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Depo Provera and Circumcision: Violence Against Women Masquerading as Research


Although there are plenty of instances of institutionally sanctioned violence against women, this blog post is about two very prominent instances: mass male circumcision programs [*Greg Boyle, cited below; one of the most up to date publications on the subject, which cites many of the seminal works] and the aggressive promotion of the dangerous injectible contraceptive, Depo Provera (DMPA).

Why are mass male circumcision (MMC) programs instances of violence against women? Well, three trials of MMC were carried out to show that it reduced female to male transmission of HIV. They were show trials, with the entire process monitored to ensure that it gave the results that the researchers wanted. These trials have been cited countless times by popular and academic publications.

Less frequently cited was a single trial of MMC that was intended to show that it reduced male to female transmission of HIV. None of these four trials were independent of each other and the female to male trials produced suspiciously similar results, despite taking place in different countries, with ostensibly different teams. But the single male to female trial showed the opposite to what the researchers wanted: circumcision increased HIV transmission, considerably.

During all four of the trials, male participants were not required to inform their partner if they were found to be HIV positive, or if they became infected during the trial. If there had been any ethical oversight, those refusing to inform their partner would have been excluded from the trial. This is what would have happened in western countries, including the one that funded the research, the US.

Given that many women and men believe that circumcision protects a man from HIV, these MMC programs are giving HIV positive men the means to have possibly unprotected sex with HIV negative women. Many women and men were infected with HIV during the four show trials and almost all of those infections could have been avoided. How participants became infected during the trials has never been investigated, which is not only unethical, but also renders the trials useless.

Despite Depo Provera use substantially increasing the risk of HIV positive women infecting their sexual partners, and the risk of HIV positive men infecting women using the deadly contraceptive, this is the favored contraceptive method for many of the biggest NGOs (many of the biggest NGOs are engaged in population control of some kind). Therefore, its use is far more common in poor countries (especially among sex workers) and among non-white populations in rich countries.

These two instances of violence against women (and men) are funded by the likes of CDC, UNAIDS and the Gates Foundation. Many research papers extolling the virtues of MMC and Depo Provera are paid for by such institutions, copiously cited by them in publications, and constantly wheeled out as examples of successful global health programs. Yet, they are both responsible for countless numbers of avoidable HIV infections.

There is currently a lot of institutional maundering about violence against women and certain instances of it, but some of these same institutions are taking part in the perpetration of it; they are funding it, making money and careers out of it, promoting themselves and their activities on the back of what is entirely unethical. Why do Institutional Review Boards, peer reviewers and academics, donors and others seem happy to ignore these travesties? Who is it that decides that this is all OK, when it clearly is not?

Why are these not considered to be unethical: aggressively promoting the use of a dangerous medication, and an invasive operation that will neither protect men nor women? Is it because those promoting them are making a lot of money out of them, because the victims are mostly poor, non-white people, because the research and programs take place in poor countries, because ethics is nice in principle but too expensive in practice…? Or all of the above and more?

* Boyle, G. J. (2013). Critique of African RCTs into male circumcision and HIV sexual transmission. In G. C. Denniston et al. (Eds.), Genital cutting: Protecting children from medical, cultural, and religious infringements. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-6407-1_15

Africans Several Steps Ahead of ‘Global’ Health?


Many articles about ebola continue to mention a two year old boy who was probably infected with the virus some time in December of 2013. The articles refer to the boy as the ‘index case’, as if his being infected set off the recent epidemic in West Africa.

In fact, working back from confirmed cases, the trail goes cold before December 2013. There is no data about the virus and the investigation becomes pure speculation at this point. There is no evidence that the boy was infected by a bat, nor is there evidence that bats or other animals in the area carry ebola.

Articles mentioning this two year old boy, bats, ‘corpse touching’ at funerals and even sexually transmitted ebola (of which no cases have ever been confirmed), are commonplace. It is not just the media that revel in them, but also many scientific and medical articles.

But the people of West Africa seem oblivious to many of the warnings they have been receiving about ebola. And maybe they are right?

