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HIV/AIDS in Africa

I recently had a very interesting chat with my good friend, Steve Edwards, who is currently without his own blog – although probably not for much longer. He is a regular at libertarian.org.au, however. In the course of our conversation, he informed me that HIV risk-of-transmission rates are not nearly as high as I previously thought. Consider this – for every 10 000 exposures to an HIV-infected source, it is estimated 5 will contract HIV via insertive penile-vaginal intercourse. 10 will contract HIV via receptive penile-vaginal intercourse. These figures assume no use of a condom. Click the link for the risk via other routes of exposure.

This got us both thinking about the HIV/AIDS epidemic epicentre of Sub-Saharan Africa. Given the very low rate of HIV transmission through sexual intercourse, is it really feasible that a country like Botswana has an infection rate of 30%+? If the ratio mentioned above is correct, an African male with an average number of vaginal sexual encounters can have unprotected sex with only HIV positive partners for a lifetime and still stand a reasonable chance of not contracting the virus. How could a virus that difficult to catch spread through a population so comprehensively?

I am not saying that HIV/AIDS is not an enormous problem in Africa – of course it is. And I do not discount the anecdotal evidence of health professionals who report a multitude of AIDS orphans and hospitals groaning with AIDS-riddled patients. I am sure this is the case, however from the limited perspective of a person’s experiences, how could they possibly tell if this casualty rate represents 30% of a population of several million or 3%? 10% or 1%? Sick people do tend to cluster in hospitals, and health professionals go where the need is great. Given this working environment for doctors and nurses treating HIV in Africa, they could be forgiven for believing an inflated number. Conversely, if a foreign doctor spent a month in the wealthier parts of Nairobi, they would probably report to the folks back home that they saw no signs of HIV/AIDS at all.

I do not doubt that there is a large amount of research that has gone into producing the figures commonly cited when detailing the scope of the HIV outbreak in Africa. I would, however, ask sceptics to ponder the beneficiaries of an inflated threat of this disease. The NGOs, university teams and (most) African governments are in accord regarding the magnitude of the AIDS threat. To use the old saying; well – they would be, wouldn’t they? This issue is a magnet for foreign aid and grant money. After all, African despots need to keep their wives in the style they’ve become accustomed to. Not to mention one’s stooges who require regular buying off. NGOs need to run their fleets of SUVs, hold their conferences in five star hotels and generously employ their “support staff”. University professors need grants to carry out their research. I should not forget the UN – regarding that sprawling organisation’s potential conflicts of interest, the mind boggles. These people all have a stake in talking up the HIV/AIDS problem. These are also the people who provide us with data concerning HIV rates in Africa.

I am not a scientist, and I have no specific expertise in this field. I could be omitting important variables that make the scale of the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa that we’re told about more tenable. However, when considering the far lower than popularly believed HIV contraction rates, I smell a rat. What makes me even more suspicious is the fact that the beneficiaries of an overinflated HIV threat in Africa appear to be African governments, NGOs and foreign researchers. Even in rich nations, resources are scarce. We need accurate information to distribute them in optimal fashion. Please set me straight if I am wrong to question, but are we being lied to about the scope of the HIV/AIDS problem in Africa?

67 comments to HIV/AIDS in Africa

  • HIV in Africa. I’m a doc. Worked in Africa. You want the clinical scoop?
    One: over diagnosed. The UN Recently admitted the numbers were exaggerated.
    Two: you need money to buy a bride. So young men work away from home. Prostitutes are expensive, but most are HIV positive. Quick. How many young men will not have sex during two years working away from home??
    Three: Scarification for pain relief and also to make tatoos. Dirty knives.
    Four: Dirty needles. Some clinics used the same needle and syring over and over again, and only boil them once a day to clean them…If you go to an untrained healer, he might not even do that, and many semitrained healers give penicillin and vitamin shots along with herbal treatment.
    Five: Open sores in genital areas. Today’s NYTimes has a paper on circumcision…you do NOT want to see the dirt and sores under foreskins…but probably has a lot to do with female to male spread that is uncommon in Englan991886d…and women often use herbs to dry up normal wetness for sex…that also increases open areas to spread HIV…

  • Verity

    Transmission of AIDS from women to men is so rare it hardly registers, but this is the big scare. boinkie knows he/she is talking rubbish.

    Even transmission from male to female is not that certain. Women have antibodies through their normal passages. It’s male to male. Let us face this.

    Some of what boinkie has said may be correct, but it doesn’t account for the figures that support the enormous, vast, gigantic AIDS industry in Africa.


  • OT:

    In case the blogkeepers of Samizdata keep up with such things, I’d like to announce that I have publicly blogrolled Samizdata, here.

