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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
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Galileo said it, Durban proved it: science is no democracy

May 31st, 2005

The Durban Declaration was a farcical episode in the history of AIDS politics which spoke volumes about the mediocrity and political nature of the defenders of the AIDS paradigm

A reminder, of a principle that seems largely lost in paradigm debate these days, from Galileo Galilei tonight (in the well scripted PBS documentary Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens, based on Galileo’s Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, Dava Sobel’s excellent book.

The number of people that can reason well is much smaller than those that can reason badly.
If reasoning were like hauling rocks, then several reasoners might be better than one. But reasoning isn’t like hauling rocks, it’s like racing, where a single, galloping Barbary steed easily outruns a hundred wagon-pulling horses.

And as the same script has him saying soon afterwards,

A good philosopher flies alone, like an eagle, not in a flock, like starlings.

Why is this relevant to scientific disputes today? Because it seems that we have a new breed of scientist rampant that has entirely forgotten that science, being based on reason and evidence, is not a democracy either.

One of the most absurd moments in the two decade saga of AIDS as a science, which early on established the self-satirical style of a Rowlandson cartoon, was the appearance of a one page ad in the New York Times at the time of the AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

President Thabo Mbeki had arranged a review panel, that met before the conference opened, to debate the justification for assuming that HIV caused AIDS, since he had been alerted to material on the Web, including Peter Duesberg’s peer reviewed articles in the top literature, that entirely rejected this notion. Qualified scientists on both sides of the isue would exchange reason and evidence.

Here is what he said as the panel began. Anyone who believes that Thabo Mbeki is a fool who has fallen into cheap suspicion of the racism of the white man should read this statement, which shows how an independent minded politician reasonably concluded that we need to review the science of AIDS in Africa.

VIRUSMYTH HOMEPAGE

FIRST MEETING OF PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY PANEL ON AIDS

Opening Speech by President Thabo Mbeki

Pretoria 6 May 2000

I am indeed, very, very pleased that we have arrived at this moment and would like to welcome Stephen Owen and other distinguished people from outside our country, as well as the scientists from within our own country who are here. Welcome to what for us is a very important initiative.

I am going to read a few lines from a poem by an Irish poet, Patrick Pearce. It will indicate some of what has been going through my mind over the last few months. The poem is entitled, ‘The Fool’ and it says:

“Since the wise men have not spoken, I speak but I’m only a fool; A fool that hath loved his folly, Yea, more than the wise men their books or their counting houses or their quiet homes, Or their fame in men’s mouths; A fool that in all his days hath never done a prudent thing, … I have squandered the splendid years that the Lord God gave to my youth In attempting impossible things, deeming them alone worth the toil. Was it folly or grace?”

I have asked myself that question many times over the last few months: whether the matters that were raised were as a result of folly or grace.

You will remember the letter we sent inviting you to this meeting. It included a quotation from a report by the WHO on the global situation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It said that of the 5.6 million people infected with HIV in 1999, 3.8 million lived in Sub-Saharan Africa, the hardest hit region. There were an estimated 2.2 million HIV/AIDS deaths in the region during 1999, being 85% of the global total, even though only one-tenth of the world population lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the report said there are now more women than men among the 22.3 million adults and one million children estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It was this situation, communicated to us by organisations such as the WHO and UN AIDS, which clearly said that here we have a problem to which we have to respond with the greatest seriousness.

And, of course, among the Sub-Saharan Africans are the South African Africans, with millions of people said also to be HIV positive and also many people dying from AIDS. The Minister has indicated our response to this, so I won’t go over that ground. But it is important, I think, to bear it in mind because some have put out the notion that our asking certain questions in order to understand better and therefore be able to respond better, constituted an abandonment of the fight against AIDS.

What the Minister has said indicates what we have indeed done. There are other things she didn’t mention including the allocation of dedicated funds in our annual budget specifically to address this issue. That is from the point of view of the national government, in addition to what other layers of government are doing. We believe that that response is important, and it is being carried out in an aggressive way, in a sustained way, and in a comprehensive way so that we do indeed respond to the picture that is painted by these figures.

It was because it seemed that the problem was so big, if these reports were correct, that I personally wanted to understand this matter better. Now as I’ve said, I’m only a fool and I faced this difficult problem of reading all these complicated things that you scientists write about, in this language I don’t understand. So I ploughed through lots and lots of documentation, with dictionaries all around me in case there were words that seemed difficult to understand. I would phone the Minister of Health and say, ‘Minister, what does this word mean?’ And she would explain.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I discovered that there had been a controversy around these matters for quite some time. I honestly didn’t know. I was a bit comforted later when I checked with a number of our Ministers and found that they were as ignorant as I, so I wasn’t quite alone.

What we knew was that there is a virus, HIV. The virus causes AIDS. AIDS causes death and there’s no vaccine against AIDS. So once you are HIV positive, you are going to develop AIDS, and you are bound to die. We responded with that part of the response the Minister was talking about – public awareness campaigns, encouraging safe sex, use of condoms, all of those things.

But as one read on, one noted that we had never said anything in all of this public awareness campaign, that people need to practice safe sex and use condoms in order to stop the other sexually transmitted diseases – syphilis, gonorrhoea and so on – as though these did not really matter. What mattered was this virus.

As one read all of these things, one discovered what, as far as I know, was the first report published in our medical journals in this country about the incidence of HIV among our people in this part of the world. It was published in the South African Medical Journal in 1985. Among other things, that article said that groups at high risk of developing the acquired immune deficiency syndrome – AIDS – in the United States and Europe include homosexual and bi-sexual males; those who abuse intravenous drugs and haemophiliacs.

The article further says that AIDS has been reported in Central Africa. However, homosexuality, drug addiction or blood transfusion have not been reported as risk factors in these patients. It has therefore been suggested that the agent causing AIDS is endemic in Central Africa. However, our preliminary data show that although individuals with antibodies directed against HIV are to be found in South Africa, these positive individuals only come from a high-risk group comprising male homosexuals. Individuals who did not belong to any of the known high risks groups did not have HIV antibodies. Our data, says the article, therefore suggests that the agent implicated in the causation is not endemic in Southern Africa.

That was in 1985. And of course all of the other documentation that I’ve seen suggests that what was reported here in 1985 to be the risk group in this part of the world, remained the risk group in the United States and Western Europe with a preponderance of these infections being among homosexuals and therefore by homosexual transmission, as it is said, of the virus.

But according to these reports, clearly something changed here. In a period of maybe five, six, seven years after 1985, when it was said that such transmission in this region was not endemic in Southern Africa, there were high rates of heterosexual transmission. Now as I was saying, being a fool I couldn’t answer this question about what happened between 1985 and the early 1990s. The situation has not changed in the United States up to today, nor in Western Europe with regard to homosexual transmission. But here it changed very radically in a short period of time and increased very radically in a short period of time. Why?

This is obviously not an idle question for us because it bears very directly on this question: How should we respond? There has been this change, for reasons I can’t explain but you, as scientists, surely would be able to explain. Why this change? What therefore is our most appropriate response? And so we started communicating with some of the people in this room, to ask what is the cause?

There is a whole variety of issues that the Minister of Health has just said she will not comment upon, which also I will not comment upon because they are very much part of the subject of your discussions. We were looking for answers because all of the information that has been communicated points to the reality that we are faced with a catastrophe, and you can’t respond to a catastrophe merely by saying I will do what is routine. You have to respond to a catastrophe in a way that recognises that you are facing a catastrophe. And here we are talking about people – it is not death of animal stock or something like that, but people. Millions and millions of people.

Somewhat of a storm broke out around this question, which in truth took me by surprise. There is an approach which asks why is this President of South Africa trying to give legitimacy to discredited scientists, because after all, all the questions of science concerning this matter had been resolved by the year 1984. I don’t know of any science that gets resolved in that manner with a cut-off year beyond which science does not develop any further. It sounds like a biblical absolute truth and I do not imagine that science consists of biblical absolute truths.

There was this very strong response saying: don’t do this. I have seen even in the last few days, a scientist who I’m quite certain is eminent who said that perhaps the best thing to do is that we should lock up some of these dissidents in jail and that would shut them up. It is a very peculiar response but it seemed to me to suggest that it must surely be because people are exceedingly worried by the fact that large numbers of people are dying. In that context any suggestion whatsoever that dealing with this is being postponed because somebody is busy looking at some obscure scientific theory, is seen as a betrayal of people. Perhaps that is why you had that kind of response which sought to say: let us freeze scientific discourse at a particular point; and let those who do not agree with the mainstream be isolated and not spoken to. Indeed it seems to be implied that one of the important measures to judge whether a scientific view is correct is to count numbers: how many scientists are on this side of the issue and how many are on the other – if the majority are on this side, then this must be correct.

In the end, what I’m saying is that as Africans we want to respond to HIV/AIDS in a manner that is effective, a manner that does indeed address the fact of these millions of lives that are threatened.

As I noted, the WHO says that in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2 million people died in 1999 alone.

It is truly our hope that this process will help us to get to some of the answers, so that as public representatives we are able to elaborate and help implement policies that are properly focused, and that actually have an effect. I’m quite certain that given the people who are participating in this panel, we will get to these answers.

And so you see why I’ve been thinking over this matter over the last few months that perhaps I should have allowed the wise men to speak. Indeed when eminent scientists said: “You have spoken out of turn,” it was difficult not to think that one was indeed a fool. But I am no longer so sure about that, given that so many eminent people responded to the invitation of a fool to come to this important meeting.

Welcome and best wishes.

Thank you very much.

Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa

The home team apparently were somewhat nervous of the outcome of the panel’s deliberations (they were right, it turned out) and arranged a counter move in the always active game of AIDS politics. Email was sent far and wide begging lab heads and academic faculty to gather the signatures of any persons in their vicinity of any scientific qualifications at all at the graduate level or above, regardless of field and regardless of their knowledge of AIDS or lack of it.

Many of you will say that HIV/AIDS is not your area. However, over the years you have heard enough of the arguments to understand the association. Furthermore, many of you know well infectious diseases and understand Koch’s postulates. If you have colleagues in the laboratory or in the clinic who you feel would like to sign, please ask them. The more the better. However, please note that in order to be authoritative we feel it necessary to restrict the list to those with major university qualifications.

The names were added to what amounted to a “believe us” petition to the public, a profession of faith of 5,000 people of varying qualifications from leadership of the field to none at all save a science degree of some kind. Nobel prize winners were included, though none in AIDS, where due to either the obtuseness or the canny worldliness of the Stockholm committee no Nobel has yet been awarded (possibly they are awaiting a genuine cure or even vaccine).

The message of the ad was simple: we all believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Therefore you should, too.

To all those who contemplate the sorry state that some of science has fallen into in the last half century, this document was without doubt the most blatant and disturbing evidence that something was wrong in Denmark. With hundred of billions of dollars of AIDS health work governed by this scientific belief, what on earth did it mean that it had to be bolstered by numbers, and vouched for by a crowd? Since when was a scientific hypothesis of any importance a religious matter, founded on faith and decided by ballot? And if the faith was justified, why did it need an ad in the New York Times? Wasn’t the scientific literature good enough?

For many surprised readers of the Times, it must have seemed rather like opening their daily guide to the world to find a one page ad from 5,000 astronomers professing their fervent belief that the sun was the center of the solar system.

Here is the text of this AIDS tablet if you wish to read it. Notice that the belief in the HIV=AIDS scheme (“HIV-1, the retrovirus that is responsible for the AIDS pandemic”) as “clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous” (“The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous. This evidence meets the highest standards of science.”) pushes aside the plain fact that the reviews which unambiguously reject HIV as the cause survived intense and hostile expert peer review at the highest level in the leading science journals of the US.

And notice that the theme which emerges at the end is one of social solidarity,

Science will one day triumph over AIDS, just as it did over smallpox. Curbing the spread of HIV will be the first step. Until then, reason, solidarity, political will and courage must be our partners.”

which nicely betrays the fact that the motivation of the paradigm defenders was as far from scientific truthseeking as it is possible to go.

A Declaration by Scientists and Physicians Affirming HIV is the Cause of AIDS

A Declaration by Scientists and Physicians Affirming HIV is the Cause of AIDS

“Seventeen years after the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thousands of people from around the world are gathered in Durban, South Africa to attend the XIII International AIDS Conference. At the turn of the millennium, an estimated 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS, 24 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year alone, 2.6 million people died of AIDS, the highest rate since the start of the epidemic. If current trends continue, Southern and South-East Asia, South America and regions of the former Soviet Union will also bear a heavy burden in the next two decades.

Like many other diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria that cause illness and death in underprivileged and impoverished communities, AIDS spreads by infection. HIV-1, the retrovirus that is responsible for the AIDS pandemic, is closely related to a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) which infects chimpanzees. HIV-2, which is prevalent in West Africa and has spread to Europe and India, is almost indistinguishable from an SIV that infects sooty mangabey monkeys. Although HIV-1 and HIV-2 first arose as infections transmitted from animals to humans, or zoonoses, both are now spread among humans through sexual contact, from mother to infant and via contaminated blood.

An animal source for a new infection is not unique to HIV. The plague came from rodents. Influenza and the new Nipah virus in South-East Asia reached humans via pigs. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom came from ‘mad cows’. Once HIV became established in humans, it soon followed human habits and movements. Like other viruses, HIV recognizes no social, political or geographic boundaries.

The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous. This evidence meets the highest standards of science. The data fulfill exactly the same criteria as for other viral diseases, such as poliomyelitis, measles and smallpox:

* Patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, regardless of where they live, are infected with HIV.

* If not treated, most people with HIV infection show signs of AIDS within 5-10 years. HIV infection is identified in blood by detecting antibodies, gene sequences or viral isolation. These tests are as reliable as any used for detecting other virus infections.

* Persons who received HIV-contaminated blood or blood products develop AIDS, whereas those who received untainted or screened blood do not.

* Most children who develop AIDS are born to HIV-infected mothers. The higher the viral load in the mother the greater the risk of the child becoming infected.

* In the laboratory HIV infects the exact type of white blood cell (CD4 lymphocytes) that becomes depleted in persons with AIDS.

* Drugs that block HIV replication in the test tube also reduce viral load and delay progression to AIDS. Where available, treatment has reduced AIDS mortality by more than 80%.

* Monkeys inoculated with cloned SIV DNA become infected and develop AIDS.

Further compelling data are available. HIV causes AIDS. It is unfortunate that a few vocal people continue to deny the evidence. This position will cost countless lives.

In different regions of the world HIV/AIDS shows altered patterns of spread and symptoms. In Africa, for example, HIV-infected persons are 11 times more likely to die within 5 years, and over 100 times more likely than uninfected persons to develop Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer linked to yet another virus.