Apparently Liberians are completely unconvinced about the dangers of eating bush meat.

In Guinea, cases of malaria and deaths from malaria far exceed numbers of people infected with ebola and deaths from ebola. More importantly, the number of deaths from malaria has increased because people have been avoiding health facilities, fearing they might be infected with ebola.

Worse still, their condition may be mistaken for ebola and they could end up in an ebola treatment unit, with other suspected ebola cases, some of which turn out to have the virus.

To fear health facilities in Africa is perfectly logical. Healthcare conditions in most African countries are appalling. Not just ebola, but HIV, TB, hepatitis and other diseases have been spread by unsafe healthcare practices, such as reused injecting and other skin-piercing instruments.

CDC, UNAIDS, WHO and other health agencies may be convinced by their own propaganda, but people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are not. And, it seems, they have entirely valid reasons for ignoring this ‘official’ advice. Unfortunately, that means many people will suffer from and die from easily treated conditions.

But ‘global’ health is in crisis because those most likely to suffer from ‘global’ health conditions are probably least likely to trust health facilities in their country. The interference of various international agencies (or local offices of international agencies) is only likely to increase this mistrust.

Nigeria has problems with ‘quack’ doctors. Nigerians escaped a serious ebola epidemic, but the second largest HIV positive population in the world resides in Nigeria. Nigeria has also swallowed the dubious claims of UNAIDS and others that HIV is almost always transmitted through heterosexual sex in Africa countries.

As a result, the country has passed punitive laws about ‘non-disclosure’, exposure and transmission, but only, it appears, when transmission is sexual.

The ebola epidemic has shown that people find it hard to trust ‘global’ health agencies. Warnings about various sexual practices and HIV have also fallen on deaf ears. But perhaps ordinary people are right to ignore ‘global’ health agencies. Perhaps bush meat and ‘corpse touching’ are either not as common or not as risky as we have been told. And perhaps the appalling conditions to be found in health facilities are much more risky than we have been told.

South Africa – Never Mind HIV, We’ve Got Penis Transplants


One ebola case, out of tens of thousands identified over nearly forty years, may have been sexually transmitted; the evidence is slim, but CDC and others really want this one case to be used to stress that people should be made aware of this highly remote possibility (if it is even remotely possible).

Strong evidence that a significant proportion of transmissions of ebola is a result of unsafe healthcare is quietly ignored; CDC and others don’t wish to warn people that the healthcare systems expected to deal with such outbreaks are far too weak to keep people alive, and are likely to be part of the problem in the cases of ebola and HIV.

South Africa has transplanted one penis on to a man who lost his through a botched circumcision. The US government is ploughing a few billion dollars into circumcising tens of millions of African adults (and an unknown number of children), so they will not be in a hurry to warn people about the hundreds of botched circumcisions reported every year (nor the uncounted thousands that remain unreported).

The English Guardian has a lengthy article about this single penis transplant, and has had a few, equally salacious articles, about botched circumcisions that occur in traditional, non-sterile settings. That same smug, self-satisfied newspaper has had next to nothing to say about appalling conditions in healthcare facilities in places where HIV prevalence is very high, or about the possible role of unsafe healthcare in transmitting HIV, hepatitis C and B, ebola, TB and various other diseases.

The craze for circumcising African men is based on the view that HIV is almost always ‘spread’ by men, through ‘unsafe’ sex, which almost every ‘African’ engages in, almost all the time (a view based entirely on prejudice). The press is completely unmoved by the fact that circumcision of men may increase HIV transmission from males to females, considerably.

The media goes crazy about the ‘possibly sexually transmitted’ ebola case, even exaggerating it into a dead certainty that it was sexually transmitted; and they are happy to promote the view that Africans engage in types and levels of sexual behavior that should be curbed by various (failed) measures, paid for by donor money. But this is just a continuation of what various colonizers began.

The racism behind the view that HIV is almost always transmitted through heterosexual contact in (some) African countries, but no non-African countries, has always remained unremarked by the press. The prejudice behind singling out uncircumcised African men and HIV positive women for intense vilification is rarely mentioned.

