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HIV and AIDS
February 5, 2005 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Every year, people all over the world say stridently stupid, misinformed or absurd things about HIV and AIDS Every year, people all over the world say stridently stupid, misinformed or absurd things about HIV and AIDS. Here's a list of some folks who make you wonder what, if anything, they were thinking before they opened their mouths in 2004. Their comments are best met with three little words: Just shut up.
posted by halekon (39 comments total)

 
Wow, I had no idea singapore had legalized gay sex in some parts of town. How odd.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 AM on February 5, 2005


> Every year, people all over the world say stridently stupid, misinformed or
> absurd things about HIV and AIDS Every year, people all over the world
> say stridently stupid, misinformed or absurd things about HIV and AIDS.

Heh. Can you say that again?

No, wait, I'll say it for you. I'm going to fuck whomever or whatever I like, and damn the consequences to myself or the world, so just shut up!
posted by jfuller at 5:09 AM on February 5, 2005


How can this list not include our esteemed Senate Majority Leader, and MD, Bill Frist ? His "Sweat and Tears" performance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" made me cringe!
posted by lobstah at 5:26 AM on February 5, 2005


A lot of these people didn't seem to be saying misinformed things about HIV/AIDS, but about sex in general.
posted by u.n. owen at 5:55 AM on February 5, 2005


So, is the HIV/AIDs rate in America increasing? If so that is really quite sad.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:17 AM on February 5, 2005


jfuller wrote: "I'm going to fuck whomever or whatever I like, and damn the consequences to myself or the world"

Go ahead and fuck whomever you like, just use a condom please.
posted by davy at 7:22 AM on February 5, 2005


> So, is the HIV/AIDs rate in America increasing?

Among gay men (Washington post, mirrored on ripnroll.com), yes. Among everybody, (CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report), no.

Here's an interesting chart, from the CDC link. As the report notes, "The proportional distribution of cases by transmission category varied by race/ethnicity (Table 2)." But MSM (Men who have sex with men) are tops 'o' the charts in all ethnic categories. Way to go, guys.
posted by jfuller at 7:40 AM on February 5, 2005


from your own link, jfuller: Researchers will have to do additional analysis to confirm the increase and to determine whether the new cases are occurring largely among gay men, Jaffe said.

Meanwhile: The findings come at a time when AIDS is hitting African Americans especially hard. More than half of new U.S. AIDS cases are diagnosed in African Americans. And African American women have HIV infection rates more than 25 times those of white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
posted by amberglow at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2005


lobstah, that was the first thing I thought of too. Scanned the list for it, and nothing. What Frist said was one of the most publicized and most absurd thing about AIDS all of last year.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:56 AM on February 5, 2005


> Researchers will have to do additional analysis to confirm the increase
> and to determine whether the new cases are occurring largely among
> gay men, Jaffe said.

Oh, absolutely. There may be an elephant in the room, we better do a study.
posted by jfuller at 8:09 AM on February 5, 2005


And every year zillions are spent on education.
posted by HTuttle at 9:46 AM on February 5, 2005


Is it just me, or is the phrase "just shut up" starting to get very unfunny - can we extend Godwin's law to cover this lame-ass rhetorical gambit?
posted by dinsdale at 10:42 AM on February 5, 2005


jfuller, i, for one, really don't appreciate your insensitivity. aids is a big deal, it ruins lives, and the kind of jerkiness and judgementalness that you're engaging in right now is the same thing that makes aids more difficult for people to talk about and deal with. i don't know what it is like to be silenced so completely about such a big part of my identity, but your targeting gay people ("whoever or whatever I liike") doesn't seem to be opening dialogue any further.
posted by Embryo at 10:58 AM on February 5, 2005


Somebody lock up the liquor cabinet, jfuller thinks there's an elephant in here.
posted by queen zixi at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2005


I know that HIV cannot be spread through things like sweat, saliva, and tears, but I've never heard the reason why. Since they're bodily fluids also, why not? Just wondering if anyone knows the medical reason.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:18 PM on February 5, 2005


I disagree with jfuller's implication that HIV is on the rise only among gay men, but he does have a point.

HIV is definitely on the rise among gay men (especially young gay men), fueled in part by the spreading use of crystal meth, and current education to combat the spread of HIV (which is based on outdated concepts that have virtually no relevance to the way people in 2005 interact) is an absolutely dismal failure.