  • Julian Morrison

    Seems likely to me that other factors come into play including bad nutrition, bad sanitation, and widespread low-level infection with parasites and various diseases. That’s to say, a low-wage African worker presents a much easier target to a virus than a well fed Londoner.

  • Verity

    Maybe. I think it’s a new(ish), lucrative industry. As with all other “problems” in Africa, it is fuelled by the agenda of the tranzis and the billions in aid available to them.

    They talk it up.

    I have gay friends I love – and have loved – dearly, but I just don’t believe this Africa business. The AIDS caravan moved on from the West and the writers of press releases, and warning programmes and “education” films and press officers travelled with the caravan.

    I have read that so many diseases of malnutrition and other African traditional ailments are now being classified as “AIDS” to coattail the high profile.

  • Uain

    Oh, C’mon you all!

    It seems from the links provided that there is only one way to get above a 10/10000 rate. I won’t go into specifics here but it is **bugger** hard otherwise.
    I recall reading about the Mau-Mau in Kenya in the 1950’s and 60’s in which it was required for the young recruits to … er , well *submit* to the higher ranking members. Propaganda? Don’t rightly know, but it seems that this sort of stuff gets “reported” in ceratin societies from Sparta to the present day “holy warriors” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    …. PC approved; no judgement here ….

  • Julian Morrison

    Verity, if anything I’d suspect pressure in the opposite direction. AIDS has an awful stigma in many parts of Africa. People will hide the symptoms, hide the cause of death. Charities may be playing it up for the press, but ordinary Africans are as likely playing it down.

  • I remember reading that anal heterosexual intercourse is very common in Africa. The transmission rates are a lot higher for that.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the HIV as cause of AIDS theory is bunk. HIV has never been proven to cause AIDS(any EM photographs, hmm?), and the establishment is touting it as the sole cause of AIDS when it isn’t.

    Drugs, malnutrition, constant exposure to severe environments. These could all cause the condition of immune deficiency to occur. Many different routes to one specific condition. No need for a virus at all.

    Verity describes it as an industry, and she’s right. Too many folks are getting fat paychecks perpetuating this massive hoax. And it’s well funded by the state.

    If you go all the way back to the beginning, you’ll find that Robert Gallo used the power of the state to start this entire hoax in the first place. The proper channel would be to submit it for peer review in a scientific journal, but he did it differently. The question would be: why?

    The HIV-AIDS theory has been found to be massively flawed, from transmission rates to life expectancies, to viral liters in infected persons, to the inability of viologists to properly isolate and characterize physically a sample of HIV from infected persons.

    When the truth is revealed, science will take a big hit. And the blowback will be even bigger than Enron. Mark my words.


  • guy herbert

    Verity, Uain,

    You don’t think boinkie might know what s/he is talking about?

    There are socio-political reasons why the co-factors mentioned are underplayed in the West.

    Few want to mention (4) iatrogenic transmission, despite a very strong effect visible in the statistics. You’d think it would be a suitable subject for appeals – Needles for Africa, say. But because it plays to both the anti-aid-lobby (“look spending money on doctors is doing more harm than good”) and to the Afrocentrist loonies (“these white men are coming here to kill us with their so-called medecine, and deliberately created and are spreading AIDS”).

    (5) gets little mention because it arises through African levels of poverty and disease not reproduced elsewhere (ditto some odd cultural quirks). There’s a residual moralism in attitudes to AIDS in the West that leads to a continuing pretense we are as at risk as Africans if we are promiscuous.

    The reductio ad absurdam of this was the PC phenomenon of extensive AIDS education directed towards lesbians as part of ‘gay community’ solidarity. But we also have the semi-annual ritual announcements from the NHS that ‘heterosexual’ transmission is an increasing proportion of UK HIV diagnoses, when in fact (as is never mentioned in the main press release) it is almost entirely accounted for by the discovery of cases in African immigrants and their partners.

    Julian’s right.

    Quite apart from religous and social taboo, politics gets in there too. The the South African government has its own brand of PC on this, a milder form of the Afrocentrist lunacy: “It’s solely caused by poverty, which is caused by neocolonialism”, and ANC officials of that faction seldom admit to having AIDS-related disease.

  • So you think the widely circulated HIV rates in Africa are correct, Guy?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    “But we also have the semi-annual ritual announcements from the NHS that ‘heterosexual’ transmission is an increasing proportion of UK HIV diagnoses, when in fact (as is never mentioned in the main press release) it is almost entirely accounted for by the discovery of cases in African immigrants and their partners.”

    Discovery of cases? If any of you would take a look at the antibody test kits, you’ll realise they’re severely flawed as well.

    They’re testing for presence of HIV, not immune deficiency. But the problem is, HIV has not even been isolated yet!

    So anyone who tests positive might not get AIDS, when in fact the establishment says they are infected with AIDS. It’s just not true!


