On Thursday, a state representative from Tennessee, Sen. Stacey Campfield, incorrectly explained that transmitting HIV through heterosexual is "virtually impossible." Speaking on Michelangelo Signorile's radio show SiriusXM OutQ, Campfield said, "My understanding is that it is virtually -- not completely, but virtually -- impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex ... very rarely [transmitted.]"
The lawmaker, of course, is completely incorrect. In 2009 alone, over 13,000 new adult and adolescent HIV cases that resulted from heterosexual contact were diagnosed, compared with just over 24,000 new cases where male-to-male contact was the transmission route.
Betsy Phillips at Nashville Scene provides more context specifically within Tennessee:
According to the state of Tennessee's own statistics, there are 3,694 people in the state living with HIV who acquired it through heterosexual transmission. Twenty-one percent of HIV/AIDS cases in Tennessee in general were contracted through heterosexual sex. Among black Tennesseans, 26 percent of HIV/AIDS cases were transmitted through heterosexual sex.
To ignore the fact that the virus is not even close to an exclusively gay disease is completely irresponsible. It's a dangerous thing for a lawmaker to say.
It's even more dangerous considering Campfield's overwhelming desire to stamp out representation of homosexuality in education. After all, the guy is the Republican sponsor of his state's now-being-debated "Don't Say Gay" bill, which bans discussion of homosexuality in schools, andhe has compared homosexuality to bestiality. Dozens of anti-gay statements have come out of his mouth, even just throughout the course of his 20-minute interview on Signorile's show.
One of the most inflammatory of these statements? Campfield said, "What's the average lifespan of a homosexual? It's very short. Google it yourself."
You can listen to the entire discussion yourself here. Prepare to cringe.
For his part, Campfield aggressively defended his statement yesterday:
Campfield said Friday that his point in the radio show is valid in that, within the United States, heterosexual encounters almost never result in AIDS "unless you're having sex with someone from Africa or an IV drug user."
"The odds of men catching it from women are very, very, very low," he said.
How can this dude get away with making statements like this?