Having said that, I don't think the remarks of the people in the link from the FPP do much of anything to help the situation, and the fact that funds (public, private, or otherwise) to put better education in place are non-existent does not bode well.
posted by blucevalo at 6:26 PM on February 5, 2005


Sangermaine, as I recall, its that those fluids carry a much lower concentration of the virus.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:44 PM on February 5, 2005


I don't see why it matters which categories of people are getting more or less HIV infection than others. HIV does not discriminate (as far as we know), so the only way to explain it in sterile terms is that "in general, certain categories have higher or lower populations that have become infected due to transmission from infected people."

I don't understand why the woman asked Dick Cheney why African-American women of a certain age group are more likely to get HIV than their counterparts in other racial groups. I don't know what kind of answer she was expecting. And there's really no way of answering the question without angering people.

It's true his answer was pretty dumb (he was unaware of the statistic), but I still don't think there's a good way for him to answer the question. The basic answer of "because those who were infected had contact with infected people, and became infected" doesn't address why so much as it addresses how.

But really, who wants to answer "why?" The answer is not going to be "because the government made HIV to kill black women." (even if it were true, they'd never say so.) The answer doesn't lie in the safety of the nation's blood supply. It has everything to do with behavior with infected people. (I do not subscribe to the theory that HIV-positive people brought it on themselves, or deserve infection for sin, or anything like that.)

The only answer I can think of is "maybe black women don't get the same sex education as white women" But I don't know whether that's necessarily the answer.

But then again, I grew up with some of the richest black people in the world, where sex education was thorough. So maybe I am seeing the education issue through a spoiled person's glasses.
posted by bugmuncher at 7:07 PM on February 5, 2005


I do not subscribe to the theory that HIV-positive people brought it on themselves

You must admit that the victim is not entirely innocent in the matter, though. A person who chooses to be sexually promiscuous exposes themselves to more risk. This is a simple fact. Especially those who engage in promiscuous, unprotected sex. A person who knows the risk of AIDS, and continues to practice this behavior, somewhat does bring it on themselves. That's not to say that you won't get AIDS if you take care choosing who you have sex with and always use a c condom, but that by doing so you will be at much less risk. This has nothing to with "punishment for sin", just simple risk assessment. They know there's risk and they do it anyway.

This, of course, does not apply to those who are infected through being given tainted blood transfusions or other similar accidents.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:45 PM on February 5, 2005



Not quite 2004, but some African leaders easily top the list in jaw-droppingly dangerous things said regarding AIDS.

eg. "HIV? It doesn't exist. The kind of stories that they tell that people are dying in droves . . . it's not true. It's not borne out by the facts. Where the science has not proved anything, we cannot allow our people to be guinea pigs. Antiretrovirals, they're quite dangerous. They're poison, actually.


"We cannot allow our people to take something so dangerous that it will actually exterminate them."


C'mon, can anyone top that?!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:00 PM on February 5, 2005


C'mon, can anyone top that?

I guess you can: Say the same thing as above and add that it is all a conspiracy by the white man to kill Africans.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:33 PM on February 5, 2005


The only answer I can think of is "maybe black women don't get the same sex education as white women" But I don't know whether that's necessarily the answer.

That could be part of it, but there's also two other driving sources of HIV infection in black women. First, black men have been contracting the virus during incarcerations (either from rape or "release" sex) and bring it home to the women who wait for them.

Second, and more distressing is the issue of the men on the "down low" -- black men who are gay or bisexual but marry and/or maintain relationships with women while simultaneously engaging in clandestine encounters with other men. (Due to the extreme unacceptability of homosexuality, particularly male homosexuality, in the black community.) Because these men aren't practicing safe sex with their male partners (probably at rates on par with openly gay men, seeing the rising transmission rates among the gay-identified) their female partners are getting infected while in the midst of what they believed to be monogamous relationships with straight men.
posted by Dreama at 4:17 AM on February 6, 2005


This, of course, does not apply to those who are infected through being given tainted blood transfusions or other similar accidents.

That must be the good AIDS I've been hearing so much about. Something about let he who is without sin...

I don't think any of these problems cannot be solved with a realistic, unbiased and informed program of sex education.
posted by axon at 7:11 AM on February 6, 2005


> Something about let he who is without sin...

"Sin" in this case is behaving so as to ensure the spread of the disease and the continuance of the epidemic. There happen to be a great many of us who do not engage in idiotically risky sexual encounters--at all, ever--and who do not shoot ourselves up with street drugs--at all, ever.

When those who do engage in such Russian-roulette behavior cry "It's a disease of everybody! Everybody should help us!" that's right down on all fours with an exactly similar group that enjoys torching their own and each others' houses, and then shouts, outraged, for society to provide more fire engines.

