2007: The HIV/AIDS Crisis

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Mr. Abrahams is a retired Lawyer and Health Information Activist.

It is 10 years since the Press Release of the Center for Infectious Diseases of the University of North Carolina about their research in Malawi which proved that STD’s enhance HIV transmission and that by treating STD’s one would reduce the spread of HIV. Within 5 months of the publication of the article in a Medical Journal during June 1998, Public Health of Seattle and Kings County had this information on their website.

Unfortunately, this was the exception rather than the rule and amazing as it is to say, it is incredible that such an important discovery has not been recognized, accepted and implemented by the international community, which continues to speak and write about HIV/AIDS.

One of the simplest ways to inform people of this discovery in the future, if and when they speak with you about HIV/AIDS, is to reply “HIV/AIDS? – you mean SHARC: the STD-HIV/AIDS Related Complex “ – and to tell them about the research in Malawi that was published in the late 90’s.

By considering 4 Case studies of new and unusual situations that occurred in the past one is able to understand how this information crisis arose:

Case study 1: PUERPERAL INFECTION 1847 
Illustrating an inability to accept new ideas even when proven beyond any doubt to be true .

SEMMELWEISS, IGNATZ PHILIPP (1818 — 1865) was a Hungarian physician who decided that doctors at the University of Vienna Hospital were responsible for spreading childbed fever while delivering babies. During May 1847 he started requiring doctors under his supervision to wash their hands with chlorinated lime water before delivering babies. Despite his success in reducing mortality over the next two years he was forced to leave the Hospital.

Case Study 2: ABERFAN 1966
Illustrating the inability of bureaucracy to react to a definite threat especially when financial interests are involved .

After one of the biggest government inquiries lasting five months with the evidence of 136 witnesses it emerged that the British Coal Board, that was legally responsible for the Coal waste, had ignored warnings about the state of the tip for the previous six years and that loss of life, when the tip of coal slurry collapsed on the school killing 144 persons, was preventable.

Case Study 3: VENPET & VENOIL December 1977
Illustrating an inability to change course or behavior in face of possible danger .

This was a collision at sea between two sister ships belonging to Bethlehem Steel Company off the South African coast. The startling facts - even for landlubbers is that despite dense fog, the engines were not put on stand by, lookouts were not posted and there was no effort to change course, to increase the passing distance or reduce speed. The Liberian board of investigation observed that they were "by no means satisfied that the owners of the two vessels fully carried out their duty to exercise all reasonable care that their vessels were safely navigated. They too must share some degree of responsibility for this collision."

The Promotion of a Mass Market for Cigarettes after the dangers of Tobacco products were established, illustrating the power of financial interests over the common good .

On June 24, 1964, after 18 years research, the United States Federal Trade Commission began requiring all cigarette packages to have a message for consumers warning them about the health dangers of smoking, and there is still an ongoing battle to reduce the amount of advertising promoting the use of tobacco products and to eliminate its use in public areas such as restaurants.
In this instance the growth, processing and sale of Tobacco products are financially rewarding to persons working in the industry.

So too sexual imagery is financially rewarding to advertising companies and Media with advertising interests, despite the fact that this gives social permission for, if not actually encouraging, irresponsible sexual behavior - the prime cause for the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

So how do we bring about a paradigm shift in sexual behavior?

In September 2004, a team of 7 researchers led by Dr Rebecca Collins, a psychologist at the RAND Corp, published the results of a study involving 1,792 adolescents aged 12 to 17. In this study the connection between Sexual Content in the Media on the behavior of adolescents was explored and strong evidence was found to indicate that Sexual Content in the Media had a significant effect on the sexual behavior of adolescents. This would indicate the need to limit sexual imagery in the Media - at least in the Public Domain.

The lesson of Prohibition in the United States of America is clear, one dare not force the desired behavior, but there is still much that can be done to remove indecent and obscene publications from the public domain and to promote a more wholesome ambience in culture such as advertisements including those in medical journals, school and university text books, films, TV, radio, Internet etc., and this paradigm change is made increasingly urgent by the growth of the pornography industry, said to be worth US $ 57 bn, with an annual turnover of US $ 12 – 20 bn.

Society has to recognize that whilst some "Adult" media may be permissible in private it is a matter of Life and Death that it be removed from the Public Domain as soon as possible.

Clinical inertia is the name usually given to the failure of a medical practitioner to respond to well known conditions that requires treatment but what adjective do you use to describe the inertia of the Medical Profession as a whole when they refuse, fail and/or neglect to recognize and respond to new situations that require urgent and immediate attention?

The implied premise of present health information about AIDS is that it is not possible to change sexual behavior but in fact the emphasis on encouraging condom use is based on the assumption that one can do just that. There has been no attempt whatsoever to change the prevailing ambience which glorifies casual sexual encounters and to promote instead a more wholesome culture with stable family relationships.

So, why can’t we rely on Governments, the media, NGO’s and Charitable Foundations to do the job for us?

When bureaucracy fails, it is up to concerned individuals, families, associations and groups acting informally at a community and local level, with appropriate professional  guidance and support, to step into the breach.

Only the intervention of individuals and groups acting informally at a community and local level can stop the spread of SHARC – the STD-HIV/AIDS Related Complex – and the diffusion of indecent and obscene material that are being promoted in the name of Freedom of Choice for the Individual and Freedom of the Press for Society.

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Andrew D. Todd - 9/10/2007

Prisons have AIDS rates something like ten times that of the general population. If one were to break out statistics for the kind of people who go to jail regularly, the number of cases in the newly defined general population would decline still further. Health department statistics do not distinguish between Gay sex and enforced prostitution, but enforced prostitution is obviously a much more efficient means of spreading disease. Enforced prostitution is the norm in prison, and rare everywhere else. There is a strong association between AIDS and needle drugs as well. Prisons have notoriously high rates of other diseases as well, notably tuberculosis, and presumably hepatitis as well. The racial demographics of AIDS more or less correspond to the prison population. The same underclass which provides prison inmates also produces musicians of the ilk of Snoop Doggy Dog. This class is characterized by comparatively low internet usage, and thus, greatly inferior access to pornography. If AIDS were a matter of cultural suggestion, as Seth Abraham imagines, it would be much more White and Heterosexual than it actually is.

What disappoints one most about Seth Abraham's discussion, apart from its general quality of irrelevance, is his failure to deal with the historical concept of "jail fever." Indeed, the Semelweiss case has overtones of that. In the year 1847, no respectable woman chose to give birth in a public hospital. The typical patient was probably an unwed mother, a servant girl who had been thrown into the street when she was discovered to be pregnant, very likely after having been raped by her employer, and who had failed to commit suicide as she was tacitly expected to do. The doctors in question would have been cutting up corpses of patients who had died from infectious illnesses, before going to another room to work on the living patients. Medical students stole corpses from graveyards, claimed the bodies of executed prisoners, etc. A respectable midwife, the kind who cared for private patients in their own homes, would simply not have had that kind of exposure.

The historical and anthropological literature of medicine and health is extensive, to put it mildly. Some people who come immediately to mind, speaking as a nonspecialist, would be William H. McNeil, Hans Zinsser, and Charles Rosenberg in History, and George Foster in Anthropology. Seth Abraham shows no evidence that he knows practically any of this literature. He does not show the kind of background which one would acquire in two undergraduate courses, but rides a political hobbyhorse instead.