  • Nick M

    The Wobbly Guy,
    If HIV/AIDS isn’t the result of a virus, how come anti-retroviral drugs have proven so successful in extending the life-span and quality of life of people diagnosed as HIV+ / full-blown AIDS?

    But, of course that’s just a conspiracy by big-Pharma to keep people alive. Bet ya didn’t know that the guy who invented combined therapy for HIV/AIDS was killed over Lockerbie. Obviously a hit by the drug companies because he was gonna blow the gaff.

    TWG – you make Fox Mulder look like a paragon of rationality.

  • Steven Den Beste:

    For every 10 000 exposures to an HIV-infected source, 50 will contract HIV through receptive anal sex, and 6.5 via insertive anal sex.

    At those rates, I submit that the average HIV positive African will have died of the virus before they are able to transmit it. I am having a difficult time understanding how HIV could infect even 10% of a population at such low transmission rates.

  • guy herbert

    So you think the widely circulated HIV rates in Africa are correct, Guy?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they were overreported, but I don’t have any means to estimate. boinkie points out your quoted infectivity estimates (estimates, note) for presumptively healthy well-nourished Americans, should be expected to be wildly wrong in real African conditions.

    The iatrogenic element might take greater weight in a relatively well-governed country such as Botswana. Which would be a horrible paradox.

  • Nick M

    I’m not getting personal here, but… How often do you guys have sex? No, don’t tell me, just think about it.

    Now, think on this. Let’s work with the 1 in 2000 figure for rate of transmission… How often do you think someone is likely to have sex over, say ten years?

    Verity and others ideas that it’s all queers to blame simply don’t stack-up. Yes, there is a higher rate of transmission through anal sex but not enormously so. If Verity really has loved as many gay men as she says, perhaps she’s aware that about a third never have anal sex. The chances of contracting HIV from mutual masturbation or oral sex are very small. All things being equal the “per sexual contact” rate of transmission for gay men is probably lower than it is for heterosexuals (It’s practically zilch for lesbians).

    All things, of course, aren’t equal but it isn’t homosexuality per-se which is responsible for the sexual spread of AIDS. It’s promiscuity.

    There are a number of other factors in the rate of infection in Africa. As has correctly been pointed out, the poor hygiene practises of African medicine and cross-contamination from sharps, surgical instruments and blood of dubious provenance is a major factor. Perhaps a larger factor for transmission is the widespread African tribal quasi-medical practises such as ritual scarring and circumcision. These are often carried out by the untutored on a whole cohort of kids at a time and without the instrument even being washed, let alone sterilized between each one. Direct blood on blood contact carries rather more than a 1 in 2000 risk of transmission.

    But let’s go back to that 1 in 2000 figure for a moment, then I’m off… I’m sure it’s reasonably accurate as far as it goes… But it doesn’t address the issue of how much more infectious HIV is if there are lesions from other STDs or the woman is menstruating (something which generally increase thee rate of transmission of STDs enormously).

    And I assume the average Nigerian tom is utterly clapped and if she tells her pimp that she can’t walk the streets that night cause she’s on the rag he’ll give her a dry slap.

  • guy herbert

    Quite, Nick M.

  • nic

    Always a bit of a stuggle to follow these discussions because you get rational scepticism followed by loony conspiracies in quick succession. But that made a lot of sense, Nick M.

  • I would suggest that the average adult has sex less than 2000 times over ten years.

    Guy, by publishing the transmission rates, I was trying to show how much more difficult it is to catch HIV via the conventional method – unprotected vaginal sex. It would not surprise me if the transmission rates were higher in Africa due to some of the reasons you cited, however I would also suggest that this is counterbalanced by the vastly decreased life expectancy of the average African (versus the average HIV+ American) suffering from HIV/AIDS. This alone limits exposure to the rest of the population because the host dies more quickly.

    My main point was that it seems likely HIV rates in Africa are inflated. The question is; by how much? Given the sorts of people (African govts, western NGOs) spruiking the HIV/AIDS disaster in Africa, my first instinct is scepticism.

  • That should have read “I was trying to show how much more difficult it is than popularly assumed to catch HIV via the conventional method…”

  • Nick M

    James Waterton,

    I would suggest that the average adult has sex less than 2000 times over ten years.

    Well, talk about yourself…

    Seriously though, if there is a 1 in 2000 chance per sexual encounter of getting HIV, and the average African man who (for the sake of argument is sexually active with a variety of women from 15 to 25) doesn’t have to have sex 2000 times for there to be a 10-30% incidence of HIV. Do the maths. We’re talking under a shag a week…

    That should have read “I was trying to show how much more difficult it is than popularly assumed to catch HIV via the conventional method…”

    You amuse me. The way you put it makes it appear like a reality TV show. “The first person in the Big Brother house to contract HIV wins a lifetime of antiretrovirals courtesy of our sponsers AstraZeneca”.

