International AIDS day

by Chris Bertram on December 1, 2004

I’ve been looking through the headlines on international AIDS day. The BBC discusses “the disproportionate impact on women in Africa”: . “India has 5.1 million people infected with HIV”: , and nobody really knows how many victims there are in China (CNN). “HIV and Aids are expected to kill 16 million farm workers in Southern Africa by 2010” reports the “South African Independent Online”: . In Britain the “Guardian tells us”:,3604,1363277,00.html that a fifth of respondents to a poll blame the victims. In “Lebanon”: , only a quarter of victims receive any kind of treatment. In Uganda “a government minister warns the UN”: not to give advice to gays on safe sex because homosexuality is illegal. Please add more links in comments throughout the day.



des von bladet 12.01.04 at 9:22 am

My beloved Aftonbladet has a big special, with the top headline:

Var sjätte sekund smittas någon

Every seven seconds someone is infected

I, for one, regret that we are not told the size of this such someone relative to Wales (the agreed international standard for such things).

According to their Flash animation, in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa >10% of the population is HIV+ (> 30% in Botswana!); according to me “AIDS” is still a singular noun.


raj 12.01.04 at 10:26 am

A nit and a comment

The nit:

>…reports the South African Independent Online and Aids are expected to kill…

(Emphasis added). “AIDS” is singular–an abbreviation for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The comment:

One of the things that that Ugandan minister might want to consider is the fact that more than a few Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) also have sex with women. The MSMs probably initially get infected when they have sex with other men, and then infect women when they have sex with them. So the minister’s warning to the UN regarding safe sex among MSMs (not gays, MSMs) will only ensure that more women will be infected.

It has been a while since I did research on the Internet about HIV/AIDS, but I did find the HIVinSite website to be useful as well as the Project Inform website And, in discussions with those who question whether HIV causes AIDS, I have found to be useful.


Chris Bertram 12.01.04 at 10:36 am

Hi Raj, I know it is a singular! The bit you’ve quoted was just an artefact of me pasting some words in instead of the actual link (which I now can’t find). I’ve fixed the text, and I’ll insert the link when I can.


Motoko 12.01.04 at 10:50 am


[Thanks! – cb]


jet 12.01.04 at 1:02 pm

While discussing Africa and AIDS with someone with many years in planned parenthood I was shocked (just kidding) to learn how deep the culture war between safe sex and abstinence went. Even though safe sex approaches in most of Africa have done little to slow the tide of AIDS, no one wants to endorse Uganda who’s abstinence program has cut AIDS from 22% in 1992 to 7% in 2002. I’m not saying that abstinence alone is a good idea, but isn’t the WHO being a bunch of murderous (or at least manslaughterous) assholes for not also pushing abstinence?

That was the point in time when I realized that religious zealots don’t all worship the word “god”. Some worship their idealology.


jet 12.01.04 at 1:08 pm

Given that 25% of everyone suffering from AIDS is cared for by the Catholic church, does anyone see a reason why some of Bush’s billions to Africa shouldn’t be used be used to help their effort?


drapeto 12.01.04 at 1:23 pm

debate on South Africa, expose in India on UN Aids figures

Bill Gates uses charity to fight generic drugs; US links AIDS assistance with GM foods; there was also a horrible article in the new yorker about pharm companies pressing for lowering the standards of clinical trials in africa on account of the coming apocalypse.


Jason Kuznicki 12.01.04 at 1:31 pm

Jet, you’re quite mistaken. You write,

“Even though safe sex approaches in most of Africa have done little to slow the tide of AIDS, no one wants to endorse Uganda who’s abstinence program has cut AIDS from 22% in 1992 to 7% in 2002….”

The reason these programs have done little to slow the tide of AIDS is that community leaders themselves often refuse to endorse condom use; frequently they ridicule and undermine such programs at every turn. One high-profile example of this is that South African president Thabo Mbeki has openly questioned whether HIV causes AIDS, a claim that I will take seriously once anyone who makes it volunteers for an injection of HIV+ blood.

Also, this document

from the Ugandan Ministry of Health makes it quite clear that condoms are indeed a major part of Ugandan AIDS policy. Uganda is succeeding because its community and governmental leaders are wholeheartedly IN FAVOR of condoms; others have been just the opposite, with the dire results that you point out.