The fact that about 7% of HIV positive women in South Africa, the country with the largest HIV positive population in the world, report being sterilized forcibly, receives occasional mention. But readers seem to prefer articles about penis transplants and one possibly sexually transmitted case of ebola, it appears.

The Daily Maverick has an article about what the author dubs the ‘new denialism'; the health services in South Africa are failing, they are even failing HIV positive people, despite the huge amounts of money that the country is said to have received.

The health services are unable to cope with any illnesses and throwing money at HIV will not result in reasonable numbers of well trained and equipped staff, adequate supplies and, most of all, levels of cleanliness and hygiene that eliminate the possibility that many patients will end up being infected with something in hospital that is far worse than what they were admitted with.

There is nothing new about this denialism, but it needs to be recharacterized; health services are not just inadequate, they are dangerous. Aidsmap.com are certainly not alone in bemoaning the fact that many women in South Africa are infected with HIV relatively late in their pregnancy, sometimes after giving birth, even many months after.

Nor are Aidsmap alone in failing to consider the possibility that some of those women, perhaps most of those women, were infected with HIV through unsafe healthcare, reused syringes, needles, various types of equipment and various processes that require a far better level of hygiene than will be found in extremely high prevalence provinces, such as KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga.

The pharmaceutical industry does very well out of HIV and several other diseases that have hit the headlines in the mainstream press, and are deemed worthy of enormous funding. Many NGOs have been built by HIV money and will only thrive and prosper as long as a few diseases are considered worthy of massive funding.

The press loves a story about a penis transplant in a country too poor to prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths every year, of women giving birth, babies, children and adults with easily treated and prevented diseases. Appalling conditions in health services in most African countries does not merit the attention of the press, they are far too commonplace. If a story from ‘Africa’ has even the remotest connection with sex, publish it; if not, forget it.

Cambodia Healthcare Transmitted HIV Inquiry Watered Down


Some of the recent articles about the massive outbreak of HIV caused by reuse of syringes, needles and other skin piercing instruments in health facilities in Roka Commune, Battambang Province, Cambodia, make it sound as if being unregistered is the main problem; unregistered practitioners, unregistered clinics, etc.

But as this article about unsafe injections in US health facilities makes clear, it is the behavior of well qualified people in legitimate facilities that can threaten the health and lives of patients, especially in poor areas. Being registered may result in practices and practitioners being scrutinized from time to time, if there are mechanisms and personnel for such scrutiny.

But in Cambodia there are numerous unlicenced practitioners and facilities because there is a chronic and long term shortage of trained and qualified personnel. There are also shortages of equipment and supplies. The cost of healthcare is simply too high for most people, so they resort to unlicenced practitioners and practices.

But that does not mean things are completely safe in legitimate facilities, where some or most of the employees may be relatively well trained and qualified. Nor does it mean that there are adequate measures taken to inspect premises or practitioners, nor consequences for unsafe behaviors.

The current ‘investigation’, which seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace, is being carried out in conjunction with UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. But these organizations specialize in disinformation about health facility transmitted HIV. The current approach in Cambodia is to point the finger at one unlicenced practitioner, and his practice, rather than health services in their entirety.

Now it seems the investigation into how almost 300 people became infected with HIV is being further watered down by concentrating on the issue of licences, which suggests that it is not scrutinizing the potentially unsafe behaviors of those working in healthcare. It even appears that some of the clinics being closed down are run by Chinese nationals or ethnic Chinese Cambodian nationals, using unsafe healthcare to deflect attention from anti-Chinese prejudice (something UNAIDS is unlikely to question).

The Cambodian government, UNAIDS, the WHO and others are missing the most important point about the 300 people so far identified as being infected with HIV through unsafe healthcare: it is not unlicenced practitioners or facilities that spread diseases, it is unsafe behaviors, such as reuse of syringes, needles and other equipment; people have a right to SAFE healthcare, not just any old healthcare.

