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January 27, 1998

Feminization Of AIDS

AIDS Statistical Games

A subject that has intrigued me for a long time is the way statistics in the media are manipulated to mislead an unwary public, epecially where scare topics and politics are involved. A good illustration is furnished by attempts to recruit feminism into the politics of AIDS, which despite endeavors to assert the contrary, remains overwhelmingly an affliction that affects males.

A newspaper op-ed essay, aimed at motivating feminist activism by giving the impression that AIDS has become a major health hazard for heterosexual women who don't use drugs, included this paragraph:

"New studies by the national Centers for Disease Control confirm an alarming trend toward the feminization of AIDS: In 1995-96, new drug treatments such as protease inhibitors helped bring the overall death rate from AIDS down 19 percent, but not for women or minorities. AIDS deaths among women increased 3 percent in the first half of 1996. AIDS is now spreading fastest among heterosexual women of child-bearing age, shooting up 63 percent from 1991-95."

Sounds scary, and pretty decisive, doesn't it?

And then a professor of history at the University of Califonia (sources provided on request) posted the following observation to a discussion group that I follow and occasionally participate in:

Just an addendum about AIDS cases from Canada.

Canada has a population of around 40 million. As of June 30, 1997, there had been a cumulative total of 15,101 cases of AIDS reported in Canada since 1981.

In 1995, a total of 1410 adult cases of AIDS was reported. 1295 (91.8%) were males and 115 (8.2%) were females.

Then in 1996, there was a total of 792 adult cases of AIDS reported in Canada, a startling decrease of almost 50%! Of the 792 adult cases, 707 were males (89.2%) and 85 were females (10.8%).

So the number of adult female AIDS cases actually decreased by 26% from 1995 to 1996. In a country with 20+ million women, there were only 85 female AIDS cases last year.

Yet, because the percentage of women with AIDS increased from 8.2% in 1995 to 10.8% in 1996, even though the actual number decreased, the *Quarterly Surveillance Report* (August 1997) from the Bureau of HIV/AIDS and STD at the Canadian Laboratory Centre for Disease Control predictably and mechanically issued the ominous warning that AIDS cases among Canadian women had dramatically increased!

.....Neat, eh?

 
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