Factual · Powerful · Original · Iconoclastic
You’ve heard it over and over in the media: AIDS is "an equal opportunity destroyer" that threatens all Americans "without discriminating." Now a new study in Science magazine shows an epidemic both smaller than the government has claimed — and one that clearly does discriminate. The media treated it as quite a revelation. In fact, as we shall see, this same vital information was available seven years ago and was deliberately suppressed. The Science study, by NCI statistician Phil Rosenberg, shows a tremendous disparity between infected groups. For example, while as of January 1993, only one in 2,000 American white females between the ages of 18 and 59 was living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, one in 204 white males was. For black females the rate is one in 135, while black males have the highest infection rate of all at one in 44. Hispanics fall somewhere between, with one in 294 females and one in 69 males. While Rosenberg’s data don’t look at risk factors, the explanation for the disparities is that male homosexuality and intravenous drug abuse (which is primarily male) continue to account for the vast majority of new infections. Rosenberg’s calculations also put to the lie the official government estimate of one million current infections. He finds instead a range of 630,000 to 897,000 American living with the virus. To come up with these figures, Rosenberg used a technique called backcalculation. It simply requires looking at the number of current AIDS cases and then calculates back from them to when the infections must have taken place. From there it projects a trend line. It’s such a simple technique that you may be wondering why it took somebody so long to apply it to AIDS. And the answer is that it didn’t. Joel Hay, then of the Hoover Institution and now the head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, first applied backcalculation to the epidemic in 1988. The figures he came up with, allowing for new infections in the years since, are in the same ballpark as Rosenberg’s figures. Hay’s estimate was that there were as few as 500,000 infections at the time. Hay’s calculations were so appealingly simple and straightforward that I didn’t hesitate to use them in my 1990 book, The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS. But when Hay presented his data to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the international AIDS conference in Stockholm in 1988, the agency wanted nothing to do with them. At that time the CDC’s official estimate was 1 to 1.5 million infections, which the media regularly shortened to "as many as 1.5 million." Ignoring Hay, the CDC relied on calculations by other modelers which had so many variables that they were virtual Rube Goldberg devices on paper. That may have been part of their attraction. Bureaucrats loathe simplicity. But clearly a factor in the CDC’s decision was that Hay’s numbers were just too darned low. "They said, well, if the numbers just end up less than we say they are, we’ll just pat ourselves on the back and say we helped prevent a major epidemic," says Hay now. Ultimately, as AIDS cases stubbornly refused to come in anywhere near as fast as the CDC had projected, the agency was forced to lower and finally abandon its projection of future AIDS cases and to lower its infection estimate to a flat one million. Then last year its officials told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health it was considering lowering that figure even more to 800,000. But homosexual committee member Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) threw a tantrum, and the officials ran away, tails tucked firmly between legs. So the official figure remains at one million. As for the tremendous disparity between male and female infections, and between those of whites and blacks, all that too was known long ago. I emphasized these disparities in my first AIDS article way back in 1987 in Commentary *magazine (AIDS: Are Heterosexuals at Risk?), adding that, "Every dollar spent, every commercial made, every health warning released, that does not specify [the actual risk factors for contracting AIDS] is a lie, a waste of funds and energy, and a cruel diversion." Why then, in every year since 1987 has the CDC insisted on using its hundreds of millions of dollars allotted for "education" to air TV campaigns aimed squarely at white, middle class heterosexuals? Quite simply to "democratize" the disease. Specialty diseases get small, specialty budgets. Diseases portrayed as threatening every last American get nice fat budgets, explaining why AIDS gets more research and education money than heart disease even though heart disease kills about 20 times as many Americans. The media has eagerly played along, fearing that a disease which has homosexuals as its primary victims won’t get the kind of attention the media has decided for us this disease deserves. And still the propaganda continues. The week after the *Science report came out, ABC broadcast an afterschool special "Positive: A Journey into AIDS," featuring two soap opera actors whose characters have AIDS. One is male, one female and both are middle class whites. The result of denying the true risk factors? The people least at risk live in needless terror. The people most at risk become complacent and more likely to die before their time.