AIDS: A “Gay” Disease, or Not?

One of the biggest recurring themes at iParallax is that the Progressive ideology is self-contradicting and shamelessly opportunistic; it seeks less to advance certain principles and more to advance certain people.  Unconstrained by any particular notion of truth, Progressives frequently portray the subjects of their cause in conflicting manners, depending on the particular issue at stake.

One such issue which doesn’t get much intelligent discussion is that of sexually transmitted diseases: specifically, AIDS.

The talking points are well-known: one camp believes AIDS is a scourge sent by God to punish homosexuals, or at the very least indicates that homosexuality objectively leads more easily to the spread of disease.  The other camp believes their opponent’s beliefs are backwards, bigoted, regressive ideas from another age.  (I would describe their beliefs in an affirmative, rather than a negative sense, if possible, but as we’re about to find out, this can’t be done.)

The first article that recently caught my eye on the subject was this:

State Agencies Launch LGBT Data-Collection Effort

New York State is launching a campaign to collect coordinated data on residents’ sexual orientation as part of a comprehensive effort to improve health and human services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers, the state’s health department announced Wednesday…

O’Connell said the health department’s efforts to collect data on LGBT residents has become more plausible in recent years.

“In the past, this wouldn’t have been likely to happen” O’Connell said, because there was so much stigma associated with being LGBT. “But that conversation really has changed over time,” he said.

A 2011 Institute of Medicine report showed that limited data collection on health issues specific to the LGBT community had made it more difficult to identify disparities in the kinds of care available to them.

If that data was available, the state could develop better ways of addressing health problems like H.I.V./AIDS and certain types of cancers prevalent among gay men.

For example, O’Connell said, “70 percent of all new [H.I.V.] infections are among men who have sex with men. We need to be able to track this population.”

So LGBT stands to benefit from increased, specialized health care targeting diseases such as AIDS which are significantly more prominent in the LGBT population.  In an article announcing this initiative, the media openly acknowledges the concentration of the disease among gay men.

Yet when the focus is fighting bigotry, media mouthpieces make sure the general public is aware that AIDS is not a “gay disease.”  Cue this piece from NPR, which describes a fairly transparent example of social engineering meant to normalize HIV infection by giving it to “an older, middle-class, heterosexual, “innocent” woman”:

What the “Golden Girls” Taught Us About AIDS

“Dammit, why is this happening to me? I mean, this shouldn’t happen to people like me.”

This desperate question from a beloved character (Rose) on a beloved show (The Golden Girls) is the defining moment in yet another landmark episode in the critically-acclaimed series. The show known as much for its hilarious comedy as for fearlessly venturing into taboo TV territory was tackling its next sensitive topic: AIDS.

In “72 Hours,” Rose receives a letter alerting her that she may have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during gallbladder surgery six years earlier, and she is advised to get a test. As she waits for the results, worry and a deep-rooted panic take hold, and a pivotal scene takes place between the delightfully dimwitted Rose and saucy Southern belle Blanche.

Rose’s dialogue embodies several misconceptions about HIV infection, pervasive at the time: that “people like her” — an older, middle-class, heterosexual, “innocent” woman — shouldn’t get such a disease, that none of her friends will want to associate with her now, and that she is being punished for some kind of bad behavior.

To which Blanche thoughtfully replies, “AIDS is not a bad person’s disease, Rose. It is not God punishing people for their sins.”…

The noteworthy thing here is that Progressive media rarely focus on moral debates or comprehensive statistics.  They seek to normalize desired behavior and ostracize undesirable behavior; a fancy words for employing the “everyone else/no one else is doing it!” argument en masse.  They understand that the truth is far less important than what people can be led to believe:

  • It was used to exaggerate the dangers of certain illegal drugs in the War on Drugs campaign and inspired the largely useless DARE program
  • It was used to villainize androgens (specifically testosterone) while making female hormone replacement therapy commonplace
  • It was used to convince children in public school sex-ed that HIV infections were commonplace in the general population
  • It was used to create the perception of a sexual assault epidemic victimizing 1/4th of women in their lifetime
  • It is currently being used to create the belief that 1/3rd of women will have an abortion in their life

Continuing on to the second article that caught my eye brings us again to NPR:

Why HIV Spreads Less Easily in Heterosexual Couples

HIV is sexist.

A woman is twice as likely to catch the virus from an infected partner in a heterosexual relationship than a man is.

And homosexual men are at even greater risk. They’re more than 20 times as likely to get infected from an HIV-positive partner than partners in a heterosexual relationship.

Now scientists at Microsoft Research and the Zambia-Emory HIV Project have a clue about why these disparities exist…

As HIV replicates inside a person, mutations are introduced into its DNA. This results in a large number of different HIV versions swarming about the body — each with its own genetic code.

But when HIV is transmitted through sex, usually only a single version of the virus establishes a long-term infection. So the process is almost like a filter, letting only certain viruses through.

This made scientists wonder: Is there something special about the HIV versions making it through the filter?

To figure this out, a team at Microsoft Research and Emory University analyzed data from a decades-long study on HIV transmission between “discordant” heterosexual couples in Zambia. These are couples in which one person is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative…

And the higher the initial barrier to this initial infection, the fitter the virus has to be to complete this process.

Different parts of the body provide various levels of protection from the virus. The cells on the penis are tougher to infect than those in the vagina or anus. Trauma, such as open sores or ulcers in the genital area, can also increase the chance of infection.

“What was most striking was that risk factors that were known to affect the risk of transmission affected the selection,” says Eric Hunter, a virologist at Emory University, who also contributed to the study.

They found that viruses in newly infected men were more “fit” than the viruses in newly infected women. But when men had genital ulcers or inflammation, they were also infected with less fit versions of the virus.

And though their research was restricted to heterosexual couples, they anticipate that anal sex between homosexual men would provide a lower barrier to infection, and result in the transmission of less fit versions of the virus…

A straightforward readings of these findings would consist of little more than the two lines I helpfully bolded:

  1. Certain body parts are more susceptible to infection than others.
  2. “Stronger” strains of virus are, by definition, better at infecting difficult targets
  3. Therefore, infections occurring in difficult-to-infect tissues will likely be caused by stronger strains and,
  4. More infections will result in more easily-infected tissue.

There is no mystery here.  There is no injustice.  In fact, this is exactly the argument made by the Progressive’s much-maligned conservative opponents!*  Yet this article goes to great lengths to portray women as the great cosmic victims of a virus that has it in for them.  A professional virologist is “struck” by the correlation between the difficulty of infection and the strain of virus doing the infecting!

The tricky, damning, frustrating part of this is that, like most Progressive errors, this is rarely done maliciously.  It is, for the most part, done by naive and optimistic people doing their best to help people in need of help.  However, their willingness to abandon truth, data, and objective decision making consistently leads to poor, ineffective, if not outright-counterproductive policy in nearly every issue they touch.  I continue to hope that highlighting exaggerations, distortions, contradictions, and outright lies will eventually lead to more critical thinking and honest, fact-based assessments of the issues we face.

*I’ll grant that these maligned conservatives deserve a fair amount of ridicule for their abysmal presentation of their ideas and the unscientific faith in which they couch their arguments.

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One thought on “AIDS: A “Gay” Disease, or Not?

  1. Pingback: AIDS: A “Gay” Disease, or Not? | Reaction Times

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