Straight Aids Myth Shattered?


This is from the gossip column of the NY Post - not exactly the most authoritative source of information about AIDS (or anything else, most likely). So the questions are:

  1. Was there in fact a myth of heterosexual AIDS?
  2. Has this in fact been shown to be a myth?

(Also, while on the subject, the article also claims:

Is this correct? I had gotten the impression from threads on the subject that Duesberg’s highly regarded work predated his work on AIDS - this article seems to be saying that he may win a Nobie for his post-AIDS work)

(NB- Not a profession opinion by any means)
What they wrote is techincally true, but it’s written in a manner meant to make you think things that are entirely false. Like that last paragraph you cited- you’re almost definitely correct that it’s for his pre-aids work. They mention that he’s moved on to cancer and he’s now being considered for a Nobel Prize. They never say that he’s being considered for a Nobel Prize for his cancer work, although you’re obviously meant to think that.
Similarly, they never say HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, or that he “lost everything” because of that claim, but to anyone reading that who doesn’t see bare-minimum semantic avoidances on a daily basis they’d connect the dots without wondering why it’s worded that way.

Something else that stands out like this-

Since the disease can’t come from nowhere, it means this is counting a situation where the woman is HIV positive. If you reworded that to “A disease-free woman who has unprotected sex with a drug-free man,” the chance would closely resemble the percentage of HIV positive men. Unlike the other way around, the unprotected man usually leaves some bodily fluids in the unprotected woman. Unless you believe God Himself intervenes to give apparently random gay men AIDS, there’s got to be some medium to transport one person’s infected interstital fluid into another person’s bloodstream.
Other information from The Master Himself, which I interpret as saying
1- Tests for HIV ain’t all that accurate, and
2- There’s got to be an in hole bigger than the virus itself to let it in.

Not sure I understand this; could you explain?

The quote about disease free man having sex with a drug-free woman does seem to include (AFAICT) all AIDS-free women out there. If you figure that, for example, one in ten women have AIDS in a given society and that all women have an equal amount of straight sex with an equal number of partners, then there’s a 90% chance that a man having sex with a woman has no risk whatsoever of contracting AIDS from the partnering.

That’s interesting, but it doesn’t get at the more important question: what are the chances of a man contracting AIDS from a woman who DOES have AIDS?

The whole business about “drug free woman” seems a canard to me. Using drugs, as far as I know, affects the guy’s chance of getting AIDS only insofar as it increases the woman’s chance of having HIV. Why exclude this one risk factor?

In any case, my understanding is that the epidemic of AIDS in several African countries is due primarily to its transmission via heterosexual prostitution. Is this correct? If so, it may cast some doubt on the “myth of straight AIDS.”


Oh – and just so I can make the pinko school I graduate from proud, I’ll point out how this “myth of straight AIDS” marginalizes women, inasmuch as it only talks about the chances a straight male has of getting AIDS, ignoring the chances a straight female has, and then generalizes the male’s experience into a universal.


It’s been a while since I read the book, but I believe the argument was that AIDS in Africa is so much worse due to two reasons:

  1. Lack of funding leads hospitals and other medical providers to reuse needles.

  2. Homosexuality is such a cultural taboo in Africa that men who would be exclusively homosexual in America are forced to be bisexual in Africa in order to keep up appearances. They get the virus from their homosexual encounters and then spread it to women.

I make no claims as to the truth of these statements, but that is the argument.

I don’t think you’re missing as much as you think, Left Hand. You pretty much restated exactly what I said, only in more words and clearer. Iit only claims the man is uninfected, the woman could be either, since tests for HIV aren’t perfectly effective, and the disease can’t spontaneously appear. Therefore, I’m saying the sample is from all women who are drug-free, HIV-positive or not. Repeat the same test with all men who are drug-free, whether HIV-Positive or not, and the chances of a woman becoming infected will be several orders of magnitude closer to the chances of a drug-free male having AIDS.

That “5 million - to - 1” claim HAS to be either bullshit or very bad use of statistics. There’s 40m HIV infections worldwide; nobody has investigated enough cases for a number like that to arise.

