Tuesday, June 10, 2008

AIDS-HIV & heterosexuals

For a long time heterosexuals have been told that they run significant risks of contracting HIV-AIDS if they have unprotected sex. Outside of Africa this claim is now seen to be false. Outside of Africa the main groups at risk from the disease are homosexuals, intravenous drug users and sex workers.

There will be no generalised AIDs epidemic among heterosexuals outside the African countries. AIDs still kills vast numbers of people - more than all wars and conflicts together - but expensive negative advertising campaigns directed at general populations are a waste of money.

African countries have high rates of AIDs for various reasons - low levels of male circumcision, high rates of genital herpes and high use of commercial sex workers.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you need to think about the numbers, but if you add all the groups you are talking about up, they do come to a reasonable number of people, all of whom can spread the disease to the rest of the population as well as cause themselves problems.

In addition, since the cost of HIV is exceptionally high, its worthwhile trying to keep numbers as low as possible even if transmission rates are low. Australia for example, which had one of the most successful campaigns (targetted at the general population) on Earth has a HIV rate 1/6th that of the US (.1% vs. .6%). Having even .5% of your population with HIV is a very big deal (although its not clear to me to what extent that represents a difference in the general population vs. the specific groups you mention).

I guess what I'd be interested in here is the extent that general campaigns reduce infection rates vs. more targetted ones (especially since the homosexual community is already good at targetting itself -- leaving specific campaigns for groups not especially easy to deal with, like IV drugs users -- I suspect the money would be better spent on shooting galleries than on advertising for that group).

andrewt said...

Hetrosexual transmission of HIV is apparently
more common in Australia than transmission via injecting drug us.

You seem to be forgetting that measures to prevent HIV transmission HIV also reduce the spread of a raft of other STDs, e.g. how many cervical cancer cases did anti-HIV campaigns prevent?

And there is question of what the HIV incidence in Australia would be without the public health campaigns.

hc said...

Andrewt, That's a good link but less than roughly 200 per year over the past 13 years are heterosexual cases of AIDs and half those are from individuals with partners from countries with high rates of AIDs infection. So about 100 heterosexual cases of AIDs in Australia per year.

The rate of intravenous drug use caused HIV is low but so too is the overall incidence of AIDs in Australia. It is overwhelmingly a disease among homosexuals.

Anonymous said...

"So about 100 heterosexual cases of AIDs in Australia per year"

Even those numbers still add up. If you consider the average HIV positive person is going to be taking antivirals for 20 years, then you will end up with 20 * 100 = 2000 cases if new cases remain stable. In terms of drugs alone (say, 20,000 per year for an anti-viral cocktail for each individual) thats 40 million dollars per year -- not huge but not zero either.

Incidentally, I agree with Andrewt completely -- I really think you under-rate the affect of advertising on behavior -- it was huge and one of the most successful campaigns ever. Even if it is stopping 100 people getting it per year, it's clearly paying for itself even in purely monetary terms.

Anonymous said...

This has been widely known to be one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated of all time for at least 10 years.

Anonymous said...


The vast majority of women living with HIV/AIDS in the USA were infected though heterosexual contact.

For women in the west, HIV/AIDS is a heterosexual problem.

Anonymous said...


The American experience with AIDS.....


Just like Africa........

hc said...

Rabee, A quarter of AIDs sufferers in the US are women. A fifth of these are associated with intravenous drug use - most of the rest with 'dangerous' sexual relations (men who are bisexual, men with multiple partners).

Apart from drug use how else could women get AIDs?

Vaginal intercourse puts women at greater risk than men.

In Australia about the same.