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Why won’t our condom-obsessed NHS back this wonder drug?

Truvada could reduce new HIV infections to zero – if the puritanical health establishment went for it

7 November 2015

9:00 AM

7 November 2015

9:00 AM

You have probably never heard of Truvada, but it is a pharmacological breakthrough that has the potential to consign Aids to the history books. The drug effectively makes its users immune to the HIV virus. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada for use over three years ago. Truvada is even covered by insurance companies. It formed the backbone of New York’s HIV strategy, published this summer, which aims to halt the spread of the infection and reduce new HIV infections to near-zero by 2020.

Yet in this country, a conspiracy of silence surrounds Truvada, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), as it is termed. The NHS claims that it is waiting on the results of its own studies to decide whether Truvada should be introduced. So while New York is talking about stopping all new HIV infections in just a few years, on the other side of the pond we are gazing at our navels. Meanwhile, HIV infection rates are actually rising: here, last year over 6,000 people in Britain became newly infected with HIV.

Those in the know in the UK have now resorted to buying Truvada over the internet in order to protect themselves. A year’s worth from India costs about £600. Providing PrEP to high-risk groups is far cheaper than providing medical care to them once they have caught the virus. Yet in spite of the tremendous economic, as well as human, benefits, Britain is avoiding this wonder drug. Why?

The answer is that in our public health system, ideology and sexual puritanism trumps common sense. The NHS and the government refuse to stray from the same tired dogma they have trotted out since the 1980s: use a condom.

What the ideologues can’t accept is that people don’t like using condoms. If they did, there wouldn’t be unwanted pregnancies and HIV rates would plummet. Just stating this self-evident truth is to risk opprobrium from sexual health campaigners and public health officials, who refuse to look at the evidence. Since the HIV epidemic of the 1980s, condom use has been the only form of protection against the virus that we have had. And of course condoms are the best way of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases. But they are only effective if they’re used — and studies suggest that they’re not.


A study of heterosexual men and women found that only about a third used condoms the last time they had sex. Another study conducted in the US found that condoms were used in only one in four sexual encounters. That’s a pretty abysmal take-up rate. For gay men, it’s about 50 per cent.

Yet still the NHS refuses to adopt a more pragmatic approach. The implicit suggestion here is that sex shouldn’t feel good and avoiding HIV must feel like a burden. How dare people take Truvada and simply have sex that they find pleasurable?

Unlike condom use, where each time you fail to use one you risk HIV infection, studies have shown that imperfect compliance with Truvada doesn’t necessarily affect its efficacy — even if you don’t take it all the time, you may still be protected. A groundbreaking study conducted in France even found that taking Truvada immediately before unprotected sex resulted in a ‘very significant reduction in the risk of HIV infection’. The results were so marked that the study was halted and those in the placebo group were switched to Truvada as well.

(Photo: Getty)

(Photo: Getty)

As an example of the degree of ideological fervour that surrounds this issue, one only has to look at the furore that Bill Gates caused when he tried to address the issue of the low rates of condom use. Two years ago he set up a grant of $100,000 for anyone who came up with a testable hypothesis for a new type of condom that people would actually be happy to use. The grant stated: ‘From the male perspective, condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable.’ This is not a controversial statement, as many who have used a condom will testify. But when this grant was announced, Gates was denounced by campaigners who said he was appealing to ‘creeps’ and ‘pervs’.

The reason the iron grip of the condom fanatics has been loosened in countries such as the US is down to one simple thing: money. American insurance companies don’t care about an ideological war, they just want to keep their costs down, and it’s much cheaper for everyone to be on Truvada than it is to provide HIV-positive people with healthcare.

Truvada has the potential to be to gay men what the oral contraceptive pill was to women. It is a moment of sexual liberation. We can now pick up the 1970s where we left off, before HIV/Aids cast its long shadow over sexual enjoyment. And it’s not just gay men — as rates of HIV infection are increasing in women, we need strategies to protect them too. Why not put Truvada in a combination pill with the oral contraceptive, so that all women who are not using condoms while on the pill are still protected against HIV?