UNAIDS Assures us that ‘Africans’ are Different


There’s an article in the English Guardian about a Congolese man who was put in a cage with monkeys in a zoo in New York in the early 20th century. Few people seemed bothered, with a number of academics at the time assuring the public that there was nothing to worry about.

Putting black people behind bars for the delectation of white people continues, if figures for levels of incarceration among the US’s non-white population are to be believed. But at least there are some instances of media criticizm about it now. I’m talking about the case of Michael Johnson, college wrestling champion, charged with ‘recklessly infecting’ one male sexual partner with HIV and ‘exposing’ four others.

Ever since HIV was identified, baiting those infected with the virus has been a popular pursuit among journalists and other commentators. The idea that people who are infected frequently seek sexual partners whom they can ‘deliberately’ infect with HIV has really captured the imagination of the press. As a result, Johnson, who also called himself Tiger Mandingo, may face a life sentence.

But the continuing obsession with sexual transmission of HIV, especially in African countries, and the silence about non-sexual transmission, suggests that anti-black prejudice is still very much alive, not only in the press, but also among the consumers of media output.

Several hundred people were infected with HIV in a village in Cambodia, and the media dismissed it as the work of one (unlicensed) practitioner. This is despite the existence of numerous other unlicenced practitioners in Cambodia and SE Asia, and numerous other clinics where unsafe practices, such as reuse of unsterile injecting and other equipment, is clearly a danger to those who use clinics, which may well be the majority of people. (But the smart money there is still on sex, even though prevalence has been declining in the country without much sign of sexual behavior changing.)

Transmission of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases through unsafe healthcare have been reported in many countries, including the US, Canada and elsewhere, countries where HIV prevalence is relatively low. But the difference between these countries and African countries is that in the latter, investigations are carried out to identify those engaging in unsafe practices and those who have been, or may have been, exposed.

Such investigations have never been carried out in African countries, where HIV prevalence can be very high. The UN agency set up to specialize in spending large chunks of generous HIV funding tells us that Africans are essentially different, that HIV there is almost entirely a matter of sexual behavior, that people who deny engaging in such sexual behavior are dishonest.

Even more ridiculous is the attempt to turn ebola into a sexually transmitted disease, even though not one single case of sexually transmitted ebola has been described. Yet transmission through unsafe healthcare was suspected in numerous instances since ebola was first identified, nearly 40 years ago.

UNAIDS tells us that even though health services are appalling in African countries, less than 2% of HIV cases are a result of unsafe healthcare, of any kind, not just reuse of injecting equipment. The WHO peddles similar figures (although they are slightly more circumspect when trying to explain massive rates of HIV transmission by reference to sexual behavior).

The mindset that resulted in black people being exhibited in cages, along with the mindset that results in an adult being given a prison sentence of several decades for engaging in consensual sex with other adults, is the same as the UNAIDS and WHO mindset. This tells us that, indeed, Africans are different; that ‘African’ sexual behavior is so different it results in levels of HIV transmission among heterosexuals not found anywhere else in the world.

Ebola and ‘African’ Sexuality: Life in the Old Fantasy Yet?


“Ebola can be transmitted sexually for weeks after recovery – education is crucial”, blurts the English Guardian headline of an article written by an academic from an English development institution.

Not one single case of sexually transmitted ebola has ever been demonstrated, in nearly 40 years. The presence of the virus in some form in semen has been demonstrated. But the possibility that the virus can be transmitted via that semen has not. And the author is even, to some extent, aware of this.

So why do the media rant on about sexually transmitted ebola? Could it be a continuation of some of the racist views of Africans that date back many decades, perhaps centuries? Several decades (at least) before HIV was identified, it was assumed that prevalence of certain sexually transmitted infections in African countries, such as syphilis and gonnorhea, was a result of ‘promiscuity’.

More enlightened researchers published papers, also decades ago, arguing that there was absolutely no evidence that levels of ‘promiscuity’ were higher in African countries than elsewhere. Some of them also argued that the conditions of health services, along with the living and working conditions to which people in colonial Africa were subjected, were far more significant factors than sexual behavior.

