United Nations Panel Lowers its Politically Correct AIDS Estimate

Published February 1, 2008

The United Nations’ AIDS program has issued its annual report in which, finally, it doesn’t say how many more current HIV infections there are this year than last. Rather, it drops the figure by more than six million from its 2006 estimate.

Specifically, the estimate went from 39.5 million to 33.2 million. Further, the group now admits the number of new HIV infections per year peaked way back around 1998.

For years, some of us have dared write that worldwide HIV and AIDS figures have been grossly exaggerated, that we were being lied to by just about everybody, including–or especially–by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization.

For example, pious Peter Piot, executive director of the UN AIDS program since its founding, in 2004 bemoaned, “Projections now suggest that some countries in sub-Saharan Africa will face economic collapse unless they bring their epidemics under control.” Obviously he knew whereof he spoke–he’d been using those exact words for at least five years.

‘Gross’ Exaggerations

[In 2006], former President Bill Clinton told attendees at the International AIDS Conference, “It’s difficult to imagine how the world can grow unless we tackle AIDS.” Never mind that worldwide, population growth is fastest in the areas hardest hit by AIDS.

In 1988, a high Ugandan official told ABC News Nightline that within two years his nation would “be a desert.” Nightline‘s reporter declared that by 2000, “50 million Africans may have died of AIDS.”

Uganda’s population has since increased by more than one-third and is among the fastest-growing in the world. As to the 50 million deaths figure, seven years after that prediction was to come to fruition, the worldwide AIDS estimate is just over half that.

Those who have criticized such gross exaggerations, as I did in my 1990 book, The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, were labeled liars, wackos, racists, and a variety of other colorful epithets.

Now I’m being told I should gloat; but personally I’m too busy shaking my head and wondering how despite our best efforts, the AIDS alarmists were able to sustain their fiction for so long.

‘Petty’ Position?

Naturally, those alarmists are now a bit defensive.

“A number of critics have accused the UNAIDS and WHO of distorting figures in the past to push for increased funding to fight AIDS,” says a November 21 press release from the International AIDS Society in Geneva. Do tell!

The group, which has been bringing you only the finest AIDS disinformation since 1988, says, “This seems an unnecessary and petty position. The fact is, the evolution of HIV prevention, treatment, and care over the past quarter century is one of the great successes of medical science.”

Ah! Save for the efforts of groups like theirs, their awful predictions would have come true. That echoes the explanation U.S. AIDS alarmists give about why the heterosexual AIDS epidemic never arrived, notwithstanding that they were insistent for years that it already had arrived.

Politics Drive Estimates

Likewise, the new lowered estimate for worldwide HIV has nothing to do with “prevention, treatment, care.” Infections said to already have occurred never existed.

For its data, the United Nations relied heavily on “sentinel-site surveillance” at prenatal clinics. This system was described and faulted six years ago in Rolling Stone magazine: “If a given number of pregnant women are HIV-positive, the formula says, then a certain percentage of all adults and children are presumed to be infected, too.” Such an extrapolation from a small, non-representative portion of the population to literally the whole world is nonsense.

And UNAIDS knew it because it had been told by a number of careful, knowledgeable scientists such as Berkeley epidemiologist Dr. James Chin.

Chin, when he worked for the U.N., was responsible for some of the earliest world AIDS forecasts. Later he watched how politics–not a virus–made those figures zoom into the stratosphere.

[Four] Three years ago Chin told me, “They [the U.N.] don’t falsify per se,” but “as an epidemiologist I look at these numbers and how they’re derived. Every step of the way there is a range and you can choose the low end or the high end. Almost consistently the high end was chosen.”

Coming Wave

And guess what? Chin, who is author of The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology with Political Correctness, still thinks the numbers are too high. He estimates worldwide HIV infections to be 25 million, about eight million less than the revised estimate.

So at some point the authorities will be forced to lower the figures again. But they’ll hold off as long as possible in order to continue to bring more attention to this problem at the expense of shortchanging attention and funding for other problems that are much more readily preventable, treatable, or both–such as tuberculosis and malaria.

The epidemic of falsehoods coming from official organizations, non-governmental organizations, politicians, and the media has yet to peak.

Michael Fumento ([email protected]) is a health, science, and military freelance writer in Washington, DC. A previous version of this article appeared in the American Spectator on November 27, 2007.

For more information …

“07 AIDS Epidemic Update,” UNAIDS and World Health Organization, December 2007: http://data.unaids.org/pub/EPISlides/2007/2007_epiupdate_en.pdf

The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, by Mike Fumento, Regenery Publishing, 1993: http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Heterosexual-AIDS-Distorted-Partisan/dp/0895267292

The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology With Political Correctness, by James Chin, Radcliffe Publishing, 2007: http://books.google.com/books?id=TGRISAaxYhYC&dq=%22james+chin%22+political+correctness&psp=1