As with any other chronic infection, various co-factors play a role in determining the risk of disease. Persons who are malnourished, who already suffer other infections or who are older, tend to be more susceptible to the rapid development of AIDS following HIV infection. However, none of these factors weaken the scientific evidence that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS.

In this global emergency, prevention of HIV infection must be our greatest worldwide public health priority. The knowledge and tools to prevent infection exist. The sexual spread of HIV can be prevented by monogamy, abstinence or by using condoms. Blood transmission can be stopped by screening blood products and by not re-using needles. Mother-to-child transmission can be reduced by half or more by short courses of antiviral drugs.

Limited resources and the crushing burden of poverty in many parts of the world constitute formidable challenges to the control of HIV infection. People already infected can be helped by treatment with life-saving drugs, but high cost puts these treatments out of reach for most. It is crucial to develop new antiviral drugs that are easier to take, have fewer side effects and are much less expensive, so that millions more can benefit from them.

There are many ways to communicate the vital information about HIV/AIDS. What works best in one country may not be appropriate in another. But to tackle the disease, everyone must first understand that HIV is the enemy. Research, not myths, will lead to the development of more effective and cheaper treatments, and hopefully a vaccine. But for now, emphasis must be placed on preventing sexual transmission.

There is no end in sight to the AIDS pandemic. By working together, we have the power to reverse the tide of this epidemic. Science will one day triumph over AIDS, just as it did over smallpox. Curbing the spread of HIV will be the first step. Until then, reason, solidarity, political will and courage must be our partners.”

Anyone overly impressed with this document, whcih to put it politely somewhat exaggerates the perfection of its case, should read the rebuttals copiously available from the AIDS disbelievers on VirusMyth.com.

Here is the letter that the most prominent skeptics immediately sent to Nature after Nature published the Durban Declaration in its pages, which John Maddox was good enough to publish, unlike many of their offerings.

Compare the quality of both documents in scientific reasoning and references and it is hard not to be staggered by the intellectual mediocrity of the Declaration, and the fact that this is the sum total of the justification used to threaten the peace of mind, health and even lives of millions around the world:

Letter published by Nature. Vol. 407 / 21 Sept 2000 / www.nature.com

The Durban Declaration is not accepted by all

By Gordon Stewart et al.

Sir

In response to recent action by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and in advance of the International Conference on HIV/AIDS held in Durban on 9-14 July, the Durban Declaration (1) was prepared by a committee representing a consensus of “181 scientists and front line physicians” Before publication in Nature, it was circulated: “To get as many names of scientists and doctors to sign on. Names of signatories will appear on the Nature website. If you would like to sign on, we would be delighted. Send me an e-mail confirming this. To economize space on the website, we have to name people in a single line. Many of you will say that HIV/AIDS is not your area. However, over the years you have heard enough of the arguments to understand the association. Furthermore, many of you know well infectious diseases and understand Koch’s postulates. If you have colleagues in the laboratory or in the clinic who you feel would like to sign, please ask them. The more the better. However, please note that in order to be authoritative we feel it necessary to restrict the list to those with major university qualifications.” This is an extract from the circular distributed on behalf of the organizing committee which included Luc Montagnier, Catherine Wilfert, David Baltimore, Sir Aaron Klug (as President of the UK Royal Society), and many other well-known names and organi-zations from developing countries as well as from the West.

Briefly, the authors of the declaration state that AIDS/HIV is spreading as a pandemic now affecting 34 million people, of whom 24 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. They say the disease began there as a viral infection of chimpanzees and monkeys conveyed somehow to humans, and is now spreading worldwide by heterosexual and mother-to–infant transmission. The authors consider that their evidence supporting this hypothe-sis is “clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous”; that most people with these infections will develop AIDS within 5-10 years unless treated; and that “there is no end in sight” until research based on their hypothesis leads to a vaccine to supplement safe sex, health education and other, simpler approaches to avoidance and prevention.

With no end in sight after 17 or more years of intensive research, priorities and incentives, one might think that this consensus would be open to alternative approaches, but the authors of the declara-tion are emphatic that this is not needed because the evidence that HIV is the cause of AIDS has met or exceeded the “highest standards of science” By implication, any other evidence is therefore a deception, even less likely to lead to a successful vaccine, curative drug or hypothesis.

Our objection to the Durban Declaration is factual and verifiable from data published in the early 1980s (2-4). We believe that World Health Organization (WHO) figures produced since then (5) can be interpreted to say that AIDS first appeared and spread, not in Africa but in US urban clusters of mainly white, affluent, promis-cuous homosexual men and drug addicts, and then spread, on a lesser scale, in Europe and Australasia but hardly at all in Asia. Disastrous epidemics due to heterosexual transmission of HIV were confidently predicted in general populations of developed countries (6) but they never happened. AIDS has diminished in incidence and severity though it is continuing in female partners of bisexual men and some other communities engaging in or subjected to behaviours which carry high risks of infections, various assaults and misuse of drugs.

In sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS was reported later (7-8), with an alarming frequency in mothers and infants not seen in the United States or Europe. Sentinel surveillance by the WHO shows correlation between this frequency and the seroprevalence of HIV, but there are unmeasured overlaps with other major diseases and deprivations which, anomalies in classification, distribution, transmission and country-specific pathogenesis, and especially cross-reactions in serological tests (6-9), raise questions about the accuracy of diagnosis and approaches to control.

In the absence of satisfactory answers, or of any, answers from the consensus to his specific questions on this matter, President Mbeki invited us to join other experts with differing viewpoints in a panel to explore the way forward to control AIDS in Africa. Unlike the signatories to the Durban Declaration, we claim no exhaustive and unambiguous unanimity. There are differences between ourselves and with other panellists, and we are happy to acknowledge possible convergence with certain priorities favoured by the declaration’s authors. But we reject as outrageous their attempt to outlaw open discussion of alternative viewpoints, because this reveals an intolerance, which has no place in any branch of science. Our viewpoints could also explain the failure to prevent the spread of AIDS in high-risk populations in the West, amounting, in the United States now, to almost 700,000 registrations – an unbeaten score in the global tally of this disease.

Gordon T. Stewart, MD

3 Lexden Terrace, Tenby, Pembrokeshire SA70 7BJ, UK

(Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow)

E-mail:

Other signatories to this letter; full addresses available from G.T.S.

Sam Mhlongo, MB, BS Professor of Medicine, MEDUNSA, Johannesburg South Africa

Etienne de Harven, MD Emeritus Professor of Pathology, University of Toronto, Canada

Christian Fiala, MD Obstetrician, Vienna, Austria

Claus Kohnlein, MD Physician, Stadisches Krankenhaus, Kiel, Germany

Herxheimer, MD Pharmacologist, London, UK

Peter Duesberg, PhD Professor of Molecular Biology, University of California at Berkeley, USA

David Rasnick, PhD Research Fellow, Dept of Molecular Biology, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Roberto Giraldo, MD Physician, New York City

Manu Kothari, MD Pathologist, Seth GS Medical College, Bombay, India

Harvey Bialy, PhD Research Scholar, National University, Mexico City, Mexico

Charles Geshekter, Professor of African Studies, California State University, Chico, California.

References:

1. Durban Declaration, Nature 406, 15-16 (2000).

2. Morbidity Mortality Weekly Reports 30, 250 (US CDC, Atlanta, 1981).

3. Morbidity Mortality Weekly Reports Update on Acquired Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), USA 3 1, 507-5 1 4 (1981).

4. Gottlieb, M. S. et al N Eng Med J. 305,1425-31(1982).

5. Weekly Epidemiological Records (WHO, Geneva, 1981-2000).

6. Cox, D., Anderson, R. M., Hillier, H. C. (eds.) Phil. Trans R. Soc 325, 37-1 87 (1989).

7. International Classification of Diseases, I0th revision (WHO, Geneva, 1992).

8. Root-Bernstein, R. Rethinking AIDS (MacMillan, New York, 1993).

9. Kashala, O., et al J Inf. Dis. 109, 296-304 (1994).

The signatories were the panelists convened by Mbeki, and as they correctly put it in their last paragraph, the attempt to stifle their scientific voices was an outrage by the standards of good science.

Sentinel surveillance by the WHO shows correlation between this frequency and the seroprevalence of HIV, but there are unmeasured overlaps with other major diseases and deprivations which, anomalies in classification, distribution, transmission and country-specific pathogenesis, and especially cross-reactions in serological tests (6-9), raise questions about the accuracy of diagnosis and approaches to control.

In the absence of satisfactory answers, or of any, answers from the consensus to his specific questions on this matter, President Mbeki invited us to join other experts with differing viewpoints in a panel to explore the way forward to control AIDS in Africa. Unlike the signatories to the Durban Declaration, we claim no exhaustive and unambiguous unanimity. There are differences between ourselves and with other panellists, and we are happy to acknowledge possible convergence with certain priorities favoured by the declaration’s authors. But we reject as outrageous their attempt to outlaw open discussion of alternative viewpoints, because this reveals an intolerance, which has no place in any branch of science.

Galileo said it, Durban proved it: reason is not a democracy

May 31st, 2005

The Durban Declaration was a farcical episode in the history of AIDS politics which spoke volumes about the mediocrity and political nature of the defenders of the AIDS paradigm

A reminder, of a principle that seems largely lost in paradigm debate these days, from Galileo Galilei tonight (in the well scripted PBS documentary Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens, based on Galileo’s Daughter : A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, Dava Sobel’s excellent book.

The number of people that can reason well is much smaller than those that can reason badly.
If reasoning were like hauling rocks, then several reasoners might be better than one. But reasoning isn’t like hauling rocks, it’s like racing, where a single, galloping Barbary steed easily outruns a hundred wagon-pulling horses.

And as the same script has him saying soon afterwards,

A good philosopher flies alone, like an eagle, not in a flock, like starlings.

Why is this relevant to scientific disputes today? Because it seems that we have a new breed of scientist rampant that has entirely forgotten that science, being based on reason and evidence, is not a democracy either.

One of the most absurd moments in the two decade saga of AIDS as a science, which early on established the self-satirical style of a Rowlandson cartoon, was the appearance of a one page ad in the New York Times at the time of the AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

President Thabo Mbeki had arranged a review panel, that met before the conference opened, to debate the justification for assuming that HIV caused AIDS, since he had been alerted to material on the Web, including Peter Duesberg’s peer reviewed articles in the top literature, that entirely rejected this notion. Qualified scientists on both sides of the isue would exchange reason and evidence.

Here is what he said as the panel began. Anyone who believes that Thabo Mbeki is a fool who has fallen into cheap suspicion of the racism of the white man should read this statement, which shows how an independent minded politician reasonably concluded that we need to review the science of AIDS in Africa.

VIRUSMYTH HOMEPAGE

FIRST MEETING OF PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY PANEL ON AIDS

Opening Speech by President Thabo Mbeki

Pretoria 6 May 2000

I am indeed, very, very pleased that we have arrived at this moment and would like to welcome Stephen Owen and other distinguished people from outside our country, as well as the scientists from within our own country who are here. Welcome to what for us is a very important initiative.

I am going to read a few lines from a poem by an Irish poet, Patrick Pearce. It will indicate some of what has been going through my mind over the last few months. The poem is entitled, ‘The Fool’ and it says:

“Since the wise men have not spoken, I speak but I’m only a fool; A fool that hath loved his folly, Yea, more than the wise men their books or their counting houses or their quiet homes, Or their fame in men’s mouths; A fool that in all his days hath never done a prudent thing, … I have squandered the splendid years that the Lord God gave to my youth In attempting impossible things, deeming them alone worth the toil. Was it folly or grace?”

I have asked myself that question many times over the last few months: whether the matters that were raised were as a result of folly or grace.

You will remember the letter we sent inviting you to this meeting. It included a quotation from a report by the WHO on the global situation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It said that of the 5.6 million people infected with HIV in 1999, 3.8 million lived in Sub-Saharan Africa, the hardest hit region. There were an estimated 2.2 million HIV/AIDS deaths in the region during 1999, being 85% of the global total, even though only one-tenth of the world population lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the report said there are now more women than men among the 22.3 million adults and one million children estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

It was this situation, communicated to us by organisations such as the WHO and UN AIDS, which clearly said that here we have a problem to which we have to respond with the greatest seriousness.

And, of course, among the Sub-Saharan Africans are the South African Africans, with millions of people said also to be HIV positive and also many people dying from AIDS. The Minister has indicated our response to this, so I won’t go over that ground. But it is important, I think, to bear it in mind because some have put out the notion that our asking certain questions in order to understand better and therefore be able to respond better, constituted an abandonment of the fight against AIDS.

What the Minister has said indicates what we have indeed done. There are other things she didn’t mention including the allocation of dedicated funds in our annual budget specifically to address this issue. That is from the point of view of the national government, in addition to what other layers of government are doing. We believe that that response is important, and it is being carried out in an aggressive way, in a sustained way, and in a comprehensive way so that we do indeed respond to the picture that is painted by these figures.

It was because it seemed that the problem was so big, if these reports were correct, that I personally wanted to understand this matter better. Now as I’ve said, I’m only a fool and I faced this difficult problem of reading all these complicated things that you scientists write about, in this language I don’t understand. So I ploughed through lots and lots of documentation, with dictionaries all around me in case there were words that seemed difficult to understand. I would phone the Minister of Health and say, ‘Minister, what does this word mean?’ And she would explain.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I discovered that there had been a controversy around these matters for quite some time. I honestly didn’t know. I was a bit comforted later when I checked with a number of our Ministers and found that they were as ignorant as I, so I wasn’t quite alone.

What we knew was that there is a virus, HIV. The virus causes AIDS. AIDS causes death and there’s no vaccine against AIDS. So once you are HIV positive, you are going to develop AIDS, and you are bound to die. We responded with that part of the response the Minister was talking about – public awareness campaigns, encouraging safe sex, use of condoms, all of those things.

But as one read on, one noted that we had never said anything in all of this public awareness campaign, that people need to practice safe sex and use condoms in order to stop the other sexually transmitted diseases – syphilis, gonorrhoea and so on – as though these did not really matter. What mattered was this virus.

As one read all of these things, one discovered what, as far as I know, was the first report published in our medical journals in this country about the incidence of HIV among our people in this part of the world. It was published in the South African Medical Journal in 1985. Among other things, that article said that groups at high risk of developing the acquired immune deficiency syndrome – AIDS – in the United States and Europe include homosexual and bi-sexual males; those who abuse intravenous drugs and haemophiliacs.

The article further says that AIDS has been reported in Central Africa. However, homosexuality, drug addiction or blood transfusion have not been reported as risk factors in these patients. It has therefore been suggested that the agent causing AIDS is endemic in Central Africa. However, our preliminary data show that although individuals with antibodies directed against HIV are to be found in South Africa, these positive individuals only come from a high-risk group comprising male homosexuals. Individuals who did not belong to any of the known high risks groups did not have HIV antibodies. Our data, says the article, therefore suggests that the agent implicated in the causation is not endemic in Southern Africa.

