(Not) Everybody Has AIDS

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The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Drudge lead with the United Nations' staggering recalculation of global AIDS figures, just months after India cut its estimate of those infected by more than 2 million. According to the Post, "The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement." A pair of experts interviewed by the Post suggest that the overestimation of infections was part of a deliberate deception aimed at raising more aid money:

"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way."

James Chin, a former World Health Organization AIDS expert who has long been critical of UNAIDS, said that even these revisions may not go far enough. He estimated the number of cases worldwide at 25 million.

"If they're coming out with 33 million, they're getting closer. It's a little high, but it's not outrageous anymore," Chin, author of "The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology With Political Correctness," said from Berkeley, Calif.

Chin, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley, has been making this argument for some time now; his book, according to the AFP, accuses "UNAIDS of intentionally inflating its estimates of how many people have HIV in order to dramatize the epidemic and win more money from donors." Today, he tells the Associated Press, UNAIDS "finally got caught with their pants down."

The Post's story here, Los Angeles Times' here, and New York Times' here.

(Headline reference here)

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  1. You probably didn’t need the headline reference link on this one, Moynihan. Trey und Matt references are pretty standard.

  2. Looks like Reason has an AIDS denier. Surprise, surprise. I wonder if Bailey is also in the pocket of Big AIDS?

  3. Better AIDS song/video here.

  4. I haven’t been following the U.N. a whole lot since Ban Ki-moon took over, but this story coupled with yesterday’s admission that Kyoto doesn’t work seem to be positive steps.

    Now if we could only get them to drop Article 29, Section 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads:

    These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

  5. What! An agency fudging numbers so they seem more important and require more funds?

    Well I never!

  6. So what? Is this any more nefarious than the fact that China’s economy may have been overstated by 40%?

  7. This is just an isolated incident. We can be absolutely 100% confident that similar exaggerations are not occurring at all for AGW, species extinction rates, secondhand smoke risks, etc.

  8. Actually, Chuck, this error was discovered through exactly the same system of peer-review of research that has, for the past two decades, created an ever-larger consensus about global warming.

    That’s the way peer review works, why it’s such a good system – by challenging earlier studies, good theories are proven and reproven, bad theories are rejected, and imprecise theories are turned into good theories.

  9. Thanks for the lesson, joe. What with being locked away in a university for the past 20 years, I am obviously completely ignorant of how peer review works. I have never, ever seen bias in awarding grants or in deciding who gets published, and I have never, even indirectly, seen bad polcy decisions emerge from a rush to publish “findings” because they support a certain desired conclusion supported by the editors/reviewers.

  10. Episiarch: Yeah, I know. But either way, it gave me a chance to link to that video.

    Ammonium: “Looks like Reason has an AIDS denier.” So if linking to a few stories on recalibrated AIDS figures makes me a “denier” (Like a Holocaust denier–get it?), then is the UN, who released the report, been taken over by “deniers” too? Please advise.

  11. The UN discovers that fighting global warming is much more profitable than fighting AIDS. Film at 11.

  12. Happy to oblige, Chuck.

    Maybe your comments won’t appear so ill-informed if you put more thought into them.

  13. True or not, the best way to prevent AIDs is to get everyone good and scared so they abstain from sex.

  14. Ammonium: “Looks like Reason has an AIDS denier.” So if linking to a few stories on recalibrated AIDS figures makes me a “denier” (Like a Holocaust denier–get it?), then is the UN, who released the report, been taken over by “deniers” too? Please advise.

    I thought Ammonium was being sarcastic? Is my sarcasm detector mis-calibrated or is Moynihan’s? The “pocket of big AIDS” comment seemed to be the tell.

  15. Joe–

    I’m willing to wait and see who else thinks they are ill-informed before agreeing or disagreeing with you. Peer review and all that, you know. Maybe it’s just one isolated person who feels that way.

  16. after reviewing chuck’s original comment I see no evidence of his being ill-informed. In fact, since the comment itself was snark, it’s hard to see how someone could label him ‘ill-informed’ based on his comment at all.

  17. We’re not scared of sex, Juanita. We’re just scared of sex with you.

  18. *all of a sudden the meaning of “One Handed Economist” becomes clear*

  19. Well, it was a better name than “Doktor Fistenstein”.

  20. or “Solow’s Spooge”

    Cornhole Duopoly?

  21. I suspect that it’s my sarcasm detector that needs recalibration…

  22. Listen: you can hear the sound of a million plastic bracelets being removed.

  23. And I agree with Chuck.

  24. joe, all you can really claim from this is that peer review works eventually.

    Oddly, I don’t find the case for AGW strengthened by this demonstration that apparently it is demonstrably possible to propagate false information in pursuit of a politically correct agenda for decades before peer review catches up with you.