There is an argument that widespread use of PrEP will result in people stopping using condoms. Firstly, there is not good, reliable data to suggest that this is the case. Studies suggest that those who don’t mind using condoms will use them anyway, and those who do not reliably use them will continue to do so. In other words, behaviours continue, regardless of whether or not the person is taking PrEP. What this means, of course, is that in those who are not reliable condom users, the risk of them contracting HIV could nearly be eliminated. Of course, they would still be exposed to other sexually transmitted infections, but they would have been anyway; and the majority of those, such as chlamydia, are treated relatively easily.

We need to face facts: the battle for condoms has been lost. They weren’t liked and the majority didn’t use them. For combating HIV, there is now an alternative, but our medical establishment is refusing to countenance it. This is madness. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every person who contracts HIV in this country is a victim of a stubborn sexual health policy that refuses to acknowledge this fact. We could eradicate HIV if those in power would just let go of their obsession with the condom.

Dr Max Pemberton is the editor of Spectator Health.

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Show comments
  • Cis

    “…last year over 6,000 people in Britain became newly-infected with HIV.”

    Would it be more accurate to say “more than 6,000 people sought treatment on the NHS as new cases of HIV”?

    How many of these were infected in Britain, and how many were legally resident here before they were infected or sought treatment? Are such statistics collected, let alone published?

    But I take the point: whatever personal or community attitudes may be to some individuals’ lifestyle choices, those views should not outweigh the humanitarian case for making available (although not necessarily at zero cost) proven drugs which would keep such individuals in better health, whatever the disease a particular drug may address.

    The moral arguments about whether the effect of releasing this drug would be to encourage incontinent sexual conduct is a separate matter. A point to consider is that although it might be supplied in UK, the relevant conduct could take place anywhere, and while the party of the first part taking a drug available to them in UK may be protected, their “partners” in the brothels of the world may not be, and their pimps won’t care.

    • Toy Pupanbai

      New arrivals?

    • runningdog

      There is no monitoring of new arrivals to the UK for infectious conditions such as HIV, Hepatitus or TB. The result is that many of the new immigrants who enrich our lives take from the NHS much, much more than they will ever contribute. One brave MP proposed that new arrivals be monitored for infectious conditions; he was howled down by the usual suspects.

      • Dominic Stockford

        One party leader also suggested such a thing, in public on TV, and was howled down as well, by other party leaders…

        • AraucaniaPatagonia

          Last time I looked at the figures, around 60 per cent+ of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the UK were from overseas.

          This equates to around 55,000-60,000 people.

          The current annual cost of treating one person with the appropriate drug treatment is c£20,000.

          Therefore, the cost of drug treatment alone is in excess of £1bn.

    • Mary Ann

      The whole point of providing HIV treatment at zero cost is to encourage uptake therefore protecting the rest of us.

  • Doctor Crackles

    So, the sexual revolution is held back by lack of pharmaceutical solutions to disease problems? Nature will punish us in the end. Man is meant for woman and woman is meant for babies.

    We can now pick up the 1970s where we left off, before HIV/Aids cast its long shadow over sexual enjoyment.

    Dr Pemberton you are a less a health expert and more a pervert-enabler.

    • Pacificweather

      Yet, strangely, more heterosexuals contract HIV than homosexuals. Perhaps they have acquired the same perversion. Could there be a Human Perversion Virus at work?

      • Doctor Crackles

        Incidence rates are higher among homosexuals.

        Monogamous married relationships eliminate disease. Tis a mystery that.

        • Pacificweather

          Not worldwide.

          Tell that to Henry VIII’s wives.

          • Doctor Crackles

            >>>>>>>>>>>

          • Doctor Crackles

            Henry VIII can hardly be used a candidate for fidelity in marriage.

          • Pacificweather

            Read their correspondence. You are allowed to when they have been dead so long.

          • Doctor Crackles

            You use the ridiculous example of Henry VIII for monogamy in marriage and then expect to be taken seriously.

            The chaste man doesn’t get diseases associated with sexual contact. The wonderful mystery is that the married man doesn’t either.

          • Alexsandr

            the faithful married man. Assuming his wife is faithful too. You are coming across as a tad naive.

          • Doctor Crackles

            I am sorry to learn about your problems, but infidelity is not as common as the media would have believe.

          • Alexsandr

            I dont have a problem. But I think if you think everyone who is married is 100% faithful you are sadly deluded. Indeed many kids have a biological father different from the man in the neuclear family, the man who they think is their father. The man is probably deceived also.. Robert Winston reckons as high as 30%.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Alexsandr and the straw man, I never said that married people are 100% faithful.

