While all the hype about your chance of getting murdered in South Africa is nothing more than the wishful thinking of blowhard expats , however there is one thing more over hyped and exaggerated in South Africa.
Before I get into the issue I'm going to issue an obvious disclaimer : I'm not a virologist and I'm not invited to the inner board rooms where the statistics are cooked up. You should always be careful when having sex to use protection. There are plenty of nasty things you can catch including the worse std of all : children.
With that said I will argue today that the information we get regarding the prevalence of hiv/aids in general is grossly sensationalistic and inflated.
Let us start with a common nonsense statistic you will hear down at the pub.
1 in 5 (4,3?) South Africans are infected with the hiv virus.
Actually according to the official estimates around 1 in 9 South Africans are infected by Aids. Firstly this is a "worst case scenario" that makes predictions based on things like prevalence of hiv in new born children and from those being tested at hospitals.
But let's look closer at this 1 in 9 prediction.
A few facts about Aids.
Studies carried out world wide have stated that a heterosexual male would need to have around 1000-3000 unprotected exposures to the virus to stand a 50% chance of getting the virus. That means you need to have unprotected sex with someone with hiv an average of 2000 times to stand a decent chance of getting it.
For hiv to spread from person to person it requires that both parties have some form of an open wound. Exposure to vaginal fluids, saliva or semen etc do not spread the disease. The virus must go directly from one blood stream to the next or it dies immediately. Therefore the relative biology means that the figure is about half the amount of exposures for women and three times less that for gay men (Anal sex is the most likely form of sex to induce tearing of the skin.
So it would seem that for 1 in 9 people to have have contracted aids through the traditionally perceived methods that there is some kind of extreme gangbang non stop orgy going on in the country that I haven't been invited to. No , the idea that I'd not be invited to an irgy is silly ....clearly sex alone can not explain the 1 in 9 figure. Either we must prove that 10 % of the country have had unprotected sex with people with hiv on average of 2000 times , or we must admit that the 1 in 9 is simply not feasible.
When one considers that the estimates for other std's such as gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes (which are relatively very easily transmitted)are actually lower than those of hiv/Aids(which is relatively very difficult to transmit) then we have a big problem. Something is clearly not matching up.
It's been suggested by some credible scientists that this strangely high estimate comes from the fact that the estimates are being based on a group of people who notoriously tests falsely positive ....ie : pregnant women. More controversially it's been suggested that the traditional paradigm with which we understand the hiv virus in Africa is in fact deeply flawed and need scientific re-evaluation. This is the school of thought that that can be associated with our health minister. The idea is that hiv/aids has a third force acting on it other than sex alone to account for the high infection rate.
Another thing to consider is that when the only group of people who you could legally test without consent were tested they showed only a prevelence of 0,17 %. (17 out of 1000 people). Who was this group ? They were the prisoners of South Africa. A group who you would think would have hiv aids coming out of their ears due to the infamous prison rape and general class from which they come from. So why this low rate ? What does it tell us ? Is this a more realistic figure of hiv prevalence ? Is the fact they get 3 square meals a part of it ? Is someone lying about the figures ? What is going on ?
Another thing to consider as I made in previous articles is the very real possibility that with all the financial incentive to cook the books in regards aids , that in fact a lot of this is going on. There is big research and pharmaceutical money at stake....huge money ! And where there is huge money to be made , corruption always follows.
Then there is the school of scientists who find the link between hiv and aids to not correlate directly, with some even denying the existence of hiv (as it's never been isolated purely). They argue that if you give a person with a poor diet and low immune system the stressful news he is dying and follow that up highly toxic drugs that you really have no need for some mysterious virus to explain them dying from diseases like tb.
Also if indeed there was 1 -9 aids rate we've been told (for the past 15 years at least anyway) then we'd expect to be seeing as a best case scenario 800 000 deaths a year from it. Although strictly speaking you'd expect this to be much higher. In fact we see only 15 000 aids deaths a year with another possible few of 50 000 tb deaths (some might argue) possibly also covering up aids deaths. This really does make it seem that somewhere , someone is not quite telling us the whole truth with this 1 in 9 story.
Each of the above issues alone warrant an article of their own and I will do so in good time. Today however I just ask the questions for your own personal consideration and research.
So I think we can admit that there is surely enough huge holes in this 1 in 9 version to pretty easily debunk it. If you asked me to suck a number out of my thumb based on the actual amount of deaths and prison samples and likelihood of contracting the disease sexually , I'd say probably around less than 3% of South African have Aids. But again you really can't take my word for it and should look into it yourself. I am open to suggestions that it might be higher , but it would really surprise me to find anything close to 10% that I couldn't with great ease disprove. And before you shout and scream , later when I have the time I will provide credible references for all the numbers I've thrown up there. Possibly only as late as Monday though.
As I said before it's always better to be safe than sorry. I understand the view that it can't hurt to make people hyper aware of the dangers by overstating them if necessary. However I feel if we follow this too far what we will have is a whole bunch of traumatized people who secretly feel they have a good chance of having contracted aids , when in fact its minuscule. These people are less likely to get tested , more likely to engage in anti social escapism behavior such as drinking (to curb their fears). They are more likely to have phobias about getting too close to someone interpersonally and thus may engage in more promiscuity. They may even give in to a feeling of hopelessness and just engage in more unprotected sex than they normally would. The stress itself will have a negative effect on all aspects of their life, including personal and health.
Once again I urge everyone to never allow this information to make them more apathetic about using protection/being faithful in their sex lives. Certainly the less you think it can happen to you , the more likely it will ...so be smart.
Below is a video you can watch if you're interested in why people would be "crazy" enough to question the link between hiv and aids.