December #66 : The Viral Lowdown: HIVers in Hock to Homophobia - by Paul Trewhela

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Table of Contents

The Viral Lowdown: Can You Believe What She Says?

The Viral Lowdown: Say What

The Viral Lowdown: Word Is Out For New HIVers

The Viral Lowdown: Dishing Out the Denial

The Viral Lowdown: Pharma Flubs Phase IV

The Viral Lowdown: Lack of Leadership Leaves Latinos In Lethal Lurch

The Viral Lowdown: Mystery: Partially Positive

The Viral Lowdown: Prison Death Prompts Probe

The Viral Lowdown: African AIDS Under a TAC

The Viral Lowdown: All Dolled Up: Rx Abuse High Among Gay HIVers


The Viral Lowdown: If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who?

The Viral Lowdown: News Flash: The Sky Isn't Falling!

The Viral Lowdown: HIVers in Hock to Homophobia

Tales of the (Safer Sex) City

Clean, Sober...and Medicated?

The Secret Plot to Destroy African Americans


The Art Of Living

Summit, Some More

Channel Surfing

Shout Out

Lights! Camera! Handcuffs?

Quick Picks

Life Is Sweet

Packing Meat, Just Barely

A Cell of One’s Own


Doing AIDS Justice

Petal Pusher

Carry On, MP

Milk Got You?

Comfort Zone

Big Science Kicker

Herb Of The Month

Protease Progeny

It Takes Guts

Between A Recovery And A Hard Place

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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December 2000

The Viral Lowdown: HIVers in Hock to Homophobia

by Paul Trewhela

South Africa President Thabo Mbeki's bizarre position on HIV not causing AIDS has two sources -- one legitimate, the other not. It is appropriate that he condemns the massive economic disparity between the rich white West and AIDS-stricken Africa, where mega-deaths are indeed the wages of poverty. Hatred of the West will be the result if the injustices of third-world debt and global terms of trade are not remedied quickly.

What dooms Mbeki's case, however, is the deep Africanist prejuduce against homosexuality. This has been most graphically expressed by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, whose response to his nation's AIDS crisis has been a violent attack on gays. In a similar manner, Winnie Mandela justified her kidnapping and assault of four youths in Soweto in 1998 (one was murdered) on the grounds of the alleged homosexuality of the priest in whose house they were staying. Before her conviction, her supporters paraded outside the court with banners stating "Homosex is not in black culture."

It is this homophobic mind-set that lurks behind Mbeki's embrace of the so-called HIV dissidents who claim, contrary to all the science, that HIV does not cause AIDS. Such a view -- with its sham biology -- endorses an Africanist myth of a pure and primal Africa contaminated by a sinful West. It is also a reversion to the racism of the apartheid state.

Given the disruption to stable sexual relationships by the migrant labor system brutally instituted by Britain, AIDS was destined to wreak havoc in South Africa. For this reason alone, it is owed recompense from the profiteering West. But by denying the reality of a virus, disease and humanity shared by Africans and Western gays, Mbeki has not made it easier for any payback to be forthcoming. As Malcolm X put it, he is part of the problem, not the solution.

-- Paul Trewhela, an ex- member of the African National Congress, is a professor at Britain's University of Aylesbury, Britain.

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