            Sexual disease instances are in this order:

            Monogamous fidelity << adultery < promiscuity < homosexual promiscuity

            Society cannot afford financially or socially to fund sexual licentiousness. We live in an increasingly competitive world and in Darwinian terms unless we 'clean-up' sexually we'll be replaced by other who can.

          • Leftism is a societal cancer

            Thanks to feminism destroy patriarchy and returning us to more barbaric sexual customs where paternity isn’t assured through monogamous marriage. Defeating your own argument there.

          • Pacificweather

            Surely even you can tell I don’t expect to be taken seriously.

            You haven’t met my first wife I see. You are one of the few.

          • Doctor Crackles

            As I said to Alexandr I am sorry to learn about your problems.

          • Pacificweather

            Three injections and it was fine. She had many great qualities by way of compensation.

        • Alex

          Gays can get married too now you know.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Yes, kind of and only in certain countries. It is merely a lifestyle choice for some and never the goal for all to subscribe to. Whereas, all nations are based and sustained by the bedrock of men and women getting married and having children.

            I wonder how many of these degenerates will choose marriage if they ever live long enough:

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3302055/The-rise-chemsex-Sex-influence-illegal-drugs-causing-rates-HIV-STIs-soar.html

          • Alex

            I agree that we must support at all costs strong united families and child-bearing. However this must not be at the expense of individual liberty. People are not made any more gay than they naturally were all along by social liberal policies.

            All financial advantages associated with marriage should be taken off of marriage and put onto actually having children. The whole point of marriage after all is a contract that these two people, in love and with their family’s blessing, will attempt to have kids and raise them together in an arrangement whereby they can provide for them themselves. If gays are going to get married then all financial incentives should be moved to childbirth/rearing, or for gays adoption/surrogacy/etc.

            Gay clubbing scene is famously promiscuous and while they ought not to be complacent about HIV, good on them I say. In twenty years’ time they will be in their slippers watching Antiques Roadshow with a mug of cocoa the same as the rest of us. The supposed degeneracy in gay coupling is merely the male sexual impulse allowed its full expression.

            For every one of the hard partiers excoriated by the Daily Mail there are many normal boring young gay couples as you would know if you were young today. The clubbers represent a dwindling minority as homosexuality becomes better accepted so the need for a subculture is no longer there.

          • Leftism is a societal cancer

            Firstly, that isn’t marriage.

            Secondly, modern heterosexual marriage in the West isn’t really marriage because 50% of the time it’ll end in no-fault divorce and because it isn’t patriarchal.

            Thirdly, the idea that sodomites can raise children just as well as traditional couples is just plain wrong. They are significantly more likely to sexually abuse the children that have been intrusted to them. If they aren’t raping or molesting “their” children, they’ll be doing something like this: http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/11/06/christian-daycare-worker-fired-refusing-call-little-girl-boy/

          • Alex

            There was I looking for a half decent debate about how we incentivise childbirth and the evolution of modern marriage (not sure why seem to think I disagree with you about divorce), and then you have to ruin it with your preposterous, antediluvian idiocy about gays all being paedos.

    • Clive

      …woman is meant for babies…

      So we stop feeding women when they reach the menopause ? And sterility is a death sentence for anyone. Not that we’re overpopulated in England. Hang on a minute – we are overpopulated in England. We have 415 people / sq km. It’s too many.

      I am also a pervert enabler. Bring on the damn drug.

      • Doctor Crackles

        Nature dictates Clive. We can’t help this and should not argue against. If you are determined to defy nature why should anyone else pay for your treatment?

    • Alexsandr

      what has homosexuality got to do with this. HIV is in the hetero community too. Get a grip/

      • Doctor Crackles

        You mentioned it not me. Promiscuity is a problem regardless of who on the receiving end.

        • douglas redmayne

          Promiscuity between consenting adults is not a problem or any of your business.

          • Doctor Crackles

            It is when my tax pounds are used to pay for treating the plethora of diseases caused by it.

          • douglas redmayne

            More of your tax pounds would be spent educating unwanted children and later sending them through the criminal justice system. This is also a good reason to have abortion.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Abortion causes immigration and as much as you loathe me my views are mild compared to the strangers entering in right now.

            That you suggest abortion at all tells me a whole load about you.

          • douglas redmayne

            Abortion does not cause immigration and is, furthermore, none of your business.