That was in 1985. And of course all of the other documentation that I’ve seen suggests that what was reported here in 1985 to be the risk group in this part of the world, remained the risk group in the United States and Western Europe with a preponderance of these infections being among homosexuals and therefore by homosexual transmission, as it is said, of the virus.

But according to these reports, clearly something changed here. In a period of maybe five, six, seven years after 1985, when it was said that such transmission in this region was not endemic in Southern Africa, there were high rates of heterosexual transmission. Now as I was saying, being a fool I couldn’t answer this question about what happened between 1985 and the early 1990s. The situation has not changed in the United States up to today, nor in Western Europe with regard to homosexual transmission. But here it changed very radically in a short period of time and increased very radically in a short period of time. Why?

This is obviously not an idle question for us because it bears very directly on this question: How should we respond? There has been this change, for reasons I can’t explain but you, as scientists, surely would be able to explain. Why this change? What therefore is our most appropriate response? And so we started communicating with some of the people in this room, to ask what is the cause?

There is a whole variety of issues that the Minister of Health has just said she will not comment upon, which also I will not comment upon because they are very much part of the subject of your discussions. We were looking for answers because all of the information that has been communicated points to the reality that we are faced with a catastrophe, and you can’t respond to a catastrophe merely by saying I will do what is routine. You have to respond to a catastrophe in a way that recognises that you are facing a catastrophe. And here we are talking about people – it is not death of animal stock or something like that, but people. Millions and millions of people.

Somewhat of a storm broke out around this question, which in truth took me by surprise. There is an approach which asks why is this President of South Africa trying to give legitimacy to discredited scientists, because after all, all the questions of science concerning this matter had been resolved by the year 1984. I don’t know of any science that gets resolved in that manner with a cut-off year beyond which science does not develop any further. It sounds like a biblical absolute truth and I do not imagine that science consists of biblical absolute truths.

There was this very strong response saying: don’t do this. I have seen even in the last few days, a scientist who I’m quite certain is eminent who said that perhaps the best thing to do is that we should lock up some of these dissidents in jail and that would shut them up. It is a very peculiar response but it seemed to me to suggest that it must surely be because people are exceedingly worried by the fact that large numbers of people are dying. In that context any suggestion whatsoever that dealing with this is being postponed because somebody is busy looking at some obscure scientific theory, is seen as a betrayal of people. Perhaps that is why you had that kind of response which sought to say: let us freeze scientific discourse at a particular point; and let those who do not agree with the mainstream be isolated and not spoken to. Indeed it seems to be implied that one of the important measures to judge whether a scientific view is correct is to count numbers: how many scientists are on this side of the issue and how many are on the other – if the majority are on this side, then this must be correct.

In the end, what I’m saying is that as Africans we want to respond to HIV/AIDS in a manner that is effective, a manner that does indeed address the fact of these millions of lives that are threatened.

As I noted, the WHO says that in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2 million people died in 1999 alone.

It is truly our hope that this process will help us to get to some of the answers, so that as public representatives we are able to elaborate and help implement policies that are properly focused, and that actually have an effect. I’m quite certain that given the people who are participating in this panel, we will get to these answers.

And so you see why I’ve been thinking over this matter over the last few months that perhaps I should have allowed the wise men to speak. Indeed when eminent scientists said: “You have spoken out of turn,” it was difficult not to think that one was indeed a fool. But I am no longer so sure about that, given that so many eminent people responded to the invitation of a fool to come to this important meeting.

Welcome and best wishes.

Thank you very much.

Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa

The home team apparently were somewhat nervous of the outcome of the panel’s deliberations (they were right, it turned out) and arranged a counter move in the always active game of AIDS politics. Email was sent far and wide begging lab heads and academic faculty to gather the signatures of any persons in their vicinity of any scientific qualifications at all at the graduate level or above, regardless of field and regardless of their knowledge of AIDS or lack of it.

Many of you will say that HIV/AIDS is not your area. However, over the years you have heard enough of the arguments to understand the association. Furthermore, many of you know well infectious diseases and understand Koch’s postulates. If you have colleagues in the laboratory or in the clinic who you feel would like to sign, please ask them. The more the better. However, please note that in order to be authoritative we feel it necessary to restrict the list to those with major university qualifications.

The names were added to what amounted to a “believe us” petition to the public, a profession of faith of 5,000 people of varying qualifications from leadership of the field to none at all save a science degree of some kind. Nobel prize winners were included, though none in AIDS, where due to either the obtuseness or the canny worldliness of the Stockholm committee no Nobel has yet been awarded (possibly they are awaiting a genuine cure or even vaccine).

The message of the ad was simple: we all believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Therefore you should, too.

To all those who contemplate the sorry state that some of science has fallen into in the last half century, this document was without doubt the most blatant and disturbing evidence that something was wrong in Denmark. With hundred of billions of dollars of AIDS health work governed by this scientific belief, what on earth did it mean that it had to be bolstered by numbers, and vouched for by a crowd? Since when was a scientific hypothesis of any importance a religious matter, founded on faith and decided by ballot? And if the faith was justified, why did it need an ad in the New York Times? Wasn’t the scientific literature good enough?

For many surprised readers of the Times, it must have seemed rather like opening their daily guide to the world to find a one page ad from 5,000 astronomers professing their fervent belief that the sun was the center of the solar system.

Here is the text of this AIDS tablet if you wish to read it. Notice that the belief in the HIV=AIDS scheme (“HIV-1, the retrovirus that is responsible for the AIDS pandemic”) as “clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous” (“The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous. This evidence meets the highest standards of science.”) pushes aside the plain fact that the reviews which unambiguously reject HIV as the cause survived intense and hostile expert peer review at the highest level in the leading science journals of the US.

And notice that the theme which emerges at the end is one of social solidarity,

Science will one day triumph over AIDS, just as it did over smallpox. Curbing the spread of HIV will be the first step. Until then, reason, solidarity, political will and courage must be our partners.”

which nicely betrays the fact that the motivation of the paradigm defenders was as far from scientific truthseeking as it is possible to go.

As the second Durban AIDS Conference is coming up in a week, it is as well to remember the first, and how little has changed since to separate science from politics.

A Declaration by Scientists and Physicians Affirming HIV is the Cause of AIDS

A Declaration by Scientists and Physicians Affirming HIV is the Cause of AIDS

“Seventeen years after the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), thousands of people from around the world are gathered in Durban, South Africa to attend the XIII International AIDS Conference. At the turn of the millennium, an estimated 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS, 24 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year alone, 2.6 million people died of AIDS, the highest rate since the start of the epidemic. If current trends continue, Southern and South-East Asia, South America and regions of the former Soviet Union will also bear a heavy burden in the next two decades.

Like many other diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria that cause illness and death in underprivileged and impoverished communities, AIDS spreads by infection. HIV-1, the retrovirus that is responsible for the AIDS pandemic, is closely related to a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) which infects chimpanzees. HIV-2, which is prevalent in West Africa and has spread to Europe and India, is almost indistinguishable from an SIV that infects sooty mangabey monkeys. Although HIV-1 and HIV-2 first arose as infections transmitted from animals to humans, or zoonoses, both are now spread among humans through sexual contact, from mother to infant and via contaminated blood.

An animal source for a new infection is not unique to HIV. The plague came from rodents. Influenza and the new Nipah virus in South-East Asia reached humans via pigs. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom came from ‘mad cows’. Once HIV became established in humans, it soon followed human habits and movements. Like other viruses, HIV recognizes no social, political or geographic boundaries.

The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous. This evidence meets the highest standards of science. The data fulfill exactly the same criteria as for other viral diseases, such as poliomyelitis, measles and smallpox:

* Patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, regardless of where they live, are infected with HIV.

* If not treated, most people with HIV infection show signs of AIDS within 5-10 years. HIV infection is identified in blood by detecting antibodies, gene sequences or viral isolation. These tests are as reliable as any used for detecting other virus infections.

* Persons who received HIV-contaminated blood or blood products develop AIDS, whereas those who received untainted or screened blood do not.

* Most children who develop AIDS are born to HIV-infected mothers. The higher the viral load in the mother the greater the risk of the child becoming infected.

* In the laboratory HIV infects the exact type of white blood cell (CD4 lymphocytes) that becomes depleted in persons with AIDS.

* Drugs that block HIV replication in the test tube also reduce viral load and delay progression to AIDS. Where available, treatment has reduced AIDS mortality by more than 80%.

* Monkeys inoculated with cloned SIV DNA become infected and develop AIDS.

Further compelling data are available. HIV causes AIDS. It is unfortunate that a few vocal people continue to deny the evidence. This position will cost countless lives.

In different regions of the world HIV/AIDS shows altered patterns of spread and symptoms. In Africa, for example, HIV-infected persons are 11 times more likely to die within 5 years, and over 100 times more likely than uninfected persons to develop Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer linked to yet another virus.

As with any other chronic infection, various co-factors play a role in determining the risk of disease. Persons who are malnourished, who already suffer other infections or who are older, tend to be more susceptible to the rapid development of AIDS following HIV infection. However, none of these factors weaken the scientific evidence that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS.

In this global emergency, prevention of HIV infection must be our greatest worldwide public health priority. The knowledge and tools to prevent infection exist. The sexual spread of HIV can be prevented by monogamy, abstinence or by using condoms. Blood transmission can be stopped by screening blood products and by not re-using needles. Mother-to-child transmission can be reduced by half or more by short courses of antiviral drugs.

Limited resources and the crushing burden of poverty in many parts of the world constitute formidable challenges to the control of HIV infection. People already infected can be helped by treatment with life-saving drugs, but high cost puts these treatments out of reach for most. It is crucial to develop new antiviral drugs that are easier to take, have fewer side effects and are much less expensive, so that millions more can benefit from them.

There are many ways to communicate the vital information about HIV/AIDS. What works best in one country may not be appropriate in another. But to tackle the disease, everyone must first understand that HIV is the enemy. Research, not myths, will lead to the development of more effective and cheaper treatments, and hopefully a vaccine. But for now, emphasis must be placed on preventing sexual transmission.

There is no end in sight to the AIDS pandemic. By working together, we have the power to reverse the tide of this epidemic. Science will one day triumph over AIDS, just as it did over smallpox. Curbing the spread of HIV will be the first step. Until then, reason, solidarity, political will and courage must be our partners.”

Anyone overly impressed with this document, whcih to put it politely somewhat exaggerates the perfection of its case, should read the rebuttals copiously available from the AIDS disbelievers on VirusMyth.com.

Here is the letter that the most prominent skeptics immediately sent to Nature after Nature published the Durban Declaration in its pages, which John Maddox was good enough to publish, unlike many of their offerings.

Compare the quality of both documents in scientific reasoning and references and it is hard not to be staggered by the intellectual mediocrity of the Declaration, and the fact that this is the sum total of the justification used to threaten the peace of mind, health and even lives of millions around the world:

Letter published by Nature. Vol. 407 / 21 Sept 2000 / www.nature.com

The Durban Declaration is not accepted by all

By Gordon Stewart et al.

Sir

In response to recent action by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and in advance of the International Conference on HIV/AIDS held in Durban on 9-14 July, the Durban Declaration (1) was prepared by a committee representing a consensus of “181 scientists and front line physicians” Before publication in Nature, it was circulated: “To get as many names of scientists and doctors to sign on. Names of signatories will appear on the Nature website. If you would like to sign on, we would be delighted. Send me an e-mail confirming this. To economize space on the website, we have to name people in a single line. Many of you will say that HIV/AIDS is not your area. However, over the years you have heard enough of the arguments to understand the association. Furthermore, many of you know well infectious diseases and understand Koch’s postulates. If you have colleagues in the laboratory or in the clinic who you feel would like to sign, please ask them. The more the better. However, please note that in order to be authoritative we feel it necessary to restrict the list to those with major university qualifications.” This is an extract from the circular distributed on behalf of the organizing committee which included Luc Montagnier, Catherine Wilfert, David Baltimore, Sir Aaron Klug (as President of the UK Royal Society), and many other well-known names and organi-zations from developing countries as well as from the West.

Briefly, the authors of the declaration state that AIDS/HIV is spreading as a pandemic now affecting 34 million people, of whom 24 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. They say the disease began there as a viral infection of chimpanzees and monkeys conveyed somehow to humans, and is now spreading worldwide by heterosexual and mother-to–infant transmission. The authors consider that their evidence supporting this hypothe-sis is “clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous”; that most people with these infections will develop AIDS within 5-10 years unless treated; and that “there is no end in sight” until research based on their hypothesis leads to a vaccine to supplement safe sex, health education and other, simpler approaches to avoidance and prevention.

With no end in sight after 17 or more years of intensive research, priorities and incentives, one might think that this consensus would be open to alternative approaches, but the authors of the declara-tion are emphatic that this is not needed because the evidence that HIV is the cause of AIDS has met or exceeded the “highest standards of science” By implication, any other evidence is therefore a deception, even less likely to lead to a successful vaccine, curative drug or hypothesis.

Our objection to the Durban Declaration is factual and verifiable from data published in the early 1980s (2-4). We believe that World Health Organization (WHO) figures produced since then (5) can be interpreted to say that AIDS first appeared and spread, not in Africa but in US urban clusters of mainly white, affluent, promis-cuous homosexual men and drug addicts, and then spread, on a lesser scale, in Europe and Australasia but hardly at all in Asia. Disastrous epidemics due to heterosexual transmission of HIV were confidently predicted in general populations of developed countries (6) but they never happened. AIDS has diminished in incidence and severity though it is continuing in female partners of bisexual men and some other communities engaging in or subjected to behaviours which carry high risks of infections, various assaults and misuse of drugs.

In sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS was reported later (7-8), with an alarming frequency in mothers and infants not seen in the United States or Europe. Sentinel surveillance by the WHO shows correlation between this frequency and the seroprevalence of HIV, but there are unmeasured overlaps with other major diseases and deprivations which, anomalies in classification, distribution, transmission and country-specific pathogenesis, and especially cross-reactions in serological tests (6-9), raise questions about the accuracy of diagnosis and approaches to control.

In the absence of satisfactory answers, or of any, answers from the consensus to his specific questions on this matter, President Mbeki invited us to join other experts with differing viewpoints in a panel to explore the way forward to control AIDS in Africa. Unlike the signatories to the Durban Declaration, we claim no exhaustive and unambiguous unanimity. There are differences between ourselves and with other panellists, and we are happy to acknowledge possible convergence with certain priorities favoured by the declaration’s authors. But we reject as outrageous their attempt to outlaw open discussion of alternative viewpoints, because this reveals an intolerance, which has no place in any branch of science. Our viewpoints could also explain the failure to prevent the spread of AIDS in high-risk populations in the West, amounting, in the United States now, to almost 700,000 registrations – an unbeaten score in the global tally of this disease.

