Someone PMed me a few mins ago and asked me two science questions – one, whether as their mother insisted AIDS was a “gay disease”, and the other “if we came from apes, why are there still apes”.
The person who asked just wanted science info and did not hold these views themselves.
I thought my response to be blog-worthy.
And I didn’t resort to google or wikipedia once : P
Anyway, here it is:
HIV originated in chimpanzees, and was most likely transmitted to humans in africa where tribes butcher and eat chimpanzees the way we do other forms of cattle in the united states – all it would take is one guy butchering an animal to have a cut on his hand and there you go.
It is not a “gay” disease, there was no public health warning for a long time after the disease got to the US, and the gay community was affected more severely not because gay sex is more likely to transmit the virus (lesbians are the least susceptible) but because unprotected anal sex is the easiest way to get it, since it creates micro-lacerations in the skin of the anus which is less resilient than that of the vagina. You can imagine why lesbians are far less likely to get it.
To call a disease everyone gets, which is most easily transmitted between gay men and least easily transmitted between gay women a “gay” disease is simply not accurate. And with modern public information about the virus and the availability of contraceptives it is getting to be roughly as common in various demographics, which is to say very uncommon in the US, a small fraction of 1 percent.
The fact that gay men were initially more severely affected by the disease for logistical reasons no more makes it a “gay” disease than the fact that africa being the epicenter and not having the benefit of first world education and readily available condoms makes it far more severely afflicted to this day makes it a “black” disease. Though I’m sure people would call it the “nigger virus” in a different era. It is more socially acceptable to express disgust toward gay men today than it is toward other minorities.
As far as apes, to define the term first the word ape does not refer to any one species, but a group of species which includes humans. The term “ape” isn’t used by science as much because when people think ape they think gorilla. The term “ape” and the term “primate” are synonymous. Second, we descended from other apes, both human and non-human, but we no more descended from modern apes than someone of european descent descended from modern europeans. They are our cousins, not our time-traveling ancestors. And it is the same with other primates. And we are far more closely related with extinct primate species like neanderthals, which shared about 99% of our DNA, than we are to modern chimpanzees which share about 95% of our DNA.
But yeah, to say “if we descended from apes why are there still apes” is like saying “if we descended from the english, why are there still english people”. Because our lineage is not a straight line, like any family tree it splits off into many branches, and the fork in our lineage that connects us to other primates is just one of many in a long, long series of forks.
Anyway, hope this helps.