Why Has AIDS Spread So Widely?
WHY has AIDS become so widespread? While it is not certain exactly how, when, or where it originated, there are general patterns that explain its spread. In the United States and Europe, for example, the main avenue for spreading AIDS was male homosexual activity. When the epidemic was first identified, it appeared almost exclusively among homosexual (and bisexual) men. Until recently, over 70 percent of adult victims were homosexual men.
Then AIDS began to appear among intravenous drug users. In a few years, over 15 percent of all cases came from this group, which is getting larger. In some places, half of all intravenous drug users have the AIDS virus. Thus, Science magazine stated: “The great majority of Americans infected today are either homosexual men or intravenous drug users.”
In San Francisco, 50 percent or more of homosexual men have the AIDS virus. The city’s homosexual community is being devastated by AIDS deaths. A long-term study of homosexual men there showed that of those diagnosed as having the AIDS virus seven years ago, 78 percent had either full-blown AIDS, earlier symptoms of it, or some immune impairment. And while the rate of new cases among homosexuals has decreased, there is little that can be done for those already infected.
Regarding Haiti, the Los Angeles Times noted: “New data suggests that the AIDS virus was introduced into the Caribbean primarily by homosexual contact between islanders and Americans.”
Why So Susceptible?
Why are homosexuals so susceptible to AIDS? Because of their sex practices. While AIDS is also spread by oral intercourse, it is the practice of anal intercourse (sodomy) that has been the primary way of passing AIDS among homosexuals.
The human anus was designed for the elimination of waste—excrement—and not for sexual intercourse. It has only a thin layer of epithelial cells, the tissue that lines the anus. Anal intercourse results in a tearing of this lining and in bleeding fissures. Infected semen going into the rectum from the partner can provide a source of AIDS, as can abrasions and lesions on the male organ. Also, the damaged rectal tissues of the recipient permit infected secretions to pass the infection on to other sex partners.
In addition, homosexuals often have many partners—hundreds, even thousands—in a lifetime. One young homosexual who infected many others before dying from AIDS was reported to have had 2,500 homosexual contacts with men in ten years. His job with an airline enabled him to travel extensively. Another claimed to have had some 5,000 homosexual contacts in 20 years. The possibility that such people will spread AIDS is obvious.
Another factor is that because of their sexual practices, other diseases, such as hepatitis, gonorrhea, and herpes, are common among homosexuals. These diseases damage the body and, it is thought, make it more susceptible to AIDS.
There can be no question about it: Homosexual relations have greatly accelerated the spread of AIDS. Such practices are against the biologic design of the human body.
Homosexuality thus cannot simply be passed off as an ‘alternate life-style.’ It is unnatural, a perversion of the way we were created. The Bible includes it among actions that result from “a disapproved mental state” and says: “God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.”—Romans 1:26-32.
Too, God’s Law to the nation of ancient Israel stated: “When a man lies down with a male the same as one lies down with a woman, both of them have done a detestable thing.”—Leviticus 20:13.
That homosexuality is unnatural can be seen from this basic fact: If everyone were exclusively homosexual, the human race would die out in one generation.
Is this to say, as some have suggested, that God is bringing the AIDS plague on homosexuals? No, the Bible does not say that. Instead, it is a matter of their ‘reaping what they are sowing.’ (Galatians 6:7) God’s Word states this principle: “They have acted ruinously on their own part; . . . the defect is their own.”—Deuteronomy 32:5.
Heterosexuals Also Infected
However, AIDS is not just a homosexual disease; it has also spread to heterosexual men and women. One way is by means of bisexual men who become infected from sexual contacts with other men and then infect women with whom they have intercourse.
Intravenous drug users who share contaminated syringes and needles also pass AIDS on to others. They can then infect the men or women with whom they have sexual relations. In many places a high percentage of prostitutes have AIDS and pass it on to their customers.
In Africa, AIDS is widespread among heterosexuals. As many women as men have it. While the spread of AIDS among heterosexuals in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere is not yet as rampant as in Africa, it is increasing in that group too. So more and more women and men who are not homosexual or bisexual are getting AIDS and passing it on to others. A report stated: “AIDS has become the No. 1 killer of women aged 25-34 in New York City.” And sadly, a large number—some say about 50 percent—of women carrying the AIDS virus are giving birth to babies who have the disease.
Because there has been a permissive attitude toward sexual morality during the past few decades, fornication and adultery have become commonplace. Men and women often have many different sex partners. And those who are infected with AIDS can pass it on to others. Such promiscuous behavior is also condemned in the Bible.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Revelation 22:15.
Blood—Another Source of Infection
Others were infected by blood transfusions. The Medical Post of Canada reports: “Dr. Thomas Peterman, a medical epidemiologist with the AIDS branch of the Centers for Disease Control . . . estimated that 12,000 Americans became infected with HIV [AIDS virus] from contaminated blood transfusions from 1978-1984.”
Many of these blood recipients have died or are dying. Various hospitals have advised those who received blood transfusions before new testing methods were introduced in 1985 to get checked for AIDS.
Studies by the Federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimated that by early 1985 most of the 10,000 Americans with severe hemophilia had been infected with the AIDS virus. In addition, from 30 to 50 percent with more moderate hemophilia had also been infected. It is estimated that over half of the hemophiliacs in Brazil may have been infected with the AIDS virus.
Dr. Margaret Hilgartner of the New York Hospital—Cornell Medical Center said: “A severe hemophiliac is exposed to the blood of 800,000 to 1 million different people every year. Before the drug companies started heat-treating the blood products, the risk of infection was incredible.” She also said: “We are seeing more and more suicides among young hemophiliacs. They are very angry. They feel like scapegoats.”
Jonathan Goldsmith of the Nebraska Regional Hemophilia Center in Omaha said that transfusion medicine “has always been dangerous because you are dealing with a biological product. But this is the worst. It has produced a great sadness in physicians. We never intended anything like this to happen.”
Married people who have been infected with AIDS through blood transfusions can pass the disease on to their mates through sex relations. In one study of married men who got AIDS from blood transfusions, it was found that 14 percent of their wives also had the virus.
In Africa, it is reported that some 10 percent of all men and women who have the AIDS virus received it through infected blood from transfusions or the use of contaminated needles, such as in vaccinations. Since some estimate that there may be some five million AIDS carriers there, this could mean that there are over 500,000 people in Central Africa who got the AIDS virus from contaminated blood.
With AIDS so widespread now, what can people do to protect themselves?
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In Africa, AIDS is widespread among heterosexuals
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In Africa, some 10 percent who have the virus got it through infected blood
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AIDS was first spread mainly through homosexuals and drug addicts. Blood transfusions have also spread AIDS