          • Doctor Crackles

            Abortion is funded through taxation, so once again it is my business.

            Denying the link between our declining native birth rate and the need for foreign labour is gross idiocy.

    • douglas redmayne

      What a horrible little turd you are. Mind your own business.

      • Doctor Crackles

        Unfortunately, the tax payer has to pick up the bill for our rampant sexual freedoms.

        If folk want to keep it private then they should pay for their own treatment privately.

        • douglas redmayne

          If people were having unwanted babies left right and centre then society would be picking up the bill in terms of increased crime.

          • Doctor Crackles

            But if this were done in private you couldn’t possibly complain?

          • Leftism is a societal cancer

            Have you seen our fertility rates? The problem is that we aren’t having enough children.

          • douglas redmayne

            We don’t need any more xhildren: we could be like the Japanese and replace workers with robots and not let in immigrants.

          • Leftism is a societal cancer

            We’ve already let in large numbers of immigrants and they are having more children than we are.

          • douglas redmayne

            All the more reason to introduce them to contraception and abortion as part of a package of measures which also includes deportation and closing the border.

          • Leftism is a societal cancer

            We’ve already introduced them to it. They aren’t buying it because they see what these sexual customs for what they actually are.

            Abortion is sick anyway.

            Europeans are becoming an ever growing world minority. If you think that doesn’t matter and that we won’t be at risk of invasion as a result then you are frankly deluded.

          • douglas redmayne

            Well I don’t agree with you on abortion.

          • Leftism is a societal cancer

            I wonder what our ancestors would have thought of us willingly killing our own offspring when they had to hold their dead children in their arms through no choice of their own on a regular basis.

          • douglas redmayne

            Abortion 8s not killing but I am sure that our ancestors probably killed their own children too or let them starve when resources were scarce. They would probably have found contraception and abortiob useful. Plenty of evidence for this.

          • Doctor Crackles
          • douglas redmayne

            It dies not move me nor does it change my mind about choice.

          • Doctor Crackles

            You support a choice you will never make over the fact that abortion is barbaric murder. Abortionists make Jihadi John look tame.

          • douglas redmayne

            Yawn. Keep taking the pills.

  • Precambrian

    The modern age is defined by pollution, obesity and STDs, and no amount of drugs will remove the consequences.

    • Slavosaur

      Have you read the story?

  • Doctor Crackles

    Moderators wish to close down the debate here

    • Steve Moxon

      It certainly seems like it.

    • Leftism is a societal cancer

      And this is meant to be a “conservative” magazine. Only thing you can be allowed to be conservative about is a figurehead monarchy and (slightly) lower taxation.

      Being in favour of the necessary conditions for a civilisation to conserve itself? No, no, no. That’s not allowed here BIGOT!

  • Clive

    This is a problem of statism. The state runs the NHS so the state is implicated in decisions about its behaviour.

    Politicians are risk averse and Tory MPs do not want a ton of ‘disgusted’ letters. The majority lose in the face of the bigoted minority.

    The Americans – while overspending dramatically on health – are nevertheless in the pragmatic world of the private sector.

    • Slavosaur

      Not so pragmatic considering it costs them twice the proportion of GDP the NHS costs the UK.

  • Steve Moxon

    The NHS won’t even provide usable condoms: only the horrible standard ones.
    I’ve lobbied them several times to provide the new non-latex type which is a mere third the thickness of even the thinner latex types, yet just as strong; so that, with the extra sensitivity, then thrusting vigour is reduced, and with it the rate of breakage and slippage. So this measure would radically increase condom usage and radically reduce both STIs and unwanted pregnancies. The NHS might save money overall. The NHS response: no reasoned justification for the status quo. Blatant anti-male sex-discrimination, given the disproportionate expenditure on women across the NHS (twice than on men, even excluding all maternity and gynaecology related treatments) and especially re reproductive medicine — despite men paying twice as much as women in tax.

    • lucath

      Women don’t get free sanitary protection and we have no choice,it is even taxed as a luxury, if gay men are promiscuous then it is up to them to foot the bill for medicine, prophilactics etc., to pay for their thoughtless willful hedonism.

      • smoke me a kipper

        Men don’t get free razors. Problem with Britain is everyone has a sense of entitlement, but far to few a sense of responsibility

        • Sarka

          Women don’t get free sanitary protection – the question is just whether it should have VAT on it or not.
          I believe that razors don’t have VAT charged on them – being considered by comparison “essential” articles for men.

