And what is the story presented on television’s most respected current affairs documentary platform? It is two hours centered on how and why the blacks are catching up with gays in scoring the most positive HIV antibody tests, and how this public health problem is now the major sector of expansion of a deadly disease that the rest of us have been lulled into thinking is pretty much dealt with, with treatment now allowing people with HIV/AIDS to lead “long and happy lives”.
SPINNING THE HIV/AIDS YARN TO REEL IN BLACK SUPPLICANTS
Every doctor, priest and shaman must have a story to engage and cow his audience, and this is the one offered to all who test “HIV positive” (in fact, they test harmlessly HIV antibody positive, with a test that cross reacts with everything under the kitchen sink and proves the presence of anything but HIV, please see package insert, ask the druggist for it, they usually withhold such alarming notices from the general public as a favor to the physicians) by the scientists and bureaucrats and AIDS workers who are now rebuilding their congregation by labeling African Americans “HIV positive”, a fantasy condition actually unknown to good proven science.
PBS Newshour and even the otherwise reliable Frontline join the New York Times in serving as propaganda machines trumpeting this nonsense to their trusting flock. One wonders where their public responsibility begins and ends when they so easily endorse the claims of scientists while double checking the claims of everybody else, including bankers, bureaucrats and government officials.
THE MESSAGE: BLACKS ARE THE NEW GAYS IN HIV/AIDS
First we are served up a segment of the ominously titled Endgame:AIDS in Black America, the Frontline two hour report, on PBS Newshour, where our resident intrepid presenter, none other than the charming Gwen “roll-over-and-tickle me” Ifill, notes this supposed alarming statistical development of the last few years, and asks an African-American spokesman to explain what it is about American blacks that has led to this disproportinate rise in “HIV infection” among blacks, which is seen particularly, of late, among heterosexual African-American women.
NELL’S AWFUL DISCOVERY BUSTS HER NEW MARRIAGE
With that lead in we then have two hours of a Frontline special featuring one sad story after another, beginning with the one highlighted in the Newshour. The newly married Nell, a very respectable and amiable mother of five and grandmother of seventeen, one day felt a strange burning urge to look inside a Certified Blood Bank envelope she found among her latest husband’s effects. The envelope fell out of his bedside Bible while she was making the bed, and it was addressed to him a year before their wedding.
The letter turned out to have informed him and now her, she says, that he had been “diagnosed with HIV/AIDS”. The unfortunate husband, “a man she trusted and a Deacon in her church,”, as Gwen puts it on the Newshour, at first denied there was anything when she asked if he had forgotten to tell her everything about himself. Then she showed him the letter.
Now feeling fully informed, Nell recalled that indeed she was sick all the time they honeymooned in Disney World. “After the honeymoon months went by and Nell didn’t feel any better” croons the subdued female voiceover in the Frontline segment, “but she settled into married life.” Then one morning she found the envelope…and “I read it and read it and could not believe it.”
The letter (displayed on camera) had informed her husband that he “most likely has been exposed” to the AIDS virus and that the “virus is present in your body. You must assume that you are infectious and may give the virus to others. The positive test result does not mean that you have AIDS now nor that you will definitely develop AIDS in the future.”
The first two out of those four statements are of course entirely incorrect, according to the AIDS literature. A positive result for antibodies, which is what the tests test for, means that the virus is effectively absent, and Nancy Padian, celebrated HIV/AIDS research general, showed us seventeen years ago that HIV is effectively non transmissible among healthy heterosexuals.
Now Nell’s happy home is a smoking ruin, it seems. Before this catastrophic labeling Nell had been delighted with her new consort’s lively company. “We had a lot in common, a great sense of humor and we liked to do things together”, she says, pausing, overcome with emotion, twice in telling her story. Apparently she has lost all of that – the basis of a fine marriage, now beyond retrieval. Her husband’s face is blurred out in the photos of them together.
Having accepted the story she has been sold by the HIV/AIDS establishment, Nell is outraged. Her ex-husband gets it in the neck on national television. It was the “worst kind of betrayal anyone could do to anybody. This is not love”, she says, emanating decency and respectability from every pore.
But this is not all. Two weeks later, announces Gwen, Nell found that she too was HIV positive, joining the “more than one million Americans living with HIV, with one new diagnosis every ten minutes. Government statistics show that more than half are black.” This picture is then fleshed out for two hours in Frontline from 9pm till 11pm.
PHILL WILSON EXPLAINS THE EPIDEMIOLOGY
But first, we will have a talking head on PBS Newshour who tells Gwen the answer to the question we all want to know, why are blacks doing so badly in their HIV/AIDS testing? We have the honor of having this explained by Phill Wilson, in grey jacket, white shirt and black and white striped tie, with a looped pink ribbon in his lapel – is he unaware that the Black AIDS ribbon has black at the top? – who founded and now directs the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.
Why are so many blacks testing HIV positive? Mr Wilson has the answer. He informs us they are just catching up, after a time when AIDS was “mischaracterized” as a white, gay disease, so black testing and counterneasures got off to “a slow start… the virus had a chance to take hold in our community and we have been playing catchup”. There was a lack of “leadership” till now.
How about stigma, asks Gwen, “the secret keeping, the fear”? Phill’s answer is Yes, blacks depend on their community more and suffer more when its support is withdrawn. “This undermines our ability to talk about HIV in an appropriate manner.”
“So when did this disease go from affecting white gay males to affecting women and children more broadly?” asks Gwen, apparently unwilling to say the word black in this context. Oh no, that was happening at the very beginning of AIDS avers Phill. “Black people were disproportionately impacted. They were 25% of the cases in the early early days and black women were always disproportionately impacted.”
For more on this story go to Science Guardian