Scandals - update and "flashback" - 03/07/03
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
About a decade ago, my good friend Dr. Archie Kalokerinos gave me a laminated copy of a photograph in Scientific American. I didn't understand its significance, so he explained it to me. "This photo shows injections in Africa being administered with re-usable needles."
I didn't need any more explaining.
Now a group of "experts in HIV and public health" are arguing in the International Journal of STD and Aids that "more than half the cases of Aids in Africa before 1988 were caused by unsterilised needles. The claim, directly challenging the belief that 90 per cent of cases were sexually transmitted, implies that the African Aids pandemic is largely the result of unsafe medical practices and mismanaged vaccination campaigns". (my emphasis)
If true, that's a humdinger of a revelation.
Here is what I wrote on this topic awhile back:
Scandals - 5/24/02
"But Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast
To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last."
- Thomas Moore
The definition of a "fanatic", according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause." A definition of "faith" in the same dictionary is "belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence".
When do promoters of a cause cross the line from being dedicated to fanatical? When do their methods move from being based on reason to being based on faith?
The use of questionable statistics to bolster the argument for hepatitis B vaccination and to encourage, pressure, even require its use, has already been addressed in a previous Scandals. In a perhaps even more misleading way, however, the high rate of hepatitis B in developing nations is also being used to create a sense of urgency in favor of vaccinating against Hepatitis B worldwide. Notwithstanding the irrelevance of that fact to those living in developed nations like the United States (except for certain Native groups in Alaska, the Pacific and Canada), it is also completely disingenuous. Why? Because much of the spread of hepatitis B in developing nations has been attributed to the use of reusable needles, including those used to administer vaccines.
Now, why on earth would anyone think it is reasonable to spread disease in order to prevent or treat it?
There are only a few possible explanations. The first is that those doing so are ignorant. If they are ignorant, however, they have no business giving advice or administering injections. A second possible explanation is that they are fanatical, believing, for instance, that what matters is the act of vaccinating, not the actual consequence of doing so. A third is that they have faith that their intentions will prevail over their actions. A fourth, and far more insidious possibility, is that the goal may not be to prevent or cure disease.
Why isn&Mac226;t the significant role unsafe injections have played in the spread of hepatitis B being more meaningfully acknowledged? Why isn&Mac226;t more effort being made to stop unsafe injections rather than encourage the use of hepatitis B vaccination, which, until and unless unsafe injections are stopped, will continue to spread the very disease it is designed to prevent?
Why isn&Mac226;t more attention being paid to the fact that were there not unsafe injections, including of vaccinations, there might be little need for hepatitis B vaccination in the developing world?
What is the real goal when reusable needles are used in "disease prevention"?
Should we not question the credentials and policies of those who have considered it appropriate to vaccinate with reusable needles or allowed their use?
Should we not begin to view such actions and policies as faith-based and fanatical, rather than fact-based and reasonable?
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), paraphrasing John Philpot Curran (1808)
Sandy Mintz is the publisher of the website "Vaccination News", and writer of the weekly column "Scandals". To join her political action egroup or learn more about it, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating the purpose of your email in the subject line.
Look for the next Scandals on Friday, March 14, 2003.
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