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|FINNQUEER||May 16, 2001|
Letter of protest because of distortion of scientific data by Finnish religious right
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Dr Robert S Hogg sent the following letter to the Editor of the Interational Journal of Epidemiology as a protest against the way certain Finnish and American religious fundamentalists distorted the findings of the Canadian research team headed by Dr. Hogg
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Comment by FinnQueer editor: this article was originally published in FinnQueer in 2001. We received help from Dr Robert S. Hogg at al. In 2010 FinnQueer editors noticed that the Hogg & Strathdee study is being still abused, ths time by the American College of Pediatrics.
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Dear Dr. George Davey Smith:
Over the past several months I have received correspondence from a number of people regarding a paper I wrote with Mr. Craib and Drs. Montaner, O'Shaughnessy, Schechter, and Strathdee in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the gay and bisexual life expectancy in Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 1990s . From this correspondence it appears that our research is being used by select groups in United States and other countries to suggest that gay and bisexual men live an unhealthy lifestyle that is destructive to themselves and to others. These homophobic groups appear more interested in restricting the human rights of gay and bisexuals rather than promoting their health and well being.
The aim of our research was never to spread more homophobia, but to demonstrate to an international audience how the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men can be estimated from limited vital statistics data.
In our paper, we demonstrated that in a major Canadian center, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 21 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality continued, we estimated that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years would not reach their 65th birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban center were experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by men in Canada in the year 1871.
In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996. As we have previously reported there has been a three fold decrease in mortality in Vancouver as well as in other parts of British Columbia .
It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive measure . Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday. It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor. If estimates of an individual gay and bisexual man's risk of death is truly needed for legal or other purposes than persons making these estimates should use the same actuarial tables that are used for all other males in that population. Gay and bisexual men are included in the construction of official population-based tables and therefore these tables for all males are the appropriate ones to be used.
We recognize that the International Journal of Epidemiology does not publish letters to the editor. However, we would like to convey at least to you and the other journal staff that we do not condone the use of our research in this manner. We would hope that this message could be also conveyed to the subscribers of the journal. Copies of this letter will also be forwarded to individuals that have expressed concern about the way our work is being used to restrict the rights of gay and bisexuals.
Our aim here s to stop this improper use of our results.
If you require any additional information please do not hesitate to contact me or any of my co-authors about this matter.
ROBERT S. HOGG, PhD
STEFFANIE A. STRATHDEE, PhD
KEVIN J.P. CRAIB, MMath, PhD (cand.)
MICHAEL V. O'SHAUGHNESSY, PhD
JULIO MONTANER, MD, FRCPC, FCCP
MARTIN T. SCHECHTER, MD, PhD, FRCPC
BRITISH COLUMBIA CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE IN HIV/AIDS, ST. PAUL'S HOSPITAL, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, VANCOUVER, CANADA. AND DEPARTMENT OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
1. Hogg RS, Strathdee SA, Craib KJP, O'Shaughnessy MV, Montaner JSG, Schechter MT. Modelling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay men. International Journal of Epidemiology, 1997; 26 (3): 657-661.
2. Hogg RS, O'Shaughnessy MV, Gataric N, Yip B, Craib KJP, Schechter MT, Montaner JSG . Decline in deaths from AIDS due to new antiretrovirals. [L]. The Lancet, 1997; 349:1294.
3. Gray A, Hogg RS. Mortality of Aboriginal Australians in Western New South Wales 1984-1987. Sydney: New South Wales Department of Health. 1989, pp. 61.