    I’m just off to pitch the idea to C4.

  • Nick M


    Scarification for pain relief

    Please explain. I’m genuinely interested.

  • guy herbert

    Well indeed, but the popular assumption is based less on the facts of African AIDS, or any facts at all, but on the moralistic propagandising of governments and health professions who want to control us for our own good (see also passive smoking, overeating, drinking, most drugs, etc.), perhaps exacerbated by the market positioning of AIDS charities and drug companies, who would prefer our sympathy was tinged with a sense of self-preservation.

  • Guy – I wouldn’t argue with that.

    Nick – Glad to be so amusing, but your maths doesn’t make sense. Sure, there are a few who have sex once a year for ten years and catch HIV – as there are a few who have sex three times a day for ten years running and don’t. In the aggregate, the number is 1 out of 2000.

    Re. sex frequency – and this is off topic and somewhat puerile, but indulge me – 2000 times in 10 years equates to once every 1.825 days. Newlyweds might scoff at that figure, but I think wider adult society is trailing some way behind.

  • Nick M

    Well, obviously Guy, any number of chancers, grifters and scumbags have made a few quid out of African Aids and worse even than that some have tried to have themselves practically cannonised for their “AIDS work”.

    The fact that a problem has been exploited, doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.

  • Nick – please read paragraph three and the final paragraph of my post again.

  • guy herbert

    The fact that a problem has been exploited, doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.

    No; but one should pay attention to the problem, not form one’s impression of it from its promoters, as the public unfortunately tends to. A ‘problem’ can be exploited without being a problem, or, as frequently, without being the same sort of problem as its promoters pretend; but I’m not putting HIV in either category.

  • Nick M


    It isn’t puerile. If you’re gonna discuss AIDS there is no point being squeamish over sex.

    Recheck your sums. It’s 1 in 2000 per individual sexual encounter. It’s very easy for Joe Nigerian to clock-up enough sexual encounters over a few years for Nigeria in general to have a greater than 10% rate of HIV infection.

    Sex once every 1.825 days is actually not unusually frequent but what is most likely is that HIV has spread around Africa from the result of large numbers of young males, away from their families getting paid on a Friday night and going out and employing a pro.

    And I’ll reiterate my point that the open sores from gonorrhea, syphilis etc. which an astonishing percentage of African toms will have dramatically increase the risk of HIV infection.

    Yeah, it’s not pleasant to contemplate. But it has to be faced because an entire continent being quite literally decimated by a preventable infection is not part of my agenda for C21st.

  • Anyone with access to The Spectator’s archives? I’m sure it was there that someone explained the sexual practices that lead to much higher transmission rates than being discussed here. “Dry Sex” as boinkie points out.

    Are the actual number as high as reported? Well, as everyone is now admitting, not, they’re not. The usual place for testing has been at a neo-natal clininc. It’s very odd to take numbers for a sexually transmitted disease only from those you know have had unprotected sex and then extrapolate to the entire population.

    But are those infection rates high enough that there really is a serious problem? Yes, I’m sure they are.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    And don’t forget malaria and tuberculosis, both of which I read are on the rise. In the case of the former, part of the blame for that can be chalked up to the greenies’ demonisation of DDT. But the PC media don’t want to talk about malaria and the issue is shockingly ignored.

  • guy herbert

    BTW even in your original premises James, your statistics may be off.

    If a male has vaginal sex with only HIV+ partners, and the 5/10,000 estimate is accurate, then you are looking for the expected length of a perfect chain of occaisions on which he is not infected in order to get a feel for that risk. He would be more likely than not to be infected after A occurences of intercourse, where A is such that 0.5>(0.9995)^A. That is A is 1386 or more.

  • syn

    In the US we experienced the danger in using AIDS as justification for activism during the early onset of the disease in the late 1970’s early 1980’s when gay activists demanded that the bath houses, where the disease was allowed to incubate and spread, remain operational. While the gay activists defended ‘right to privacy’ while blaming AIDS on President Reagan, health officals in all the major cities were terrified of shuttting down the gay bath house. PC kills.

    Because of the activism demanded by gay advocates AIDS was allowed to spread to the mainstream gay community. Gay activists simply did not want to be associated with AIDS and sex so they allowed the disease to spread in order to be able to maintain their lifestyle without consequence. In the early days gays were not encouraged to be monogamous or abstain from sex for that represented actions taken only by those ‘uptight’ puritans.

    We are spending billions of dollars attempting to find a cure when the most effective and cheapest cure for AIDS is to use clean needles, use condoms and, most importantly abstain from having mulitple sex partners.

    Pouring money on the problem will not cure AIDS anywhere.

  • James Waterson,

    The flaw in Steve Edwards argument is that he uses the transmission rates from America and not the ones for Africa. For several reasons, most mentioned above, the transmission rates are much higher in Africa than in the developed world.