Gordon T. Stewart, MD

3 Lexden Terrace, Tenby, Pembrokeshire SA70 7BJ, UK

(Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow)

E-mail:

Other signatories to this letter; full addresses available from G.T.S.

Sam Mhlongo, MB, BS Professor of Medicine, MEDUNSA, Johannesburg South Africa

Etienne de Harven, MD Emeritus Professor of Pathology, University of Toronto, Canada

Christian Fiala, MD Obstetrician, Vienna, Austria

Claus Kohnlein, MD Physician, Stadisches Krankenhaus, Kiel, Germany

Herxheimer, MD Pharmacologist, London, UK

Peter Duesberg, PhD Professor of Molecular Biology, University of California at Berkeley, USA

David Rasnick, PhD Research Fellow, Dept of Molecular Biology, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Roberto Giraldo, MD Physician, New York City

Manu Kothari, MD Pathologist, Seth GS Medical College, Bombay, India

Harvey Bialy, PhD Research Scholar, National University, Mexico City, Mexico

Charles Geshekter, Professor of African Studies, California State University, Chico, California.

References:

1. Durban Declaration, Nature 406, 15-16 (2000).

2. Morbidity Mortality Weekly Reports 30, 250 (US CDC, Atlanta, 1981).

3. Morbidity Mortality Weekly Reports Update on Acquired Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), USA 3 1, 507-5 1 4 (1981).

4. Gottlieb, M. S. et al N Eng Med J. 305,1425-31(1982).

5. Weekly Epidemiological Records (WHO, Geneva, 1981-2000).

6. Cox, D., Anderson, R. M., Hillier, H. C. (eds.) Phil. Trans R. Soc 325, 37-1 87 (1989).

7. International Classification of Diseases, I0th revision (WHO, Geneva, 1992).

8. Root-Bernstein, R. Rethinking AIDS (MacMillan, New York, 1993).

9. Kashala, O., et al J Inf. Dis. 109, 296-304 (1994).

The signatories were the panelists convened by Mbeki, and as they correctly put it in their last paragraph, the attempt to stifle their scientific voices was an outrage by the standards of good science.

Sentinel surveillance by the WHO shows correlation between this frequency and the seroprevalence of HIV, but there are unmeasured overlaps with other major diseases and deprivations which, anomalies in classification, distribution, transmission and country-specific pathogenesis, and especially cross-reactions in serological tests (6-9), raise questions about the accuracy of diagnosis and approaches to control.

In the absence of satisfactory answers, or of any, answers from the consensus to his specific questions on this matter, President Mbeki invited us to join other experts with differing viewpoints in a panel to explore the way forward to control AIDS in Africa. Unlike the signatories to the Durban Declaration, we claim no exhaustive and unambiguous unanimity. There are differences between ourselves and with other panellists, and we are happy to acknowledge possible convergence with certain priorities favoured by the declaration’s authors. But we reject as outrageous their attempt to outlaw open discussion of alternative viewpoints, because this reveals an intolerance, which has no place in any branch of science.

The emotional politics of facts

May 27th, 2005

John Stossel lobs a grenade into the minds of feminists all over America tonight (May 27 Fri) with a provocative little segment on 20/20, presenting Warren Farrell and his book Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap—and What Women Can Do About It.

Farrell is the original Man Who Loves Women. Years ago he hobnobbed with blonde archfeminist Gloria Steinem, appearing at rallies for the cause of women’s rights and female equality of opportunity. He used to wear a 59c button in honor of the outrageous injustice that women earn less than two thirds of men’s pay in the same job, a statistic which is still true even today, according to current wisdom.

Or not. As Warren points out in his book, maybe not in fact. Perhaps women do earn less on average than men, but according to his research it is because they are less willing to put up with certain disadvantages—long commuting, wind and weather, danger, long hours, travel—especially those that keep them away from their family.

So they avoid certain jobs, which are highly paid or paid more than the average because they are physically unpleasant, risky or they take away time from home life.

Warren became curious about the facts of the matter he says, because he was willing to think about it, and it didnÂ’t make sense to him. After all, if women did the same job for less, then anyone could beat the competition by starting a company and hiring just women. He or she would soon drive all the companies preferring males out of business, because their labor costs would be a third higher.

Any businessman willing to hire women can only pray that his or her competitors are stupid enough to be sexist, according to Farrell. Their costs will be much higher for the same product.

When John Stossel points out to Farrell that his new book explaining all this will likely get him in Dutch with his old feminist friends, he agrees cheerfully. “Yes, I am the bad guy”, he says, having. Like Stossel, who when he introduced the segment said he expected a torrent of feminist mail.

Turns out that FarrellÂ’s research proves his logic flawless, or so it appears. The true situation is that men don’t get paid more than women in the same job, it seems. Once again, a myth is punctured by finding out new facts, which undermine it far more effectively than reason.

Reason seems not to have had much influence in this debate. Warren’s plain and simple business logic has evidently not counted for much over the years. We all swallowed what was essentially an absurd idea. How silly. After all, it must have occurred to most people that hiring all women would be the obvious choice if women really were willing to do the same job for less money. But obviously that was not happening, and the statement didn’t make sense.

Shades of AIDS, where reason quickly indicates that so much doesnÂ’t make sense yet, and probably never will. But likewise, the ship sails on without sinking, even though it has so many holes in its hull. This is not to trivialize the issue of AIDS and its cause, which is a global issue involving life and death, and a scientific debate where the reasoning as well as the evidence has run the gauntlet of strict and often hostile peer review.

As far as the pay issue goes, it is easy to predict that toppling the conventional belief will encounter resistance, since the belief that women get paid less is a fact is imbued with a strong sense of injustice, and support for women against injustice.

Not unlike the AIDS discussion. Once again we meet the problem with so much public debate in all-too-human society: beliefs are deeply rooted in emotions as well as facts, and if the facts are challenged, the emotions rush to defend them much faster than logic can move out of the way. So reason takes a back seat in all but the best educated circles.

AIDS of course is no different in this respect than any other hot issue. Except that the range of emotions involved is so huge. A full list would include fear of death, tribal fears, hopes of succor, anxiety caused by lack of knowledge, loyalty to peers, fear and loathing of subgroups , disgust at the symptoms, shame at the stigma, pride in science, love of money and power, appetite for attention, delight in public recognition and awards, religious fervor and God knows what else sloshing around in AIDS’ emotional bloodbath.

The ideas of AIDS are the most highly charged in the health arena, and this is shown by the great success AIDS advocates have scored in attracting attention and funds away from dealing with much larger and fiercer health dragons such as cancer and heart attacks.

All in all, these many highly charged feelings attached to the scientific AIDS debate go a long way towards explaining why simple logic seems to have very little influence in its resolution, even though the list of anomalies and inconsistencies in the theory is unprecedented in science. What happens is that emotions freeze the mind and stop reason dead in its tracks.

But hold on. Maybe there is another, paradoxical lesson in Warren Farrell’s book, and John Stossel’s segment swallowing its thesis whole, which is that reason is a subtle process and those who do think very often don’t think enough. Perhaps Farrell’s common sense logic isn’t good enough.

After all, isn’t there a giant hole in Farrell’s thesis? Doesn’t it overlook the complicating factor that the behavior of business people that the feminists complain about is exactly UNreasonable and illogical. That is, employers in their prejudice may believe that men are better suited to a particular job than women are, so they may prefer to hire men to do the job rather than women, and never find out that women could do the same job as well as men or better.

This is the prejudice that feminists are fighting, with good reason. The issue is equal opportunity, not whether women get equal pay in the same job. Economics would indeed dictate that ceteris parabus, women and men in the same job doing just as well as each other would get the same pay.

The real issue, however, is whether the women are offered the job.

In the larger, and higher stakes issue of AIDS, the same problem of driving reason to its logical conclusion applies. We need to apply reason to the faith of the many, to see if it holds up. It is not merely a question of facts, but whether those facts are correctly arrived at, and the interpretation of facts.

The highly charged political and psychological emotions running rampant in AIDS have defeated the careful analysis in the scientific literature which appears to prove it completely false. The faithful accuse doubters of being “dangerous” at every opportunity, without being ever called to order.

The real danger lies in discussions which generate heat rather than light, diverting attention away from reason and evidence and allowing mob prejudice to bloom against anyone who wants to review the peer-validated objections.

All of it is highly suggestive that the ruling defenders are driven to such tactics because they are scientifically empty handed. The mark of a scientist with a good case he or she believes in is being open to review, and being happy to debate.

Outsiders in AIDS who are trying to decide who is right might take note of this, just as they can note also that the famous Durban declaration of faith in HIV as the cause of AIDS was also a sign of the weakness of the paradigm.

Scientific statements that have been widely adopted on the basis of good reason and evidence are not in need of statements of religious faith.

India welcomes the AIDS-busters

May 27th, 2005

“Spread of AIDS in India Outpaces Scant Treatment Effort” trumpeted page A3 of the New York Times today (Fri May 27), featuring a lurid story by one Somini Sengupta, who appears to be the current Timesperson on the subcontinent forging the narrative which we can all expect over the next year or two. In every anecdotal and statistical respect it matches the conventional AIDS theater staged in the minds of media reporters and readers in New York City and around the world.

Future instalments of this standardized narrative will no doubt detail the expansion of the beachhead AIDS (or perhaps just its testers and storytellers) has now established in India to the tune of 5.1 million believed to be HIV positive among its billion people. Gates and Clinton are enthusiastically financing the expanion of treatment of these unfortunates with the latest antivirals, though luckily these are available in India in their cheaper, generic form costing only $25 a month.

This opening of a second major front in AIDS exports of personnel and promotion also faces a few other obstacles which the AIDS-busters no doubt hope to overcome. The Indian Academy is after all the latest place where Peter Duesberg’s skepticism found a home, in his publication of a massive summary article in the Academy’s Journal of Biosciences in 2003. Are the Indian scientists who vetted the article for publication to be dissed by being ignored?

After all, if they were unable to find any way of rejecting what Duesberg wrote, did they not in effect endorse it, just as the peer reviewers in the US who failed to find fault with Duesberg’s articles in Cancer Research in 1986 and the Proceedings of the National Academy in 1988 also were forced to acknowledge his criticism of HIV was unanswerable?

No doubt the disconnect between the science as established by Indian Academy peer review and the politics and economics of AIDS will continue in India as widely as it has to date everywhere else, with the limited exception of South Africa where Thabo Mbeki has tried to cure this medical-scientific schizophrenia.

After all, since India lacks a leader, as far as we know, comparable to Mbeki, capable of reading the material for himself sufficiently well to perceive the disconnect, and at least call for the scientists to close the gap, it seems unlikely that even Mbeki’s very limited and seemingly crumbling resistance to the invasion of the AIDS busters in South Africa will be repeated in India.

Judging from the narrative of this Times story, even if there is some resistance in India (as there seems to be) it will have no effect on the reporting of Sengupta, which is already in line with the standard tenets of conventional AIDS science. For instance, the death rate of 350 out of 800 in five years mentioned at the end seems in line with the conventional 10 year latent period, at a hospice where the famous cheap antivirals of India have not been available for some reason.

A vast expansion of effort along the conventional lines of AIDS discovery and treatment seems inevitable for India, as TV campaigns help to ferret out the bashful and line them up for service.

In fact, the only question it leaves is one for the HIV skeptics. As the story mentions, it is now an accepted fact in the minds of international AIDS politicians and reporters that AIDS treatment was insufficient in South Africa because the government resisted disputed science, so “the virus exploded”, whereas Brazil is a showcase example of early intervention curbing the spread.

If the skeptics are right, and the spread of the virus is a fantasy induced by the spread of testing, what explanation do they have for Brazil not showing th same “explosion” as South Africa? The answer is that they dispute the testing accuracy and results.

Skeptics would doubt there was ever an “explosion” of any kind in South Africa, where according to journalist-novelist Rian Malan, the statistics are completely untrustworthy extrapolations from a handful of pre-natal clinics, where pregnant women tend to score positive on AIDS tests due to cross-reactions induced by hormones.

No doubt, however, there will certainly be an epidemic of testing in India now.

News: Spread of AIDS in India outpaces scant treatment effort

By Somini Sengupta

New York Times

27 May 2005

***********

MUMBAI – On an ordinary Thursday morning at the city’s largest public hospital, an ordinary group of Indians sat around a table, exchanging advice on life and death.

A video being shown on MTV India, depicting a woman infected by her husband, is part of an effort to combat taboos against discussion of AIDS.

A middle-aged man in a button-down shirt said he had long ago stopped having sex with his wife. A wisp of a woman sat quietly in a black burqa, her large eyes screaming bafflement at what she was being told. A plump woman in a brown sari requested that nothing be mailed to her home, for fear that her family would discover her secret. They were all living with AIDS.

Two counselors issued a stream of instructions. Come to the hospital yourself if you want free medicines. Don’t send relatives. Don’t go to your village for so long this summer that you cannot come back in time for your next dose. Never skip a dose. “There’s no need to be afraid,” one said, though the counselors’ noses were shielded by surgical masks.

The scene in this sunny hallway of J. J. Hospital here in Mumbai, formerly Bombay , offered a front-line snapshot of the first efforts to treat AIDS in India , where stigma, poverty, an anemic public health system and the sheer scale of the pandemic combine in a daunting challenge. The government estimates that India has 5.1 million people infected with H.I.V., second only to South Africa .

Only a year ago did the government start offering free drug therapy. Today, in a country that famously exports low-cost generic AIDS drugs across the world, less than 2 percent of the half-million Indians who are likely to need it receive free treatment.

“Our government works in a snail’s pace,” said Neville Selhore, director of an advocacy group in Delhi called Sahara . “The whole H.I.V. response has been very slow.”

In a country of a billion people, 5.1 million cases are, as the government points out, a drop in the bucket. But as public health workers note, India is at a pivotal moment. It could go the way of South Africa , where a lack of treatment allowed the virus to explode, or that of Brazil , where early and aggressive treatment programs checked the spread of infection.

Given India ‘s population, the AIDS pandemic, if not immediately tackled, could far outstrip the devastation visited on many African countries, AIDS advocates warn. In January the World Health Organization called attention to India , as well as Nigeria and South Africa , for not moving fast enough on treatment.

Among Indians, AIDS already is no longer confined to the high-risk groups who are believed to have been responsible for its early spread: prostitutes, their customers and users of injected drugs. Nor does it remain a city disease. The number of local districts considered high-prevalence areas doubled in 2004.

Perhaps most worrisome, the majority of Indians who are infected do not know that they have the virus or are spreading it. Offering access to treatment, health workers say, is the best way to persuade people to be tested. It is also the only way to quash the stigma still associated with AIDS.

