I commented on this back in March when it was reported at a conference. Now the paper has been published (though it is not available free of charge). It concludes: “In this rural KwaZulu-Natal setting with very high HIV incidence, partner age-disparity did not predict HIV acquisition amongst young women. Campaigns to reduce age-disparate sexual relationships may not be a cost-effective use of HIV-prevention resources in this community.”
The HIV industry likes to believe that, although HIV is almost always transmitted through ‘unsafe’ heterosexual sex in African countries, unlike in other countries, it is men’s behavior that is most responsible. This supports their ‘all men are bastards, especially older men, and all women are victims, especially younger women’ mentality.
It’s good timing. After 23 years of monitoring their epidemic in South Africa, HIV experts have seen HIV prevalence increase from less than 1% to almost 30% in that time, and stagnating at over 25% for about the last 10 years. KwaZulu-Natal is the worst affected province, with HIV prevalence in some districts reaching 40% among antenatal clinic attendees.
Perhaps a little less emphasis on sexual behavior and a little more emphasis on non-sexual risks, such as unsafe healthcare, traditional and cosmetic practices, may shed some light on what is driving the epidemic and why efforts to influence HIV transmission in any way seemed to have failed thus far.
[For more about non-sexual HIV transmission via unsafe healthcare, traditional and cosmetic practices, and how to protect yourself from these, have a look at some of our more detailed pages.]