          • smoke me a kipper

            I know that, and I agree that VAT should not be applied to sanitary products. Look at the post that I was replying to, then you will understand my comment

          • Steve Moxon

            The tax on tampons is at the very low VAT rate of 5%. As Julia Hartley-Breder calculated, that works out at about £1 a year.
            Feminists are absurd.

          • Sarka

            Some feminists are absurd. I actually googled that thing about razors being VATfree and it turns out not to be true…So I take that back (it’s evidently a widespread meme). So this is pretty trivial I agree. Much more so than this report on prophylactics against AIDS, if true.

          • Steve Moxon

            ALL feminists are absurd; note just some.
            Long experience reveals that absolutely nothing feminists claim is true, either qualitatively or quantitatively. As a general rule: divide by 10 and reverse the sexes!

          • Sarka

            Well, I’ve been a feminist – in a general way, not much of an activist though – for many decades now, and admit that I have often disagreed with others who call themselves feminists and currently I find many so-called feminist issues trivial. The sorts of things that I might claim (or the claims I might agree with)
            include this sort of thing:

            The position of women in many third-world societies, especially Islamic, is a non-trivial problem.

            I don’t know how to divide that claim by 10. And it doesn’t make much sense if I substitute “men” for “women”…because men as men are not specially disadvantaged vis-a-vis women in these societies, though they may suffer other problems as e.g. poor people, or minority people etc…

            Maybe you just want me to reverse it altogether to “make sense”. I.e. the whole thing is a “trivial” problem or not a problem. Well, you have a right to your views I guess, however absurd.

          • Steve Moxon

            Firm evidence is never “absurd”. You completely fail to understand the culture of women in Islamic and other third-world societies.
            All forms of female restriction, such as face/body veiling, foot-binding, FGM, etc, are all female intra-sexual phenomena. They arose within female sociality — from the highest class, then percolating downwards — are advocated by women, and are practiced and ‘policed’ by women. The only involvement by men is at women’s behest. Men intra-sexually compete in what thereby becomes the civic pole of community, and women successfully lobby men to extend ‘policing’ on their behalf.
            All these phenomena are cultural translation of female intra-sexual competitiveness for pair-bond partners.
            Blaming men or ‘patriarchy’ [sic] is plain ignorance; just as it is when feminists try to blame men for ‘size zero’.

          • Sarka

            It’s an interesting theory, and I would spend a happy few hours in a pub debating it with you (note I never employed the word ‘patriarchy’), but you would discover that I have a lot of reservations (not as a feminist, but as social historian – PS never of women) about crude socio-biology. And one doesn’t have to go for crude “patriarchy” models to cast a lot of empirical doubt on your view that female and male sociality and hierarchy are two functionally separate spheres.

            I am actually fascinated by the study of ‘patriarchy’, but see it in more classic terms as first and foremost a system of hierarchy among men – rule of fathers over sons, and more broadly the understanding of authority in terms of paternal power (there king or priest is like a dad). That is how it was understood in the 18c and 19c, when the key social development had less to do with women than with junior men shaking off the “patriarchy” – the final blow to the remnants of that system came in the 60s, but mostly as the sons kicking over the traces…The position of women was rather secondary to all this, much of the time.

          • Steve Moxon

            It’s an ideological kneejerk nonsense to jibe “crude socio-biology”. All culture exists only because the neural kit providing the facility to exhibit it evolved to function to feed-back to fine-tune and reinforce the very underlying biology that gave rise to it; the upshot being that always culture serves to ever better express biology; it can never take off on any significant tangent to it.
            The failure to understand this condemns all sociological and cultural-anthropological models to an eternal dustbin of the non- and indeed anti-scientific.
            The notion of ‘patriarchy’ [sic] is of this ilk; it is just such bunkum.
            To understand what is going on you have to study the basis of social system and the separate socialities of the sexes in male dominance hierarchy and in-grouping, and female personal-networking and very different sense and form of in-grouping.

