This Is NOT The Face Of AIDS For The West. So Stop Using It!

Posted: December 4, 2008 in Our Health, World

zz1539d1c5For years both the gay community and AIDS activists have worked hard to cover up the reality behind what spreads AIDS by using Africa as its cloak. Whenever you want to shield yourself from any criticism, use what can generate the most sympathy to your advantage–sickly African women and children who are dying of this dreaded disease.

As one who longs to see the day when AIDS is nothing more than a faded page in history, I have become fed up with the constant depictions of Africans whose hopes are tied to the sale of the next RED iPod. Yes, AIDS has been a disease that has crippled that continent, but so have many other diseases.

Roger England of Health Systems Workshop, a think tank based in the Caribbean island of Grenada, goes further. He argues that UNAIDS, the U.N. agency leading the fight against the disease, has outlived its purpose and should be disbanded.

“The global HIV industry is too big and out of control. We have created a monster with too many vested interests and reputations at stake, … too many relatively well paid HIV staff in affected countries, and too many rock stars with AIDS support as a fashion accessory,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal in May.


England argues that closing UNAIDS would free up its $200 million annual budget for other health problems such as pneumonia, which kills more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

“By putting more money into AIDS, we are implicitly saying it’s OK for more kids to die of pneumonia,” England said.

His comments touch on the bigger complaint: that AIDS hogs money and may damage other health programs.

By 2006, AIDS funding accounted for 80 percent of all American aid for health and population issues, according to the Global Health Council.

In Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere, donations for HIV projects routinely outstrip the entire national health budgets.

In a 2006 report, Rwandan officials noted a “gross misallocation of resources” in health: $47 million went to HIV, $18 million went to malaria, the country’s biggest killer, and $1 million went to childhood illnesses.

“There needs to be a rational system for how to apportion scarce funds,” said Helen Epstein, an AIDS expert who has consulted for UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. (more…)

England is right. The reason why AIDS has received the most funding is because it is a disease that touches the West. Diseases like malaria are foreign to us, so no concerts for that cause. So the same crowd that wags its finger at America for being insensitive to the needs of Africa have tempered their own compassion based on their own needs, not Africa.

While AIDS is primarily a sexually-transmitted disease, the ways it is transmitted in Africa is somewhat different than in the West.

This article found in the NY Times talks about how breastfeeding and the usage of blades and other unsterilized sharp utensils used in ceremonies contribute to the spread of AIDS. While unprotected sex is a primary cause of the spread of AIDS in Africa, according to this report, unsafe medical practices are also helping to spread this disease.

Spread of AIDS in Africa driven by poor medical practice, report says
Owen Dyer London

The spread of AIDS in Africa is driven not by unsafe sex but by unsafe medical practice, according to research published last week.

The research, which analysed data on new infections collected up to 1988, concludes that no basis exists for the widespread belief that sexual transmission is responsible for over 90% of new cases. Instead, the authors say, use of dirty needles by public health services was the main cause of transmission in the study period, with sexual transmission accounting for just 30% of infections.


The authors point to the exceptionally rapid spread of the disease in countries with widespread health services, such as South Africa and Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe in the 1990s, HIV infections increased by 12% a year whereas other sexually transmitted disease were declining by 25%. (more…)

Now here in the West, the problem isn’t poor medical facilities. The problem can be summarized into two words: WILLING IGNORANCE.

Here is an excerpt from an article covering a recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.


Critics of the global Aids strategy complain that vast sums are being spent educating people about the disease who are not at risk, when a far bigger impact could be achieved by targeting high-risk groups and focusing on interventions known to work, such as circumcision, which cuts the risk of infection by 60 per cent, and reducing the number of sexual partners.


One of the danger areas for the Aids strategy was among men who had sex with men. He said: ” We face a bit of a crisis [in this area]. In the industrialised world transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men is not declining and in some places has increased.


In the US , the rate of infection among men in Washington DC is well over 100 times higher than in North Dakota, the region with the lowest rate. That is in one country. How do you explain such differences?

Here is what I said earlier in response to that last quote:

“What is the number 1 complaint I hear from sistahs out in places like D.C., Atlanta, etc. regarding the men? I’ll let you guess that one. I don’t hear the same complaint coming from folks out in North Dakota.”

Unlike Africa, America is flush with the resouces and education to prevent the spread of AIDS. Despite that fact, a segment of our society continues to engage in risky sexual behavior such as:

Anal Sex (Risks involved)
Oral Sex (Risks involved)
Rimming, Fecal sex, Oral-Anal (Risks involved)
Fisting (read all about it here)

The infected African child is not wrestling with such issues. So let’s not insult them by tying them to the willing ignorance of those who know better. Craft the next AIDS awareness t-shirt with the imagery of any one of these acts which (are common amongst the homsexual community here in the West) and see how much symphony and money you can generate. In the meantime, stop using Africa as the poster child for your willing ignorance.

  1. S. Cain says:

    I still don’t understand why someone (B. Gates?) can’t support malaria net factories in nations plagued by that disease. With AIDS, I think that the African attention is overplayed, and I certain agree that high profile fundraisers and red products aren’t the way about it. I also agree that most of the problem is ignorance from persons engaging in risky behavior, which does include unthorough sanitation. Sanitary medical practices must be promoted and supported in sub-Saharan Africa to cut the rates. As far as it is in America, it’s just some nasty folk, period. (I loathe the acronym AIDS- it aids no one.)

  2. Carol says:

    I had a friend who died of AIDS in 1992 or so. When I learned of his diagnosis, my first question to another gay friend, “How could this happen – he’s been with (boyfriend) for 10 years?” and the answer was “Men are not monogomous.”

    Although I still miss my friend from time to time, it’s a sad fact that anyone who contracted AIDS or HIV after about 1985 is suffering from a self-inflicted wound. I can’t take seriously the notion that we should be alarmed by the prevalence of HIV infections in groups that basically stand up in front of the virus, wave their hands, and say “Pick me, pick me!”

  3. Lee says:

    “…anyone who contracted AIDS or HIV after about 1985 is suffering from a self-inflicted wound.”

    Carol, might I suggest a trip to your local AIDS hospice? Hear their stories and see if everyone contracting HIV these days is self inflicted.

    And in regard to the OP, I have never seen the gay community use pictures from Africa to drum up support for AIDS work. I’ve certainly seen the western church do it. I think there’s an argument to be made that most of the church could care less if gay men die of AIDS or not. Little black kids on another continent they never will have to deal with other than write a check, well, that might be another story.

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