Some of them were reacting to the efforts of the various different eugenics movements to provide ‘scientific’ evidence for their extraordinary views. However, once HIV was identified and found to be more common in some African countries than anywhere else, the myth of ‘African’ promiscuity returned. And it remains, explicitly or implicity, in HIV policy, journalism, and in much of the academic writing.

The characterization of African people as promiscuous goes hand in hand with the characterization of African men as sexually incontinent, animalistic, uncaring about those around them, particularly their own family members, and completely unamenable to change.

African women are seen as being entirely incapable of resisting the will of the men around them. They are mere victims, misused and discarded, to be ‘rescued’ by decent westerners, if they are lucky. They are then subjected to the pity of their rescuers, the journalists who write about them, and others who think this sort of thing ‘just shouldn’t happen’.

The author claims to have met with members of a women’s ‘secret society’. We are informed that such societies are “ancient cultural institutions found all over Sierra Leone”. We can’t gainsay that if we’ve never been to Sierra Leone, after all, they are secret, although we might ask how secret they are if the author could meet with them.

But, far more important than the claim that ebola is transmitted sexually (and it might be, occasionally), is the tone of the article, about how much women suffer, with the strong implication that this is the fault of Sierra Leonean men. But poverty, bad health, low levels of education, poor living conditions and terrible labor conditions are a fact of life for most people in Sierra Leone, male and female.

Education may be, as the headline says, crucial. But whose education is crucial? Whose knowledge? Whose data? Whose research? This academic seems to have recorded the result of decades of racist informed education, and now presents it to us as the unassailable views of Sierra Leonean women, at least, the ones who belong to these common ‘secret’ societies.

However, there are promiscuous people everywhere, but most people are not promiscuous. There are violent and abusive people everywhere, and the perpetrators may well be more likely to be male than female. But most people are not violent or abusive. Most men are not. And most women are not mere victims of everything that goes on around them.

This is not to say that there are not huge imbalances and great injustices, with many women suffering, often at the hands of men. But whatever strategy may bring relief to the suffering of women and men, it will not be one based on a puerile and reductive belief in the incredible baseness of African men, coupled with the complete inability of African women to defend themselves in any way.

Ebola, HIV, hepatitis, TB and many other diseases can be transmitted in various ways. One of the modes of transmission for all of them is unsafe healthcare, believe it or not. In the case of HIV, such transmission has been strenuously but entirely unconvincingly denied. Sex is one of several modes of transmission for HIV, but it is unlikely to be a significant mode of transmission of ebola.

But transmission of ebola through unsafe healthcare practices appears to be slipping through the net, as academics indulge in their fantasies about an assumed ‘African’ sexuality, along with a great love for seeking (female) ‘victims’ that they can rescue, study, and hopefully write scholarly(ish) papers about. These academics are not just deceiving themselves, they are deceiving those they claim to be concerned about.

Medical Costs: Protectionism Harms Children


Originally posted on Blogtivist:

This is reposted from the Watoto Kicheko blog.

One of the big expenses that parents (and orphanages!) face in developing countries like Tanzania is the cost of medicines and treatment. Even healthy children need vaccinations and have lots of other health needs that can only be met using pharmaceutical products. Medical costs run high.

You might think that developing countries would pay less for lifesaving medicines and vaccinations, but you would be wrong. Medical costs are often disproportionately high in poorer countries. Pharmaceutical companies negotiate prices in secret, and countries often have to sign a confidentiality agreement in the process.

Medical costs disproportionately high in developing countries

Apparently “Tunisia pays more than France; South Africa pays almost three times more than Brazil.” But it’s hard to compare what countries like Tanzania pay for medical costs because of the secrecy surrounding this industry, all cloaked by vague claims about ‘commercial sensitivity’.

Medical costs - one of our sick girlsThere’s…

View original 389 more words

US Funded Circumcision ‘Research’ & ‘Interventions': Human Rights Abuses?


The Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper reports that at least 30 boys have been forcibly circumcised, some of them as young as six years old, in Eldoret. It is said that an ‘NGO’ called Impact Research Development Organization was behind these forcible circumcisions.

Impact Research Development Organization (IRDO) is quite secretive, with several websites and Facebook pages that give very little detail about who they are, how they are funded, and to whom they are accountable. One of the latest incarnations, http://www.impact-rdo.org/, is still under construction. The owner of the domain is given as ‘Safaricom’, effectively an anonymous identity.

But one of the Facebook pages may answer some of those questions: in a photograph of about thirty black people, twentynine of whom are male, there is the unmistakable white face of ‘Dr’, ‘Professor’ (of epidemiology) Robert C Bailey, of the School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Aggressively pushing mass male circumcision as an antidote to HIV and a host of other possible ailments for more than twenty years, Bailey’s name has appeared on many of the published papers promoting the operation, with even the wildest of claims remaining unchallenged by most other academics.

His ‘NGOs’ may have undergone several name changes for good reason. He is one of the biggest recipients in Kenya (where about 85% of men are already circumcised) of the hundreds of millions of dollars said to be available for mass male circumcision programs. But the fate of some of those millions of public dollars is not always transparent.

Another of his ‘NGOs’ is called the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society (NHRS). The NHRS is similarly secretive and merely recycles the same sort of publicity blurb as IRDO. Kenya’s Standard newspaper covered the allegations of misuse of funds by NHRS a few years ago.

The Nation author seems impressed with the fact that the children were said to have been ‘lured with sweets’, which is probably the mass male circumcision campaigners’ pediatric version of luring people with bullshit about how circumcision, not only ‘protects’ you from HIV and other STIs, but also ensures greater attractiveness to women, better orgasms and ‘hygiene’ (as if intact men are unable to clean their penises and circumcised men don’t need to!).

Although circumcision is contrary to the cultural practices of the communities that the victims come from, incidents like this don’t appear to have resulted in any greater recognition of how serious a crime this is. In contrast, there is a lot of international money and attention for preventing female genital mutilation, especially where this is in keeping with the cultural practices of the communities where it is practiced.

Is it because those involved are male that this is not really seen as mutilation? It is clearly a denial of the right to bodily integrity. Carrying out an operation that involves removal of healthy flesh without consent is always wrong; it is always mutilation, regardless of the gender of the victim.

Perhaps because the money comes from the US, where male circumcision is very common, it is felt that Kenyan people should just put up and shut up (as they seem to have done so far). This is an issue for Kenyan people of all ethnicities to address themselves, whether they practice circumcision or not.

Kenyan children have a right to be protected from such abuses, as do Kenyan adults, male and female. It’s time to question large amounts of money being made available to carry out dubious ‘research’ projects, with Kenyans being used as cheap research fodder.

Manufacturing Evidence for Sexually Transmitted Ebola?


Ebola researchers are still working furiously to gain recognition for ebola as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The New York Times has been spearheading the media echo chamber’s support for this desperate attempt to blame African people for their illness. ‘Sexually transmitted ebola’ is the culprit, and must be found at all costs.

The reason for the desperation is that, as yet, there is no evidence ebola has ever been transmitted sexually, in the 40 years since the virus has been recognized. Sexually transmitted ebola remains a mere theoretical possibility. Worse than that, a good deal of evidence suggests that the virus is very easily transmitted through unsafe healthcare practices.

Even the media, in it’s great hindsight, has pointed the finger at healthcare as being a weak point in impoverished African countries when it comes to fighting disease, and dealing with massive outbreaks like the one seen last year in several West African countries. But the media are not so good at following that insight to its logical conclusion.

So the ebola campaign seems to be taking a leaf out of the HIV book: UNAIDS, an institution that has been smearing African people for being ‘sexually promiscuous’ for nearly twenty years, is apparently lending a hand. When HIV positive people say they are not promiscuous, as many are not, they are not believed. If evidence for sexually transmitted ebola can not be found, it must be manufactured.

