'AIDS activists spread HIV/AIDS myths', says former world health organisation and expert

UNAIDS and AIDS activists are circulating misconceptions about the AIDS pandemic according to a former WHO AIDS epidemiologist.

A myth-shattering book by the WHO’s former Chief AIDS epidemiologist published today exposes the extent that AIDS programmes developed by international agencies and faith-based organizations are politically correct but epidemiologically inaccurate.

The AIDS Pandemic: the collision of epidemiology with political correctness by James Chin is the first book to provide an objective assessment of the AIDS pandemic. The clear and rational conclusions subvert the prevailing position of UNAIDS and most AIDS activists.  During the past couple of decades, a case has been made by UNAIDS and many public health authorities and organizations that AIDS must be seen as a risk for whole populations globally. Chin disputes this. The AIDS Pandemic argues that: (1) AIDS has a different pattern in different countries based on behaviours and for some countries it is better to target high risk groups than dilute resources in interventions aimed at the general population; (2) rates of disease projected by public health agencies are often higher than the epidemiology would support and (3) social determinants are less relevant for AIDS transmission than patterns of sexual behaviour and opportunities for parenteral exposure.

Chin contends that HIV prevalence is low in most populations throughout the world and can be expected to remain low, not because of effective HIV prevention programmes, but simply because HIV infection rates can rise only to the level permitted by the prevailing patterns and prevalence of HIV risk behaviours. This epidemiologically sound conclusion explains past and current HIV patterns and prevalence, but has been minimised and ignored by UNAIDS and AIDS activists. UNAIDS’ more politically and socially acceptable message is that HIV risk behaviours are present in all populations and therefore all populations are at high risk of HIV epidemics. Yet no such spread into any general population outside of sub-Saharan Africa has occurred! In well over 100 IDU (injecting drug users) and/or MSM (men who have sex with men) epidemics documented worldwide, no significant spread to the general population has occurred except to the regular sex partners of infected IDUs or bisexual MSM.

The book argues that that scarce public health resources in low HIV prevalence countries are being wasted on prevention programmes directed to the general public and all youth when they should be targeted primarily to those at the highest risk of contracting HIV.

In its review and evaluation of the unique natural history of HIV and its basic epidemiology, Chin’s book will lead to a reappraisal of the validity of the prevailing view of HIV/AIDS, and a better understanding of the most probable past, present and future of the pandemic.

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Notes to Editors

About the author: James (Jim) Chin was the State Epidemiologist responsible for communicable disease control when the first AIDS cases were recognised and reported in southern California. He then worked from 1987 until 1992 as the WHO’s Chief of the Surveillance, Forecasting and Impact Assessment (SFI) Unit of the Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) and developed their methods and guidelines for surveillance of the AIDS pandemic. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley. He is available for interview.

UNAIDS is the Joint United Nations Progamme on HIV/AIDS.

The AIDS Pandemic: the collision of epidemiology with political correctness is published by Radcliffe Publishing at £27.50 (ISBN 97681846191183). For orders, please call 01235 528820 or email: orders@radcliffemed.com.

For all media enquiries to Radcliffe Publishing please contact Felicity Howlett on 01235 528820 or email fhowlett@radcliffemed.com. Bound proof copies are now available.

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