          • Sarka

            Wow you are a geyser of exposition…
            I’m just a dreary historian, who uses theories as bits and nieces of toolbox rather than as iron cage.
            Tell me, if you were commissioned to write a book on the history of the concept of “patriarchy” (why it has changed so much in meaning, with social, political and economic context), what kinds of method would you use? How would you apply your model of culture as a mechanical ever better expression of biology (sic) to illuminate for readers why the various notions of “patriarchy” current in 18c Europe, shifted until by the later 20th century the term was more often used in feminist speak. How were Rousseau’s views on “patriarchy” and later e.g. Greer’s, expressions of how culture is an ever better expression of biology… and also what social changes underline the differences in concept and models, and how are these (anything from democratisation to revolution to industrialisation bla bla), also to be exhaustively explained in socio-biological and evolutionary terms, or “scientific” notions of neural kit and so forth.
            Please NOTE: what you are asked for here is an explanatory exercise, NOT a view on the validity of the views expressed! Saying that Rouseau’s notion of idyllic patriarchy, or that the French pre-revolutionary law code or even feminism is “absurd” fails to count as an explanation…See what I mean?

          • Steve Moxon

            I’d never write a “history” of ‘patriarchy’ [sic] because there is no such thing of which there is a history. The notion of ‘patriarchy’ is founded on the false belief that males dominate females, when there is no such thing as any inter-sexual dominance interaction in any species, human included. There is mate-guarding, and this is primarily female-on-male (because pair-bonding evolved in the female interest); and hence why all recent research reveals that intimate-partner-violence is a mainly female-perpetrated form of aggression — girls and women implicitly prefer this as their mode of aggression in a couple context whereas normal males implicitly back off in any situation where a female would be the target of physical aggression.
            I’m working currently on a book commission: the biological basis of the sexes; specifically the male — but of course you cannot discuss males without females.
            The views of some individuals about a supposed ‘male dominance’ are of course the product of how we have evolved to think, and reveal this more than any reality of how men/women are.
            Germaine Greer’s views are just an extension of the core biologically based prejudice all members of any social system necessarily possess: an anti-male bias functioning to control male reproduction, and, conversely, a pro-female prejudice.

          • Sarka

            This is quite funny.

          • Steve Moxon

            From the standpoint of lack of knowledge about science?
            Or ideological compromise?
            I’ve explained why Greer’s views arose and have popular traction despite their falsity. Do you want me to go back to Rousseau when the poor bloke had not even early science to call on?

          • Sarka

            I’m – as I said – a historian not a natural scientist by higher education. And for various reasons I don’t think that natural scientists can answer historical questions any more than historians can answer natural science questions…

            I don’t actually mean to be rude to you. It partly goes like this (and please forget feminism and your bile against it for a moment, this is more general):

            In perfectly legitimate “scientific” spirit, someone can look at culture/society…all of it….as many cultures and periods as we have evidence for…and try to derive answers from all this multifarious evidence about to the question of “what are constants of human behaviour” or in older terminology “natural laws”…It’s as with chemistry, or biology… – you’re looking for a universal model underneath all the superficial diversity of phenomena…
            I don’t knock this, by the way…The results are splendid in natural science, even including human sciences, such as cognitive psychology, which do get very complicated by philosophical problems of e.g. consciousness and subjectivity.
            Anyway, a person interested in that approach, when confronted by obvious differences between e.g. gender relations (or anything, e.g. rules of war) in, say, Britain today and Afghanistan, focuses on “basic similarities” behind the patent differences….He tries to evolve a model that will explain the underlying sameness.
            Meanwhile, a person primarily interested in explaining why and how the attitudes and practices differ from each other, will be interested in…just that – the reasons for difference. So will ask questions about e.g. how the particular differences noted relate to overall differences in conditions, world views etc.

            There’s no necessary contradiction between these approaches. They are different intellectual enterprises. They answer different questions. Things go wrong only when the difference in the question is forgotten by researchers of either type. E.g. the “sameness” theorist, bewitched by having found a “model” that explains some aspects of sameness, decides that the model can explain everything “scientifically” (when actually, from what may be quite sharp initial observations and concepts, all he has done is over-inflate the model and so all he produces is either repetition of the obvious – e.g. in your case that women are certainly involved in what the feminists might wrongly or rightly call their own oppression, or else ambitious and easily challengeable extension of that insight to the analysis of every situation…and in non-verifiable/falsifiable mode. Evolutionary psychology is fascinating, but can easily slide into circularity just like e.g. Freudianism….glibly asserting that even empirical challenge to it somehow proves it…that’s funny). Though it’s just as bad, by the way, if those interest in difference and change and its explanations, take that so far that they will not accept the legitimacy of any inquiry into what may be the same, e.g. biologically based….

