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UNAIDS Assures us that ‘Africans’ are Different

There’s an article in the English Guardian about a Congolese man who was put in a cage with monkeys in a zoo in New York in the early 20th century. Few people seemed bothered, with a number of academics at the time assuring the public that there was nothing to worry about.

Putting black people behind bars for the delectation of white people continues, if figures for levels of incarceration among the US’s non-white population are to be believed. But at least there are some instances of media criticizm about it now. I’m talking about the case of Michael Johnson, college wrestling champion, charged with ‘recklessly infecting’ one male sexual partner with HIV and ‘exposing’ four others.

Ever since HIV was identified, baiting those infected with the virus has been a popular pursuit among journalists and other commentators. The idea that people who are infected frequently seek sexual partners whom they can ‘deliberately’ infect with HIV has really captured the imagination of the press. As a result, Johnson, who also called himself Tiger Mandingo, may face a life sentence.

But the continuing obsession with sexual transmission of HIV, especially in African countries, and the silence about non-sexual transmission, suggests that anti-black prejudice is still very much alive, not only in the press, but also among the consumers of media output.

Several hundred people were infected with HIV in a village in Cambodia, and the media dismissed it as the work of one (unlicensed) practitioner. This is despite the existence of numerous other unlicenced practitioners in Cambodia and SE Asia, and numerous other clinics where unsafe practices, such as reuse of unsterile injecting and other equipment, is clearly a danger to those who use clinics, which may well be the majority of people. (But the smart money there is still on sex, even though prevalence has been declining in the country without much sign of sexual behavior changing.)

Transmission of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases through unsafe healthcare have been reported in many countries, including the US, Canada and elsewhere, countries where HIV prevalence is relatively low. But the difference between these countries and African countries is that in the latter, investigations are carried out to identify those engaging in unsafe practices and those who have been, or may have been, exposed.

Such investigations have never been carried out in African countries, where HIV prevalence can be very high. The UN agency set up to specialize in spending large chunks of generous HIV funding tells us that Africans are essentially different, that HIV there is almost entirely a matter of sexual behavior, that people who deny engaging in such sexual behavior are dishonest.

Even more ridiculous is the attempt to turn ebola into a sexually transmitted disease, even though not one single case of sexually transmitted ebola has been described. Yet transmission through unsafe healthcare was suspected in numerous instances since ebola was first identified, nearly 40 years ago.

UNAIDS tells us that even though health services are appalling in African countries, less than 2% of HIV cases are a result of unsafe healthcare, of any kind, not just reuse of injecting equipment. The WHO peddles similar figures (although they are slightly more circumspect when trying to explain massive rates of HIV transmission by reference to sexual behavior).

The mindset that resulted in black people being exhibited in cages, along with the mindset that results in an adult being given a prison sentence of several decades for engaging in consensual sex with other adults, is the same as the UNAIDS and WHO mindset. This tells us that, indeed, Africans are different; that ‘African’ sexual behavior is so different it results in levels of HIV transmission among heterosexuals not found anywhere else in the world.

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