UN Exaggerates AIDS Crisis and Ignores Real Solutions, According to New Paper

Peter Piot, USAID     (WASHINGTON DC – C-FAM) In a paper just published by the highly respected National Catholic Bioethics Center, noted United Nations (UN) scholar Douglas Sylva accuses the UN of playing sexual politics with the global AIDS crisis, thereby exacerbating the problem.

     Writing in the current issue of "Ethics and Medics," Sylva—a Senior Fellow with C-FAM, publisher of the Friday Fax—charges the UN with exaggerating the crisis with highly inflated numbers and then ignoring the most obvious response, behavior modification. 

     Sylva points out that in 2006 Peter Piot, head of the UN specialized agency on AIDS, announced that “the pandemic and its toll are outstripping the worst predictions.” UNAIDS then believed there were 40 million people infected worldwide. A year later, Piot's agency announced the number was seven million fewer than thought and that the number of new infections had peaked ten years earlier.

     Sylva writes that the discrepancy was because "the UN tested patients at urban sexual health clinics—people who had reason to fear that they were infected—and then extrapolated the findings to the general population. This would be like estimating a nation’s lung cancer rate by testing only chain smokers. Of course the numbers would be too high."

     Sylva charges that "this ordinary deviation from sound thinking in the case of AIDS is joined by the extraordinary: AIDS is unique because, as a deadly pandemic spread mainly through promiscuous sexual activity, it threatens some of the most cherished modern norms concerning sexual liberation. So to promote the most obvious response to such a pandemic—do not engage in promiscuous sexual activity—would in essence be a capitulation, an admission that the dream of consequence-free sexual activity was not only impossible, but perhaps at least partly responsible for the scourge."

     In order to protect the sexual revolution, the UN's response, followed by elites at major foundations, donor nations and non-governmental organizations, was to introduce what Sylva calls "the lowly condom." Sylva writes, "The United Nations launched a massive, worldwide, comprehensive sex education and condom distribution campaign. It has been joined by just about every other institution involved in international development: the European Union, individual nations, foundations, and non-governmental organizations. This, despite the fact that any significant level of protection would require condoms to be available in their billions, at all possible times and at all possible places, to be used 100 percent of the time, and to be used correctly 100 percent of the time. Nonetheless, condoms and their many imperfections were sold to the people of the developing world as 'safe sex.' The nations that embraced this program most emphatically, such as South Africa, saw infection rates continue to soar.”

     Finally Sylva charges that the AIDS crisis "has been used as an excuse to ensconce the norms of the sexual revolution in international law, and to establish these norms as new universal rights. The UN has claimed that AIDS is spread because of a lack of human rights recognition for 'vulnerable' populations—women prostitutes and 'men who have sex with men.'" Sylva warns that many of these ideas are found in something called the "International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights," a document that calls for complete sexual freedom, including adultery, sodomy, fornication and prostitution. The Guidelines have been repeatedly rejected at the UN.

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