    One overlooked factor is that due to the history of the Black Death, many people of European decent carry a gene that renders them immune or resistant to HIV infection. This gene, called delta 32, is completely absent in sub-saharian populations because they never experience the Black Death. The existence of the gene in the developed world lowers transmission rates as compared to Africa.

    None of this is to say that AIDS in Africa isn’t being exploited but you have to use the right transmission rates to make the argument.

  • Nick M


    You are (a) utterly anti-liberal. What gay men do on their own private property, be it bath-houses or whatever is no business of yours, mine or any agency which could conceivably make a difference. “Gay activists” have as much right to privacy as you, me or Uncle Tom Cobley.

    (b) You’re ill informed. HIV is not especially infectious, but it’s infectious enough. Spending money on trying to find a cure or a vaccine is money well-spent in my book. Greater global mobility will accelerate the emergence of potentially devastating viral threats. We ought to fight these.

    Why in fact should gay men, or indeed anyone be encouraged to be monogamous? Not only will this not work, but who is to do the “encouraging” – the department for “The Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” – like they have in Iran.

  • Nick M


    Fascinating. Still a little speculative, but fascinating nonetheless. Would it be possible to innoculate folks with delta 32 on a large scale cheaply?

  • drscroogemcduck

    these calculations assume that 100% of the population is infected

    guy’s ‘A’ figure would have to be 4620 assuming a 30% infection of the population

  • Verity

    It is known that the AIDS industry in Britain grossly inflates figures by quoting people being allowed into the country who are already infected. (Why, I wonder? We “need” these passengers on the overladen tub known as the NHS?) This allows scare headlines like ‘AIDS ON THE RISE IN BRITAIN’, with the lying implication that more British are catching AIDS.

    I have hated this whole industry since it got started – not because it was tackling the problem among the gays, of course, but that the activists/agenda-ists were so greedy to get an ever-widening constitutency by lying that everyone was “at risk”. It became not so much an industry as a fiefdom. All those scare posters for straight people and young people. That government propaganda, as though the country were facing a major epidemic. The importation of misleading figures.

    Worldwide threat! Oh, my! Meanwhile, SUVs and Mercedes limousines proliferated in Africa, more air-conditioned offices were leased, more computers, more empty, lying conferences in luxury class hotels, more people on the payroll.

  • Shannon – I see. I would be interested to see the transmission rates of HIV in Africans. Do you know if such data is widely available?

    Also, does this mean that HIV spreads faster amongst African Americans than American whites and hispanics? I would assume a far higher prevalence of HIV in black Americans if transmission was so much easier due to the presence (or lack thereof) of the delta 32 gene you mention.

    Talking about Western guilt trips, Verity – I just watched an utterly appalling movie, The Constant Gardener. If you ever want to see the distilled leftist gripes with the international order, just watch this cognitively unhinged movie. Of course the main premise is completely ridiculous. A big Western drug company is knowingly poisoning black Africans, because they make lots of profit doing so! How? By testing some future blockbuster drug on them – which is actually a killer. However, the company covers this up so it can be declared safe and released in Western markets. Because as big pharma knows, we won’t notice that their drug is killing us – we just want to buy more more MORE!!! That’s capitalism for you.

    Isn’t it?

  • permanent expat

    Among the many things I am not, I can safely include mathematician. The fact is that AIDS is with us & it’s a bad thing. Those who capitalize on the misfortunes of others are beyond the pale, including those freeloaders who, under the cover of ‘helping’, have established overpaid careers cocooned in air-conditioned conference rooms.
    My limited experience with African (West) people was in the military during WW2 &, thereafter, as a civilian employed in that area until the late forties.
    All this at a time when AIDS was unknown. What was known was that sexually transmitted diseases were rife & considered on par with the common cold. African wives were proud that their husbands had girlfriends; the more the better as this testified to the attractiveness & potency of the husband. Naturally the wives were also the girlfriends of someone else’s husband…..and so it went happily on. It was their way of life. It was the custom….and that was that.
    It may well be that, in the intervening years, the mores have changed; I do not wish to give offence to those from that part of the world.
    However, the mind boggles when one imagines the impact of AIDS on such a literally carefree society.

  • emdfl

    As far as I’m concerned, homosexuals can practice any lifestyle they want, BUT don’t kindly expect me to cheerfully pay for their life-syle choices when they bite them (literally) in the ass.
    That said, the reality is that AIDS/HIV is wildly misdiagnosed to pump up the statistics. I’ve read that certain types of TB are considered to be precursors of HIV.
    I’m reminded of the attempts by the AIDS lobby and their supporters to push the falsehood the AIDS was an equally hetrosexual disease during that time period.