” India is at a real turning point,” said Ira C. Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Foundation’s H.I.V./AIDS Initiative. “If they can address it now with treatment and prevention programs, they can turn it around.”

[Former President Bill Clinton was in India on Thursday to announce a training program for 150,000 private doctors treating AIDS cases. His visit followed an announcement by the government that it had succeeded in slowing the growth rates of the infection. Compared with 520,000 new infections in 2003, government health officials announced, only 28,000 new cases turned up in 2004.]

Still, the government is behind on its own treatment pledge. Last year, when India began its free drug therapy program, it promised to extend coverage to 100,000 patients by April of this year, but only 8,000 now receive it. The government recently repeated its 100,000 pledge, this time giving itself a deadline of 2007.

The private sector, meanwhile, has proved more aggressive, serving at least 20,000 Indians who have purchased antiretroviral drugs, according to government estimates. But the kinds of doctors treating them, and how well, remains a mystery.

One private practitioner in central Mumbai, Dr. Prakash Bora, said he had tended to 3,500 H.I.V.-positive people in the last 12 years. Patients visit his office, he said, to avoid the crowds, long lines and humiliation associated with the public system. As if on cue one evening, a government clerk walked in. He said he had done everything possible to avoid a public hospital; he had not even disclosed his H.I.V. status to his wife, and he declined to divulge his name to a reporter.

The patient said he had not yet thought about how he would afford antiretroviral therapy if he should need it. At the moment he spends roughly $25 a month for vitamins and the traditional Ayurvedic medicines that Dr. Bora prescribes.

Today, antiretroviral therapy for first-time patients costs about $25 a month at a city pharmacy, a hefty amount for many working-class Indians. Those who develop resistance to the first-line treatment, or those who need an alternative drug “cocktail” pay more than twice that amount. The impact of India’s new patent law, which bars Indian companies from producing new low-cost generic drugs, has yet to be felt.

Sometimes, Dr. Bora said, if patients are buying their own medicines, a crimp in the family budget can force them to go off the medicines, or skip a dose or two to stretch out the prescription.

That so few Indians have gotten government-financed treatment points to a host of problems, from the lack of confidence in public hospitals, to a shortage of trained doctors and supplies in parts of the country, to the scarcity of hospitals and health centers where testing and treatment are available. In short, AIDS has tested the fragility of a public health system financed by less than one percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

In one state, Manipur, the head of the state AIDS agency, Binod Kumar Sharma, said there was simply not enough medicine or money to meet the demand, nor enough equipment for tests. At the moment, he said, 432 people are under treatment, but another 1,500 are eligible.

” India has a long, long way to go in scaling up wide-scale access to testing and treatment,” Dr. Richard Feachem, director of the Geneva-based Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said in a telephone interview. “Can India afford it? Certainly. Does India have the human resources, the institutional resources to mount an effective response? Certainly.”

Of the $107 million allocated by the Global Fund for AIDS prevention and treatment programs in India , only $12 million has been disbursed. Dr. Feachem said that was because of “a certain slowness in utilization of funds.”

For their part, Indian government officials say a hasty distribution of antiretroviral drugs without proper training and infrastructure would cause other problems, including people dropping out of the treatment program. “You cannot just start everything under a tree,” said Dr. S. Y. Quraishi, chief of India ‘s National AIDS Control Organization.

“This is totally new in India ,” Dr. Quraishi said. “One of the problems is that patients themselves have to come forward. As word is going around, people are coming. Their numbers will go up.”

He said that before the end of the year he hoped to make antiretroviral treatment available in 100 hospitals and health centers across India , up from 25 now.

Why so few Indians are able to get treatment came into sharp relief at a Catholic-run hospice in a far-flung suburb in New Mumbai, about an hour’s drive from J. J. Hospital . Only one of the 38 patients housed there gets free treatment from J. J. Hospital . The Catholic nuns who run the hospice, the Sisters of the Destitute, say they have no means to ferry their patients to the hospital, wait in line and return for follow-up appointments.

The hospital asks each patient to bring a relative to monitor treatment. The hospice’s patients have no one to bring. They have no money to commute to and from the hospital. “There are many thousands in Bombay ,” Sister Bede, the administrator, said. “Many many are in need of it.” Of the 850 patients admitted to the hospice in the last five years, Sister Bede said, 350 have died.

Online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/27/international/asia/27aids.html

Source: AHRN Daily News Digest

Poland alerted to Scovill film

May 27th, 2005

According to informed sources a Polish correspondent of the weekly magazine Cross Section in Warsaw attended a showing in California of Robin Scovill’s documentary”The Other Side of AIDS”, and has written up the film and the event in the paper’s issue for next week.



Apparently the corrrespondent is not a journalist, however, but a paid up member of the medical/research community who says he has seen it all before and “fortunately” the scientific community has so far managed to block the nefarious opinion that all might not be well with the AIDS paradigm.


Kierkegaard’s walkabout cure

May 27th, 2005

Two new findings sound the theme that an oldtime, simple and free – and drug free – approach to health may work with unexpected power

sorenkierkegaard1.jpgSoren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and author who lived in Copenhagen in the first half of the nineteenth century, was usually so busy writing when he was home that all visitors were generally sent away by his servant.

In the 1840s, for example, the visiting Norwegian author and feminist Camilla Collett (who had earlier been turned away by Hans Christian Anderson) was informed that Kierkegaard was not at home. When she came back down to the street she glanced up at the apartment window and saw Kierkegaard standing there. Their eyes met, and in their mutual surprise, they nodded spontaneously to each other.

But Kierkegaard was no shut-in. A talkative, friendly fellow once he got out, he used to gear up for his writing by walking all over the city and talking to people he encountered in what he called his daily “people bath”.

“I regard the whole of Copenhagen as one great social gathering,” he wrote.

Walking made him feel good and gave him all kinds of ideas, which he would work out as he walked, often taking hasty leave of whoever he was talking to and rushing home to start work at a desk at which he stood, rather than sat.

“No matter what, do not lose the joy of walking,” he wrote to his sister in-law. “I walk my way to health and away from illness every day. I have walked my way to my best ideas, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it… If a person just continues to walk like this, things will surely go well.”

Well, modern science is now backing up Kierkegaard on this point, even to the tune of finding that exercise helps fight off cancer. Following many studies over the years showing how beneficial walking is simply as exercise, there have been two in the last week showing it helps cure cancer.

This week in JAMA Harvard assistant professor Michelle D. Holmes revealed that walking for an hour a week reduced the risk of death from breast cancer by 20 percent for women with the disease, apparently because it reduces estrogen and also body fat, which has been linked to breast cancer through diet.

While controls were not tight enough to rule out other factors causing the improvement (because whether women in the study exercised was their own choice, so they might have also been the type to eat more vegetables or visit their doctor more often) the results are generally viewed as convincing.

Exercise a foe of breast cancer

Even walking reduces a patient’s risk of death from the disease, a study says. But post-treatment exercise is easier to suggest than do.

By LISA GREENE, Times Staff Writer
Published May 25, 2005

Most people who exercise for better health think of the obvious advantages: warding off heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.

But exercise has another, more surprising benefit as well: It can help breast cancer patients cheat death, says a study published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women don’t have to be triathletes. Even walking for an hour a week reduces the risk of death from breast cancer by 20 percent for women already diagnosed with the disease, the study found.

“I hope women with breast cancer consider that exercise may improve their length and quality of life,” said Dr. Michelle D. Holmes, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author.

Exercise also helps prevent breast cancer, other studies have said. But this study found exercise helps women who already have the disease. The news could have a dramatic effect on their lives, since they are likely to exercise less after getting cancer.

Less than one-third of breast cancer survivors get as much exercise as the government recommends.

“The stress of treatment and a life-threatening illness can be very discouraging to women,” Holmes said.

The study is especially important coming just after another study linking lower-fat diets to lower breast cancer recurrence, said Dr. Larry Norton, deputy physician-in-chief for breast cancer programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“There seems to be a connection between fat in your body, fat in the diet and recurrence of breast cancer,” he said. “It’s very exciting, because it’s something we can do something about.”

More exercise reduces the risk further. The greatest benefit is to women who exercise the equivalent of walking three to five hours per week. Those breast cancer patients reduced their risk of death by 50 percent. Women who exercised harder could spend less time working out for the same benefit.

The study results impressed Clearwater resident Roberta Mindykowski. She has battled breast cancer for nine years. Mindykowski, 60, had a mastectomy nine years ago. Three years ago, her cancer returned, and two years ago she had more surgery.

Exercise after cancer is easier recommended than done. After her latest surgery, Mindykowski said, her energy disappeared.

“It takes a long time to get your stamina back,” she said.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that Mindykowski resumed regular exercise. Now she’s lifting weights, walking on a treadmill, and taking daily breaks to walk in her office parking garage with co-workers.

“Just doing a little bit of exercise makes you feel so well mentally and physically, it can’t do anything but help you,” she said.

The study looked at data from almost 3,000 patients in the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1984 and 1998, following them until 2002.

Researchers analyzed how much exercise women reported getting after they were treated for breast cancer. They didn’t include women with the worst prognosis, or women undergoing treatment, since both groups would be less likely to exercise.

Of the study participants, 86 percent survived at least 10 years after diagnosis.

Researchers aren’t sure why women who exercised were more likely to survive. Exercise may help because it lowers the level of estrogen circulating in women’s bodies.

The study found that exercise reduced the risk most for women with the most common kind of tumor, which is stimulated by estrogen. That gives more weight to the idea that the benefits come from affecting estrogen levels, Holmes said.

Other factors also may be at work, Norton said. In the recent diet study, lower-fat diets still affected tumors not stimulated by estrogen. That makes him wonder whether some chemical in fat cells affects breast cancer and that chemical is in turn affected by diet and exercise.

The study’s findings are “fairly convincing,” said Dr. Pamela Munster, breast cancer oncologist at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and assistant professor at the University of South Florida.

Still, the study has limits. Because the women chose whether to exercise, rather than being assigned at random to exercise or not, it’s possible that there was some other difference between the two groups, Munster said. Maybe women who exercise visit their doctors more often, or eat more vegetables.

Researchers tried to account for such factors, Holmes said, but “can’t totally rule it out” that something else might have influenced the results.

Munster would like to see the results confirmed in a randomized trial. But in the meantime, the best bet is to hit the gym, she said.

“Even a woman with breast cancer is still at risk of dying from heart disease,” she said.

Holmes agreed.

“There’s not a lot to lose by exercising,” she said.

Cindi Crisci, 45, of St. Petersburg worked out and watched her diet because her family has a history of heart disease.

Six years ago, Crisci was diagnosed with breast cancer. She walked after her surgeries, through her chemotherapy and her radiation treatments.

“It helped in the healing process,” said Crisci, whose cancer prompted her to get a job with the American Cancer Society. “I firmly believe a positive attitude and staying healthy helped me. … Exercise in general helps the mind, body and soul.”
WHY EXERCISE HELPS

Why would exercise keep breast cancer from coming back, or spreading throughout the body? Researchers aren’t sure. But studies have linked exercise to lower levels of estrogen in the body. And today’s study found that women whose tumors are stimulated by estrogen got even more benefit from exercise. So they believe exercise may help prevent cancer because it lowers estrogen levels.

© 2005 ? All Rights Reserved ? St. Petersburg Times© 2005 ? All Rights Reserved ? St. Petersburg Times

Meanwhile at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.in Orlando, Harvard cancer doctor Jeffrey Meyerhardt announced that an hour’s walk six days a week cut the risk of colon cancer recurrence for patients after surgery by half.

Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Date: 2005-05-17
URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050517143749.htm
Exercise Reduces Risk Of Recurrence And Death In Early Stage Colon Cancer Patients

ORLANDO, Fla.–Patients treated for early stage colon cancer fared significantly better if they exercised regularly at the level of an hour’s walk six times a week, according to a study to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A person’s risk of having a cancer recurrence or dying was lowered by 40 to 50 percent in the 2 1/3 to 3 years following surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer, reported a team headed by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The data (abstract 3534) is from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALBG) and will be presented during a poster discussion on Tuesday, May 17, 8 a.m. Level 3, 315A.

Although exercise has previously been shown to lower the risk of developing colon cancer, the new findings are the first to demonstrate a benefit for patients who already have the disease.

“There is a growing body of evidence that there are things you can do in addition to chemotherapy for colon cancer survivors to reduce the likelihood that the disease will recur,” says Meyerhardt. “Until now, when doctors were asked by their patients whether they should exercise, some of them probably said it would be a good idea, but it wasn’t a firm recommendation without data to support it.”

The health benefit was found among patients whose activity levels ranked in the top two-fifths of the group, compared to the lowest one fifth. They exercised at a rate of at least 18 MET-hours (metabolic equivalent tasks) per week, which could be attained through jogging two to three hours a week, playing tennis a few times a week, or walking briskly an hour a day six times a week, explains Meyerhardt, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study involved patients reporting leisure-time physical activity approximately 12-18 months after surgery. The patients belonged to the same group in which a separate study headed by Dana-Farber researcher Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, revealed that regular aspirin use reduce recurrence and death risks by about the same magnitude as exercise.

###

In addition to Meyerhardt, the study’s other authors are Fuchs, Denise Heseltine, BA, and Robert Mayer, MD, Dana-Farber; Donna Niedzwiecki, PhD, and Donna Hollis, MS, CALGB Statistical Center at Duke University Medical Center; Leonard Saltz, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Richard Schilsky, MD, University of Chicago.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.danafarber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

This is the original press rekease:

Press Releases

May 17, 2005
Exercise reduces risk of recurrence and death in early stage colon cancer patients
Photo of Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH
Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH

ORLANDO, Fla.?Patients treated for early stage colon cancer fared significantly better if they exercised regularly at the level of an hour’s walk six times a week, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A person’s risk of having a cancer recurrence or dying was lowered by 40 to 50 percent in the 2 1/3 to 3 years following surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer, reported a team headed by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The data (abstract 3534) is from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALBG) and will be presented during a poster discussion on Tuesday, May 17, 8 a.m. Level 3, 315A.

Although exercise has previously been shown to lower the risk of developing colon cancer, the new findings are the first to demonstrate a benefit for patients who already have the disease.

“There is a growing body of evidence that there are things you can do in addition to chemotherapy for colon cancer survivors to reduce the likelihood that the disease will recur,” says Meyerhardt. “Until now, when doctors were asked by their patients whether they should exercise, some of them probably said it would be a good idea, but it wasn’t a firm recommendation without data to support it.”

