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Essay

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HIV, Stigma, and Rates of Infection: A Rumour without Evidence

  • Published: October 31, 2006
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030435

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Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:01 GMT

Author: Mark Seielstad
Position: Assistant Professor
Institution: Harvard School of Public Health
E-mail: mseielst@hsph.harvard.edu
Additional Authors: none
Submitted Date: November 01, 2006
Published Date: November 2, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The authors present absolutely no reasons or data that would undermine the hypothesis that stigmatization can increase the risk of HIV spread in populations (nor any in favor of their own contrary hypothesis that stigamitzation could halt the spread of HIV). More data to address the question may be needed to establish either hypothesis, but motivations to collect such data should not come from illogical and inflammatory counterhypotheses. In the guidelines for writing this response we are told that "...letters inciting racial hatred, sexism, or homophobia [will not be posted.]" but the present authors skirt very closely the commission of such acts. After all, hiv prevalences also differ among races, so disproportionately infected races too will require additional stigmatization for the greater good of hiv containment in less heavily infected races. This editorial is shameful in its intellectual dishonesty, and the appalling lack of evidence to support its own unappealing counterhypothesis.

No competing interests declared.