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.