The health benefit was found among patients whose activity levels ranked in the top two-fifths of the group, compared to the lowest one fifth. They exercised at a rate of at least 18 MET-hours (metabolic equivalent tasks) per week, which could be attained through jogging two to three hours a week, playing tennis a few times a week, or walking briskly an hour a day six times a week, explains Meyerhardt, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study involved patients reporting leisure-time physical activity approximately 12-18 months after surgery. The patients belonged to the same group in which a separate study headed by Dana-Farber researcher Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, revealed that regular aspirin use reduces recurrence and death risks by about the same magnitude as exercise.

In addition to Meyerhardt, the study’s other authors are Fuchs, Denise Heseltine, BA, and Robert Mayer, MD, Dana-Farber; Donna Niedzwiecki, PhD, and Donna Hollis, MS, CALGB Statistical Center at Duke University Medical Center; Leonard Saltz, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Richard Schilsky, MD, University of Chicago.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.danafarber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Actually, even Kierkegaard’s habit of standing at his desk was a very good thing, exercise-wise. As Denise Grady reported in the New York Times Tuesday, a study of a group of couch potatoes fitted out with speecial underwear to record their every movement, published by James Levine, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic in January in Science made that pretty clear, for it revealed that surprising amounts of calories can be burned off by fidgeting, or simply getting up from the couch.

In January, the scientists here who designed the underwear reported a striking difference in activity levels between lean people and overweight ones. Their study, published in the journal Science, did not involve deliberate exercise, but it measured with the help of the sensors how much people moved about naturally and spontaneously.

The heavier ones tended to sit, while the lean ones were more restless and spent two or more hours a day on their feet standing, pacing and fidgeting. The difference translated into 350 calories a day, enough for the heavy people to take off 30 to 40 pounds a year, or 14 to 18 kilograms a year, if they would get moving.

Standing takes more energy than sitting, and strolling along at just a mile an hour, or 1.6 kilometers an hour, burns twice the calories of sitting.

The New York Times
May 24, 2005
New Weight-Loss Focus: The Lean and the Restless
By DENISE GRADY

ROCHESTER, Minn. – If you move, they will measure it. If you don’t move, they will measure that, too, along with what you eat. There are no secrets here, at least no metabolic ones. Not only do they have your number – they have 25 million of your numbers.

They, in this case, are scientists at the Mayo Clinic here. And they learn your secrets only if you have been one of the select few to wear a set of underwear with racy-looking cutouts at the crotch and backside, and pockets holding position and motion sensors dangling a half dozen tangled wires.

In January, the scientists here who designed the underwear reported a striking difference in activity levels between lean people and overweight ones. Their study, published in Science, did not involve deliberate exercise, but it measured – with the help of the sensors – how much people moved about naturally and spontaneously.

The heavier ones tended to sit, while the lean ones were more restless and spent two more hours a day on their feet – standing, pacing around and fidgeting. The difference translated into 350 calories a day, enough for the heavy people to take off 30 to 40 pounds a year, if they would get moving.

The researchers believe the tendency to sit still or move around is biological and inborn, governed by genetically determined levels of brain chemicals. And that tendency influences weight – not the other way around, the researchers say.

The Mayo researchers call the type of movement and calorie burning that they study NEAT, for nonexercise activity thermogenesis. The leader of the research team, Dr. James Levine – a nutritionist, an endocrinologist and a professor of medicine – has defined the term as “the energy expenditure associated with all the activities we undertake as vibrant, independent beings.” Those activities include “occupation, leisure, sitting, standing, walking, toe-tapping, guitar playing, dancing and shopping,” he writes. His team has even measured the energy burned in gum-chewing (11 calories an hour, if you chew six pieces at a time).

“This is probably the only place in the world that can do this kind of research,” Dr. Levine said.

Other researchers have praised the work, particularly the team’s painstaking and precise measurements of calories consumed and the way they are burned.

Dr. Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University, called the Science paper “great,” and added, “I believe the data; it’s done correctly and an interesting set of findings.”

Nonexercise activity can account for a significant portion of the calories burned in a day, anywhere from 15 percent in a sedentary person to 50 percent in someone who is very active. Standing takes more energy than sitting, and strolling along at just one mile an hour burns twice the calories of sitting.

Dr. Levine and his colleagues believe that if scientists can understand nonexercise activity better and identify what drives it, what makes people want to move around, they may be able to harness it to help the millions who are struggling to control their weight.

“Can we really find something to help people?” Dr. Levine asked. “We want to examine how to change people’s NEAT. There is this gap. Can we close it?”

He advocates this approach because the usual weight loss remedies usually fail. People have a hard time sticking with exercise programs and diets, and Dr. Levine argues that the very number of diet books and weight-loss plans is proof in and of itself that none of them work. “If one worked, we’d all be following it,” he said.

Studying activity and metabolism in people and animals has been a lifelong fascination, Dr. Levine said, explaining that he started measuring movement in snails and bacteria during his boyhood in London. He trained in medicine there, came to the Mayo Clinic as a resident in 1992 and then joined the faculty.

Today he runs a research group with a dozen scientists, specialists in physiology, nutrition and computing. They study nonexercise activity not only in obese adults and children, but also in the elderly, people with anorexia nervosa and populations threatened by starvation in Africa and India.

They have even investigated the significance of chubby cheeks, noting that people who deposit fat in their faces tend also to build up harmful stores inside the abdomen, which are linked to heart disease. Some members of the team also work with animals, trying to characterize the rich palette of brain chemicals that control activity levels and weight.

Although he spends most of his time on research, Dr. Levine is still a practicing endocrinologist who treats patients one afternoon a week, and he says he sees firsthand how intractable obesity can be, and what physical and emotional suffering it can cause.

Many of his patients are very obese. One was so heavy she could barely get out of a wheelchair, he said. He suggested an initial goal of simply standing up three times a day, and then trying to walk for 15 seconds at a time. For her, working her way up to two minutes of walking was a major milestone, he said.

Obese people are so stigmatized that even some doctors, perhaps unconsciously, withdraw from them, Dr. Levine said, noting that patients have told him he was the first physician who ever shook their hand or actually examined them.

“The key is to provide a nonjudgmental, compassionate environment,” he said.

The study published in January included 10 lean men and women and 10 slightly obese ones, all of whom described themselves as “couch potatoes” who did not exercise much. The object was to measure and compare their nonexercise activity, and also to determine whether it changed when they were put on special diets that made them gain or lose weight.

They wore the special underwear, which measured posture and movement every half second around the clock for 10 days in a row on several occasions, yielding 25 million points of data on each participant.

To make sure the researchers knew exactly how many calories the subjects were eating, dietitians prepared all their food for weeks at a time, a total of 20,000 meals.

“These studies cost a fortune,” Dr. Levine said. Each costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, paid by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

“Every food item is weighed to within a gram, and each meal costs $30,” he said.

In addition, the 20 participants were paid $6,000 each for their time. And the overweight ones were given advice and personalized plans to help them lose weight.

This was the study that found that the lean subjects spent much more time on their feet than did the obese ones.

What convinced the researchers that the tendency to be inactive led to obesity, and not the other way around, was that the activity levels did not change when the diets were altered to make the obese people lose weight and the lean ones gain it. If the common wisdom were true – that being heavy is what makes people sluggish – then the overweight people should have acted more energetic when they lost weight, and the lean ones should have slowed down when they gained.

But that did not occur.

If activity levels are governed by biology, then it may seem hopeless to try to change them, Dr. Levine acknowledged.

“But the counterevidence to that is, our biology as a species really hasn’t changed in decades and centuries, and yet obesity rates have dramatically increased in the last 15 years,” he said.

Activity levels have declined, and he and many other obesity researchers say that decline, more than increases in eating, is to blame for rises in obesity.

What has changed is the artificial environment: there is far more opportunity today than in the past to be sedentary. And some people may be genetically predisposed to seize that opportunity.

“We all like and dislike different things,” Dr. Levine said. “None of us can quite quantify it.”

In a biological way, not a personal one, he said, obese people seem to like inactivity.

“Given an environment that lets people sit for hours and hours a day, they will,” he said.

A solution, then, may be to change the environment, to make moving around easier and sitting still less convenient.

The team’s recent paper in Science noted, for instance, that in 1920 before cars were common, people in Rochester walked an average of 1.6 miles a day to and from work, which burned about 150 calories a day. Few people do that today; many live too far away to talk to work, but, Dr. Levine suggests, many could build short walks into the day.

This is not a new idea, he acknowledges. Plenty of experts have been advising people to find small, relatively painless ways to burn extra calories, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking at the far end of the lot to make themselves walk a bit.

But for this kind of thing to make a real difference, people would have to commit to changing their habits and their environment. When it comes to this mission, Dr. Levine may be his own best guinea pig.

“If anyone in the world is going to do this it’s obviously going to be me,” he said.

At meetings, he stands instead of sitting. Talking on the telephone, he paces around. In his office he has a treadmill in place of a desk. He got it last year when he saw the data from the study comparing lean people and obese ones.

“My computer is stationed over the treadmill,” he said. “I work at 0.7 miles an hour.”

A stand-up desk might seem simpler, but he prefers the treadmill.

“Standing still is quite difficult,” he said. “You have a natural tendency to want to move your legs. Zero point seven is the key. You don’t get sweaty, you can’t jiggle too much. It’s about one step a second. It’s very comfortable. Most people seem to like it around 0.7.”

He has installed a second treadmill alongside his own, and he encourages visitors to hop on and stroll while they talk to him. It takes some getting used to, but, he says, envious colleagues at Mayo have been clamoring for treadmill desks.

“Walking at work, first of all it’s addictive,” he said. “It’s terribly good fun. I actually feel happier, particularly in the afternoon. You might think you come home exhausted, but you don’t. You come home energized.”

For him, the treadmill has eliminated the afternoon slump, when a lot of people feel sleepy and crave candy bars or caffeine.

“I’ve become convinced we really can generate an office environment where people are on the move and are happier,” he said.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

All in all, Kierkegaard probably spent more time at his desk than the average office worker today. Yet, although he ignored sports and knew nothing of gyms, he evidently knew how to keep trim and healthy.

Poland alerted to Scovill film

May 26th, 2005

According to informed sources a Polish correspondent of the weekly magazine Cross Section in Warsaw attended a showing in California of Robin Scovill’s documentary”The Other Side of AIDS”, and has written up the film and the event in the paper’s issue for next week.



Apparently the corrrespondent is not a journalist, however, but a paid up member of the medical/research community who says he has seen it all before and “fortunately” the scientific community has so far managed to block the nefarious opinion that all might not be well with the AIDS paradigm.


Kierkegaard’s walkabout cure

May 25th, 2005

Two new findings sound the theme that an oldtime, simple and free – and drug free – approach to health may work with unexpected power

sorenkierkegaard.jpgSoren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and author who lived in Copenhagen in the first half of the nineteenth century, was usually so busy writing when he was home that all visitors were generally sent away by his servant.

In the 1840s, for example, the visiting Norwegian author and feminist Camilla Collett (who had earlier been turned away by Hans Christian Anderson) was informed that Kierkegaard was not at home. When she came back down to the street she glanced up at the apartment window and saw Kierkegaard standing there. Their eyes met, and in their mutual surprise, they nodded spontaneously to each other.

But Kierkegaard was no shut-in. A talkative, friendly fellow once he got out, he used to gear up for his writing by walking all over the city and talking to people he encountered in what he called his daily “people bath”.

“I regard the whole of Copenhagen as one great social gathering,” he wrote.

Walking made him feel good and gave him all kinds of ideas, which he would work out as he walked, often taking hasty leave of whoever he was talking to and rushing home to start work at a desk at which he stood, rather than sat.

“No matter what, do not lose the joy of walking,” he wrote to his sister in-law. “I walk my way to health and away from illness every day. I have walked my way to my best ideas, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it… If a person just continues to walk like this, things will surely go well.”

Well, modern science is now backing up Kierkegaard on this point, even to the tune of finding that exercise helps fight off cancer. Following many studies over the years showing how beneficial walking is simply as exercise, there have been two in the last week showing it helps cure cancer.

This week in JAMA Harvard assistant professor Michelle D. Holmes revealed that walking for an hour a week reduced the risk of death from breast cancer by 20 percent for women with the disease, apparently because it reduces estrogen and also body fat, which has been linked to breast cancer through diet.

While controls were not tight enough to rule out other factors causing the improvement (because whether women in the study exercised was their own choice, so they might have also been the type to eat more vegetables or visit their doctor more often) the results are generally viewed as convincing.

Exercise a foe of breast cancer

Even walking reduces a patient’s risk of death from the disease, a study says. But post-treatment exercise is easier to suggest than do.

By LISA GREENE, Times Staff Writer
Published May 25, 2005

Most people who exercise for better health think of the obvious advantages: warding off heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.

But exercise has another, more surprising benefit as well: It can help breast cancer patients cheat death, says a study published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women don’t have to be triathletes. Even walking for an hour a week reduces the risk of death from breast cancer by 20 percent for women already diagnosed with the disease, the study found.

“I hope women with breast cancer consider that exercise may improve their length and quality of life,” said Dr. Michelle D. Holmes, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author.

Exercise also helps prevent breast cancer, other studies have said. But this study found exercise helps women who already have the disease. The news could have a dramatic effect on their lives, since they are likely to exercise less after getting cancer.

Less than one-third of breast cancer survivors get as much exercise as the government recommends.

“The stress of treatment and a life-threatening illness can be very discouraging to women,” Holmes said.

The study is especially important coming just after another study linking lower-fat diets to lower breast cancer recurrence, said Dr. Larry Norton, deputy physician-in-chief for breast cancer programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“There seems to be a connection between fat in your body, fat in the diet and recurrence of breast cancer,” he said. “It’s very exciting, because it’s something we can do something about.”

More exercise reduces the risk further. The greatest benefit is to women who exercise the equivalent of walking three to five hours per week. Those breast cancer patients reduced their risk of death by 50 percent. Women who exercised harder could spend less time working out for the same benefit.

The study results impressed Clearwater resident Roberta Mindykowski. She has battled breast cancer for nine years. Mindykowski, 60, had a mastectomy nine years ago. Three years ago, her cancer returned, and two years ago she had more surgery.

Exercise after cancer is easier recommended than done. After her latest surgery, Mindykowski said, her energy disappeared.

“It takes a long time to get your stamina back,” she said.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that Mindykowski resumed regular exercise. Now she’s lifting weights, walking on a treadmill, and taking daily breaks to walk in her office parking garage with co-workers.

“Just doing a little bit of exercise makes you feel so well mentally and physically, it can’t do anything but help you,” she said.

The study looked at data from almost 3,000 patients in the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1984 and 1998, following them until 2002.

Researchers analyzed how much exercise women reported getting after they were treated for breast cancer. They didn’t include women with the worst prognosis, or women undergoing treatment, since both groups would be less likely to exercise.

Of the study participants, 86 percent survived at least 10 years after diagnosis.

Researchers aren’t sure why women who exercised were more likely to survive. Exercise may help because it lowers the level of estrogen circulating in women’s bodies.

