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December 29, 2002

At least someone else started the conversation this time!

Charles Murtaugh says the unsayable-the short-term benefit of swamping Africa (southern Africa) with antiretrovirals might not be so good in the long-term (thanks to Future Pundit for the link):

This won't make me any friends, I realize. As long as I'm not making friends, let me ask another un-p.c. question about AIDS in Africa and here. If the superinfection problem is real, it means that unsafe sex (here or abroad, gay or straight -- but see my previous post for qualifications) could rapidly spread drug-resistant virus through a population on antiretrovirals. The result is that broader access to antiretrovirals in Africa could produce a breeding ground for drug-resistant HIV. How will this affect the international AIDS advocacy dynamic, if First Worlders start to see Third World antiretroviral drug access as a threat to their own public health?

I've been verbally attacked in public places by close friends for even mooting this line of thinking. The objection seemed to be that "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," right now "we need to save lives." But the fact remains that sometimes we do have to think in the long-term, that's why we have these complicated neo-cortical systems that have the ability to override our emotional impulses (in theory).

Not only are there negative long-term consequences epidemiologically, I also believe there are negative social consequences of swamping the market with cheap drugs that treat the symptoms, but do nothing to the underlying illness and mitigate the consequences of risky behavior. The results from trials in Zimbabwe and Botswana do indicate that Africans do stick to their regimens rather well, so the nay-sayers, I included, were wrong when we asserted that the drugs would be wasted by improper application. Nevertheless, I do believe that this catastrophe that is causing such problems in Africa and to a lesser extent the rest of the world highlights the risks for certain types of behavior that were culturally or biologically favored in a different context.

As I have stated repeatedly, Thailand was supposed to be the center of the "post-African AIDS epidemic," but seroposivity remains ~2%. In contrast, Uganda is touted as a "success" at 5% seroposivity. In fact, previously unaffected southern Africa became the center of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Does anyone doubt that the fact that this region of the world exhibits polygamous mating patterns is part of the cause? The fact is that human beings, in relatively literate and stable societies (Botswana), still engage in risky sexual behavior when the HIV infection rates in the surrounding population hovers around 25%! We have seen the same behavior among homosexual men. It is clear that in much of the world women serve as a restraint on male sexual recklessness (as best as they can), but in southern Africa (and other regions as well), the traditional expectation of multiple simultaneous sexual partners for men undermines this. In addition, Christianization and the concomitant "official" abolition of polygamy, has spread the sexual network far and wide as women no longer live under same roof and must have several "boyfriends" to support them. You can also look at this chart and see that the AIDS epidemic in the United States is concentrated among blacks and to a lesser extent Latinos.

Liberal whites can make grandiloquent gestures of altruism, because the epidemic is not tearing through white or Asian societies in the same manner as it is in black or brown cultures. Whether the difference is cultural or biological, we must explore it. Some of us have met the enemy and it is us.

Posted by razib at 12:54 PM

"It is clear that in much of the world women serve as a restraint on male sexual recklessness (as best as they can), but in southern Africa (and other regions as well), the traditional expectation of multiple simultaneous sexual partners for men undermines this.."

Hm. I wonder why. I never thought of this before, but I had always thought that the hardwired contract between men and women would serve as the "restraining order" on male recklessness. It's not so. I wonder why. I can't come up with anything. Razib?

Posted by: Diana at December 29, 2002 02:01 PM

A big difference in the AIDS rates between Southern Africa and Western Africa is the practice of "dry sex."

Posted by: Steve Sailer at December 30, 2002 03:35 PM

Yawn. More racist mumbings with no basis in fact. To declare rape as the major sexual behavior of Southern African men is shameless for even someone as lacking in moral probity as Steve Sailer.

As for Diana, why in the world does she think Razib (who says inane things like 85 is the norm for black people's IQs) has a clue about sexual practices in Southern Africa or anything else?

Racism seems to attract very stupid people.

Posted by: Truth Teller at December 31, 2002 06:26 AM

What did Sailer say about rape? Please quote, or admit your statement is a lie

Posted by: rob at December 31, 2002 07:35 AM

First of all Steve Sailer is a quite a decent chap, and what could you possibly derive from his above statement that would make you think otherwise? You clearly don't think much of this forum or anyone here. When you say that Razib's wrong when he states that the average black IQ is 85, where is your contradictory data?