It is not, not at all, out of line for society to reply "We're working on the fire engines, along with many, many other screaming needs. In the meantime, admit that your damnable behavior is wrong, and change it."
posted by jfuller at 9:22 AM on February 6, 2005


In the meantime, admit that your damnable behavior is wrong, and change it.

Whoa there! Reel in that moral high horse before you kill someone.

I think it's easy to stand in judgement on others behaviour, but harder to make the right choice when confronted with such situations yourself. I think people like jfuller are all to quick to throw that first stone than to examine their own faults and pause before typing.
posted by axon at 9:35 AM on February 6, 2005


jfuller, you didn't read dreama's comment at all, did you?

AIDS is a global pandemic, and afflicts far more straight people worldwide than gay--your bigotry and judgmental attitude is clouding your vision of this.

And it's been often said that more straight than gay people ARE actually at risk too, even here, given our abysmal sex ed and public health record--gay people have been exposed to more public health info and scare tactics and education about it, and are far more likely to know people with the disease. Straight people aren't, and the majority of them don't practice safe sex, even today in 2005.
posted by amberglow at 9:39 AM on February 6, 2005


Rev. Rushdoony just called; he wants his theology back.
posted by gimonca at 10:01 AM on February 6, 2005


That must be the good AIDS I've been hearing so much about. Something about let he who is without sin...

I'm not sure what you mean by that. I was merely saying that people get the HIV virus by different methods, and with some methods the victims seem to have at least partial responsibility for their state.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:12 AM on February 6, 2005


> Whoa there! Reel in that moral high horse before you kill someone.

That's high road, axon. Join me up here, there's lots of room. The ability to make judgements is what distinguishes us from chimpanzees. (That, and the ability to control and change our behavior when the consequences of not doing so are dire.)


> I think it's easy to stand in judgement on others behaviour, but harder to make
> the right choice when confronted with such situations yourself.

Bullseye. The trick is to cease putting yourself into situations where the wrong choice kills you. For those who are fortunate enough, educated enough, to know what causes AIDS it's so very simple and easy. It's like being able to read the warning on the rat-poison box and therefore not eating any.


> AIDS is a global pandemic, and afflicts far more straight people worldwide
> than gay--your bigotry and judgmental attitude is clouding your vision of this.

I know that as well as you, amber. The simple solution that could keep rich (in the global sense), educated people like you safe ("pay attention to the warnings and keep the zipper zipped until the danger is over") obviously won't work in vast parts of Africa and Asia where you can't get the message out. But we can't wait for a solution that applies to everybody on Earth equally, because who knows when such a solution will be discovered?

Failing that kind of miracle, if one sees a simple, free, easy solution that applies to a particular identifiable sub-population that numbers in the millions, it's worthwhile to shout it out, and equally worth puzzlement and rage if it's rejected.

Let's pick a different at-risk sub-population where safety is just a small step away, if they will only take the step. I say to hetero western and Japanese travellers "If you don't want AIDS, don't go on sex tours to poor countries." And if they won't take this eminently good and easy-to-follow advice, and do go to Haiti or Thailand for squishy-squishy, and do pick up the virus, I will of course continue to support working for a cure but they needn't expect my sympathy for their dreadful end because they deserve none and I have none. Darwin awards all 'round.
posted by jfuller at 12:53 PM on February 6, 2005


Join me up here, there's lots of room.

That's OK, I prefer it down here with the rest of humanity, rather than pretending I'm better than everyone else because of my sanctimonious moralising. After all, we're all in the gutter but some of us...

The ability to make judgements is what distinguishes us from chimpanzees.

No, what really differentiates us from chimpanzees is 5% of our DNA and our ability to resist the urge to fling shit around.
posted by axon at 1:20 PM on February 6, 2005


("pay attention to the warnings and keep the zipper zipped until the danger is over")

That's not a realistic option for healthy adults of any orientation, or education, or region. Safe sex is what's needed--not no sex. The danger will never be over, because AIDS is not the only danger nor the only STD.
posted by amberglow at 1:24 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm not sure what you mean by that. I was merely saying that people get the HIV virus by different methods, and with some methods the victims seem to have at least partial responsibility for their state.

It was a quote from a Brass Eye episode from the heyday of the AIDS scare. The sketch makes the same distinction between those people who get AIDS "accidently" - good AIDS - and those who "deserve" to get it - bad AIDS. It's an excellent satire astutely ridiculing the kind of thinking that leads to the dehumanizing of the victims of AIDS.
posted by axon at 1:33 PM on February 6, 2005


> That's not a realistic option for healthy adults of any orientation, or
> education, or region.

