THE HETERO AIDS BEAST THAT WOULD NOT
DIE Sept 25, 1997 by Michael Fumento
Date sent: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 13:11:50 -0400
From: Michael Fumento
Subject: op-ed "Hetero AIDS Beast that Would Not Die."
American Enterprise Institute
1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
copyright 1997 Michael Fumento
THE HETERO AIDS BEAST THAT WOULD NOT DIE
by Michael Fumento
We've all heard horror stories of beasts who won't die. But no
beast was ever so deathless as some myths. So it is with the notion
of heterosexual AIDS poised to devour the American populace. Pierce
it with facts and science all you want; the myth lives on.
The occasion for this latest round of doomsaying was an article
in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication,
the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). In the article the
agency looked at cases through December 1996 and admitted what has
been evident from the numbers for the last few years the AIDS
epidemic has peaked and is actually in decline.
So much for Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala's
warning four years ago that soon because of AIDS we might not have
"any Americans left."
But that never stops the doomsayers. "This announcement is a
wake-up call to Americans that heterosexual AIDS is not a myth,"
exclaimed James Loyce, chief executive office of AIDS Project Los
Angeles. "We've got a very serious situation in the United States,"
chimed in Arthur Ammann, head of the activist American Foundation for
AIDS Research (AmFAR). "If you look at the problem in developing
countries, it's more heterosexual spread, and rapidly increasing
among women. We've got a developing-country si Wrong on all counts.
Let's start with the claim that AIDS is "rapidly
increasing among women." AIDS cases reported in the MMWR among women
actually increased all of 2 percent in 1996.
As it happens, however, the CDC has also just released its
mid-year "HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report," comparing cases from July
1996-June 1997 with those from July 1995-June 1996. These more
recent data found that female AIDS cases actually FELL by almost 2
Meanwhile, female deaths from AIDS actually declined by 10
percent. This was the first time there has ever been a decline in
AIDS deaths among women.
As for heterosexual contact, the MMWR data shows AIDS cases in
that category did go up 8 percent. But using more recent HIV/AIDS
report data, cases in the heterosexual contact category went up by
less than 2 percent.
Deaths in the heterosexual transmission category DROPPED by 8
Are we all panicky yet, folks? Hands going clammy, forehead
What's worst about all this nonsense, though, is that once again
it's merely an effort to make AIDS everyone's disease equally. Or as
an AmFAR slogan put it a decade ago, "AIDS is an Equal Opportunity
But it's not and never will be. The entire increase in the
MMWR's heterosexual contact category came from blacks and Hispanics.
The number of cases in the white male heterosexual contact group fell
by 3 percent, while among white females it dropped 4 percent. Using
the more recent "HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report" data, the white
heterosexual cases dropped fully 10 percent overall.
HETEROSEXUAL CONTACT ADULT/ADOLESCENT AIDS CASES
July 1995-June 1996 July 1996-June 1997 Increase or Decrease
White 1,848 1,667 -10%
Black 4,699 4,963 +6%
Hispanic 2,037 2,077 +2%
Total 8,584 8,707 +1.4%
Source: CDC "HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report," Vol. 9, No. 1 (1996) and Vol. 10, No. 1 (1997)
This shift of the epidemic towards blacks and Hispanics is
hardly a new trend. I noted it fully ten years ago in my first
article on AIDS in Commentary magazine.
But the activists and the media have cared not a whit for what
the epidemic was actually doing, but rather for what would bring in
the most cash and also the most readers and viewers.
Thus we were warned, as one headline put it, "AIDS Runs Wild
Among Teenagers." Well, give the doomsayers their due. According to
the mid-year HIV/AIDS report, teenage AIDS did go up in 1996--by ten
cases. On the other hand, AIDS cases in the 20-24 age group fell by
almost 200, a decline of almost 8 percent. Together these groups
represent less than 4 percent of cases reported over the last 12
Even more than teenagers, nothing tugs at the heartstrings like
talk of babies with AIDS. But let's talk honestly; the number of
AIDS babies is, thankfully, small and dwindling. In the mid-year
HIV/AIDS report, 552 babies got AIDS apparently from their mothers.
In the previous 12-month reporting period, this number was 655. AIDS
babies comprised less than 1 percent of the cases in the latest
Yet it is among babies that we can see the most stark example of
how the AIDS scythe really does discriminate. Though blacks are
outnumbered in the U.S. by whites almost seven-to-one, they had four
times as many babies (383 to 90) born with AIDS. Hispanics had 130
such babies. Asians, with 3 percent of the population, had zero AIDS
Overall, black AIDS cases slightly outnumber white ones, while in
the much-vaunted heterosexual contact category they outnumber whites
Every year this disparity grows. Yet blacks and Hispanics remain
at the back of the public health bus. Stunningly, a three-page
statement by CDC AIDS director Helen Gayle, which accompanied the
first "HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report" that came out this year, made NO
mention of ANY racial or ethnic group.
Thus we continue to have two AIDS epidemics. There's the real
one, in which white heterosexual contact accounts for 4 percent of
the epidemic. And there's the Hollywood one-- crafted by the
activists, the media, the government and, yes, Hollywood itself--in
which if you have a group of three people with AIDS, they're bound to
be a white man and wife and their baby.
And thus we continue to concentrate our resources on where the
epidemic isn't, thereby short-changing those who are truly suffering.
------------- Michael Fumento is a resident fellow at the American
Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and author of The Myth of
Heterosexual AIDS (Regnery, 1993). His book, The Fat of the Land:
The Obesity Epidemic and How Overweight Americans Can Help
Themselves, was published this month by Viking Books.