Britain's rising HIV
December 1, 2002 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Wow... that sentence would've been offensive even without the unfortunate grammatical blunder.
posted by cadastral at 10:40 AM on December 1, 2002

can't see anything there that backs up his claim
posted by gravelshoes at 11:15 AM on December 1, 2002

I suspect it's a somewhat distorted version of the study by Dr. Philippa Easterbrook of King's College, one of Britain's leading experts on HIV, reported last summer {scroll down 1/3} in the Times, that

People from Africa have become the largest group in the UK reporting new cases of HIV. Last year they accounted for 1,533 of a total 4,163 cases. Of the new cases diagnosed in 2001, 89 were intravenous drug users, and 21 were blood or tissue transfers. The rate of infection in African immigrants has increased steadily for several years, but has been little discussed because it combines such sensitive issues as asylum-seekers, immigration, race, Aids and access to the NHS. When the link between African immigration and HIV was first raised among doctors several years ago, it sparked huge rows.

In a largest context, there's more to this than worries about xenophobia. European Project on AIDS & Mobility. At least within Africa, patterns of circular and seasonal migration are critical underpinnings of the spread of HIV across the continent. Also, migrant communities are underreported and underserved with regard to AIDS. Poor, mobile, and frequently existing in legal gray areas, immigrants are harder to monitor and treat.
posted by dhartung at 12:14 PM on December 1, 2002

the times article uses "groups" to make the numbers seem more important than they are. although 1,533 out of 4,163 is clearly significant, it is not a simple majority (which is what i understand by "main form of HIV").

data here - indicate that 71% of heterosexually acquired HIV infections diagnosed in the UK in 2000/2001 were in people from Africa, or were associated with exposure there. since about 50% of new diagnoses are heterosexual. again, this is a significant amount, but not consistent with the claims made in the article (which are clearly inspired by a wider anti-immigrant agenda).

of course, racist polemic is not the only response to these depressing figures (and as a simple statement, it's hard to see why the original sentence is offensive). it could equally well be taken as evidence that the desperate state of africa has global consequences and that the uk - along with the rest of the "developed world" - should be doing a lot more to help, even if the motivation is "only" enlightened self-interest.

[also, "african" and "homosexual" are not exclusive sets - you could have 90% of aids cases being related to africa and 90% of aids cases being related to homosexual sex without disappearing in a puff of logic]
posted by andrew cooke at 12:33 PM on December 1, 2002

It seems offensive to be because it suggests homosexual sex introduces HIV into britain. I, like others above, had trouble finding that data in the linked article, but linking homosexual sex and immigration as things that bring hiv into britain is slightly incorrect. Homosexual sex among british homosexuals can propagate the virus within the group, but it is not introducing the virus into the british population.

A less offensive way to say it would be "Immigration has overtaken gay sex as the main form of newly acquired infections." The other way excludes homosexuals from the British population and makes it sound like "The new number one reason us british, um, straight british of course, are getting hiv is now no longer the faggots, it's the foreigners."
posted by rhyax at 2:27 PM on December 1, 2002

oh, ok - my misunderstanding. i thought it was the racial part that was being taken as offensive.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:19 PM on December 1, 2002

In Denmark a lot of new infections are from immigration as well - although it is more and more frequently acquired from Eastern Europeans and not from Africans. You can't (and never could) judge the risk from the color of people's skin.
posted by cx at 7:04 PM on December 1, 2002

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