            Women police other women? Sure. There are masses of examples of this. But feminists – the intelligent ones – do not deny it, so claiming that they do is strictly straw-womanning….Women policing women and men policing men as the total secret of every social and cultural system, always….with speculative evpsych theory standing in for evidence here? Um…no…It’s actually
            “unscientific”, because unfalsifiable.

            Still, will be interested in your book when it comes out…

          • Steve Moxon

            But the big lesson from history is that human affairs do not progress; they are cycles. Any supposed progress is always subject to reversal and anyway is largely chimerical. Scaling up to mega-society is vulnerable to extreme collapse, and anyway involves no psychological or social development other than mere scaling up, and this comes into conflict with other human immutables. History is the revolving playing out of irreconcilable conflicts between different major facets of human motivation and sociality.
            Of course, what a certain ‘great man’ says in the 18th century and the very specific milieu of this is the fine detail necessarily the realm of the historian rather than the evolutionary psychologist, and it’s interesting so far as it goes; but you will not discover human universals without a bottom-up deep explanation — or, rather, you may acquire a perspective on the gross manifestation of human universals but be at a loss to explain them.
            * I don’t recall any feminist with much of an understanding of female intra-sexual conflict — unless Anne Campbell still considers herself one!
            * A bottom-up enquiry from basic biology is not “speculative evolutionary psychology”, and theory in EP s not unfalsfiable”. The whole point of putting forward theory is that it is challengeable and can be bolstered by evidence, or, failing that, recedes from favour and eventually is rejected. Freudanism is total non-science. All of Freud’s case-notes were made up not to accurately record observations of patients but to fit his ever-changing armchair supposed theory; which actually was non-theory because it’s untestable. No evidence supports it. It is in no way comparable to EP or biological anthropology, behavioural economics, ethology, etc.

          • Sarka

            I never mentioned the concept of progress. Although things certainly change…”Cycle theory” (Spengler?) is very speculative indeed….The idea that “human affairs” do not change ….in value systems, economic and political attitudes and practices…and do not “really” differ from society to society…is scarcely obvious to the observer or reader, and depends on a theoretical interpretative model of what is “essential”… Such models have often been illuminating, but tend to become circular and unenlightening when over-stretched. I.e. universals get pushed too hard to explain specifics…

            You propose (interestingly – I’d like to see the book), an essentially anthropological model of the way male and female hierarchies and interests interact. But, useful as the model may be to explain some sociological and anthropological evidence in some cases, I as a historian can see all too clearly how that model can start to be evidence resistant, and how turning away from counter-evidence in many cases and appealing to the “biologically foundation” of the theory as a substitute for engaging with that evidence renders the theory circular….especially when it ALSO (as with Freudianism) involves a theory of how challenge to the theory just proves the theory….(defensiveness etc…). You are not wrong entirely, but you are far from demonstrable right overall…

          • Steve Moxon

            You are just plain wrong re science.
            Science necessarily essentially is bottom-up, and proceeds according to falsifiability. Period.
            Psychoanalysis was anything but science, and in no way comparable; which is why it is now in the historical dustbin with zero relevance (apart from in the heads of all too many scientifically illiterate and way out-of-date humanities scholars; feminists especially).
            As for cycles: this is at least partly in the realms of philosophy — John Gray is especially good on this: see his recent book, Black Mass. As he points out, the notion of ‘progress’ does not exist outside of Western philosophy, and only exists there because of the legacy of Christianity. As a strong unacknowledged ideological base, a corrective of asserting the cyclical nature of human affairs hardly can be over strong. I know you didn’t use the term, but essentially that is what you’re talking about re historical difference. Having said all that, it’s hard not to be a little cautious about cycles rather than progress given the clear advancement of science and the economies this sustains. Yet this is over a very short time-scale, and the future may even soon be a collapse, even as far as to see yet again the reinvention of the wheel. More to the point — re evolved human cognition / behaviour — there is the possibility that sustained agriculture has led to the evolution of some modest changes in human cognition and sociality (see ‘The 10,000 Year Explosion’).

