‘Scary Statistics’ Help Companies Benefit From AIDS, Op-Ed Says
"Saturday was World AIDS Day, which again makes me wonder what the big deal is," John Shiber, a biology, zoology and human ecology instructor at Prestonburg Community College in Kentucky, writes in a Lexington Herald-Leader op-ed. Most of the "scary statistics" on AIDS are "very misleading," as "they are merely projections based on relatively small numbers of people tested," Shiber writes, adding that the "majority" of Africans, as well as Americans, have never had an HIV test. While "unprecedented amounts of money" are being spent on AIDS-related research in the United States, corporations, drug companies and condom manufacturers are "making a mint, especially in developing countries, where people are being terrorized by the threat of a true epidemic," he states. Although the number of reported AIDS cases in the United States has steadily declined to a "measly" number, AIDS research is "booming," providing "well-paying jobs" for many Americans, Shiber writes. "AIDS certainly is good for the economy, isn't it?" he asks. He says that "numbers are manipulated to get a desired reaction," writing that an increase from one AIDS case to two AIDS cases is an increase of 100%, a percentage that would "loom higher in your listener's mind than the actual numbers, thus startling, even scaring, him or her." Shiber concludes, "Remember this when you hear numbers, percentages and sweeping statements about AIDS" (Shiber, Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.