Myth 4: It is a world away

 

ONE OF the more extraordinary claims of the Aids 'mythologists' is that the spread of HIV in other parts of the world has no relevance to Britain. With this they can sweep away the scientific fact that there are more cases of heterosexual Aids in the world than homosexual Aids.

What they seem to ignore is that Aids in the United Kingdom is the result of the virus being imported into the country by infected blood products, business travellers and tourists.

Aids is a global pandemic where national and cultural boundaries are not respected. Already, scientists are detecting a rise in HIV prevalence among British businessmen who have been the customers of prostitutes in Thailand, where the spread of HIV in the past five years has been explosive.

Scientists working in Thailand say that the country has an excellent system for monitoring the spread of HIV - unlike some African countries where surveillance is notoriously unreliable. They maintain that the dramatic rise in heterosexually acquired HIV in prostitutes and their customers is genuine and that only sensible health education could help to avert a similar situation arising in Britain.

Thailand has experienced two HIV epidemics, one among drug users who have shared contaminated needles and syringes, and the other among prostitutes. Both have taken only a few years to become established.

Researchers there have now seen the first signs of another wave of the second epidemic as the virus begins to seep out from 'fast-track' heterosexuals - such as prostitutes and their clients - into the wider population. Rural areas are showing signs of an increase in HIV.

Heterosexual Aids and HIV infection have also increased dramatically in parts of India in recent years, following a pattern that has become established in many cities and countries of sub-Saharan Africa. In Nairobi, for instance, between 60 and 80 per cent of prostitutes are infected with HIV.

Scientists believe there are two peaks to the Aids epidemic in Africa. The first has already happened - in prostitutes and their clients. This sowed the seeds of a second peak as male clients pass the virus to wives and girlfriends, who may then pass it on to others, including their children.

Epidemiologists in the UK, such as Anne Johnson from University College London, have consistently emphasised that the British heterosexual population is not isolated from the rest of the world. Because current cases of heterosexual Aids are mostly attributed to contacts of drug users or foreigners, that does not mean they will always be.

'We are observing a series of interacting epidemics,' she said, 'and after only 10 years it is not surprising that we can still trace chains of transmission to the early epicentres.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test