The tradition of wagging accusing fingers at African people about their sexual behavior goes back many decades, long pre-dating the identification of HIV. Eugenicists (often restyled as ‘family planning’ NGOs) and neo-eugenicists have been at it for at least a century.

Even programs to deal with syphilis and other STIs involved a lot of finger wagging and exhortations to address sexual behavior, although many of the big outbreaks had little to do with with sexual behavior and a lot to do with the conditions that people had to live in during colonial occupations.

Thus with ebola, the husband of a woman who died of the virus was asked for a semen sample, as he had recovered from it some time before. He refused and said he had been impotent since recovering from ebola. The doctor leading the investigation said he didn’t believe the man. The doctor is clearly convinced that he has already found a case of sexually transmitted ebola (one out of many thousands) and just needs evidence, however extreme the measures needed to acquire it.

Not believing patients and adopting a ‘veterinary approach’ is part of a pattern in HIV epidemiology. When it is reported that people had ‘no risks’ for HIV, that doesn’t seem to include risks for healthcare transmitted infection. So saying that the man’s wife had no risks for ebola may not exclude healthcare risks, we just don’t know.

The doctor suggested that the man was afraid he would be implicated in his wife’s death, which is not an unreasonable fear, given the way some of the reported ebola programs have been carried out. Many people seem extremely frightened of ‘officials’, and the ‘space suits’ some of them wear is unlikely to be the only cause of that fear. Now, ebola campaigns seem intent on frightening people about sex, by dangling in front of them the fear of sexually transmitted ebola.

But the story just gets more bizarre. A female UNAIDS ‘counselor’, said to be an expert in human (allegedly) sexuality, was employed to ‘talk’ to the man before he tried, unsuccessfully, to produce the semen sample. The man said that two other men, whom he assumed to be doctors, joined the UNAIDS ‘counselor’ and “tried to manually stimulate him with soap while pornographic videos played on a laptop”.

The history of UNAIDS and the HIV industry’s attempts to stigmatize Africans by insisting that heterosexual sex accounts for almost all HIV transmission in African countries (but not elsewhere) makes that obscene scenario seem quite believable. The doctor leading the investigation claims none of it happened, he just supplied the video and laptop, but working with UNAIDS will not improve his credibility.

The similarities between ebola and HIV programs continue with the steadfast refusal to consider the possibility that unsafe healthcare resulted in both the ebola and HIV epidemics. Why is it not possible to investigate the role of unsafe healthcare and deal with it? There are shortages of equipment, supplies, personnel, skills and the like, vital to ensure good and safe practices: healthcare transmitted ebola and HIV can not be ruled out.

Unsafe healthcare has resulted in massive outbreaks of hepatitis, particularly hepatitis C in Egypt, of tuberculosis (TB), particularly drug resistant TB in South Africa and neighbouring countries, and of ebola in all the outbreaks before the recent ones in West Africa, such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan.

If healthcare transmitted ebola, HIV, TB, hepatitis and other diseases remain unacknowledged and unaddressed, massive outbreaks like those seen in many African countries will continue. The search for ‘sexually transmitted ebola’, like the search for ‘sexually transmitted HIV’, will deflect attention from the very real, and very deadly problem of unsafe healthcare in Africa.

More about State Sponsored, Gender Based Violence in the US and Africa


Victims of the Guatemala Syphilis Experiment (1945-1956) failed in their attempt to sue the US Government for actions that a presidential bioethics investigation admitted “involved unconscionable basic violations of ethics” in 2010; the judge declared that “the US government cannot be held liable for actions outside the US”.

So the victims have now launched a lawsuit against the Johns Hopkins University over its involvement, something the university has ‘vigorously denied’. The university has expressed ‘profound sympathy’, which I’m sure the victims and their families will appreciate.

These vigorous denials were echoed by the Rockefeller Foundation, who also claim to have had nothing to do with the experiments. Big Pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb declined to comment.

