Whether pinning pollution on outdoor BBQ or rape on the victim, Chinese health authorities always seem to have a scapegoat that prevents having to examine the real cause, which usually reflects poorly on the system itself. For AIDS, that scapegoat is gay promiscuity on the internet, when the real culprit is piss-poor sex education that affects gays, straights, and clearly also health authorities, Xinhua reports:
Health authorities and researchers who warn that the broad use of the Internet by gay and bisexual men in China, largely expanding their social networks, may exacerbate the country’s already-high prevalence of HIV among MSM (men who have sex with men).
MSM have been recognized worldwide as one of the three groups most vulnerable to HIV infection, along with sex workers and drug users.
In Guangxi, investigations carried out by the regional center for disease control and prevention (CDC) found 80 percent of MSM in the region’s colleges use the Internet to find partners, said Shen Zhiyong, who is in charge of AIDS prevention and treatment in the center.
MSM who lead deeply closeted lives due to heavy stigma and family pressures tend to look for sexual partners actively and casually in anonymous cyberspace to unleash their pent-up desires, said Shen. “Their behaviors online may greatly hike their risk of contracting HIV.”
In addition, Shen also warned that gay chat rooms, websites and instant messaging tools have opened opportunities for the HIV-positive intending to maliciously spread the virus, helping them reach out to more potential victims. [Yes, actual statement from a health official].
We’d say this gay-blaming is so 1980s US, but when Shen puts it like that, it seems closer to perceptions of lepers in Medieval Europe. Or maybe he thinks HIV is a computer virus.
Now obviously scientific facts don’t always conform to political correctness, and government statistics do show that HIV transmissions among gays accounted for 21.1 percent of the total reported new infections of the first 10 months of 2012, up 6.1 percentage points year on year. (Though we’re a bit wary of government stats in light of them covering up diabetes figures among other things.)
But judging by the stigma both gays and AIDS patients have even in medical circles, such research is likely heavily biased. It also intensifies that stigma.