The next time you accuse someone of zealotry, be sure you have the facts right first.


jet 12.01.04 at 1:40 pm


Let me get this straight. You are saying that the main push of Uganda’s fight against AIDS has been condom use and that is why they were so successful? Does condom use explain the extremely low levels of teenage sex and monogomy (for Africa)?

Come on now, if you are going to challenge and chastise me, I want some links.


jet 12.01.04 at 1:53 pm


I would also mention that your link makes my point [knowledge, attitude, and behavior studies] that abstinence and condom use are the answer and the WHO should take note.

“An analysis of studies focusing on 15-19 year-olds found that teenagers with more
education are now far more likely to use condoms and less likely to engage in casual sex
than their peers with lower education.”


Backword Dave 12.01.04 at 2:00 pm

Jet, perhaps you could provide links. Where do your figures come from?


jet 12.01.04 at 2:14 pm

Backward Dave,

Here’s just a tease of the vast amount of knowledge I have at my disposal.

Google makes me the match of at least 3, yes I said THREE, 7th grade debaters. Fear me!


Jason Kuznicki 12.01.04 at 2:17 pm


Uganda’s program is presicely the kind that social conservatives usually like to attack, despite its effectiveness. They attack it because Uganda dares to mention condoms at all.

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: There are only two sides to the issue. One advocates abstinence only–with no mention of condoms, except to claim that they don’t work.

The other side says that abstinence is a perfectly effective strategy, but not one that is likely to be adopted–hence condoms can still reduce the harm. Uganda has taken the latter approach–and you are trying to muddle it with the former.

Similarly, you are either ignorant or lying when you suggest that “the WHO [is] being a bunch of murderous (or at least manslaughterous) assholes for not also pushing abstinence.” Here is proof:

It’s a WHO document describing condoms as part of an integrated set of strategies for reducing risk; these strategies also include abstinence and monogamy.

Similar documents can be found elsewhere at the WHO site, although I would encourage you to do the research for yourself in the future.


jet 12.01.04 at 2:29 pm


You give me a link pointing to a July 2004 article about the wonders of condom use that, almost as a footnote, mentions the Uganda abstinence program and expect me to believe the WHO was always for abstinence education?

If the WHO is taking notice of Uganda’s stunning example of success, it is only recently. Don’t make me dig up examples of WHO funding threats against Uganda for not toeing the condom-only line. I swear I’ll bust out some Google and make you cry.


jet 12.01.04 at 2:41 pm


Sorry, I couldn’t wait for a response, work is slow and I wanted to go ahead and prove my point.

Uganda is certainly not the poster child of the WHO and the left. Pat Roberston was fundamental in shaping the abstinence included anti-HIV program in Uganda according to the American Anthropological Association.

“Uganda’s program is presicely the kind that social conservatives usually like to attack, despite its effectiveness. ”

Does anyone think I’ll hear an apology? Bush and Pat Roberston think Uganda is good, WHO and AAA think it is bad.

Now can we please start having the real debate over what needs to be done and stop squabling over history?


Chris Bertram 12.01.04 at 2:49 pm

Jet: that’s 7 comments from you out of 15. Perhaps we could agree that you’ve reached your quota.


jet 12.01.04 at 2:53 pm

This is sure to fire up a storm, but this article:
seems to agree with reality that the WHO’s plan for combatting AIDS in Africa is not working and that deeper social changes need to be made. Since Africa isn’t Uganda and the Ugandan model can probably only be implemented in a few other nations, the real problem is poverty.

The answer to African AIDS is cheap coal plants, massive agricultural subsidies, an expansion of subsidized education Visas to Western schools, and hard lined promotion of Democracy.

Now that would solve HIV in Africa. Everything else is worse than useless. And in case you were looking for an example of “worse than useless” look at the ban on GM foods. How much money, blind children, and dead people did that BS cost?


jet 12.01.04 at 3:06 pm

I’d hate to have killd the commenting/debating on such an important issue, so maybe it would serve some good to just remove all my comments as they are a bit off putting upon rereading them.


