1. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

    Steven Crowder is a popular political commentator who has quite a large following. Last year he released a video on his YouTube channel stating "the AIDS epidemic never happened!"

    The major claim to address in this video is as follows:
    The second claim I want to address is that, because infection risk was nonexistent, the media and government overhyped and overfunded HIV/AIDS research.

    The idea that heterosexual non-drug users have a 0% of contracting HIV is profoundly and harmfully wrong. Crowder claims that this was always the case including during the 1980's AIDS epidemic. The graph referenced @2:35 in the video represents data gathered from young males in 2010 in the U.S., a time and place where HIV/AIDS is no longer considered an epidemic. From the very table in the video, however, 4.5% of the total cases reported within the young male age group resulted from heterosexual contact. This already refutes Crowder's claim. It is important to note that data from his referenced table excludes older males and, most importantly, women! Women make up a large portion of the heterosexual population living with AIDS since they are at a higher risk of contracting HIV during heterosexual contact. From the same referenced CDC report published in 2011, we can see that 27.6% of all HIV infections reported int he U.S. in 2011 resulted from heterosexual contact.
    Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 11.59.07 AM.
    If we look to see what the worldwide situation is, we can start to better understand the full potential threat that a virus like HIV can bring.
    These numbers demonstrate that Crowder is absolutely wrong in claiming that the risk for heterosexual non-drug users to contract HIV is "0%" or "practically nonexistent." Making such claims is borderline AIDS denialism.

    Throughout the video, HIV/AIDS is consistently called a "silent non-killer," implying that the disease is not and was never something to be concerned about. Besides the fact that this completely ignores the risks the disease poses to the gay community, it is outrageously wrong. HIV/AIDS was devastating during the 1980's epidemic and continues to be a huge problem throughout the world.
    During the U.S. epidemic in the 1980's, which began mostly in New York City, it is unclear exactly how many cases there were because it was a difficult thing to accurately calculate.
    To really get a sense of the seriousness of HIV/AIDS in the 1980's, the mortality rate, which Crowder seems to think was nonexistent, tells the story.
    For the rest of this post, I'll focus on the fact that Crowder and his team seem to think that HIV/AIDS got too much attention and stole funding from other diseases. I'll specifically point out the misinformation one by one.
    @3:47 in the video, it is claimed that your risk of contracting HIV is 4 in 10,000 if you're heterosexual. Although this statistic is not outside the range of the most conservative risk numbers, it only sometimes applies and strictly to heterosexual males. Compared to a man in the same situation, a woman has double the chance of contracting HIV.
    @2:11 the video claims that AIDS became "the single most research funded disease in the modern history of America." The graph shown with this audio shows research dollars spent per individual with the disease and compares HIV to cancer and diabetes. This statistic is misleading because far fewer people suffer from HIV than cancer and diabetes. The truth is that cancer receives about twice as much funding as HIV/AIDS per year. HIV/AIDS does receive more annual research funding than diabetes but there are many technical reasons for that including the NIH overall budget, the number of labs actively researching diabetes, and how the NIH grant review process works.
    @4:26 the video claims that "funding continued to soar," implying that this is research funding but the graph depicted shows data for health care dollars committed to HIV/AIDS patients, not research dollars.
    @4:58 the video states that HIV/AIDS research is "stealing research dollars" from other more important diseases. This is not how federal funding for diseases works. NIH funds grants based on things like their experimental design, creativity, and scientific impact.

    The tone of this video insists on a "nothing to worry about" attitude when it comes to HIV and suggests that the funding and panic during the initial U.S. epidemic was overplayed. This view is harmful. When HIV/AIDS first appeared in the U.S., nobody knew what it was. People were dying in mysterious ways and no one knew why or how. Two years after the first identified case of AIDS in 1981, Robert Gallo and an independent lab both identified HIV as the causative agent of AIDS. Public understanding was slow to come, however, and even back then it was a popular idea that only gay men and drug users could get the disease. There is no telling how much damage such ideas did. During any outbreak of any disease, especially a new one, there is no such thing as too much caution. The danger must be recognized and understood so that action can be taken. A new disease can have the potential to devastate a nation. This is why the CDC and other organizations are trained to respond to outbreaks as fast as possible so that they can be contained. HIV/AIDS was not contained and there is nothing necessarily obvious at the time that we could have done to stop this.

    Regardless, 675,000 people in the U.S. have died as a result of HIV/AIDS. Worldwide those numbers climb to over 1 million every year. Even more have suffered from it. Thanks to the funding and research attention it has received, HIV/AIDS is now a manageable disease for those who have access to the right health care facilities. For those who don't it is still a problem. For those who live with it, they have to be medicated for life in order to avoid progression to AIDS. HIV/AIDS must be taken seriously in order for better medicine and prevention to be effective. If it never were taken seriously, HIV infection would still be a death sentence.

    8/10/18 Edit: Typos and wording
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
    • Like Like x 2
  2. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    I'm going to highlight this ^^^^^ for readers that just skim your post. Crowder must be younger than he looks to be knocking funding for research and treatments!!
    • Like Like x 2