  • It’s not just transmission rates that make one skeptical of African AIDS data. Until very recently few of the African “AIDS” patients had even had a test for HIV. Kary Mullis, the Nobel prize winner for the invention of the PCR test to detect HIV, goes over this in his book “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field”. As permanent expat says, sexually transmitted diseases are and always have been rife in Africa. The temptation to call all such cases AIDS, given the money and sympathy it evokes, is irresistible. And anti-retrovirals have no doubt killed many more people than “AIDS”, if it does exist as anything other than a bogeyman. The population statistics showing all African countries growing faster than any others in the world bear this out. The whole thing’s a scam.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Nick M-Anti-retroviral drugs have been effective?

    Given the number of healthy people they made end up looking like drug addicts on cold turkey, the cure has been worse than the disease.

    BTW, the definition of AIDS has changed over the years. Where it was once defined as a condition with a very specific low level immune level(the cell count for CD4 cells), it now includes the presence of HIV as a necessary condition.

    I’d like to change all that. The definition of AIDS should be changed back to that low CD4 cell count, and for a certain period of time. If a person has that condition, s/he has AIDS. Whether or not it was caused by drugs, some virus, or malnutrition, the conditon is AIDS. This recognises the possibility of multiple causes, as well as avoiding circular logic in the current definition. The good news would also be that the condition is reversible in some cases, especially for malnutrition AIDS cases.

    An article on definition of AIDS is included here.

    Frankly speaking, none of this is our business, and none of it affects us directly. But I can’t help but think if global warming, the ozone hole, AIDS-HIV, are just mere untruths with no real consequence.


  • Has anyone considered the effect of consent on the transmission rate? I wouldn’t be suprised to find out that forced intercourse (which tends to result in a lot more tissue damage and blood) results in a much higher risk of transmission (both for the victim and the perpetrator) than voluntary intercourse.

  • Verity

    Robert Speirs – African AIDS and the “threat” of hetersexual AIDS in the West, has always been a scam. The money involved is unimaginable. The medical world is corrupted by it because they get funded for research. All these AIDS charities are busy raising funds that certainly fund a nice lifestyle for the fund-raisers, but accomplish – err, not very much for the supposed sufferers.

    Once they are lucky enough to get a few high profile “caring” spokespeople like the terribly silly Elizabeth Taylor and the equally silly and self-regarding Princess Di, it morphs into a self-perpetuating caravan of drama, statistics that don’t mean a thing, and … funding, funding, funding.

    And now the silly Prince Harry’s going to help them along. Quite apart from the fact that he will be raising money for nothing except lifestyles, I also feel that Prince Harry is funded by Britain, not an African country. I think there is plenty he could engage himself with at home. At the very least he could get involved in The Prince’s Trust, or facilities for old people without family. I am honestly baffled what it is about AIDS that has this mysticl pull.

  • Nick M

    Wobbly Guy,
    Are you taking the piss?
    Or are you just simply pontificating on things you know nothing about?

  • Verity

    Nick M in response to TWG – “Are you taking the piss?
    Or are you just simply pontificating on things you know nothing about?”

    No, that’s your job.

    TWG sums up: “I can’t help but think if global warming, the ozone hole, AIDS-HIV, are just mere untruths with no real consequence …”

    I agree. Global warming, SUVs, melting ice-caps, hole in the sky! the skyyyyyy! …. giant ‘baby strollers’ of around a sq yard … larger than the pavement, and if the baby is strolling, why isn’t it on TV ? … oh let’s save our lovely planet (as though we have that much power, but never mind) … DDT, the banishment of which has led to hundreds of thousands of cases of malaria, most of them fatal …

    The “AIDS crisis” in Africa.


  • guy

    Yes; Verity has full possession of the truth, as her name implies.

    Let’s not allow any interest in the facts, any analysis, or further information, to colour our views of any of those those questions. They are not remotely complicated, just as long as we rigorously exclude any contrary evidence as enemy propaganda or subterfuge, and denounce anyone who shows curiosity about other possibilities as ignorant. That will protect us from the possibility of having to change our minds.

  • Daveon

    In a similar thread a year or so ago Verity did say that she wouldn’t let facts about this get in the way of her preconceptions.

    Of course, conventional sex has a vanishingly low infection rate. But that is an apples and oranges comparison. Other infections abound too, open sores in the male and female increase the odds of transmission dramatically; as does anal sex; as does rape, which is also extremely high in Africa.

    Then you’ve got the really “fun” stuff like the believe that sex with a virgin will cure you, so you have infected guys raping girls as young as 9 or 10.

    The figures might be inflated, but I’m not convinced myself.

    But all the facts in the world won’t change Verity’s mind on this.

  • I would suggest that your critique cuts both ways, Guy.

