Today Theresa has written another article concerning AIDS. Again it is a poorly thought-out article that jumps to hasty conclusions. Let's take a look:
June 3, 2005Theresa tells us that most NUS undergrads are of the mistaken impression that their chances of getting AIDS are far below that of other people.
Undergrads think they're less prone to getting Aids
NUS poll findings have serious implications for Aids campaign
By Theresa Tan
ALMOST nine in 10 NUS undergraduates here are under the illusion that their chances of getting Aids are far below that of other people, a local survey has found.
Yet, nearly eight out of 10 feel the Aids campaign with the message that 'No One is Immune from Aids' is effective.
At the same time, she seems to find delicious irony in the fact that most NUS undergrads think that the "No One Is Immune From AIDS" campaign is effective.
In case you haven't detected the flaw yet in Theresa's logic yet, let me explain it to you.
I, Mr Wang Zhen, share one thing in common with most NUS undergrads. I believe that my chances of getting AIDS are very low. What is the basis of my belief?
- 1. I do not frequent prostitutes.
2. I have never had sex with a prostitute.
3. In fact I have never had sex with anyone except my wife.
4. To the best of my knowledge and belief, she has never had sex with anyone but me.
5. I do not abuse drugs and hence I do not share needles with anyone.
Therefore I believe that my chances of getting AIDS are very low. And I do not think that my belief is mistaken.
Theresa Tan tells us that most NUS undergrads believe that they have a low chance of getting AIDS. She also tells us that this belief is an illusion. But why does Theresa think so?
It may well be the case that most NUS undergrads, like Mr Wang Zhen, are indeed at low risk. For example, many of these undergrads may still be virgins. Others may be engaging only in safe sex. Only a very small minority may actually be promiscuous.
If Theresa wants to show that the NUS undergrads are really under an illusion of low risk, then she must give evidence that in fact, NUS undergrads engage in high-risk behaviour. Where is that evidence? It is not found anywhere in Theresa's article.
- Does she tell us that many NUS undergrads have multiple sex partners?
Does she tell us that many NUS undergrads do not know what a condom is?
Does she tell us that many NUS undergrads visit prostitutes?
Does she tell us that many NUS undergrads abuse drugs and share needles?
Does she tell us that many NUS undergrads are poorly educated like so many Africans and simply cannot comprehend the concept of a virus?
No, no, no, no and no.
Here are Theresa's only teeny-weeny attempts to provide some evidence:
Yet global figures show a worrying number of young people getting infected by the HIV virus: Over half of all new infections are among those aged between 15 and 24.Theresa cites global figures. Not "Singapore figures" or "Asian figures". Or even "Asia-Pacific figures".
"Global" includes South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, India, Thailand, the United States etc. Certainly we can't take the figures to reliably indicate anything about young Singaporeans.
Much less young Singaporeans who are studying at a particular institution in Singapore known as the National University of Singapore.
In Singapore, at least three teens, an unprecedented number, were infected with the HIV virus last year, when the number of new Aids cases jumped 28 per cent to 311.As I had mentioned in my previous post, Theresa's understanding of statistics is seriously in doubt. Her own previous article tells that every single year from 2000 to 2003, the number of new teen HIV cases has been one or two. In 2004, despite highly increased frequency of testing, we found only three new cases.
This is hardly an amazing or remarkable "increase". It certainly doesn't point to any real upward trend in the number of teen HIV cases.
In fact, it is noteworthy that there were 311 new AIDS cases in Singapore, and only three of these cases involved teens. Thus teen cases form less than 1% of the overall AIDS cases.
I am all for AIDS education. But let's do it the right way. We don't need to stir up paranoia where it's not justified. Each year, the number of NUS undergrads who:
- get killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents;
- attempt suicide or suffer a mental breakdown due to exam stress;
- get struck by lightning or swept away in a tsunami; or
- contract some disease like leukaemia, SARS or dengue fever
is probably greater than the number of new teen HIV cases in the entire country.
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