Science and Reality and AIDS Denialism

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, physicians around the country started to notice that certain patients of theirs were coming down with some really weird infections. These infections, like pneumonia from a fungus, were not usually seen in otherwise healthy individuals. In fact, the fungal pneumonia being seeing at the time had only been seen in severely malnourished children and in people whose immune systems had been decimated. These physicians, being the astute people that they were, reported their findings among themselves and to health departments. It wasn’t until June of 1981 that a report from CDC documenting these cases of atypical pneumonias in gay men that the floodgates were opened. Healthcare providers from all over the nation started to report that, yes, there was something happening that people (usually gay men at the time) were coming down with atypical pneumonias and other infections termed “opportunistic” because they take advantage of weakened immune systems.

In 1983, two independent (and competing) groups of scientists in America and France isolated a new virus from people with what had come to be known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The viruses they isolated were named HTLV-III and LAV by the two teams, respectively, but it would be renamed Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 1986. It was then understood that HIV was the causative agent of AIDS because:

  • AIDS patients all had HIV in their blood and anti-HIV antibodies in their serum.
  • People without AIDS who were exposed to HIV and infected (by lab accidents and accidental needle sticks, NOT because they were deliberately infected) went on to develop AIDS.
  • In the lab, HIV was grown in media from all cases of AIDS and people without AIDS were not found to have HIV in them.

It would have been unethical to randomize people in a study into the “give them HIV” and “don’t give them HIV” groups, so a lot of these observations were based on observational epidemiological studies. Later on, antiretroviral drugs (drugs against HIV) showed that:

  • AIDS patients given antiretroviral drugs would get better, especially once their HIV levels went down.
  • People with HIV who were given the drugs before AIDS set in did not develop AIDS, or developed it at a much later time.
  • Pregnant women with HIV given antiretrovirals would have HIV-negative babies, while pregnant women with HIV who did not receive the drug would pass it on to their children.

Jesus once said that all who had ears should listen, but I’m going to take it one step further. Let all who have brains understand this:

No HIV, no AIDS. HIV, AIDS. Antiretrovirals, low HIV, no AIDS. No antiretrovirals, certain death from AIDS and the infections that come from it.

Sadly, not everyone has grasped this concept and there continue to be people who… Well… Read it yourself:

The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis came into existence as a group of signatories of an open letter to the scientific community. The letter (dated June 6, 1991) has been submitted to the editors of NatureScienceThe Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. All have refused to publish it. In 1995 The Group was able to get another letter published inScience.

Over the years more and more people have added their signature to the first letter. By signing the letter; the statement below, one becomes a member of The Group too.

It is widely believed by the general public that a retrovirus called HIV causes the group diseases called AIDS. Many biochemical scientists now question this hypothesis. We propose that a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against this hypothesis be conducted by a suitable independent group. We further propose that critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.

There are 3100 signatories.”
There are 3,100 people who don’t believe that HIV causes AIDS, despite the overwhelming evidence that it does. They want “critical epidemiological studies be devised and undertaken.” Well, they have. They’ve been devised and undertaken. Since we can’t randomize people into the HIV infection and non-HIV infection groups, we looked at people with AIDS and tested them for HIV. They all had it. Then we looked at healthy people and tested them for HIV. They all didn’t have it. (Of course, there are a couple of people who were exposed to HIV and even mounted an immune response to it, becoming positive for antibody testing, but they shed the virus and were not infected.) Further, people exposed to the virus by accident (e.g. needle-stick at the hospital) before the time of antiretroviral therapy, who then became infected, went on to develop AIDS. Once antiretroviral therapy was developed, people exposed to the virus, and even those infected, did not develop AIDS, or recovered from AIDS if they had it.
The people that don’t believe this are known as “AIDS denialists.” They believe in their hearts that HIV does not cause AIDS. Some believe that HIV doesn’t even exist. Others believe that AIDS is the result of the antiretroviral drugs and that these drugs are not necessary. Still others believe that AIDS has been made up by pharmaceutical companies wanting to sell their drugs to third world countries. And then there are the fringe elements, those in the most extreme, who believe that the government (or some big, malevolent force) created the virus, but that it doesn’t cause AIDS.
Now, if I may get personal for a little bit, it is painfully obvious to me that these people have not been to Africa, have not done real virological research, or may be otherwise sick in the head. But that’s just me. Now, back to the story I’m trying to tell you…
AIDS denialists wrote the following passage and signed it. (Scroll down to read the statement.) It’s a long statement, and, if you’re inclined to live in reality, you might find your blood boiling. But it is worth reading because you need the full “flavor” of what I’m talking about. After listing everyone that has signed this statement, the following reads, with my emphasis in bold:

