John Potterat, a senior and well-published international expert on sexually transmitted diseases, has taken part in scientific debates about the relative contribution of sex vs. blood (injections, tattooing, etc) in Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemics. He’s been frustrated for years. The loudest voices with the most money talking about HIV/AIDS in Africa — UNAIDS, WHO, USAID, Gates, and others — want to blame it all on sex. But they haven’t got the evidence to support what they say and what they want everyone to believe. Why are so many scientists who build their careers on HIV/AIDS in Africa so unscientific, so uncurious, and so careless about what they say and about the evidence?
Earlier this month, John Potterat published a brief but pointed and thoughtful critique of HIV research in Africa. You can download his article free from the SSRN website: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2310200
As a teaser, here’s the Abstract of the article:
The Enigma of HIV Propagation in Africa: Mainstream Thought Has Narrowly Focused on ‘Heterosexual Sex’
John J. Potterat, Independent consultant
August 14, 2013
Introduction: Three decades after the identification of AIDS, epidemiologists still do not fully understand HIV transmission dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa, nor its differential geographic and demographic spread.
Discussion: Despite mounting evidence suggesting a substantial role for nonsexual (puncturing) exposures in HIV transmission, researchers have not systematically investigated its impact on HIV propagation in Africa. Mainstream researchers initially reacted to this idea skeptically, then dismissed it in the short run as apostasy and chose to ignore it in the longer run. This research design flaw has been the Achilles Heel of efforts to explain the rapid propagation of HIV in Africa, a flaw that continues to this day — much to the detriment of scientifically trustworthy interventions.
Conclusion: A science that ignores potentially important modes of transmission, especially when confronted by challenging and respectable evidence, is inadequate and needs remedial attention.
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