And yet, as President of the Rethinking AIDS Society, Mr. Crowe refurbished the Rethinking AIDS website, hired a public relations person, and reinvigorated his propaganda campaigns. He also started daily updates on his other denialist website for the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society.
Why would David Crowe and Rethinking AIDS do all of this if the world is bored with AIDS?
Because AIDS apathy is good for AIDS Denialism.
AIDS apathy means less attention to AIDS science, reduced information seeking, less critical thinking about AIDS, and fewer quality information resources. AIDS apathy may explain why 45% of Gay men believe “HIV does not cause AIDS” and 51% believe that “HIV drugs can harm you more than help you.” Apathy may also help explain the rise in AIDS conspiracy theories, where one in five men and women in Houston believe that “AIDS is an agent of genocide created by the US Government to kill of minority populations” and 43% of African Americans in the US believe that “People who take the new medicines for HIV are human guinea pigs for the government”.
The Kaiser Family Foundation just released a new survey of Americans that shows the public sees AIDS as less of a threat than in the past, even as new infections are on the rise. The proportion of Americans who see HIV/AIDS as the most urgent health threat facing the country has plummeted from 44% in 1995 to 17% in 2006 and 6% today. AIDS apathy was also greatest among those most affected by AIDS and those at greatest risk.
The study showed that the number of people who say that they have heard, seen, or read “a lot” or “some” about HIV/AIDS in the US in the past year declined from 70% in 2004 to 45% in 2009. Those who said they saw “a lot” about HIV/AIDS was cut about in half from 34 percent to 14 percent.
Americans who say that we are losing ground on the problem of HIV/AIDS has decreased from 36% in 2004 to 22% in 2009.
Sadly, we are actually losing ground in the fight against HIV/AIDS. An estimated 1.7 million Americans have been infected with HIV and 580,000 have died of AIDS. New HIV infections in the US are occurring at a rate of 56,000 a year, that means that every 9 ½ minutes someone in the US is infected with HIV. The District of Columbia has the worst AIDS problem in the country, with HIV infecting 3% of the city it rivals countries in West Africa as one of the most AIDS afflicted places in the world. All of this is happening while Americans are caring less about AIDS and AIDS Denialists spew ever more misinformation.
AIDS denialism claims that HIV does not cause AIDS, that HIV tests are invalid, and HIV treatments are poison. If our greatest hope for defeating AIDS Denialism is an attentive and educated public, we have a lot of work to do.