Wangari Maathai’s Awkward Questions About HIV Still Unanswered

Posted on Thursday, 29th September 2011 @ 12:59 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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Many have mourned the death of Wangari Maathai, a great Kenyan woman. But, while she was best known for her environmental advocacy, I would like to note her alleged unorthodox view of HIV. I don’t agree with the views that have been attributed to her, but I can understand how confusion might arise about why Africans are so disproportionately affected by the virus. And I applaud anyone for refusing to accept an orthodoxy so logically obtuse and so gratuitously offensive to Africans, and even to women, who are infected in far higher numbers than men.

Maathai is said to have claimed that HIV was deliberately created by Western scientists in order to harm Africans, perhaps to reduce the population. However, Maathi denied that she believes anything like this and expressed a wish that the source of HIV would be discovered, so that such claims could be rejected.

However, the HIV industry expounds two theories of how HIV epidemics occur. The first theory is for non-Africans, at least, for Western countries; HIV is mainly transmitted through male to male anal sex and through intravenous drug use.

The second theory is for HIV epidemics in African countries, regardless of whether they are very serious or whether they are no more serious than those found in many US cities. According to the second theory, 80 to 90% of HIV transmission is through heterosexual sex and almost all other transmissions are accounted for by mother to child transmission.

The problem with having two theories is that there is only one virus. And while HIV really can be transmitted through heterosexual sex, it hardly ever is outside of some sub-Saharan African countries. What is it about heterosexual sex in some African countries that could account for rates of transmission not found elsewhere?

Well, as it happens, such rates of transmission have been found elsewhere. Massive rates of HIV transmission occurred in Romania in the 1980s and in various other countries at different stages in the pandemic, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Libya, etc. But these appalling rates were only found to have occurred through non-sexual transmission. They resulted from use of contaminated blood products and medical instruments.

When Maathai was later asked about her views on AIDS, she gave a rather cryptic answer. She said “I have always thought that it is important to tell people the truth, but I guess there is some truth that must not be too exposed.” Perhaps Maathai realizes that the HIV industry is aware that HIV is unlikely to be transmitted through heterosexual sex, but that it is very likely to be transmitted through unsafe healthcare?

UNAIDS insists that a very small percentage of HIV is transmitted through unsafe healthcare in African countries. But they also advise UN employees that:

We in the UN system are unlikely to become infected [with HIV through contaminated blood] since the UN-system medical services take all the necessary precautions and use only new or sterilized equipment. Extra precautions should be taken, however, when on travel away from UN approved medical facilities, as the UN cannot ensure the safety of blood supplies or injection equipment obtained elsewhere.

In other words, the UN is well aware that unsafe healthcare is a risk outside of ‘UN approved’ facilities. But they only tell UN employees, and not Africans. With that in mind, the racist ‘highly-sexed African’ theory is no longer required to explain why HIV prevalence reaches such incredible levels in some African countries. Perhaps the prejudice is just too media friendly to give up.

Maathai admits that she is not an expert on HIV, but she is not satisfied with the orthodox view (or views), perhaps because that requires one to see Africans as barely human in their sexual relationships, in their family lives, even in their broader social relationships.

As the HIV expert, Dr David Gisselquist has cogently argued (in personal correspondence): “If the virus were different in Africa, wouldn’t we be afraid it [would] get on a plane and come to the US/EU? But we are not afraid – which is a dead giveaway that we know whatever is causing Africa’s epidemics is something that stays in Africa.”

What ‘stays in Africa’ is unsafe healthcare services, whose potential role in the worst HIV epidemics still needs to be investigated 30 years into the HIV pandemic. Some HIV transmission could be stopped in its tracks, perhaps a large amount of transmission. Maathai questioned the orthodoxy and was rubbished for doing so. But the HIV industry still needs to answer the question.

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