  • sca

    The raw figures for transmissibility don’t tell you enough to say how a disease will spread through a population. Two populations with the same overall risk will show different rates of infection if one population has a few “efficient transmitters” that act as “hubs” of transmission. If these efficent transmitters are promiscuous (as some will be, particularly as presence of other STIs increases efficiency of transmission) then these few individuals have a disproportionate effect on the population.

    Another factor increasing the efficiency of transmission is high viral load, and viral load is high early on in HIV infection. This means a population where more people are becoming infected becomes yet more infectious, which in turn leads to more infections and so on.

  • permanent expat

    Internecine warfare on this thread is amusing but pointless. Epithets are traded, also amusing but equally superfluous. Seriously unqualified folk are pontificating on subjects they know little or nothing about………but, I suppose, it was ever thus.
    Nobody knows for sure whether global warming is only cyclical. Nobody seems to be able to agree how AIDS should be identified. The list of ‘unknowns’ is a long one. Things happen. We have to address threats as they arise, be it melting ice-caps, polio, Mt. St. Helens, AIDS, tsunamis….name it. These things are with us and we must deal with them or suffer consequences.
    The tragedy is that we add to these burdens our short-sightedness, our greed, cupidity & a misplaced belief that throwing money at a problem will make it disappear.
    This comment is not AIDS specific but points to a malaise which may yet prove to be our undoing.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Sad to say, viral load, which is simply a manufactured viral count utilizing Kary Mullis’ PCR(polymerase chain reaction), is also bunk as a way to measure infection levels. They simply used PCR to mass duplicate what they thought was viral RNA, calculated it back as DNA by proxy, and claimed the amount of reconstituted DNA was directly proportionate to the amount of virus in a given amount of body fluid.

    If you knew that PCR is simply a photocopy machine for RNA, you’d laugh that idea out of the lab. They’re essentially claiming that all the xeroxed copies they made of the virus existed before using PCR! Kary Mullis himself stated that his method cannot be used for quantitative measurement, only for qualitative analysis.

    As to my credentials… well, I’m no biologist, but I didn’t get my honours in chemistry and a second major in english sleeping through university. The scientific method, as well as language use concerning definitions, are both critical tools to analyse any problem objectively and empirically.

    It’s amazing how people will start attacking others through questioning of their credentials once they have disagreements. In this vein, I suggest that as many of us are professional environmental scientists, economists, chemical engineers, etc, we should refrain from ‘simply pontificating on things we know nothing about?’


  • eli

    Nick said the risk is 1 per 2000 individual sexual encounters. The actual statistic from the linked table is 1 per 2000 *exposures to an infected source*. Those are two completely different things. What the table is measuring is your risk if you have sex with an infected person, not the number of individual sexual encounters regardless of the partner’s HIV status.

  • Verity

    Guy writes, re me: Yes; Verity has full possession of the truth, as her name implies.

    Let’s not allow any interest in the facts, any analysis, or further information, to colour our views of any of those those questions.

    Guy, I think what we are discussing here, if I’m not mistaken is, there don’t appear to be any verifiable facts on the AIDS/HIV in Africa issue. Much of the evidence is contradictory, and is in any event, distorted to serve the interest of whomever is discussing it. AIDS in Africa “facts” are distorted to serve the agenda of those reporting them – usually people/organisations with a monetary interest in the “facts”.

    And you don’t know any better than the rest of us, Guy. You, too, are drawing conclusions from biased reports and evidence. At least some of us here are rejecting evidence that appears to be presented wrapped up in a (usually “funding”) agenda.

    And in barrels the world’s expert on AIDS in Africa, Daveon, who inexplicably failed, on this occasion, to illustrate his points with tedious vignettes about his family. About a year ago, he posted on and on and on about his father-in-law in S Africa who owned a factory next to somewhere where everyone got AIDS or something. So that was supposed to prove something. God, it was boring.

    permanent expat is right. However, it does behoove us to be mindful that all the events he mentioned tend to become the property of leftists with an agenda.

  • permanent expat

    TWG: Your personal credentials aren’t being questioned.
    No-one knows less about other subjects than the specialist in his/her own.
    Don’t get your free radicals in a twist.

  • guy herbert


    That’s an interesting distinction, but is that really how an exposure is defined? It would make no aetiological sense at all.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Expat-My mind is already twisted, never mind my free radicals!


  • rosignol

    That’s an interesting distinction, but is that really how an exposure is defined? It would make no aetiological sense at all.

    How so?

    If AIDS is caused by a virus, the chance of catching the disease from someone who isn’t a carrier of that virus should be zero. If the virus isn’t present, it it really an ‘exposure’?

    WRT comments above re ‘dry sex’ secondary infections, etc- the figures mentioned may well be accurate for healthy westerners with no other STDs, but that’s not the group being discussed. Please remember to take that into account, and post links to sources.

