AIM's Kincaid omits parts of Lancet study that undermine his support for anti-gay Uganda law
Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL
Cliff Kincaid has another anti-gay screed up at Accuracy in Media endorsing the proposed anti-gay law in Uganda, this time going after Kathleen Parker's recent Washington Post column for daring to criticize a law Kincaid has aggressively defended. Kincaid denigrates Parker by claiming she is "[l]osing complete control of her senses," doing "her best imitation of lesbian MSNBC-TV commentator Rachel Maddow " and suggests she wrote her column out of "her eagerness to please those who syndicate her column and quote her approvingly in the liberal press."
Kincaid has added more misleading claims to his arsenal. He asserts that "[t]here is a myth that AIDS in Africa has been spread exclusively through heterosexual conduct." That's a red herring - he offers no examples of anyone making the claim that HIV has been spread "exclusively through heterosexual conduct." What has been claimed (as we recently did) is the documented fact that, historically, HIV transmission in Uganda and much of Africa has been spread mostly through heterosexual and mother-to-child conduct. Kincaid offers no evidence that this has significantly changed.
Kincaid then writes:
But the internationally acclaimed medical journal The Lancet last August published the first scientific study showing that male homosexuals are more often than not infected with HIV than the general adult population in sub-Saharan Africa. The study is titled, "Men who have sex with men and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa."
But the Lancet study is about a lot more than how many homosexuals in Africa have AIDS, which Kincaid curiously fails to mention -- perhaps because it undermines his anti-gay crusade. First of all, it further debunks Kincaid's suggestion that heterosexual HIV transmission is a "myth," stating: "Notwithstanding the lack of reliable population data about African MSM [men who have sex with men], the proportion of current HIV incidence attributable to MSM is estimated to be as high as 20% in some west African countries." That leaves 80 percent that is attributable to something else -- in other words, heterosexual and mother-to-child transmission.
The Lancet then points to reasons why there is a high incidence of HIV among gays in Africa:
Most African states have yet to allocate any national HIV/AIDS resource for HIV/AIDS prevention or care for MSM.
The effectiveness of national HIV prevention programmes on HIV risk behaviour in MSM is not known but is likely to be low. Safe sex for MSM implies access to condoms and lubricants that are rarely available or are prohibitively expensive. Messages about prevention targeted to heterosexual populations might seem irrelevant to MSM; African MSM might not consider same-sex encounters to be sex at all because this word can also infer reproduction. Perceptions that anal sex or sex between men pose no risk of HIV transmission, even that such behaviours might be actively sought because of this misconception, have been reported repeatedly. How widespread such misconceptions are is unclear, yet the almost complete absence of African media, health education, and counselling to challenge these beliefs is self-evident.
Important conclusions from behavioural studies of African MSM are that unprotected anal sex is commonplace, knowledge and access to appropriate risk prevention measures are inadequate, and that, in some contexts, many MSM engage in transactional sex. Stigma, violence, detention, and lack of safe social and health resources are widely reported.
The neglect of research, surveillance and HIV prevention, and treatment and care programmes for MSM cannot be separated from the influence of general, largely hostile attitudes toward homosexuality in Africa. Male-to-male sex is illegal in sub-Saharan African countries, potentially attracting the death penalty in four. In recent years, governments of several countries have strengthened laws against homosexuality, and political and religious leaders have publicly denounced MSM as immoral and not deserving attention from the state. In the most recent Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, most respondents sampled from ten sub-Saharan African countries stated that society should reject homosexuality.
MSM who disclose their orientation, through choice or necessity, report family rejection, public humiliation, harassment by authorities, and ridicule by health-care workers. The consequences of stigma on HIV risk, and access to prevention and care for African MSM are unknown. Elsewhere, low self-esteem, and loss of family and community cohesion are thought to mediate an association between social oppression and sexual risk-taking behaviour. African MSM might also be stigmatised in ways that differ from those elsewhere: Murray and Roscoe draw attention to the expectation of the production of children as a predominant social pressure on homosexual men in some African contexts.
Political, cultural, and religious hostility towards MSM thus presents the main barrier to implementing effective HIV research, policy, and health programmes for African MSM. Successes in engagement with and delivery of the few interventions to known MSM are tempered with the recognition that many, probably most, MSM conceal their behaviour for fear of repercussion and remain beyond the reach of such interventions. Although since repealed, the widely condemned sentencing and imprisonment of nine activists involved in providing HIV prevention, care, and treatment services to MSM in Senegal (one of few African countries with a national HIV programme targeting MSM) show the potential for political and religious sentiments to compete with HIV/AIDS control efforts. [footnote numbers deleted]
The study concludes that "the continued denial of MSM from effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care is harmful to national HIV/AIDS responses, the consequence of which is borne not only by MSM, but by everyone. The challenge now is to break that silence, recognise the problem, and begin to move forward in the development and implementation of the prevention and care programmes that are so urgently needed."
How does further stigmatizing homosexuality through the anti-gay law in Uganda -- where it is already highly stigmatized and illegal -- address the problem of HIV transmission via homosexual contact, especially given that the Lancet study he selectively quotes advocates outreach and not further stigma? Kincaid doesn't say.
Instead, he proudly declares, "The purpose of the Ugandan bill, quite clearly, is to keep homosexuality in the closet, where it used to be in this country." He also repeats his discredited talking point that "the death penalty in the bill is only one provision and is for 'aggravated homosexuality' or serious crimes mostly involving homosexual behavior targeting children and spreading disease and death." In fact, as we detailed, it also provides for the death penalty for merely engaging in homosexual acts, if the accused is a "serial offender."
Kincaid went on a tirade against pretty much everything gay in his column. He further attacked Maddow, asserting that her TV show "is an extension of her lesbian lifestyle. She is gay and proud and given free rein at MSNBC because of her role as the first 'out' lesbian to host a show on a national cable news network." (Kincaid has long despised Maddow.) He also lashed out at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference for allowing the gay-conservative group GOProud to have a table there.
Kincaid closed out his column by spewing even more hate, claiming that ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the military "would not only make the Armed Forces a laughingstock but would end its value as a fighting force capable of defending us against foreign threats. Indeed, a homosexualized military could itself become a threat, just like it was in the Nazi period."
Yes, Kincaid is suggesting that gays are Nazis. Bravo, Cliff.