If you pretend HIV is not a predominantly gay disease in America, then you can be shocked, surprised and confused as to why women make up a higher percentage of HIV infections in Africa than in the developed world. The NY Times goes to extremes to find out why this may be the case (parasites!) without asking a simple question: what percentage of HIV infections are gays in sub-Saharan Africa? Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one, but no one wants to believe it. Answering questions, or looking at phenomena, is much tougher when the narrative must be shoehorned into every piece of analysis.

The article starts off with a mystery so simple, any kid who remembers the HIV-AIDS scare of the late ’80s-early ’90s knows the answer.

While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one. In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa’s rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation. It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year. The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed “schisto.”

What percentage of African AIDS cases are gays? Some more tap-dancing is later in the article.

For years, theories have abounded as to why African women become infected with H.I.V.: for example, that they are more likely to have overlapping sexual partners — not always by choice — while women elsewhere have boyfriends or husbands in series. That rape, incest and domestic violence are rife in southern Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is worst. That syphilis and herpes are rampant. That impoverished, fatherless young women are forced to pay with sex for food, clothes, grades and even car rides.

They get infected the same way first world women do: unprotected sex or IV drug use. No IV drug use, it must be unprotected sex. What is “overlapping sex partners”? Is this a euphemism for they have sex with multiple men, which puts them at risk of sex with a super spreader? I am worried I may commit a thought crime here, so New York Times, tell me what is safe to think and say. Fortunately, the article does cite experts who doubt this theory. They point out the presence of the schisto parasite in regions with lower HIV infection rates. Anyone ask if the 60% of HIV infections being women lines up with other STDs that show more women infected than men (herpes).

Women make up more infections in Africa because homosexuality is more concentrated in the developed world. They have problems in Africa like rape, lack of condom use, and promiscuity. This parasite explanation is a joke. It does not stand up, but it is not meant to stand up. The theory is being selected and boosted in the Times because the Times wants you to see African ladies in the field and feel pity that a parasite is making them catch HIV. Shucks, why are women 60% of HIV cases in Africa but much less elsewhere? It couldn’t be the gay vector to the disease being different in different regions. What gay vector, you homophobe? It couldn’t be rape: that might take them dangerously close to mentioning the absurd prevalence of rape in South Africa, the glorious rainbow nation. Nor could it be promiscuity: no, that would be slut-shaming.

HIV causes the progressive media to play hopscotch often because the most afflicted are protected groups and it is usually a preventable disease. It is not the fault of the women. It is not the fault of rapists or men who cannot be bothered to use a condom (weird, African descendants are overrepresented in HIV infections in the US, too, hmmm). It is a bug. A parasite you cannot see, but you pick up simply by being outside. O cruel fates.

  • GeeBee36_6

    I think that your commendable article doesn’t quite go far enough, in that is fails to explain the very specific mechanism for HIV transference during sexual activity. You must first ask yourself the question, why is it that gays in developed countries are the main vectors in HIV transmission? Remember, HIV is passed on through transference via blood. There is comparatively little risk of transference during normal, heterosexual intercourse, because the vagina wall is specifically evolved to withstand the enthusiastic penile thrusting essential for reproduction without harm.To this end, it is useful to note that it is more than 30 cells in thickness. The anus, on the other hand, is only a few cells in thickness, and, as Evelyn Waugh so memorably explained to his son, when he suspected he might be experimenting with gay sex at school: ‘remember: the function of the anus is for the retension and expulsion of faecal matter. It is not designed for the reception of the male member, no matter how lovingly inserted’.

    Quite. The unfortunate fact is that, when employed for the event foreseen by Waugh, rupture frequently ensues, and in the ensuing interchange of blood, the HIV virus is passed on. This is why gay men become infected with HIV, and straight men (and of course, women) do not.

    Enter heterosexual anal sex. This is the wild card, whereby women who have anal sex with bisexual men become infected. This revolting and unnatural practice is relatively rare in developed countries (in spite of the fact that many porn films appear to labour under the misapprehension that it is virtually mandatory). In Africa, however, it is used as a means of contraception, and thus the prevalence of HIV-infected African women is brought into its true perspective.

    It goes without saying that the moral of this tale are too clear to need pointing out.

  • William_JD

    AIDS is defined differently in Africa. Lots of the women who supposedly have AIDS actually don’t.