Posted by: duende at December 31, 2002 08:05 AM

I view the African HIV/AIDS statistics with some trepidation. As I understand it many of these countries aren't wealthy enough to afford the testing facilities that we take for granted in the west and use a symptom diagnosis for AIDS. As you know AIDS is not a disease but a syndrome of 25 or so previously existing diseases/conditions. So the quandry is this, if I have pnuemonia in Africa, is it AIDS or just plain ol' pnuemonia?

There is also a profit motive at play there. If an African doctor reports that he's going to have 500 hundred cases of malaria this year absolutely nothing happens. But if he says I'm going to have 500 cases of AIDS he has a good chance of hitting the UN/US jackpot in grants and aid.

I'd also recommend you all check out the work of Dr. Peter Duesberg, an HIV/AIDS dissident.


Posted by: todd at December 31, 2002 10:37 AM

Duesberg's conclusions, like Creationism, have been rejected by, what amounts to, the entire scientific community:


The evidence against him is voluminous and powerful.

Posted by: -j at December 31, 2002 12:52 PM

Just an observation:

People who can't tell you how or why HIV causes AIDS probably shouldn't be delivering any authoritative proclamations about HIV or AIDS.

Just to be cynical:

I wonder how many of the 5000 signees of the Durban Declaration have never made a penny off the current HIV/AIDS paradigm.

Nobel Prize Winners, eh?

"If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents which either singly or collectively demonstrate that fact, at least with a high probability. There is no such document."

Dr. Kary Mullis, Biochemist, 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Read more here:


Posted by: todd at December 31, 2002 01:10 PM

What kind of idiot doesn't know 'dry sex' means rape?

However, there is a good sentence to paraphase on this thread:

"'Race realists' conclusions, like Creationism, have been rejected by, what amounts to the entire scientific community."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: Truth Teller at December 31, 2002 07:40 PM

"'Race realists' conclusions, like Creationism, have been rejected by, what amounts to the entire scientific community."

But is this true?:


Smith College professor Stanley Rothman and Harvard researcher Mark Snyderman surveyed a sample of mostly scientific experts in the field of educational psychology in the late 1980s and found that 53 percent believed IQ differences between whites and African Americans were at least partly genetic in origin, while only 17 percent attributed the IQ differences to environmental factors alone (the remainder either believed the data was currently insufficient to decide the issue or refused to answer the question).

Of course, if you want to dismiss the very concept of race, Litt (which you obviously do, evidenced by your frequent use of "scare quotes"), you couldn't have picked a worse time:


(That would be from the science section, not the opinion one.)

But I guess the journals Science, and American Psychologist and the NYT are just racist and can be ignored as racist b/c they said something that was racist. Only people that are full of hatred (esp. towards blacks) would ever say that there might be some degree of genetic differences between human populations:


Also you ignored the more important part of my statement:

The evidence against him is voluminous and powerful.

In the end, it's the facts, and nothing else, that
are important.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at December 31, 2002 10:11 PM

"What kind of idiot doesn't know 'dry sex' means rape?"

I know exactly what kind of idiot:


At any point would you like to stop being a hysterical, snarky troll, and start engaging us like a dignified human being?

Posted by: Jason Malloy at December 31, 2002 10:23 PM

Don't hold your breath.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at January 1, 2003 06:06 PM

Selection pressures in Africa may involve not only sexual behavior but ability to create and maintain functioning institutions, in the form of public supplies of drinking water adequate to control helminthic (parasitic worm) infections. Until this infrastructure is in place, handing out symptom-treating drugs may well produce counterintuitive and unpleasant effects.

Posted by: Jay Manifold at January 2, 2003 05:15 AM

but jay, then you would assume that south africa would have the epidemic more in control than say mozambique. but such is not the case. though i'm sure what you say has something to it-the difference between the xhosa and zulu in terms of infection rates, with the former circumcised and the latter un-circumcised, hint to me that sexually behavior is the main determinent.

Posted by: razib at January 3, 2003 08:40 PM