“There you have it. No “handful of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists.” No “right-wing racists,” as the Aids industry’s spinmeisters would have you believe. Just 2,916 very serious, concerned, highly educated people from every corner of the globe who sense that an enormous tragedy is unfolding due to the medical establishment’s unwillingness to face the evidence that the Hiv-Aids theory is a mistake.The people on this page were intellectually curious enough to have sought out and studied the arguments that discredit the Hiv-Aids theory. Since the mass media and professional journals censor these arguments, the vast majority of doctors and scientists, although decent people who want to do the right thing, have never been exposed to them, and so accept the biased conclusions of politicized bureaucracies like the CDC and WHO, whose coziness with the drug industry is legendary and whose recommendations always seems to dovetail perfectly with drug industry marketing plans.

Were it not for the massive media blackout of information that contradicts the Hiv theory, many more people would be asking tough questions.

The next time you hear the media say, “only a handful of scientists doubt Hiv’s role in Aids,” refer them to this page. Explain to them that it is wrong to misrepresent the fact that there is enormous dissent to the Hiv-Aids paradigm.

The next time you hear the media drone, “Hiv, the virus that causes Aids,” remind them that journalists are supposed to distinguish between what is a theory and what is a fact. That Hiv-Aids is only a theory and has never been proven, is admitted by top scientists even in the Aids establishment.

The next time the media announce that tens of millions of people are dying from Hiv in Africa, ask them how they know that. Remind them that journalists are supposed to question dubious assertions from powerful, drug-industry funded agencies like the WHO, not parrot them as if they were indisputable. Ask them why they report these numbers as if they were actual Aids cases, when in fact they are projections made by WHO’s computer programs, based on very questionable statistical methodologies and contradicted by many facts including the continual large population increases experienced in the countries supposedly worst affected.

Request that the media stop twisting the truth in support of a politicized, entrenched Aids establishment that profits financially by terrorizing people, pokes its nose shamelessly into people’s private sex lives, compels people to submit to inaccurate tests and literally forces mothers and babies to swallow toxic, unproven chemotherapy drugs with horrific, often-fatal side effects.

Explain to them that this is irresponsible, and that such actions cause needless anxiety, shatter people’s lives, tear families apart, destroy hope and trigger countless suicides. And that while we realize that sensational headlines about “killer viruses” sell newspapers, the social cost of these profits is unacceptable.

Make the media understand that keeping people in the dark about the large number of credentialed dissenters to the Hiv-Aids dogmas, and the financial conflicts of interest that are rampant among Hiv-Aids scientists and NGOs, is a violation of everyone’s human right to informed consent and freedom of information.”

If these statements sound familiar to you, they should. They’re the same kind of ploys used by anti-vaccine forces to try and discredit the proven science of vaccines. In their minds, there are conflicts of interest, secret arrangements, media blackouts, human rights violations, paradigms that need to be challenged, and mothers and babies dying. Never mind that independents organizations like Doctors Without Borders have been on the ground in Africa helping all these supposedly inexistent people dying from AIDS. Never mind that plenty of people here in the US have died from AIDS after being infected by HIV, not before. Never mind that our collective hearts have been broken time and time again at seeing children dying from AIDS after being born to HIV-positive women, only to be lifted up when we see thriving children whose mother received the antiretrovirals and didn’t pass on HIV to those children.
There is a sort of disconnection from reality that boggles the mind, really.
So why am I writing this? I am writing this because a friend alerted me to one of the people who apparently* signed this statement. That person has been described thus as “…one of the most influential voices in medical research today.” (NY Times). He was up until recently a post doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has participated in the Cochrane Collaborative, doing systematic reviews on research about influenza vaccines and Tamiflu. And now, he’s been hired as an associate editor of the British Medical Journal.
Let that settle in for a few seconds.
One Mississippi.
Two Mississippi.
Three Mississippi.
Four Mississippi.
Five Mississippi.
An associate editor of the British Medical Journal apparently* signed a statement supporting the idea that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, that there are no such things as actual cases of AIDS or deaths from AIDS or a pandemic of AIDS, and that there are plenty of groups interested in killing mothers and babies with antiretroviral therapy.
Sleep on that tonight and tell me in the comments if reality hasn’t been just a little bit distorted for you.
Below is a screen shot of the names of a few signatories. The person in question is the fourth one down. The first one you’ll recognize too, I believe.
Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 8.41.45 PM
*Then again, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. This PhD may have come around to accept the fact that HIV causes AIDS and that’s why he’s now focusing on the idea that influenza is not a big deal. After all, the page does not tell us when he signed it, and the form to be signed is pretty easy to spook (sign anonymously or sign in place of a different person).
What do you all think?