  25. Does this mean we can go back to barebacking anything that moves?

  26. The HIV/AIDS Industry won’t take this lying down. They will be in high dudgeon, ready to prove that the threat from the mysterious retrovirus is even greater than ever, with the aid of huge government agency expenditures and massive cash infusions to tens-of-thousands of HIV/AIDS non-profits and NGOs from the multi-billion dollar big pharm companies that peddle the toxic chemotherapies (known as “life-saving treatments” to the mainstream media propagandists for the industry.) (If you’d like to see what I mean, go to the HIV/AIDS propaganda site: http://www.thebody.com/ and see their “sponsors” at the bottom of the home page.) It appears that the CDC, fearing cuts in it scare-mongering budget, is about ready to claim that it has been under-stating the number of HIV “infections” in the U.S. It will be interesting to see if they go through with their apparent plans to use the upcoming “World AIDS Day” to make that claim, in light of the UNAIDS re-calculation. No lie is too great in service to the HIV/AIDS Religion. The predicted heterosexual AIDS “epidemic” didn’t occur in the U.S., so The Industry just off-shored it to Africa and Asia — bearing the white’s man’s burden with billions to “help” those poor black people with their strange sexual practices and un-circumcised, HIV-breeding penises (never mind that 90% of European white males are uncircumcised and there’s no heterosexual AIDS pandemic in Europe — just another anomaly, I guess, for The Industry.)

  27. AIDS was politicized from the get-go. Once Hollywood (and CBS, NBC, ABC) got behind it, the propaganda machine was inevitable. The fact that the majority of its victims were gay men made it–in a ghastly sort of way– the “perfect storm” of left-liberal causes.

  28. Chuck,

    Joe–

    I’m willing to wait and see who else thinks they are ill-informed before agreeing or disagreeing with you. Peer review and all that, you know.

    That is not what peer review is. I think I had you sniffed our right the first time.

  29. R C,

    Do you think it’s within the realm of possibility that the professional climate and biology researchers are both better informed than you, and doing their work honestly?

    Nah, gotta be a political conspiracy.

    ed, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the people who proclaimed AIDS to be the just desserts of being gay, and short-circuited efforts to deal with it, were politicizing the issue before the first ACT UP meeting took place to counteract them.

  30. Do you think it’s within the realm of possibility that the professional climate and biology researchers are both better informed than you, and doing their work honestly?

    Sure, its within the realm of possibility.

    But we have just seen it demonstrated that professional epidemiologists were consciously or unconsciously fudging their work in order to pursue a politically correct agenda, and got away with it for decades.

    Are you,/i> willing to accept the possibility that the scenario we just saw played out before our very eyes on AIDS could also obtain on AGW?

  31. R C Dean,

    We have seen somebody claim that such a political conspiracy exists.

    All we’ve seen proven is that one researcher disagrees with other researchers, and is throwing about charges against those who disagree with him.

  32. joe,

    That’s the way peer review works, why it’s such a good system – by challenging earlier studies, good theories are proven and reproven, bad theories are rejected, and imprecise theories are turned into good theories.

    No theory is ever proven true, let alone re-proven. Any dominant theory is conditionally true given the data we have to date.

    Maybe your comments won’t appear so ill-informed if you put more thought into them.

  33. I am not an AIDS denier but I don’t think HIV (if it exists) is the cause.

    AIDS MYTH

  34. A pair of experts interviewed by the Post suggest that the overestimation of infections was part of a deliberate deception aimed at raising more aid money:

    Wait a minute, you mean that everything us so-called “angry white [irresponsible] gun owning males” said fifteen years ago was right?

    I remember something I read years ago about aid workers in third world countries making quips or glib comments to reporters that would appear later, verbatim, as stated in official World Health Organization documents as statistics.

  35. If only a cancer cure could garner the support that AIDS research has. Cancer kills way more people than AIDS.

  36. Paul, do you mean something like this:

    From “Out of Africa” (part 1) SPIN, 1993, C. Farber

    I also tried very hard to obtain these statistics. Finally. I was told they do not exist. Even in the relatively prosperous Cote d’lvoire, no actual death statistics are kept.

    One hesitates to burst a bubble that may he helping people, however inadvertently but in this case, as in most situations like this, the money is being trapped at an administrative level, and hardly trickling down to the people who need it. It may well be that ? just as it is argued in the West? figures had to be inflated or else nobody would care, but in Africa the consequence of this terror is far from innocuous. It has caused a deep psychological wound that one relief worker, Philippe Krynen, calls ,”AIDS brain,” in which people are so convinced they will die they actually get sick, so strong is the belief that a deadly virus has spread like wildfire, and that there is no escaping it.

    When Krynen, a French nurse working with AIDS orphans in Kagera, a region of Tanzania near the Uganda border, first came to the area, he realized that the first thing he had to do was get a real answer to the question of how many people were “infected” with HIV, “When I came here,” he said, “people had completely given up. Nobody was interested in safe sex ? that’s only an option if you think you have a chance. So we decided to test everybody to find out who was not infected. I figured that those who were not infected could become leaders and inspire the others. We tested 150 Tanzanians. We were expecting to find up to 50 percent HIV?positive. We found 5 percent.”

