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Mike Cernovich is man currently famous for being one of the loudest and proudest voices of #Gamergate, the movement to terrorize women who have the temerity to make or review video games.
Recently, it came to light that he is a curious version of an AIDS denialist – while standard AIDS denialists tend to either deny that AIDS either doesn’t exist or doesn’t follow from HIV, Cernovich denies that heterosexual men can contract HIV at all. He writes that “there has never been a documented case of a straight man contracting HIV through heterosexual intercourse.”
This is quite obviously patently untrue. By Cernovich’s own source, the CDC, more than 4,000 men contracted HIV through heterosexual sex in 2012 in the US. In fact, an estimated 25% of all new infections worldwide are due to heterosexual contact, and a third of those are female to male. In South Africa, researchers categorize the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a primarily heterosexual epidemic. Dozens of studies have been done examining the transmission of HIV/AIDS in heterosexual couplings and not one has suggested that it doesn’t happen. The top risk factors for contracting HIV and AIDS are anal sex with men and having sex with many partners regardless of gender.
Cernovich has a ready answer for this, of course: all those infected heterosexual men are lying about being heterosexual and the scientists are too stupid to realize it. And if there are any who aren’t lying, they’re lying about not using intravenous drugs, and the scientists are too stupid to realize it.
That may make Cernovich the first person to ever use the “No True Hetero” Fallacy.
So yes, the science is very clear: HIV/AIDS can be transmitted from female to male through vaginal intercourse. It’s rare, of course, much rarer than male to male transmission or male to female transmission, since in both those cases there’s more tearing on the part of the person being penetrated, allowing semen more of a chance to come into contact with blood. Women also take on a greater risk in heterosexual couplings because bodily fluids stay inside them longer, offering more opportunities for infection.
Because of that, for a long time women were the invisible victims of the AIDS epidemic. The general public thought of AIDS as a gay disease that only homosexual men needed to worry about, while thousands of women were dying. To make matters worse, there are many communities rife with misinformation including the idea that a man can cure himself of AIDS by raping a female virgin.
Some researchers have even identified the hypermasculinization of heterosexual men as a societal force that increases their HIV/AIDS risk factors, like bedding many sexual partners, forgoing condoms, and perpetrating violence against women. There are nonprofits now, like One Man Can in South Africa, that try to take a wider look at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and do so by encouraging men to rethink gender norms and their views of sexuality and violence.
It’s incredibly important to acknowledge and understand the relative risks of HIV/AIDS infection while not dismissing lower risk victims or distorting facts to prove some kind of bogus point. This is a situation in which misinformation kills. Lying to a group of people that they’re immune to something is the surest way to make more victims.
So please everyone, let’s go out there and have fun, exhilarating, and safe sex. Know your risks, know your body, and be healthy.