And that is our fundamental point of disagreement. No food is not an option, with no food you die. No water is not an option, with no water you die. No air is not an option, with no air you die.

With no sex, you don't die.

No sex is like no Moet et Chandon: not the preferred lifestyle, maybe, but you don't die. In a deadly emergency like the present one, for rational and forewarned persons who aren't helplessly stuck in chimpanzee mode, one would expect it to be the option of choice.

But one has been wrong before. So if there are rational and forewarned persons who just can't can't can't bring themselves to give up the old squishy-squishy, however temporarily and no matter that it may kill them and they may kill others, well... all I can say about persons who thus recklessly endanger themselves and the public is, they didn't let Typhoid Mary run around loose either. For exactly the same reason.
posted by jfuller at 5:57 PM on February 6, 2005


The ability to make judgements is what distinguishes us from chimpanzees.

Really, now? Because see, from what I've read about chimpanzees, and dogs, and cats, and dolphins, and God only knows how many other animals is that they make judgments just fine. Y'know, picking your favorite tree or play partner or toy or whatnot. The only thing that separates humans from them is we're a bit better at reasoning and thus our judgements are more complex.

Now, perhaps I'm a crazy person, but I've got this idea that maybe what separates man from beast is the capacity for compassion, empathy, and forgiveness--the ability and willingness to care for those in pain even if you don't know them and without regard for their circumstances.

And that is our fundamental point of disagreement. No food is not an option, with no food you die. No water is not an option, with no water you die. No air is not an option, with no air you die.

With no sex, you don't die.


jfuller, the key word in amberglow's remark is "realistic". Sure, it would all be cool if we could all aspire to the level of will and control I'm sure you have to eschew the natural, visceral social instinct imprinted in humans for physical contact, including the intimate kind, with other members of our species.

But sometimes we are not all as awesome as you and we fail. So for those times, we would ask your forgiveness and understanding, and perhaps even the acceptance that in order to help control the damage of those times when the affection-demons win out over the robot-angels it might be better to pursue a campaign of education about protecting oneself and one's partner. And perhaps, one day, even creating the kind of community where someone is not afraid to ask one's partner whether they have STDs or declare they have an STD because they won't be subject to a storm of tearful accusations, finger-pointing, and judgements on their moral character and likeliness of burning in Hell forever and ever and ever.

No, nobody asks that you cry great big elephant tears for the person who contracted HIV after raping fifteen children in some Malaysian sex shop. But maybe, just maybe, you might understand that sometimes people don't know any better, and sometimes people get lied to and just don't know period.

our ability to resist the urge to fling shit around.

Oh yes; we found out quite a long time ago that things like pharisaic pronouncements about the behavior of others was far more exciting!
posted by schroedinger at 10:56 PM on February 6, 2005


How's this for STUPID: a Canadian friend of mine here in Uganda works for an NGO that does HIV/AIDS education with local youth. During their educating, they are not allowed to say the word condom. And guess why?

That's right! Funding for their program comes from USAID. And Mr Bush over there doesn't want anyone to hear about condoms. Just abstinence. Like that is realistic at all. And like africa doesn't have enough AIDS cases as it is.

Now, THAT, my friends, is stupid.
posted by Kololo at 3:12 AM on February 7, 2005


...all I can say about persons who thus recklessly endanger themselves and the public is, they didn't let Typhoid Mary run around loose either. For exactly the same reason.

Didn't I just say something about how this kind of thinking leads to the dehumanization of the victims of AIDS? Perhaps we should just tattoo the word "pervert" on their foreheads eh, jfuller?

I think the answer to the problem is pretty simple and can be found here. What would really save lives - and not some unrealistic and prudish proposals that everyone "just stop having sex now" - is a properly informed, standardized and unbiased program of sex education in schools that doesn't shy away from educating teens about sex, regardless of whether it is with a man or a woman - anything less kills.
posted by axon at 5:21 AM on February 7, 2005


separates man from beast is the capacity for compassion

Even chimpanzees have compassion - something lacking in quite a few humans I can think of.
posted by axon at 5:22 AM on February 7, 2005


blindness

despair

jfuller=david clemens: "No touch, no such."?

AIDS=pharmacological atrocity
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:30 PM on February 8, 2005


What separates man from beast is the capacity for abstract reasoning.

It would indeed be a mistake to dehumanize people who have AIDS by declaring them unclean, but it would be equally dehumanizing to conceive of them as animals who are unable to stop rutting and completely absolve them of responsibility for their condition thereby.
posted by kindall at 10:19 PM on February 8, 2005


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