A common myth in Africa is that HIV can be cured by sex with a virgin. Which in extreme cases has led to rapes of young children and babies. More commonly it just creates another infection.

Lefty, what Iacob_Matthew means is that it is relatively easy for a man to give AIDS to a woman and difficult vice versa. Therefore, when we exclude drug users (IV drug users having a higher likelihood of having the disease than anyone) the odds of the particular woman you are having sex with both having the disease and transmitting it to you are one in 5 million (I am not sure the numbers are accurate though).

They go on to say that the likelihood of a woman getting it is the percentage of men who have it, in other words, if they have it you are guaranteed to get it (not exactly true), so the only question is “does she have it already?” See?

I have no idea what you mean by this.

Do you mean “5 million to 1” is too low or too high? So what if there are 40m HIV cases worldwide. How does that relate to the odds of a heterosexual man getting the disease.

If you showed me a guy who was exclusively a homosexual “top”, I’d surmise that his odds are pretty damn low too.

I think the 5M:1, comes from the ccombined chances of

  1. The woman you’re having sex with actually having HIV (low).
  2. The possibility of a heterosexual male contracting HIV even if he has sex with a HIV+ woman.

Now, how would you put a probability on #2 I have no idea. You need to consider physical factors. But if I think about trying to transmit a fluid from a female to a male bloodstream through his urethra, especially considering he’s about to expel something FROM it, I’m at a loss to see how its possible at ALL for a man to get it from a woman.

Still, back to the original point. . .at least in my mind, when you look back at the “propaganda” of the 80’s (“HIV does not discriminate” and so on), I think that the presentation of the risk to the heterosexual community was pretty overblown. And people were vilified for saying so.

Apologies, I misread the OP slightly.

In response to your point: from the figures I can find on Google, 1) is about 10000-1, in the US. And the link in the OP implies that the 5m figure is US-centric, by talking of the NY health dept.

So the 5m stat suggests that a single encounter between an HIV+ female and a male gives about a 2000-1 chance of infection. Hardly a myth, in fact quite a risk to take with your life.

In many parts of Africa, infection is around the 20-30% mark. Which reduces the 5m-1 to more like 8000-1. In other words, one infection per day per few hundred prostitutes. One infection per year per two prostitutes.

Or maybe the warnings and education about how to avoid the disease worked as intended. People used more caution (and condoms) and prevented a potenially bigger outbreak from happening in the US. Look at the explosion in Africa. If condom use was more widespread starting back in the 80s, as it was here, then Africa wouldn’t be seeing the epidemic currently going on.

For the record, gays did talk up AIDS as a disease with plenty of potential for heterosexual transmission at one time, even though there was very little evidence that it was. There’s still no evidence of AIDs making much headway among heteros in the U.S. who don’t have bisexuals or needle users as lovers.

The latest theory on AIDS in Africa has to do with unsanitary practices in African hospitals. It’s not that the African doctors are lax, but many of them have next to nothing to work with, not even penicillin in many instances. Needles got re-used as a matter of fact because if you threw away the needle, there was little prospect of getting another.

I also wonder why if AIDs is so heterosexually transmissible, straight men don’t get it from giving oral sex to women.

First, my apologies for actually citing a source and going to real data.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (USA), specifically their AIDS survey report #14 (, of all cases of actual reported (not estimated) AIDS (not any and all HIV infection, but diagnosed AIDS), heterosexual contact accounted for 5.2% of all AIDS cases in the USA to 2002.

That is not a “myth”. Of course, the total number of cases of AIDS diagnosed in 2001 was less than the total number of deaths from EACH (not all, but EACH) of the following causes:

Diseases of heart
Malignant neoplasms
Cerebrovascular diseases
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Unintentional injuries
Diabetes mellitus
Influenza and pneumonia
Alzheimer’s disease

CDC overestimates hetero AIDS . I can’t find the article where a spokesperson for the CDC actually admitted they had grossly overestimated HIV infections among, white middle-class, non IV drug using heterosexuals. I believe the coming hetero epidemic that never happened was meant to scare up research money. It’s fine to lobby for research money, I just find the polliticization of a disease unseemly, the route of transmission should be investigated only as a means of containing the spread of the disease.

