Liberals indifferent to the AIDS time-bomb
By Carey Roberts
I'm writing this column because I'm appalled how liberals remain impervious to the fact that our current strategy to controlling AIDS has proven to be a disastrous failure.
Last month the District of Columbia health department announced that 3% of the city's population is infected with HIV, putting the nation's capital on a par with parts of AIDS-ravaged Africa. Worse, the majority of these persons are Typhoid Marys who aren't aware their bodies harbor the deadly germ. So the disease is likely to continue its ghoulish advance.
I've traced the unfolding of the AIDS epidemic since the first cases were reported in 1981. I've recoiled at the disbelieving horror of young men as they were informed they were HIV-positive. I've listened to infected 20-somethings grimly discuss how they plan to spend the remaining years of their lives. I've seen patients in advanced stages of the disease, their bodies ravaged by infection.
From the beginning we knew the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was spread mostly by having sex with persons outside of a long-term committed relationship. And no surprise, when countries implemented the so-called ABC approach (Abstinence, Be faithful, and Condoms as a last resort), infection rates plummeted. In Uganda the "no-grazing" message succeeded in dramatically reducing extra-marital sexual activity and the occurrence of HIV in pregnant women.
But liberals want nothing to do with ABC because abstinence and marital faithfulness resound of old-fashioned morality. So instead of relying on proven approaches, the AIDS establishment continues to tout anti-retroviral treatments, so-called "safe sex," vaginal microbicides, and vaccines.
But the truth is, AIDS treatments are little more than sugar-pill nostrums that lend false hope to victims. They also divert billions of dollars away from the programs that could actually be doing some good.
The safe-sex message is a cruel joke because it tells people to go ahead and be sexually promiscuous, just so long as they use Russian roulette methods like condoms. As the Pope commented during last month's trip to Africa, "the distribution of condoms...aggravates the problems" of AIDS.
Vaginal microbicides are designed for high-risk women who can apply the virus-killing cream before having sex. Sounds good in theory. But two years ago a high-profile study had to be stopped when it was learned the women using the gel turned out to be more prone to contract the HIV virus: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040235.
Why? The women were having more sex because the vaginal lubricant enhanced their sexual pleasure, increasing their exposure to the virus.
So all that remains in the Leftie's bag of tricks is vaccines. The problem is, the AIDS virus is a cunning microbe that mutates almost at will, leaving yesterday's vaccine unsuited for tomorrow's virus.
Case in the point is the recent Step Study. Everyone hoped the massive research effort would be the long-awaited breakthrough. But in September 2007 the trial was brought to a halt because persons who received the vaccine were more likely to get the HIV virus than persons who didn't. The flop led Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to admit bleakly, "we're swimming in the dark."
Note that the Step vaccine wasn't just shown to be ineffective – it actually placed persons at greater risk. And this wasn't the first time.
One study followed 1,000 men in Malawi. Initially all the men were free of the deadly HIV virus. But six months later a shocking 15% had become HIV-positive. Why? Most likely because researchers had inadvertently used HIV-infected needles to draw the men's blood.
In 2003 my column lamented that "feminist ideology has taken hold in the global struggle against AIDS," turning HIV reduction efforts into an ideological parody of female empowerment.
Two years later I revealed that "AIDS programs at the World Health Organization are being held hostage by Leftist ideologues who care more about promoting no-fault sexual experimentation than actually stopping this deadly epidemic."
And in 2007 I noted the global AIDS effort was being directed by "the gay rights lobby demanding that public health programs not stigmatize homosexuals; the radical feminists with their gender liberation crusade; [and] the Zero Population Growth zealots."
Since my 2003 op-ed, over 11 million persons around the world have died of AIDS. Given that the ABC approach was known to be effective a decade ago, the great majority of those deaths were needless.
But liberals will never admit to that inconvenient truth.
Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.