  • Heterodox

    Arch-sceptic Prof. Peter Duesberg on African HIV/AIDS:

    (i) During the African AIDS epidemic, the sub-Saharan
    African population has grown, at an annual rate of about
    2×6% per year – from 378 million in 1980 to 652 million
    in 2000 (US Bureau of the Census International Data Base
    2001). Thus Africa had gained since 1980 274 million
    people, the equivalent of the whole population of the US!

    Therefore, a possible, above-normal loss of 1 million
    Africans over a period in which over 200 millions were
    gained is statistically hard, if not impossible to verify –
    unless the African AIDS diseases were highly distinctive.

    (ii) However, the African AIDS-defining diseases are
    clinically indistinguishable from conventional African
    morbidity and mortality (see above).

    (iii) Further the HIV-based definition of AIDS (see § 3)
    can not be used in Africa to distinguish AIDS-defining
    from otherwise indistinguishable diseases, because as of
    1985 the WHO decided at a conference in Bangui, Africa,
    to accept African AIDS diagnoses without HIV-tests (see
    § 3). This was done because these tests are unaffordable
    in most African countries (World Health Organization
    1986; Fiala 1998; Fiala et al 2002). Thus without the
    CDC’s HIV standard (§ 3), the diagnosis of African
    AIDS is arbitrary.

    In view of the many epidemiological and clinical distinctions
    of African AIDS from its US/European namesakes
    and the many uncertainties about the diagnosis of African
    AIDS, both the novelty of African AIDS and its relationship
    to the US/European AIDS epidemics have been called
    into question (Hodgkinson 1996; Fiala 1998; Shenton
    1998; Gellman 2000; Stewart et al 2000; Malan 2001; Fiala
    et al 2002; Gisselquist et al 2002; Ross 2003). Indeed, all
    available data are compatible with an old African epidemic
    of malnutrition and poverty-associated diseases under
    a new name (Konotey-Ahulu 1987a, b; Oliver 2000;
    Stewart et al 2000).

    Full paper at


  • Kim du Toit

    Sheesh… this is what happens when your non-married sex life ended around about the time the Kaiser was deposed.

    What the hell is “dry sex”?

    Cut me some slack here; I’m still reeling from the discovery that women have orgasms, and multiple ones withal.

  • joel Hammer

    The HIV rate for gay men in my fair city, Baltimore, MD, was recently quoted by the health authorities to be 40%. We are far ahead of San Francisco, which is only 25% positive.

    Unless all those gays use IV drugs, it looks like sex spreads HIV, despite the silly statistical arguments noted in this thread.

    What gay men do in bath houses is important because NOBODY is allowed to spread lethal infectious diseases, even if you are gay.

    Note that gay men care a lot about what straight men do. For example, if straight men want to routinely screen all pregnant women for HIV, the gay men stop it.

    Now, THAT is a crime.

  • rosignol

    Kim- more than you wanted to know:


    There are people who pay extra for it.

  • Anthony

    Something else to add to the mix. What I find interesting about this whole controvesy, is that according to the mainstream media, this controvesy just doesn’t exist.

  • Kim du Toit


    Thankee, rosignol… I think.

    Good grief. Why not just line the vagina with 000-grit sandpaper?

    Thank goodness I’m married.

  • Verity

    Anthony – Thank you for the brilliant and very readable paper by Dr Culshaw. I was drawn forward to read every word right to the end, not my normal modus vivendi with science papers – but I didn’t skip.

    I think some of us non-scientists have suspected all along that this whole thing just doesn’t make sense – especially as there always were so many dissenting scientific voices that were beaten angrily back by paraties with an interest. Doesn’t compute.

    Dr Culshaw, a mathematician who worked on AIDS/HIV patterns for over 10 years while she became increasingly disillusioned with the connection, is fascinating.

    What she has written adds to my scepticism of this whole AIDS/Africa deal. It’s not real. AIDS is a bunch of illnesses, including malnutrition and VD and other viral infections, classified as HIV/AIDS to get in on the ever-expanding funding. Especially through the aggressive UN agencies, which constantly have to upgrade their raison d’être.

    It’s a lifestyle-funder for the AIDS workers. Before readers come barrelling in to hit me round the head and shoulders, read this readable paper.

  • Dee

    k if it is all just a flaw more profitable to treat then cure, why wouldnt they make either slow working drug instead, where if ur gonna die in 8 years u stop payin, right cuz ur dead, but if ur alive for another 30 years and have to continue buyin it that would more then double the money lol u die in 10 years ur done payin, ur alive for another 30 thats 20-30 more years of u payin into them

  • Greg

    Even after 30 years of scientific research, there’s still no cure for AIDS. Science did make a lot of progress in recent years, and at least we have reliable HIV tests available these days to disgnose an infection early enough. The fight must continue… no matter the cost.