty publicly admitting errors. The key, however, is that those who claim to KNOW that "heterosexual" transmission is driving HIV epidemics in Africa now need to prove it.  The first step is to suspend disbelief and debate the available evidence. This has, shockingly, not been done in the United States

Thank you very much for this opportunity to present our side of the story.     

 

Hogan:

 

[1] The main lie about Aids.

 

In regard to HIV-transmission falsehoods, I can’t improve on what the others have said.

 

(I should note, to be pedantic, that technically we are discussing here the behavior of HIV, the causative virus, rather than the disease (Aids) that it causes.)

 

[2] The political agenda that bears the responsibility for this lie.

 

The others have said so much already, and quite well.  But I like to emphasize that agendas across the board have shared in the responsibility.

 

Let me then take aim at the center a bit, or perhaps better-named as the center-left. The hard left and right have taken several deserved punches already.

 

The center-left embraces a widespread presumption that public spending on, and management of, health care is an unquestionably noble cause, nobly executed. Health officialdom is seen as a sort of secular priesthood.  This blind faith in large government hasn’t helped; there's too much credulity. 

 

I might add also a note about center-left obsession with population control.  I suspect but cannot prove that the desire to condom-wrap underdeveloped humanity in order to stem reproduction has been a significant subconscious, if not conscious, consideration influencing the readiness to assert penile-vaginal transmission as the main African one for HIV. Doing so enables one to intensify the focus of prevention intervention efforts on the reproductively effective form of sexual activity.

 

[3] One of the truths that need to be spoken to counter-act this lie and political agenda.

 

HIV-AIDS is neither an ideology nor a badge of some kind.  It’s a deadly virus and related disease of considerable but specific ascertainable means of spread.  Investigate it and treat as being such, no more or less.

 

[4] Several actions that can be taken to start saving lives rather than abiding by comfortable and death-engendering pc ideals.

 

STOP using the threat of HIV-AIDS as an opportunistic scare tactic for STD control, population control, promiscuity control, or gender exploitation/abuse control.

 

STOP refusing to tolerate open discussion of facts because you feel it may help an agenda you fear. Stop attacking conscientious individuals (e.g. the scientific/clinical community dissenters or Michael Fumento) who bring fair criticism, because you don’t like their politics. 

 

CONTACT newspapers and political representatives. Pick a winnable fight, for example pressing for the assumption of a predominantly “heterosexual” spread of HIV in Africa to be called just that: an assumption. In newspapers, broadcasts, and official statements.  A one word addition, but one world apart in meaning.  Then, try to get your representative to question the basis and targeting for aid funds proposed for stopping African HIV.  Call them, they have to listen. 

 

CONSIDER alternatives such as single-use needles. I would caution based on data I have encountered (a lay opinion, I caution as well) that such an effort could backfire if it is not done massively and continuously. A half-way measure could result in re-usable needles being only partially crowded out of use, followed by a system failure in the availability of single-use needles which then leaves fewer re-usable needles around to circulate. This would expose more people to the use of any given “dirty” needle.

 

INVESTIGATE causes of transmission with serious fresh study.  Use dissenters as co-designers of the studies.  DEMAND our government to insist on this.

 

LITIGATE, if necessary and not frivolous.  For the benefit of victims.  Sadly, litigation is sometimes required as a last resort, to wake people up.

 

BE PATIENT, don’t give up fighting falsehoods in the public or academic sector.  Citizenship, especially if it is the American kind, involves a duty and a privilege.  Use the privilege to do some good and to ensure your government is doing some good.

 

BE CRITICAL.  Don’t take officialdom, or even the “dissenters” here, at face value. 

 

ENCOURAGE other forums to take up this issue; and appreciate Front Page for doing so.

 

Hands:

1. The main lie about Aids, as Stuart Brody says, is that it is significantly spread by penile-vaginal intercourse. The "heterosexual epidemic" is a myth, whether it be in sub-Saharan
Africa or India or China.

2. I don't think it matters what political agenda "bears responsibility" for creating this lie, whether it be the gay rights lobby, the radical feminists, the anti-sex brigade. A serious problem now is that the "heterosexual Aids myth" has taken on a life of its own within the scientific establishment, and become dogma. Scientific dogma is just as much a reality as religious dogma ever was. Programs have been set in place that have huge financial backing, and as long as the people involved think their work is doing some good there is no way they are going to relinquish that money in deference to something they regard as a "hypothesis".

3. The main truth is the opposite of the main lie: the truth is that penile-vaginal sex is a very low risk activity for healthy people, even prostitutes. Dishing out condoms and homilies to all and sundry does not save lies.

4. As John Potterat says, the first thing to do is some proper research in sub-Saharan
Africa. In the meantime, instead of worrying about truck-stop brothels, why not focus on prisons? I can't think of a worse place for a likely Aids epidemic to take off: unprotected anal sex, shared needles, sub-standard hospital procedures, home-made tattoos with non-sterile equipment. Most governments seem keen to enact measures to exacerbate the situation, such as filling prisons with drug addicts. The one place where it would be useful to give out free condoms is the one place where, by and large, you can't. 

 

FP: John Potterat, Dr. Stuart Brody, Matthew Hogan and Steve Hands, thank you for joining us. We hope to see you again soon.


Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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