      • Steve Moxon

        Ludicrous comment. The tax on tampons is just 5%, which works out at about £1 a year: the cost of just one Skyn condom.
        Males are not “promiscuous” unless that is indeed the circumstance; but either way, male sexuality is no less valid than female sexuality.
        Your virulent anti-male prejudicial hatred is contemptuous in the extreme

    • Slavosaur

      You were making a good point up until you started talking about supposed anti-male discrimination.

      • Steve Moxon

        Idiot ‘groupthink’ jibe ‘in denial’ of reality.
        Discrimination against men is all too evident in many key ways across the NHS; this being just one example. Such attitudes are very deep-seated, with an origin in fundamental biology

      • rtj1211

        Cost of breast cancer and cervical cancer screening vs prostate cancer? Is there even a screening programme for testicular cancer??

  • Tom M

    So if it is that good and you consider your health that important do like you do with condoms. Go buy some yourself and stop blaming the NHS.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Sensible point. If your health is that important…

    • smoke me a kipper

      Because I haven’t got enough money as the state takes my money to fund amongst other things the NHS

  • Franky

    Why not put Truvada in a combination pill with the oral contraceptive,
    so that all women who are not using condoms while on the pill are still
    protected against HIV?

    because in the UK, HIV is not a significant sexually transmitted disease among heterosexuals and certainly not among women. It is transmitted among homosexual men. Lets stop pretending otherwise.

    • Slavosaur

      2,500 new cases of HIV among heterosexuals in 2013 in the UK. 3,250 new cases of gay / bi men getting it that year. So it looks like you’re wrong.

      • Fairly Educated Scot

        You realise you are in the Speccy don’t you? Speccy commentors and facts don’t mix.

      • Franky

        Not really. Firstly it is silly to present the comparison in numbers as if the homosexual and heterosexual populations are equivalent. The number of homosexuals is tiny compared to the number of heterosexuals and yet the gross number of homosexual HIV cases still way outnumbers heterosexual HIV cases contracted in the UK (if you read your citation again you will find that it is actually around 1 500 heterosexual cases contracted in the UK rather than 2 500).

        Indeed when we look at your citation we see the total HIV rate per 1000 people: 59 per 1000 for homosexual men compared to 1.9 per 1000 for women. And for women that figure drops to 0.6 when we don`t consider women of a black African background.

  • jeffersonian

    ‘We could eradicate HIV if those in power would just let go of their obsession with the condom.’

    It’s the price we pay for the politicisation of healthcare. We have a mandatory tax-funded healthcare system – we provide platforms for political ideologues with health agendas to pursue.

    • rtj1211

      Even if healthcare were privatised, you have to regulate medicines as they have such potential to harm, kill or destroy if rigorous testing regimes aren’t in place.

      In case you weren’t aware, pharmaceutical companies can’t be trusted on that matter. They are quite comfortable harming 100,000 through idiosyncratic drug reactions if they treat 10 million. They’d call it ‘acceptable collateral damage’.

      Regulation is required.

      And as the UK is a small part of the global pharma market, the big boys would bleed the UK dry if there weren’t a single negotiating body for purchasing.

      I’m sure you are worth £100m so that wouldn’t matter. For the 99% who don’t have your wealth, the NHS purchasing power does a good job……

  • Partner

    We can now pick up the 1970s where we left off, before HIV/Aids cast its long shadow over sexual enjoyment…….

    Oh hurrah. I can hardly wait.

    • Caractacus

      Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and Herpes oh my.

    • rtj1211

      Don’t worry, Nature has a remarkable ability to find a new way to produce the same symptoms.

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    What is this obsession with “liberation”? Haven’t we realised that all it means is liberation from responsibility and accountability – and look where that’s got us. I thought doctors were first of all supposed to DO NO HARM…I’m not impressed

  • jamesthecritic

    Its the same reason they advocate circumcision in the USA and Africa. People are jealous of other people’s sexual pleasure.

  • LoveMeIamALiberal

    “Providing PrEP to high-risk groups is far cheaper than providing medical care to them once they have caught the virus. ”

    Really? That’s £600 a year (every year) to everyone in a high risk group (how many?) against the much higher cost of funding the relatively smaller number of people infected with HIV for a shorter period of time (before the disease takes its inevitable course). And of course, if a drug is free the take up will be much higher so that’s an extra cost to factor in. This is a rather callous sounding cost benefit analysis approach to this new drug but that’s Max Pemberton’s justification for it, so he’d best come up with some numbers to back it up.

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