    But Krynen reasoned that the sample was not representative of the general population, that the age groups and levels of education were different. So he did another round of testing, this time of 842 people ? the entire adult population of a village. Of those, 116 were positive, or 13.5 percent. “We had people who were symptomatically AIDS patients:” Krynen said. “They were dying of AIDS, but when they were tested and found out they were negative they suddenly rebounded and are now perfectly healthy.” Krynen even came across an HIV?positive six?year?old, whose parents are both negative and who has never been to a hospital or received a transfusion. The only time she ever had an injection was as part of Unicef’s basic vaccine program.

    “Everybody talks about development in Africa, but there is no such thing,” Krynen said. “There is only survival. And now survival is made more difficult because there is no hope for tomorrow. In the villages where I work, people are totally overwhelmed by the media campaign, which always repeats the same thing-that you’re dead. That everybody is infected. This is what they call awareness. We are paying a very high price for this gross exaggeration. The whole community is washed up, despondent, because of this psychological pressure.”

    Krynen also did a rough count of how many orphans were in Kagera due to AIDS. In Africa, a child is considered an orphan if either or both parents die. Krynen surveyed 160 villages and arrived at a very rough estimate. “Nobody keeps track of the death toll here,” he said. “Maybe in some hospitals they do, but they’ll only keep the figures for two or three months and then they’ll scrap them because they need the paper.” He estimated that there would be some 17,500 AIDS orphans in Kagera. “These figures were virtually meaningless,” he said. “I made them up myself, but they wound up getting sent off to Kalizizo, and from there to Dar es Salaam, and then to the National AIDS Control Program. Then, to my amazement, they were published as official figures in the WHO 1990 book on African AIDS. After that, every six months the figure just kept jumping up. By now, the figure has more than doubled, based on I don’t know what evidence, since these people have never been here. Today they say that there are 50,000 AIDS orphans in Kagera.”

    Mulondo agrees: “This safe sex business is not working. The rate of promiscuity is increasing because people don’t give a damn. They’ve been told that 80 percent are infected, that they’re going to die, there’s no way out, so people are trying to enjoy themselves. Many people have said to me, ‘What’s the point? We’re all gone anyway. We’re dead.’ This is the result of these exaggerated AIDS scare campaigns.”

    “If people die of malaria, it is called AIDS,” Krynen said. “If they die of herpes, it is called AIDS. I’ve even seen people die in accidents and it’s been attributed to AIDS. The AIDS figures out of Africa are pure lies, pure estimate.”

  37. These so-called AIDS numbers are not based on any actual, detailed, on-the-ground investigations in a province in any African country (like mine of Tanzania) but are derived from computer-driven, mathematical models based in Atlanta, Geneva and Washington.

    These orthodox AIDS hysterics and HIV fundamentalists, who have been wrong about nearly everything, still cannot explain in clear English why, despite their lurid, sky-is-falling projections in the mid- 1980s, there never has been and never will be any heterosexual AIDS epidemic in the USA despite Americans’ unchanged sexual habits.

    Read the great book by Dr. Michelle Cochrane to see exactly how and why the California AIDS establishment got it all wrong and horribly confused from the start at San Francisco General Hospital.

  38. I believe that’s the prominent one in my mine, Lise. Thanks for the quote.

    not based on any actual, detailed, on-the-ground investigations in a province in any African country (like mine of Tanzania) but are derived from computer-driven, mathematical models based in Atlanta, Geneva and Washington.

    Charlene: Like…global warming?

    Ohh, sorry, that was rude.

    But seriously, thank you for your informative post. I’ve always suspected that that’s why the numbers Lise quoted in the the “out of africa” post made above yours mysteriously “jump” with each new volume or revision.

    I’m beginning to think that “statistical sampling” is the demon spawn of politicians and busy-bodies, anxious for increased power.

  39. Thanks Paul.

    To the dear academics;

    It takes neither the sluggish process of peer review nor James Chin to discover how HIV statistics are inflated. The fraud, or methodological errors if you prefer, is quite transparent. For the same reason no worldwide conspiracy is needed, just lots and lots of people with more lethargy than guts and inquisitiveness – people like you and me I guess. Here’s a recent example from India:

    India, once believed to have the largest HIV-positive population of any country in the world, today announced that new, more accurate surveillance data suggest India has about 2.5 million people living with HIV – about half the number estimated by UNAIDS based on previous surveys of HIV prevalence among pregnant women.

    http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/C216549D-65B8-483D-8C84-D513A22900B6.asp

    Pregnancy has since the very beginning been the perhaps best known out of some seventy conditions that can cause a false positive HIV test. Hence it is hardly a surprise that
    “errors” arise when the computers in Geneva and Washington are fed these numbers as basis for calculating national statistics across all demographics.

    The really heartwarming thought is that since these tests performed on pregnant women are evidently being taken at face value, it means a sizeable chunk of the international
    funding (coming out of YOUR pocket as well) generated by the inflated numbers is being used to stigmatize hundreds of thousands of HIV- mothers, their foetuses, and their newborn children and expose them to potent chemotherapy for no reason.

    Enjoy your breakfast.

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