The study found that exercise reduced the risk most for women with the most common kind of tumor, which is stimulated by estrogen. That gives more weight to the idea that the benefits come from affecting estrogen levels, Holmes said.

Other factors also may be at work, Norton said. In the recent diet study, lower-fat diets still affected tumors not stimulated by estrogen. That makes him wonder whether some chemical in fat cells affects breast cancer and that chemical is in turn affected by diet and exercise.

The study’s findings are “fairly convincing,” said Dr. Pamela Munster, breast cancer oncologist at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and assistant professor at the University of South Florida.

Still, the study has limits. Because the women chose whether to exercise, rather than being assigned at random to exercise or not, it’s possible that there was some other difference between the two groups, Munster said. Maybe women who exercise visit their doctors more often, or eat more vegetables.

Researchers tried to account for such factors, Holmes said, but “can’t totally rule it out” that something else might have influenced the results.

Munster would like to see the results confirmed in a randomized trial. But in the meantime, the best bet is to hit the gym, she said.

“Even a woman with breast cancer is still at risk of dying from heart disease,” she said.

Holmes agreed.

“There’s not a lot to lose by exercising,” she said.

Cindi Crisci, 45, of St. Petersburg worked out and watched her diet because her family has a history of heart disease.

Six years ago, Crisci was diagnosed with breast cancer. She walked after her surgeries, through her chemotherapy and her radiation treatments.

“It helped in the healing process,” said Crisci, whose cancer prompted her to get a job with the American Cancer Society. “I firmly believe a positive attitude and staying healthy helped me. … Exercise in general helps the mind, body and soul.”
WHY EXERCISE HELPS

Why would exercise keep breast cancer from coming back, or spreading throughout the body? Researchers aren’t sure. But studies have linked exercise to lower levels of estrogen in the body. And today’s study found that women whose tumors are stimulated by estrogen got even more benefit from exercise. So they believe exercise may help prevent cancer because it lowers estrogen levels.

© 2005 ? All Rights Reserved ? St. Petersburg Times© 2005 ? All Rights Reserved ? St. Petersburg Times

Meanwhile at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.in Orlando, Harvard cancer doctor Jeffrey Meyerhardt announced that an hour’s walk six days a week cut the risk of colon cancer recurrence for patients after surgery by half.

Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Date: 2005-05-17
URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050517143749.htm
Exercise Reduces Risk Of Recurrence And Death In Early Stage Colon Cancer Patients

ORLANDO, Fla.–Patients treated for early stage colon cancer fared significantly better if they exercised regularly at the level of an hour’s walk six times a week, according to a study to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A person’s risk of having a cancer recurrence or dying was lowered by 40 to 50 percent in the 2 1/3 to 3 years following surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer, reported a team headed by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The data (abstract 3534) is from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALBG) and will be presented during a poster discussion on Tuesday, May 17, 8 a.m. Level 3, 315A.

Although exercise has previously been shown to lower the risk of developing colon cancer, the new findings are the first to demonstrate a benefit for patients who already have the disease.

“There is a growing body of evidence that there are things you can do in addition to chemotherapy for colon cancer survivors to reduce the likelihood that the disease will recur,” says Meyerhardt. “Until now, when doctors were asked by their patients whether they should exercise, some of them probably said it would be a good idea, but it wasn’t a firm recommendation without data to support it.”

The health benefit was found among patients whose activity levels ranked in the top two-fifths of the group, compared to the lowest one fifth. They exercised at a rate of at least 18 MET-hours (metabolic equivalent tasks) per week, which could be attained through jogging two to three hours a week, playing tennis a few times a week, or walking briskly an hour a day six times a week, explains Meyerhardt, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study involved patients reporting leisure-time physical activity approximately 12-18 months after surgery. The patients belonged to the same group in which a separate study headed by Dana-Farber researcher Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, revealed that regular aspirin use reduce recurrence and death risks by about the same magnitude as exercise.

###

In addition to Meyerhardt, the study’s other authors are Fuchs, Denise Heseltine, BA, and Robert Mayer, MD, Dana-Farber; Donna Niedzwiecki, PhD, and Donna Hollis, MS, CALGB Statistical Center at Duke University Medical Center; Leonard Saltz, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Richard Schilsky, MD, University of Chicago.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.danafarber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

This is the original press rekease:

Press Releases

May 17, 2005
Exercise reduces risk of recurrence and death in early stage colon cancer patients
Photo of Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH
Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH

ORLANDO, Fla.?Patients treated for early stage colon cancer fared significantly better if they exercised regularly at the level of an hour’s walk six times a week, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

A person’s risk of having a cancer recurrence or dying was lowered by 40 to 50 percent in the 2 1/3 to 3 years following surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer, reported a team headed by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The data (abstract 3534) is from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALBG) and will be presented during a poster discussion on Tuesday, May 17, 8 a.m. Level 3, 315A.

Although exercise has previously been shown to lower the risk of developing colon cancer, the new findings are the first to demonstrate a benefit for patients who already have the disease.

“There is a growing body of evidence that there are things you can do in addition to chemotherapy for colon cancer survivors to reduce the likelihood that the disease will recur,” says Meyerhardt. “Until now, when doctors were asked by their patients whether they should exercise, some of them probably said it would be a good idea, but it wasn’t a firm recommendation without data to support it.”

The health benefit was found among patients whose activity levels ranked in the top two-fifths of the group, compared to the lowest one fifth. They exercised at a rate of at least 18 MET-hours (metabolic equivalent tasks) per week, which could be attained through jogging two to three hours a week, playing tennis a few times a week, or walking briskly an hour a day six times a week, explains Meyerhardt, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The study involved patients reporting leisure-time physical activity approximately 12-18 months after surgery. The patients belonged to the same group in which a separate study headed by Dana-Farber researcher Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, revealed that regular aspirin use reduces recurrence and death risks by about the same magnitude as exercise.

In addition to Meyerhardt, the study’s other authors are Fuchs, Denise Heseltine, BA, and Robert Mayer, MD, Dana-Farber; Donna Niedzwiecki, PhD, and Donna Hollis, MS, CALGB Statistical Center at Duke University Medical Center; Leonard Saltz, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Richard Schilsky, MD, University of Chicago.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.danafarber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Actually, even Kierkegaard’s habit of standing at his desk was a very good thing, exercise-wise. As Denise Grady reported in the New York Times Tuesday, a study of a group of couch potatoes fitted out with speecial underwear to record their every movement, published by James Levine, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic in January in Science made that pretty clear, for it revealed that surprising amounts of calories can be burned off by fidgeting, or simply getting up from the couch.

In January, the scientists here who designed the underwear reported a striking difference in activity levels between lean people and overweight ones. Their study, published in the journal Science, did not involve deliberate exercise, but it measured with the help of the sensors how much people moved about naturally and spontaneously.

The heavier ones tended to sit, while the lean ones were more restless and spent two or more hours a day on their feet standing, pacing and fidgeting. The difference translated into 350 calories a day, enough for the heavy people to take off 30 to 40 pounds a year, or 14 to 18 kilograms a year, if they would get moving.

Standing takes more energy than sitting, and strolling along at just a mile an hour, or 1.6 kilometers an hour, burns twice the calories of sitting.

The New York Times
May 24, 2005
New Weight-Loss Focus: The Lean and the Restless
By DENISE GRADY

ROCHESTER, Minn. – If you move, they will measure it. If you don’t move, they will measure that, too, along with what you eat. There are no secrets here, at least no metabolic ones. Not only do they have your number – they have 25 million of your numbers.

They, in this case, are scientists at the Mayo Clinic here. And they learn your secrets only if you have been one of the select few to wear a set of underwear with racy-looking cutouts at the crotch and backside, and pockets holding position and motion sensors dangling a half dozen tangled wires.

In January, the scientists here who designed the underwear reported a striking difference in activity levels between lean people and overweight ones. Their study, published in Science, did not involve deliberate exercise, but it measured – with the help of the sensors – how much people moved about naturally and spontaneously.

The heavier ones tended to sit, while the lean ones were more restless and spent two more hours a day on their feet – standing, pacing around and fidgeting. The difference translated into 350 calories a day, enough for the heavy people to take off 30 to 40 pounds a year, if they would get moving.

The researchers believe the tendency to sit still or move around is biological and inborn, governed by genetically determined levels of brain chemicals. And that tendency influences weight – not the other way around, the researchers say.

The Mayo researchers call the type of movement and calorie burning that they study NEAT, for nonexercise activity thermogenesis. The leader of the research team, Dr. James Levine – a nutritionist, an endocrinologist and a professor of medicine – has defined the term as “the energy expenditure associated with all the activities we undertake as vibrant, independent beings.” Those activities include “occupation, leisure, sitting, standing, walking, toe-tapping, guitar playing, dancing and shopping,” he writes. His team has even measured the energy burned in gum-chewing (11 calories an hour, if you chew six pieces at a time).

“This is probably the only place in the world that can do this kind of research,” Dr. Levine said.

Other researchers have praised the work, particularly the team’s painstaking and precise measurements of calories consumed and the way they are burned.

Dr. Rudolph Leibel, an obesity researcher at Columbia University, called the Science paper “great,” and added, “I believe the data; it’s done correctly and an interesting set of findings.”

Nonexercise activity can account for a significant portion of the calories burned in a day, anywhere from 15 percent in a sedentary person to 50 percent in someone who is very active. Standing takes more energy than sitting, and strolling along at just one mile an hour burns twice the calories of sitting.

Dr. Levine and his colleagues believe that if scientists can understand nonexercise activity better and identify what drives it, what makes people want to move around, they may be able to harness it to help the millions who are struggling to control their weight.

“Can we really find something to help people?” Dr. Levine asked. “We want to examine how to change people’s NEAT. There is this gap. Can we close it?”

He advocates this approach because the usual weight loss remedies usually fail. People have a hard time sticking with exercise programs and diets, and Dr. Levine argues that the very number of diet books and weight-loss plans is proof in and of itself that none of them work. “If one worked, we’d all be following it,” he said.

Studying activity and metabolism in people and animals has been a lifelong fascination, Dr. Levine said, explaining that he started measuring movement in snails and bacteria during his boyhood in London. He trained in medicine there, came to the Mayo Clinic as a resident in 1992 and then joined the faculty.

Today he runs a research group with a dozen scientists, specialists in physiology, nutrition and computing. They study nonexercise activity not only in obese adults and children, but also in the elderly, people with anorexia nervosa and populations threatened by starvation in Africa and India.

They have even investigated the significance of chubby cheeks, noting that people who deposit fat in their faces tend also to build up harmful stores inside the abdomen, which are linked to heart disease. Some members of the team also work with animals, trying to characterize the rich palette of brain chemicals that control activity levels and weight.

Although he spends most of his time on research, Dr. Levine is still a practicing endocrinologist who treats patients one afternoon a week, and he says he sees firsthand how intractable obesity can be, and what physical and emotional suffering it can cause.

Many of his patients are very obese. One was so heavy she could barely get out of a wheelchair, he said. He suggested an initial goal of simply standing up three times a day, and then trying to walk for 15 seconds at a time. For her, working her way up to two minutes of walking was a major milestone, he said.

Obese people are so stigmatized that even some doctors, perhaps unconsciously, withdraw from them, Dr. Levine said, noting that patients have told him he was the first physician who ever shook their hand or actually examined them.

“The key is to provide a nonjudgmental, compassionate environment,” he said.

The study published in January included 10 lean men and women and 10 slightly obese ones, all of whom described themselves as “couch potatoes” who did not exercise much. The object was to measure and compare their nonexercise activity, and also to determine whether it changed when they were put on special diets that made them gain or lose weight.

They wore the special underwear, which measured posture and movement every half second around the clock for 10 days in a row on several occasions, yielding 25 million points of data on each participant.

To make sure the researchers knew exactly how many calories the subjects were eating, dietitians prepared all their food for weeks at a time, a total of 20,000 meals.

“These studies cost a fortune,” Dr. Levine said. Each costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, paid by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

“Every food item is weighed to within a gram, and each meal costs $30,” he said.

In addition, the 20 participants were paid $6,000 each for their time. And the overweight ones were given advice and personalized plans to help them lose weight.

This was the study that found that the lean subjects spent much more time on their feet than did the obese ones.

What convinced the researchers that the tendency to be inactive led to obesity, and not the other way around, was that the activity levels did not change when the diets were altered to make the obese people lose weight and the lean ones gain it. If the common wisdom were true – that being heavy is what makes people sluggish – then the overweight people should have acted more energetic when they lost weight, and the lean ones should have slowed down when they gained.

But that did not occur.

If activity levels are governed by biology, then it may seem hopeless to try to change them, Dr. Levine acknowledged.

“But the counterevidence to that is, our biology as a species really hasn’t changed in decades and centuries, and yet obesity rates have dramatically increased in the last 15 years,” he said.

Activity levels have declined, and he and many other obesity researchers say that decline, more than increases in eating, is to blame for rises in obesity.

What has changed is the artificial environment: there is far more opportunity today than in the past to be sedentary. And some people may be genetically predisposed to seize that opportunity.

“We all like and dislike different things,” Dr. Levine said. “None of us can quite quantify it.”

In a biological way, not a personal one, he said, obese people seem to like inactivity.

“Given an environment that lets people sit for hours and hours a day, they will,” he said.

A solution, then, may be to change the environment, to make moving around easier and sitting still less convenient.

The team’s recent paper in Science noted, for instance, that in 1920 before cars were common, people in Rochester walked an average of 1.6 miles a day to and from work, which burned about 150 calories a day. Few people do that today; many live too far away to talk to work, but, Dr. Levine suggests, many could build short walks into the day.

This is not a new idea, he acknowledges. Plenty of experts have been advising people to find small, relatively painless ways to burn extra calories, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking at the far end of the lot to make themselves walk a bit.

But for this kind of thing to make a real difference, people would have to commit to changing their habits and their environment. When it comes to this mission, Dr. Levine may be his own best guinea pig.

“If anyone in the world is going to do this it’s obviously going to be me,” he said.

At meetings, he stands instead of sitting. Talking on the telephone, he paces around. In his office he has a treadmill in place of a desk. He got it last year when he saw the data from the study comparing lean people and obese ones.

“My computer is stationed over the treadmill,” he said. “I work at 0.7 miles an hour.”

A stand-up desk might seem simpler, but he prefers the treadmill.

“Standing still is quite difficult,” he said. “You have a natural tendency to want to move your legs. Zero point seven is the key. You don’t get sweaty, you can’t jiggle too much. It’s about one step a second. It’s very comfortable. Most people seem to like it around 0.7.”

He has installed a second treadmill alongside his own, and he encourages visitors to hop on and stroll while they talk to him. It takes some getting used to, but, he says, envious colleagues at Mayo have been clamoring for treadmill desks.

