Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces on Survey Results Indicating Some U.S. Blacks Believe AIDS Myths
A significant proportion of surveyed African Americans believe that U.S. government scientists created HIV to eradicate or control African-American populations, according to a telephone survey conducted by RAND Corporation and Oregon State University and published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. Nearly half of respondents said they believe that HIV is manmade, with approximately 12% saying they believe HIV was created and spread by the CIA and nearly 27% of respondents saying that "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory." In addition, about 16% of respondents agreed that the government created HIV to control the black population, and about 15% agreed with a statement saying that AIDS is a form of genocide against African Americans. The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, found that men were more likely than women to believe HIV/AIDS-related conspiracy theories and that African-American men who have such beliefs are less likely to use condoms to protect against HIV transmission (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/31). Several newspapers recently have published editorials and opinion pieces in reaction to the survey, some of which are summarized below.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "[D]istrust" among some African Americans about the origin of HIV is one of the "saddest legacies of America's tortured racial history," a Post-Gazette editorial says. While "black life has been terribly devalued in American history," the "conspiracy theor[y]" that HIV was "produced in a lab" and is "specifically targeted" toward any racial group is "narcissistic and delusional," according to the editorial. "The tragedy and scope of the disease is too immense to be contained by such fanciful racial paranoia," the editorial says, concluding, "This is one of those situations in which what one believes about the disease can be as deadly as the disease itself" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/1).
- Jabari Asim, Washington Post: While "illegal and immoral abuses conducted by the Untied States in pursuit of such vaunted objectives as science" are "as much a part of our tradition as hot dogs and Chevrolets," casting "suspicion on the CIA and other not entirely unreasonable suspects doesn't deter the spread of HIV among African Americans," columnist Asim writes in a Post opinion piece. Even if HIV/AIDS was "created in a laboratory specifically to kill" blacks, "[w]ouldn't continuing to engage in multiple sexual relationships -- avoiding condoms all the while -- merely aid and abet our would-be murderers?" Asim asks. "I'm tempted to think that any group that wanted to do away with African Americans would soon conclude that an organized campaign would be a waste of time and resources," Asim writes, concluding, "Thoughtless self-destruction is apparently a task we can handle on our own" (Asim, Washington Post, 1/31).