THE AIDS DENIERS.

The results of former South African President Thabo Mbeki's AIDS denialism have been nothing short of devastating to South African citizens, resulting in hundreds of thousands avoiding the kind of treatment that could have kept them alive longer or prevented mothers from passing HIV onto their children:

A new study by Harvard researchers estimates that the South African government would have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people earlier this decade if it had provided antiretroviral drugs to AIDS patients and widely administered drugs to help prevent pregnant women from infecting their babies.

The Harvard study concluded that the policies grew out of President Thabo Mbeki’s denial of the well-established scientific consensus about the viral cause of AIDS and the essential role of antiretroviral drugs in treating it.

It's hard to figure out whether to be angry or despondent over something like this, especially since it was only two months ago that Mbeki's health minister, who recommended "garlic, lemon juice and beetroot" as treatments for AIDS, was fired. Mbeki claims that, despite overwhelming scientific proof, the HIV Virus does not cause AIDS. Mbeki's designated successor, Jacob Zuma, appears to accept reality, although he's made some questionable comments himself in the past, suggesting that taking a shower after sex reduces the chances of catching the virus (it doesn't).

In this country though, we have another strain of AIDS denialism exemplified by Dennis Prager. This denialism holds that AIDS is a "gay" problem, and so heterosexuals don't have to worry about it. Prager explains that science, like "the media," is subject to a pervasive liberal bias:

Even the natural sciences are increasingly subject to being rendered a means to a “progressive” end. There was the pseudo-threat of heterosexual AIDS in America -- science manipulated in order to de-stigmatize AIDS as primarily a gay man’s disease and to increase funding for AIDS research.

According to the CDC, nearly a third of HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 2006 were from high risk heterosexual contact. That is not, by any definition, a "pseudo-threat." The CDC also specifically lists "homophobia" as one of the obstacles to AIDS prevention, and it's easy to see why. If, like Prager, you believe AIDS is something that happens to gay people, then you're more likely to engage in reckless sexual behavior if you're not gay, because, after all, it can't happen to you! It's also easy to see how this kind of thing could result in a denial of one's status and refusal to seek treatment.

As Jesse Taylor pointed out, the desperate need to contradict whatever "liberals" say defies all sense of self-preservation:

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the explanation for every single thing movement conservatives haven’t liked since Reagan. Global warming? Check. Evolution? Check. Labor unions? Check. Underage sex not causing your junk to wither off and die? Check. The Constitution? Check.

We've already seen what AIDS denialism can do in other countries. It's a good thing that the adherents of AIDS denialism on the right were not part of the last Republican Administration, and hopefully they won't be part of any future ones, and instead be relegated to the fringes where they belong. Although given the right's reaction to other inconvenient scientific truths, and the elevation of the opposition to gay rights as a central Republican tenet, it's not hard to see these guys becoming "respectable."

-- A. Serwer

Comments

So, you are admitting to Prager's point, that it's noble to distort, emphasize or deemphasize truth when it's expedient for you to "do good". Because that's exactly what you're doing when you twist the truth to save as many people from AIDS as possible.

Before I forget to say, your attempt to put "AIDS is something that happens to gay people" in Prager's mouth is so egregious distorted as to be libel. Prager's point has always been "FIRST tell the truth, THEN give your opinion." Prager has NEVER said such a thing or even inferred it. He's only pointed out politically-charged hysteria that puts telling the truth second to "doing good" has reared it's ugly head more than once, and he's right. The gay community has always had a staunch ally in Prager, but never to the extent he's willing to lie to advance their causes. For that, he's earned the contempt of people like you.

Anyway, if protecting people is the end priority, then why do you care to EVER tell the full, uninflated truth about anything? Why not deemphasize the correlation between smoking and cancer? After all, when the risk of smoking is "overemphasized" the result could be people thinking there's no reason for non-smokers to go get screened for cancers. That is your logic in a nutshell. In terms of analogies, smoking is to lung cancer as homosexual behavior/culture is to AIDS... risk-amplifying. That is EXACTLY what you're arguing for when fighting against the only thing Prager is fighting for… truth!

In accusing Prager of de-emphasizing heterosexual AIDS for effect only to follow it up with your emphasizing-what-we-must-to-save-lives agenda, you've only proven his very point. The politicization of science is a social crime, but for some reason, when well-intended, the political left gets a pass in the mainstream media and the public conscious ("being on the left means never having to say you're sorry", as Prager said).

So, thank you for providing yourself as Exhibit A in proving Prager absolutely correct.

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