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October 07, 2004


Michael Fumento demolishes all of the vast exaggerations made about AIDS in his latest article.

About 16,000 Americans died from AIDS in 2002, approximately half the number that die annually from flu. Meanwhile, over half a million die from cancer yearly, with the butcher's bill for incurable pancreatic cancer alone about twice that as for AIDS. According to the CDC, 435,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related disease and another 400,000 from poor diet and lack of exercise. (Though arguably those last two figures are exaggerated.) . . . Dr. Jaffe notes the disparate impact on minorities, that "AIDS cases rates are 10 times higher in African-Americans than in white Americans." But if he tossed away his AIDS tunnel vision he would acknowledge that more than eight times as many blacks die of cancer than of AIDS. In fact, more than four times as many blacks die of cancer annually than Americans of all races die of AIDS.

Although AIDS cases and deaths are declining and the disease remains completely preventable, it nonetheless gets almost $180,000 in research funds per death from the National Institutes of Health. Compare that to its closest rivals: Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, and diabetes. All of these receive about $14,000 per death. Alzheimer's gets about $11,000. Yet Dr. Jaffe bemoans that the CDC HIV/AIDS budget has not kept up with inflation over the last few years. So a minimum 13-to-1 spending ratio over any other disease somehow isn't enough.

He then mercilessly attacks the politically correct pandering of Congress:

And that only includes medical research funding. Each year under the "Ryan White CARE" legislation, which Congress unanimously re-authorized in 2000, approximately $2 billion in taxpayer funds are doled out to AIDS patients for medicine, housing, meals, cash payments, dental care, and a vast panoply of goods and services. Victims of no other disease have any such entitlement.

PWNED (sorry, I had to say that... there is no better word for it). He finishes by saying that "to the activists and bureaucrats nothing we say or do or spend will ever be enough. To which we must finally respond: Enough!"

This editorial reminded me of yet another editorial written a few months back by Sebastian Mallaby in The Washington Post about the internationals AIDS conference in Bangkok. Observing the activists, he noticed that

Inconveniently for those who enjoy stereotypes, the Bush administration is far and away the leader in the global AIDS fight. This year the United States will spend $2.4 billion on the pandemic, nearly twice as much as all other donor governments combined; attacking the Bush team for indifference to AIDS is like attacking it for inadequate defense spending. But when Randall Tobias, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, addressed the Bangkok gathering last week, he had to endure 10 minutes of furious heckling before he could get a word in edgewise.

The activists' first complaint is that U.S. AIDS spending will finance programs to promote sexual abstinence and fidelity. Never mind that only 7 percent of the money will be spent this way; the abstinence agenda is derided as some kind of kooky anti-scientific plot cooked up by President Bush's evangelical supporters. Yet the plotters actually include very un-evangelical people such as Edward Green, a Harvard medical anthropologist (and liberal Democrat) who's written a book on AIDS prevention. Green has shown how Uganda's success in cutting HIV infection rates from 21 percent to 6 percent depended crucially on teaching abstinence. In the first half of the 1990s, the number of young Ugandans engaging in premarital sex plummeted; by 1995, fully 95 percent of Ugandans reported that they were either abstaining or monogamous.

Elsewhere in Africa, experience also supports the Bush administration's desire to make abstinence and fidelity part of its prevention strategy. The evidence from Botswana, South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe suggests that there's no clear link between the availability of condoms and reduced HIV rates: All four countries have plenty of condoms yet plenty of infection. Meanwhile in South Africa, the single most promising development is that reported rates of teenage sexual activity have fallen for three years straight, disproving the notion that there's no point in telling youths to change their behavior. In sum, it is not the Bush administration that is ignoring the evidence. It is Bush's critics.


Posted by Arcane at 10:03 PM