The patterns of infection are not the same in the US as they are in other parts of the world - according to the World Health Organization, “The AIDS epidemic in women is overwhelmingly heterosexual – almost entirely so in Africa and South and South East Asia.” Granted, this doesn’t talk about transmission from females to males, but it IS heterosexual. In parts of the developing world, one of the biggest HIV risk factors for women is marriage. (That language found at Note this recent Reuters article saying “In Cambodia, 40 percent of women contract HIV from their husbands or partners, while in Thailand that figure is forecast to rise to 30 percent by next year.” ( And I know that in southeast Asia, Thailand in particular, there’s been a lot of emphasis placed on controlling the spread of the disease by making condom use mandatory in brothels.

(Remembering this stuff from a long-ago thread…)

Another factor in sub-Saharan Africa is a high incidence of untreated venereal diseases of other sorts. (Sorry for the graphic detail, but…) This means a higher percentage of men there have open sores on their genitalia, which makes them more succeptible to infection from an infected female (the sore being the portal by which the disease enters).

That it what the article in the OP is getting at when it refers to the odds of a disease-free man contracting HIV from hetero sexual contact. If the man doesn’t have sores, the odds of contracting HIV through heterosexual contact drop off considerably.

Fumento is highly dogmatic and doctrinaire. Quote, SPECIFICALLY from his web pages EXACTLY where it syas that the CDC’s numbers that boil down to an approximate 5% of AIDS cases being through heterosexual transmission is false.

I lay down the explicit challenge. Show me exactly and specifically how the 5% number is false.

It’s no epidemic, but it’s also no “myth of heterosexual AIDS”.

Prove that this 5% does not exist.

FTR, a PubMed search for papers authored by Duesberg produces 200 hits.

65 of these are after 1987. Most of them are correspondences or low-impact journal publications about HIV/AIDS denial. Many of the rest are in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. As a member of the National Academy of Sciences (which he was elected to in 1986), he can submit his papers for publication directly without peer-review. There are a few scattered peer-reviewed publications. So I would say that his publication record since 1987 has been suspect. Before 1987, he has some solid work on cancer aneuploidy and cancer-causing viruses.

There was a window in the late 1980s and perhaps in the early 1990s where he may have had a legitimate point about HIV and AIDS – there was a tremendous push for new research, it is a pretty unique disease with a strange causative agent, and it was an extremely politicized issue. These all could create an environment where a large mistake could be created. The science establishment has answered all of his questions and concerns, though. There has been 20 years of science since HIV was proposed as a causative agent and the science has completely borne it out. He is still clinging to his hypothesis despite any evidence. He has obviously acquired some type of martyr complex about this issue, and it has permanently ruined his scientific standing. That, coupled with a major decrease in meaningful production in the past 15 years, as well as the fact that Nobels have already been awarded for work on cancer-causing viruses (in Varmus and Bishop) makes it extremely unlikely that he will ever win a Nobel.

If the HIV denial thing ever bears out, it will be the greatest catastrophe and misadventure of science pretty much ever. He could win it then, I suppose, but this is as unlikely as a medal going to Kent Hovind and Duane Gish for work on young earth creationism.

The low risk of heterosexual transmission of AIDS has been known for at least a decade now. It is a huge area of debate as to how different factors change that risk. Things like unprotected anal sex, syphilitic lesions, “dry sex”, and circumcision may change that rate but I am not sure how good the data are. AIDS is a problem of heterosexuals in Africa, and we know that safe sex education and practice can lower transmission rates, so it is important to focus on that. Pragmatism and all.

Fumento doesn’t claim the CDC numbers are false. On the contrary, he links directly to them in his articles. He may be a little strident, but he seems to always make sure he bases his opinions on solid facts.

Fumento wrote a book in 1990 called, amazingly enough, The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS. At the time, it was being touted that the homosexual community was just the first to be hit, and heterosexuals would be hit the same very soon. He said that it wouldn’t happen, and it looks like he was right. Although the vast majority of sex is heterosexual (I would guess 95%), only about 5% of new AIDS cases are heterosexual. That’s enough for me to concede that he was right in 1990.