Because we believe that health care and cosmetic services may contribute more to HIV epidemics than is admitted by UNAIDS and the HIV industry in general, we are always concerned when a new slogan or buzzword (or even an old one) dominates the entire global HIV agenda. Examples of these terms are ABC, abstinence, multiple partnerships, polygyny, dry sex, treatment is prevention, test and treat, circumcision, early sexual initiation, and the list goes on.
Our argument is not that we know how significant the contribution of hospital acquired and other non-sexual modes of transmission are to HIV epidemics. Rather, we are calling for the issues to be investigated, with an open mind. And an open mind is something you rarely find in the HIV/AIDS literature. Many papers start with the assumption that heterosexual sex contributes 80, even 90% of all new infections in African countries.
The concurrency theory is the view that many sexual relationships in Africa overlap and that this is an efficient means of spreading HIV. This was one of several possibilities considered by the HIV industry to explain why people all over the world can engage in large amounts of ‘unsafe’ heterosexual sex without that resulting in massive HIV epidemics. Yet, far lower levels of sexual behavior, often far ‘safer’ sexual behavior, in African countries results in rates of HIV transmission that can not be explained by the data we have about transmission probabilities for heterosexual sex.
In another blog, I have collected together and commented on some of the best recent scientific research into concurrency and, as a theory, it has been found wanting. Proponents of the theory are all required to hold, often without stating, a very strong, highly racist and sexist theory about African sexuality, one that has no empirical support whatsoever:
HIV Concurrency Theory is Dead; Can’t You Smell it Yet?
The Sound of a One Legged Argument Kicking Itself
Concurrency Regurgitated: Dubious Evidence Found Increasingly Credible by Experts
Global HIV Policy: Blame, Stigma and Finger-Wagging
Concurrency: the Favorite Plaything of the Sex-Obsessed HIV Industry
Concurrent Relationships: the Latest Stick for Beating Africans
In its entry for ‘sacred cow’, Wikipedia has a particularly apposite citation: “V. S. Naipaul … has the ability to distinguish the death of an ordinary ox, which, being of concern to no one, may be put quickly out of its agony, from that of a sacred cow, which must be solicitously guarded so that it can die its agonizing death without any interference.”
But our concern is not for the theory or the academic hubris that lies behind it; it is for the millions of people who have been infected with HIV when a bit of honesty might have protected them; for those who have already died or transmitted the virus to others because they don’t know how it is spread; and for those who will continue to be infected with or transmit the virus because the HIV industry refuses to investigate the role of health care and cosmetic HIV transmission in high prevalence African countries.