10 thoughts on “Science and Reality and AIDS Denialism

  1. Pingback: Do mass media interventions lead to change in HIV-related behavior? | @DrAbioye

  2. And, after perusing the alphabetical list, I spotted;

    Ed Asner, Hulda Clark, Harris Coulter, Peter Duesberg, John LeCarre (novelist), Joe Mercola, Gary Null, Linus Pauling, Lew Rockwell (libertarian political commenter and p/t conspiracist), Dr. Albert Sabin (with a disclaimer…at one time he supposedly said that Peter Duesberg was doing some interesting research), Robert Scot Bell.

    More than half of those who signed the document are not medical doctors, or chemists, or biologist, or virologists, etc. Many of them are undergrad students, alternative practitioners, lawyers, authors, etc.

    • It rather sounds like a oil industry think tank’s list of “scientists”. *Anyone* with a BS is considered a scientist for that PR group’s list of scientists that don’t believe in global climate change.
      Even those with a BS in political science.
      Obviously because engineers, political scientists and every other holder of a BS is a specialist in a highly specialized field of hard science.

  3. I saw Peter Doshi’s Power Point presentation on Seasonal Influenza at John’s Hopkins…and it’s not ready for prime time. That’s what you get when you do not have an epidemiology background.

    So the young Dr. Doshi signed that dreadful paper while he was an undergrad student at MIT, eh? Dr. Godlee and her staff at the BMJ, will not be pleased, nor will his mentor Dr. Tom Jefferson at the Cochrane Collaboration, be overjoyed.

  4. Well, some MDs do a lot of medical research and they also most likely received a BS. Also, I have known several engineers that are definitely scientists. Although my husband is an electrical engineer and is not at all a scientist. So, I do not agree with the blanket statement that MDs and engineers are not scientists.

    • They are actually a minority. Many, like Dr. Gorski and Dr. Taubenberger, have additional PhD qualifications and actually do research. Some engineers also do research, but they have more than the random garden variety college degree and research in their own field.

      And remember I did not make a blanket statement. I just said that “the MD, who is to science the same way an engineer is to science.” I listen to “This Week in Virology”, a podcast that actually asks the scientists how they got to where they are. Many are “just” MDs, but there is a difference between them and those who sign their name to a list. These people did actual research and published their papers. Even those engineers that have published papers (I have read some of them, one of which is what the majority of my career was based on… the interaction between the tire and aircract during landing! Beat that!).

      Seriously, not every one is an Jeffery Taubenberger or Ian Lipkin. Do you understand me now?

  5. I see a list of 3000 names. Names of prospective volunteers to “prove” that HIV does not cause AIDS by being injected with a nice, large dose of HIV.

    Does anything think that they’d show the courage of their convictions and actually volunteer for such a “test”?
    Didn’t think so, but they’d happily volunteer to submit others for that which essentially is murder.

    What still boggles my mind is that *any* educational institution would tolerate such a wingnut sitting in any PhD program that they operate.
    For, if that individual is the end product of said institution’s PhD program, how can anyone trust any other graduate from said institution to be competent in their field of study?

  6. Well, now we have a handy dandy way to disprove any thing Peter Doshi writes. Especially since he is just a a bit after “I have a brain” Meryl Dorey.

    You quote on of those pages with: “The next time you hear the media say, “only a handful of scientists doubt Hiv’s role in Aids,” refer them to this page.”

    Oh, newsflash: none of those four listed are “scientists.” And that includes the MD, who is to science the same way an engineer is to science (I was an engineer, so I know I am not a scientist).

    Also looking at the the page that quote came from, very few are actually scientists, and I have yet to run across one with the appropriate background. I do see a few engineers. And I see this name: “Christine Maggiore. Former Director, Alive and Well (aliveandwell.org), author, “What if Everything You Thought You Knew About Aids Was Wrong?”.”

    I wonder how many on either list will end up on this list, like Ms. Maggiore:

    http://www.aidstruth.org/denialism/denialists/dead_denialists

    Oh, I found more: Ken Anderlini, John Kirkham, Casper Schmidt,

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