This infamous episode in the history of American public health experimentation overlapped with the much longer and more extensive Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972). Although this occurred within the US, the victims were African-Americans, so the vigorous denials and profound sympathies were not deemed necessary until some time after the experiments had been halted.

Carrying out questionable public health programs in non-US countries by US institutions is a lot more common now. Injectible Depo Provera hormonal contraceptive (DMPA) is rarely used among non-white or wealthy populations, inside or outside the US. This is despite the fact that the drug has been shown to double the rate of transmission of HIV from HIV positive men to HIV negative women, and from HIV positive women to HIV negative men.

The vigorous denials continue: just search for #DMPA on Twitter and the same faces come up over and over. The tweeters often attack anyone questioning the use of DMPA, especially among poorer non-white women in the US and among people in African and Asian countries, where it is often the most common form of birth control used.

Those defending DMPA don’t generally deny that it doubles HIV risk, as they are often among the research teams who estimated this risk in the first place. They tend to argue that a doubling of risk is not high enough to warrant issuing proper warnings, and that the risk of being infected with HIV is not as serious as the risk that those using DMPA may have an unplanned pregnancy, as if there are no other contraceptives available!

Spite towards Africans expressed through dangerous ‘public health’ programs was entirely normalized once it was decided, for purely political reasons, that HIV should be marketed as a sexually transmitted infection that heterosexuals were very likely to contract and transmit.

Although the virus mainly infects men who have sex with men (MSM) and intravenous drug users (IDU) in wealthy and middle income countries, it mainly infects people who are neither MSM nor IDUs in Africa. In fact, the largest demographic infected in most African countries is women from their mid teens up to their late forties.

How could this be so?

Well, if you’ve ever had the misfortune of being treated in an African hospital, given birth there, or even just visited someone you know, you will find it very easy to believe that unsafe healthcare constitutes a huge, but under-researched risk. Less of a risk, but also under-researched, are unsafe cosmetic and traditional practices.

Consider this when reading about some of the experiments carried out in Guatemala: “Prostitutes were infected with venereal disease and then provided for sex to subjects for intentional transmission of the disease”, syphilis was injected into the spinal fluid of some victims.

Children were also subjected to these ‘experiments’, as were orphans, prisoners and mental health patients. Some of those involved were worried about what people not involved might think if they found out, but they don’t seem to have worried about their victims; one woman is reported to have had gonnorheal pus from a male subject injected into both her eyes.

But it’s not only African (or African American) women that are so maligned by wealthy western institutions that massive ‘public health’ experiments can be carried out using public money, often resulting in private gain, with total impunity. The English Guardian article notes two ‘experiments’ carried out on men, aiming to infect them with sexually transmitted infections and then watching the effect this had on them, their families and others around them.

For example, “An emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhoea was spread under the foreskin of the penis in male subjects” and “The penis of male subjects was scraped and scarified and then coated with the emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea”.

This obsession with sex, sexuality and sexual organs continues to occupy publicly (and privately) funded western HIV scientists in African countries. Research into non-sexual transmission of HIV is almost unheard of, except in the form of ‘vigorous denial’ that it ever occurs.

The enormous Mass Male Circumcision programs (MMC), which have attracted several billion dollars, are targeting tens of millions of Africans. And yet they are predicated on the view that HIV is almost always transmitted through heterosexual sex, a view that is entirely based on the prejudice of ‘experts’. (There are over 100 posts about mass male circumcision on this blog).

These circumcision programs are targeted, like Tuskegee, Guatemala and the use of Depo Provera, at non-white, poorer people, often African and female (while the MMC programs must target men, the operation has been shown to double transmission from males to females).

Data collected is often published selectively, to promote funded interests, and anything that suggests the programs are harmful is either uncollected, ignored or remains unpublished. Those criticizing such practices are attacked, branded, ridiculed and persecuted by professional (and often very well qualified) trolls.

In years to come, articles in the English Guardian may describe these appalling practices, that occurred in the past, as if they could never happen in the present. But similar phenomena continue to occur, with funding from western governments, ‘philanthropists’, academic institutions and others, while the public (and the media) look the other way.