Jason Kuznicki 12.01.04 at 3:43 pm

I suspect I’ve read many of the same documents you have, Jet. My conclusion is that the U.S. conservatives are misreading Uganda, which clearly does promote condom use in the heterosexual population. If such a program were tried in the United States, you can bet that Robertson et al would attack it. So you’re right–you’re not getting an apology.

As to your conclusions about poverty being the root of AIDS, I actually quite agree with them. One of the best things the U.S. could do to fight global AIDS would be to end its domestic agricultural subsidies, allowing African agriculture to compete better on the world market.


Matt 12.01.04 at 4:03 pm

To get back to linking and away from fighting:
For more depressing news, look at:

The basic summery: In Russia- disaster about to happen, no money spent on issue. (AIDS in Russia has spread mostly through drug users, it’s thought, but has had a _huge_ spread there, and is likely to spread like mad in other populations too, since condom use is very, very low, even among the “middle class” and well educated. Good sex ed is perhaps even harder to come by than in the US.


Jake 12.01.04 at 4:22 pm

Catholocism and Big Pharma’s contribution to today;

New York, New York, so good they had to inject HIV+ 3 month old children with experimental drug cocktails.
Civilised world.


BigMacAttack 12.01.04 at 4:40 pm

It is the ABC program. Abstinence, Be Faithful, or at least use Condoms.

Th emphasis is clearly on the first two and it looks like it has really worked in Uganda and that the most important component and difference is Uganda’s emphasis on the A and Bs. I cannot imagine not including one of the letters.

The reflections of dogma regarding sex(and all behavior)and government’s ability to influence behavior that this type of discussion reveals are fascinating.

I don’t endorse either extreme end of those reflections, sex is a sin if your aren’t trying to pro-create or sex is just a thang that people will do. But I think the first reflects a bit of truth in a mixed up way while the second is just wishful and selfish thinking.

Maybe with X-Mas coming we should all think about $10 or $20 to help with preventing AIDS deaths.


des von bladet 12.01.04 at 4:43 pm

Credit where it’s due, for sure:

In an interview, one of the Vatican’s most senior cardinals Alfonso Lopez Trujillo suggested HIV could even pass through condoms.

“The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom,” he says.

The cardinal, who is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, suggests that governments should urge people not to use condoms.

(Did the Vatican ever administer some remedial physics to this clown? The last I saw they were steadfastly declining to.)


kenny 12.01.04 at 5:30 pm


Randy McDonald 12.01.04 at 9:33 pm

Actually, the effectiveness of Uganda’s AIDS model is much overrated. I blogged about it at

working from this article for the Guardian:,7369,1310602,00.html

Critical paragraph:

“Beatrice Were, head of HIV/Aids in Uganda for Action Aid, agreed the [figure of 17.1%] was too high, but she said the official measurement overlooked women unable to reach maternity clinics because of poverty, remoteness or the war in the north. “I would say the infection rate is between 10 and 12%.”


Ophelia Benson 12.01.04 at 10:02 pm

Joan Bakewell on NGOs and people with AIDS doing what they can in South Africa, and on Pieter-Dirk Uys and others accusing Mbeke of genocide.

Gender inequality and AIDS in South Africa

Violence against women not helpful


Maria 12.01.04 at 11:10 pm

Europeans shouldn’t get too complacent either.

The UNAIDS AIDS Epidemic Update shows that in western Europe HIV infections acquired through heterosexual contact more than doubled between 1997 and 2002. The report gives a frightening global snapshot of the disease (though with some bright points) and is a free download.

The EU and member states are pumping money into the Global Fund on Aids, TB and malaria – proper order – but so far the EU’s actions to fight the disease within Europe seem to be focused on the soft stuff; sharing information, calling for education, etc. etc. An action plan is expected next spring…


Eric the Unread 12.01.04 at 11:51 pm


jet 12.02.04 at 1:26 pm

Randy said on his blog “Abstinence might well be a good ideal to encounter, but it surely cannot be the only ideal.”

Why do you think Uganda’s only ideal is abstinence? What are the alternatives and what leads you to believe they are not already embracing those alternatives?

Comments on this entry are closed.