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AIDS and the Myth of the Oversexed Negro
Posted on Jul 24, 2008
“If safer sex is a function of income, won’t paying people for anything, without conditions, reduce their risky behavior? Why bother paying for the monitoring? Why don’t we just write the whole continent a check?”—Economic Woman
“So, if we’re all equal, why are they paying Negroes not to get AIDS? I suggest if you’re one of those people that believe this program to be a good idea, you’re the one reinforcing inequality and bigotry, not me. What next, pay American blacks not to rape and murder American whites? BTW, this program will turn out to be another absolute failure, just like every other program launched by NGOs in Africa.”—Curt Maynard’s blog
“Not to be too cold hearted, but why do we care so much? If, after being told about STDs, their effects and the likelihood of getting one, people still chose to have risky sex ... why would we want to stop them? ... There is probably an argument to be made that the fewer cases of AIDS in the world, the less likely I am to get it. True, but why start in Southern Tanzania? ... I think most people giving the money are not likely to be there any time soon. ...”—Marginal Revolution
“The main objection that resonates with me regarding the Tanzania project, backed by the World Bank, is the idea that this ‘reverse prostitution’ is the only way to reduce transmission of HIV, i.e., that we have to pay Africans to not get HIV because nothing else has worked. What a derogatory thought.”—Congo Girl
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“There are CULTURAL issues at hand that money will not fix. This has nothing to do with not trying to help black people, it has to do with realizing that no matter how many millions of our tax dollars we throw at African AIDS populations, they will continue to resist using condoms, will continue to engage in unsafe sex with multiple partners, and will continue to get sick and die.”—insomnomaniac
Away from the blogs, the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) reports that even though sub-Saharan Africa has just over 12 percent of the world’s population, it’s home to more than 60 percent of all the people living with HIV. According to the World Bank, a “morbid equilibrium” has been reached across sub-Saharan Africa in which the number of newly infected people nearly equals the number of people dying of AIDS.
Many eminent scientists (Africans and non-Africans) have questioned UNAIDS estimates of HIV prevalence in Africa and indeed elsewhere, so let’s leave that to the scientists. However, it does not take a scientist to sense the moral of this new experiment: Africans have too much sex, with too many partners, with too little protection, and need to be saved from self-destruction.
Now, how much sex do Africans really have? Or as Eileen Stillwaggon (2001) succinctly asks, “How much sex are we talking about that would produce, in the absence of other factors, prevalence of HIV in Botswana that is over 50 times that of the United States, 80 times that of France and 1,000 times that of Cuba?”
Is this even possible? According to Richard and Rosalind Chirimuuta (1997), “In order to have one-third of the sexually active adults in some central and east African countries infected with AIDS, life in these countries must be one endless orgy.”
Possible or not, the “oversexed” explanation sticks because it fits into “what everyone knows about Africa” from the tales of early missionaries and explorers about the Dark Continent and its naked and lusty natives.
Modern studies, however, tell a different story. The Durex Global Sex Survey seems to debunk the myth of excessive sexuality of Africans. The 2007 Sexual Wellbeing Survey questioned more than 26,000 respondents (online) across 26 countries about every aspect of their sex lives. The study found that Greeks have the most sex, at 164 times a year, followed by Brazilians (145 times a year), followed by Poles and Russians (143 times a year). South Africa occupied the 11th position, with 71 percent of South Africans having sex weekly. Nigeria came in a distant 24th out of the 26 countries, with 53 percent of Nigerians having sex weekly.
The study, however, found Nigeria to be the most sexually satisfied nation, with 67 percent of Nigerians reporting sexual satisfaction. They were followed by Mexicans (63 percent), Indians (61 percent) and Poles (54 percent).
The detailed 2005 Durex Global Sex Survey paints a more comprehensive picture. Based on the number of respondents, 317,000 from 41 countries, it is hailed as the largest sexual health research project of its kind in the world. According to this study, the Greeks top the sex chart with 138 sexual episodes a year, closely followed by Croatians (134 episodes), Serbian Montenegrins (128 episodes) and Bulgarians (127 episodes).
Turks have more sexual partners than any other nationality, the report says, with 14.5 partners in a lifetime. They are followed by Australians (13.3 partners), New Zealanders (13.2 partners) and Icelanders (13 partners). New Zealand women have the highest number of sexual partners in the world, with an average of more than 20 in a lifetime, almost three times the world average. Italians reported 12 sexual partners in a lifetime, the United States and Switzerland reported 10 sexual partners, France eight and Spain six, while Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China and Hong Kong all reported between two and six sexual partners in a lifetime.
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