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"Religion, politics & AIDS in Italy"

Department of Experimental Pathology and Oncology. University of Firenze, Italy.

The Italian Public Health Service is considered one of the best in the world and life expectancy in Italy is among the highest in Europe; Italian women live to be an average of 84 years old, the third highest in the European Union after Spain (84.3) and France (84.4), whereas life expectancy for men is 78.6 years, second in the European Union after Sweden (79). The estimated number of HIV-seropositive subjects in Italy is about 140.000 – 150.000.

However, since 66% of AIDS patients ignore their serostatus before the diagnosis of AIDS, it is presumable that the number is higher: out of these >150.000 subjects, in the year 2008, 202 people died of AIDS.It is unlikely that such a low lethality is due to early, pre-AIDS, antiretroviral treatment since only 34% of AIDS patients received an antiretroviral treatment before the diagnosis of AIDS. The data from the few regions of Italy implementing a registry of new HIV infections demonstrate that the relative rates of HIV-positive among males and females has remained the same over the years while the supposed mode of becoming HIV-positive changed from ~75% drug-related to only ~5% drug-related, and sexual transmission supposedly increased from less than 10% to ~80%. These data place a very curious constraint on how infection via dirty needles occurred in males and in females respectively. It must have occurred in precisely the same relative manner as sexually transmitted HIV infection occurs in males relative to females. Otherwise the male-to-female ratio for the consequences of HIV, namely AIDS, should have changed. Instead, the male-to-female ratio for the incidence of AIDS has been essentially constant from 1985 to 2008 at ~3.6.

All these considerations cast doubts on a relationship of cause and effect between HIV-seropositivity and AIDS; apparently, the Italian Ministry of Health considers the possibility of a dissociation between HIV-seropositivity and AIDS by stating in official directives that the diagnosis of AIDS can be made in the absence of signs of HIV-seropositivity.

Marco Ruggiero