OK, that’s not so. Geologists know there’s sand in Saudi Arabia. But what about health experts not finding HIV infections from health care in Africa?
All the best evidence says blood exposures in health care and possibly also cosmetic services – not sex — have been driving Africa’s HIV epidemics all along. (Yes, this is a controversial statement; so here are details and references.) But just like geologists who don’t know there’s sand in Saudi Arabia, health experts have only rarely identified HIV infections from health care in Africa. And when they have found evidence pointing to HIV from health care, they have mostly ignored and/or denied that happened. For example:
- A self-declared virgin is HIV-positive? Experts say she lied (administering a double stigma – she’s a liar and a slut).
- Baby is infected but mother not? Experts can’t deny that, so they ignore it.
I post this blog on the 40th anniversary of the first report of AIDS on 5 June 1981. As soon as AIDS cases were discovered in the US, doctors recognized similar cases in Africa. In the 40 years from 1981 to 2021, medical researchers could have found and stopped HIV transmission through hospitals and clinics in Africa. But that hasn’t happened. No government in sub-Sahara Africa has investigated any unexplained HIV infection to find others infected from the same clinics and to find and stop the risks. Just let it happen, in other words.
When HIV transmission through health care has been so common for so long, how can health experts miss it? To miss it, experts have to be either naturally incompetent (simply not up to the job) or professionally incompetent (keeping quiet so as to keep their jobs).
Such consistent and widespread incompetence requires bad international leadership – discouraging people from finding and/or talking about HIV from health care. WHO, UNAIDS, CDC, and leading US and European universities and journals have helped to organize and enforce deliberate incompetence. Too many people have accepted bad leadership. As a consequence, Africans have suffered tens of millions of unnecessary HIV infections.
Finally, to avoid misunderstanding: sex is a risk. But it’s a secondary risk – people who got HIV from unsafe health care can infect unsuspecting sex partners. So: test sex partners for HIV, because you can’t tell from their sexual behavior if they might be infected. But don’t just worry about sex – blood exposures may be your biggest risk.
1. See chapter 6 in: Gisselquist D. Stopping Bloodborne HIV: investigating unexplained infections. London: Adonis & Abbey, 2021. Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/davidgisselquist/stoppingbloodbornehiv
2. Gottleib MS, Schanker HM, Fan PT, et al. Pneumocystis pneumonia – Los Angeles. Morb Mort Weekly Rep 1981; 30: 250-252. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/june_5.htm (accessed 5 June 2021).