Accuracy in Media

Dan Rather apologized for using bogus documents against President Bush and it became a scandal that haunts CBS. But there have been no apologies or even investigations concerning the media’s use of bogus statistics about AIDS and whether the U.S. Government’s spending of approximately $150 billion for domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs has been justified. President Bush has pledged an additional $15 billion to fight AIDS.

As “World AIDS Day” on December 1 comes and goes, the public should realize that there is very little testing of people around the world to see if they actually have the HIV virus.

In a story about journalist Jim Wooten’s new book about AIDS in Africa, Linton Weeks of the Washington Post said that, “Statistics for AIDS in Africa are so overwhelmingly depressing they make your eye sockets throb.” He went on to cite AIDS figures from the U.N. that, by the world body’s own admission, are “estimates” based on assumptions that have been revised downward because of “improved methodologies.”

A U.N. website admits that there have been “steady improvements in the modeling methodology,” along with “better data” from individual countries, which have led to “lower global HIV/AIDS estimates, not just for the current year but also for past years?”

In Kenya in Africa, the U.N. had once estimated the number of HIV/AIDS cases at 15 percent of the population. But a subsequent study put the number much lower, at 6.7 percent. Even this figure may be suspect, however. It was based on a survey of only about 8,500 households. A smaller number of those were actually tested.

In Africa, described by the Post as “a mass-grave in the making,” you don’t even have to have HIV to be diagnosed with AIDS.  If you’re sick and have a certain number of symptoms or health problems, you can be counted as an AIDS statistic.

John Donnelly of the Boston Globe came forward last June to cast doubt on the numbers, noting that “Estimates of the number of people with the AIDS virus have been dramatically overstated in many countries because of errors in statistical models and a possible undetected decline in the pandemic?”

In a more recent story he noted that the U.N. now estimates that 37.2 million adults ages 15 to 49 and 2.2 million children around the world were infected with HIV, “which it called the highest number ever.” In fact, he noted, the U.N. had put out estimates in previous years that were higher by several million.

To understand how wild and misleading the figures can be, consider that Donnelly also wrote a June 16, 2002, story about how the National Intelligence Council, an arm of the CIA, had warned that the AIDS crisis “will rapidly worsen, with the number of cases doubling in sub-Saharan Africa in five years?”  The number of cases was actually estimated downward.

If this wasn’t enough of a problem, some of the drugs being rushed to those who are said to have AIDS don’t work.

Abner Mason, Executive Director of the AIDS Responsibility Project, notes that some anti-AIDS generic drugs distributed to Africa and endorsed by such entities as the U.N. and the Clinton Foundation have been taken off the market because they weren’t properly tested and shown to be effective.

What’s more, in Africa and other areas of the world, U.N. “peacekeepers” have been caught raping the people, including children, they are supposed to protect. What’s not reported is that the U.N. doesn’t test its own troops for HIV before deploying them. So the U.N. is not only contributing to the hideous crime of pedophilia, but is undoubtedly contributing to the spread of AIDS.

The good news, at least for the U.N., is that the bureaucrats have successfully managed one program. The U.N. Pension Fund is now worth over $25 billion.

When I asked the U.S. Mission to the U.N. whether those pension-fund monies should help pay for the proposed “modernization” of U.N. headquarters in New York, I was told “this fund was created to provide benefits for retiring UN staff” and any other purpose would not be justified. John Kerry’s sister is among the employees at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. The Bush administration has offered the U.N. a 30-year loan to pay for the $1 billion project.

As a three-day AIDS Conference unfolded at U.N. headquarters back in 2001, the world body spent $67,650 for red window film used to create the impression of a giant AIDS red ribbon on the side of the headquarters building at night.

This appearance of caring is also what drives the media coverage of AIDS. The facts have been shunted aside.

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