“Walking at work, first of all it’s addictive,” he said. “It’s terribly good fun. I actually feel happier, particularly in the afternoon. You might think you come home exhausted, but you don’t. You come home energized.”

For him, the treadmill has eliminated the afternoon slump, when a lot of people feel sleepy and crave candy bars or caffeine.

“I’ve become convinced we really can generate an office environment where people are on the move and are happier,” he said.

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

All in all, Kierkegaard probably spent more time at his desk than the average office worker today. Yet, although he ignored sports and knew nothing of gyms, he evidently knew how to keep trim and healthy.

NYC’s urgent search for more AIDS patients

May 24th, 2005

Today (May 24 Tues) we read in our favorite public relations organ for the AIDS-HIV paradigm, the world’s greatest and, some might say, most scientifically gullible newspaper, the New York Times, a posting of the latest pronouncement from the local servants of the global AIDS orthodoxy.

The story allows us to assess the current thinking of that self-important species, whose cries of alarm and calls to arms are as predictable as the underlying science for their recommendations is questionable, according to the experts who have reviewed it.

Specifically, Andrew Jacobs has reported, in a routinely supine story on the bottom right of page B5, on the draft report and recommendations presented today by the City Health Department’s New York City Commission on HIV/AIDS: Proposes Measures to Slow the Spread of AIDS.

The entire draft report can be found as a pdf at the NYC Department of Health. Visit here to download a copy of the draft report.

Or leave a comment. If you download the report you will see it has “DRAFT” emblazoned in huge letters on every page. Apparently the Commission members are sensitive to the excruciating politics of their topic, and want the project to be a community work. As their press release states:



The public is invited to provide written comments on the draft report’s contents and recommendations beginning today through Monday, June 13.

Though probably not the kind that the Commmission welcomes, here are a few comments that occur to us, based on the press release (click to see the full press release).

City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Release # 053-05

Monday, May 23, 2005

Sandra Mullin/Sid Dinsay/Andrew Tucker

(212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (after hours) NYC COMMISSION ON HIV/AIDS PRESENTS DRAFT REPORT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT

NEW YORK CITY May 23, 2005 The New York City Commission on HIV/AIDS today released for public comment a draft of a report with recommendations on drastically reducing the spread of HIV, significantly improving control of the epidemic in New York City, and further strengthening the City’s position as a national and global model for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.

The public is invited to provide written comments on the draft report’s contents and recommendations beginning today through Monday, June 13. Visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ah/ah-nychivreport.shtml to download a copy of the draft report. Comments can be sent to the Commission via email at comments@health.nyc.gov. People can also request copies of the report through 311 and mail comments to HIV/AIDS Commission Report, 125 Worth Street, CN 28, New York, NY 10013.

New York City continues to be the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. There are more than 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the City today, representing approximately 1 out of 6 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Many of these people have not been diagnosed. Each year in New York City, there are still approximately 4,000 people newly diagnosed with AIDS and 1,700 deaths from AIDS. About 1,000 people each year – 3 people every day – first learn they are HIV-positive at the time they receive an AIDS diagnosis, up to a decade after they become infected. In the 25 years since the emergence of HIV/AIDS, the epidemic has changed dramatically. Today, more than 80% of new AIDS diagnoses and deaths are among African Americans and Hispanics, who comprise half of the CityÂ’s population. Black men are nearly 3 times more likely to be living with HIV/AIDS than other New Yorkers, with black men age 40-54 about 7 times more likely. A third of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses in NYC are among women, more than 90% of whom are black or Hispanic.

“HIV/AIDS prevention and care continue to be among our most critical public health priorities,” said New York City Health Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Commission, Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. “More needs to be done to expand voluntary HIV testing, distribute condoms more widely, expand harm reduction, and improve treatment outcomes. We thank the Commission for putting together these critical recommendations.”

Recommendations include:

Improve Prevention

1. Make condoms much more widely available

2. Expand harm reduction programs

3. Expand drug treatment programs and facilitate referrals

4. Expand Prevention With Positives initiatives

5. Improve HIV prevention among HIV-negative people with continued risk-taking behaviors

6. Expand social marketing programs that work

7. Improve HIV/AIDS health education in schools

8. Reduce HIV-related stigma in order to improve HIV prevention, testing, and treatment

9. Evaluate prevention programs and expand those that work

Expand Voluntary Testing and Linkage to Care

10. Increase voluntary HIV testing and linkage to care of those who test HIV-positive

1. Advocate for making HIV testing an integrated part of normal medical care

2. Ensure that reimbursement schedules maintain the existing testing and counseling infrastructure

3. Increase citywide availability of HIV testing, especially rapid tests

4. Support a high-visibility social marketing and media campaign

11. Monitor HIV testing closely

12. Evaluate testing programs and expand those that are effective

Improve Treatment Outcomes

13. Preserve and strengthen treatment, case management, and support services to further improve patient outcomes

14. Increase housing opportunities and improve allocation based on client needs

15. Expand mental health, behavioral health, and harm reduction services and co-locate them with HIV/AIDS care

16. Increase access to care by:

1. Further improving health care worker and community staff training;

2. Enhancing patient education and empowerment; and

3. Disseminating information on service availability to PLWHA and service providers

Scott E. Kellerman, MD, MPH, Assistant Commissioner for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, added: “The Commission’s draft recommendations will significantly strengthen our response to the epidemic. We welcome input from the community to ensure that we are addressing the needs of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS and are doing everything we can do to stop the spread of HIV and control the epidemic.”

About the Commission

The Commission, a panel of 21 individuals who serve as key policy advisors on HIV/AIDS issues, was created in December 2003. The Commission includes individuals from diverse backgrounds, including executive directors of AIDS service organizations, HIV prevention researchers, and persons who are living with HIV/AIDS. Each member has more than a decade of experience in HIV/AIDS work.

The Commission provides guidance on how New York City can improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of HIV/AIDS. It supplements the work of the New York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneÂ’s (DOHMH) Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, which manages and coordinates the agencyÂ’s HIV/AIDS activities. It also complements the work of the New York City Prevention and Planning Group, as well as the HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council, which determines how the City disburses funds received under the federal Ryan White Title I CARE Act.

Comments by Commission Members

Spencer Cox, Founder and Executive Director of the Medius Institute for Gay Men’s Health, and a person living with HIV/AIDS said, “This report makes clear that, with the best of intentions, weÂ’ve made HIV testing inaccessible and difficult to administer. Almost a quarter of people with HIV in New York City donÂ’t get diagnosed until theyÂ’re already seriously ill. For most of those people, earlier treatment could have prevented progression to full-blown AIDS. We havenÂ’t been protecting HIV-positive people from discrimination, but abandoning them to disease progression. Now there is finally a consensus that weÂ’ve got to make HIV testing universally available, easy to access, and fully integrated into routine medical care.”

Don C. Des Jarlais, PhD, Director of Research, Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute, Beth Israel Medical Center, and a world-renowned researcher in the field of HIV prevention among injection drug users and syringe exchange programs, said, “New York has had dramatic success in reducing HIV transmission from sharing needles and syringes. We have reduced the rate of new infections among drug injectors by 75%. We now need to urgently address sexual transmission, which is often associated with the use of a variety of different drugs.”

Jay Dobkin, MD, Associate Attending Physician, Department of Infectious Diseases, Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, said, “Since many aspects of HIV and AIDS have changed over 25 years, it is important to reassess what we do to prevent, diagnose, and treat this potentially devastating infection. The Commission report highlights the enormous progress we have made but also points to areas where much remains to be done. The steps needed to decrease new HIV infections, diagnose cases earlier, and ensure that the full benefit of modern treatment is achieved are not easy and not free of controversy. If fully implemented, the Commission’s recommendations should enable many more New Yorkers to avoid needless infection, illness and death. This makes it imperative that we not accept the status quo.”

Debra Fraser-Howze, President/CEO, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, said, “We are pleased with this report, but it is impossible for one document to capture all that needs to be done to fight this epidemic. We welcome community comments and we acknowledge the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for furthering our efforts.”

Mathilde Krim, Chairperson, American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), said, “HIV/AIDS is a dark and growing cloud looming over our city. No medical treatment can as yet cure it nor is there as yet – if ever there will be – a vaccine to protect from it. However, much has been learned over the last two decades. HIV’s spread in a population can be hindered by a combination of different approaches and progression of disease from HIV infection to AIDS can be much slowed by antiretroviral therapies. Our city authorities are to be commended for having searched what new or improved means could be applied towards the better control of HIV/AIDS. The interventions recommended here would certainly hasten the day when New York City’s AIDS epidemic can effectively be held in check.”

Frank Oldham, Director of the Harlem Director’s Group, said, “The Commission’s report is the first bold step toward ending the high rates of HIV infection and death in communities like Harlem. The report reflects the Mayor’s and Commissioner’s strong commitment to making New York City the national model for improving HIV services, treatment, and care and, most importantly, improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. As a person living with HIV, I am confident in the report’s findings and commend the Bloomberg administration for moving with such decisiveness on this issue.”

Ana Oliveira, Executive Director of the Gay MenÂ’s Health Crisis, said, “As a member of the Commission, I want to encourage members of the community to read the report and provide feedback so New York City can move to a more advanced level of commitment in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It is only through community participation and collaboration that we will win this battle.”

Tokes Osubu, Executive Director, Gay Men of African Descent, said, “The work of the Commission is a testament of the City’s commitment, under the leadership of the Health Department, to remain at the forefront of the battle to combat the spread of HIV. My hope is that this report will be used as a reference guide by service providers and everyday New Yorkers alike regarding what needs to be done.”

Commission Members

Dennis Walcott, NYC Deputy Mayor for Policy, Co-chair

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, Co-chair

Moisés Agosto-Rosario, Vice President & Managing Director, Community Access

Allan Clear, Executive Director, Harm Reduction Coalition

Spencer Cox, Founder and Executive Director of the Medius Institute for Gay Men’s Health

Humberto Cruz, Executive Deputy Director, Div. of HIV Health Care, NYS Department of Health, AIDS Institute

Don C. Des Jarlais, PhD, Director of Research, Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute, Beth Israel Medical Center, Specialist in HIV prevention among injection drug users

Jay Dobkin, MD, Director, AIDS Center; Physician, Infectious Diseases, Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital

Verna Eggleston, Commissioner, NYC Human Resources Administration

David D. Ho, MD, Director and CEO, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center

Debra Fraser-Howze, President/CEO, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS

Mathilde Krim, PhD, Chairperson, American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR)

Kim Nichols, ScM, MS, Co-Executive Director, African Services Committee

Frank Oldham Jr., Executive Director, Harlem Directors Group

Tokes Osubu, Executive Director, Gay Men of African Descent

Ana Oliveira, MA, Executive Director, Gay Men’s Health Crisis

Jairo Enrique Pedraza, Director of International Programs, Cicatelli Assoc., Inc.

Elaine E. Reid, CSW, Co-Chairperson-Elect, NYC Prevention Planning Group

J. Edward Shaw, Co-Chair, NYC Prevention Planning Group, People Living With AIDS Committee

Terry Troia, Executive Director, Project Hospitality

Rona M. Vail, MD, Clinical Director, HIV Services, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

###

#053

Apparently the working premise of the Commission is that there is a looming shortage of HIV/AIDS patients, and much must be done to expand business.

For according to its report this little group of poo-bahs sees in AIDS a continuing cloud looming as darkly as ever over the future of New York City, since the city is the “epicenter” of the epidemic in the US, and the word epicenter is not one to be used lightly, after all. Evidently they can easily imagine that the virus’s stealthy penetration of the entire population of the metropolitan area will be accomplished in short order.

New York City continues to be the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. There are more than 100,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in the City today, representing approximately 1 out of 6 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Many of these people have not been diagnosed. Each year in New York City, there are still approximately 4,000 people newly diagnosed with AIDS and 1,700 deaths from AIDS. About 1,000 people each year – 3 people every day – first learn they are HIV-positive at the time they receive an AIDS diagnosis, up to a decade after they become infected.

At this point we cry out, Huh? Hold that statistic!



No, we are not calculating the time that a rate of 4,000 new infections per year would take to penetrate a population of some 8 million.



We are wondering, If there are 100,000 in NYC, and 500,000 in the country, where are the missing 200,000 to 400,000 people with HIV in the US, where the total has always been supposedly one million HIV positives more or less, a level which has held throughout the supposed epidemic? Is it possible that business is dwindling?

That would certainly fit with the statistics last time we looked, which showed that AIDS began to tail off in the city as in the country in the nineties. Supporters of the present religion interpret this as evidence of the effectiveness of the new drug cocktails, but the heretics object that the timing better fits the use of lower doses of AZT.

That business is no longer brisk is certainly the impression one gets from one measure they advise to head off disaster. The Commission suggests (in the only novelty in the report) that anyone who shows up in an ER for treatment should be tested for HIV.

This continues a theme that has been seen for some time now in national HIV-AIDS ideology, which is that testing must be expanded in as many groups as possible to capture numerous potential patients who are apparently walking about entirely unaware of their dangerous predicament, one which might bring them down in an average of ten, and certainly not longer than twenty years, with a sudden diminution of their T cells, not something which has proved out as a cause for alarm in the latest studies.

Particular efforts should be made, the Commission suggests, to root out such innocents among the homeless and among blacks and Hispanics, who form half the city’s population and who are already proving a fertile resource for keeping the AIDS wheels spinning with new recruits. A third of them are women, contrary to the long time rule in America and Europe, in which the AIDS epidemic has been almost entirely gay and IV drug user based.

Today, more than 80% of new AIDS diagnoses and deaths are among African Americans and Hispanics, who comprise half of the CityÂ’s population. Black men are nearly 3 times more likely to be living with HIV/AIDS than other New Yorkers, with black men age 40-54 about 7 times more likely. A third of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses in NYC are among women, more than 90% of whom are black or Hispanic.

Presumably such people will be subjected to the twin impact of being told they suffer from a dread, and still incurable disease, and some helpful medications which will give them buffalo lumps, and other unpleasant side effects such as liver replacement, but all this will be counted a triumph of medical intervention.

Meanwhile, the high proportion of women leads one to go and see exactly how many people are represented by these numbers. So often in the past, a trumpeted “doubling” of numbers among women and similar claims have proved to be based on a few dozen, rather than the thousands one easily imagines.

Anyway, the Commission’s enthusiasm for expanded testing is unrestrained:

Expand Voluntary Testing and Linkage to Care

10. Increase voluntary HIV testing and linkage to care of those who test HIV-positive

1. Advocate for making HIV testing an integrated part of normal medical care

2. Ensure that reimbursement schedules maintain the existing testing and counseling infrastructure

3. Increase citywide availability of HIV testing, especially rapid tests

4. Support a high-visibility social marketing and media campaign

11. Monitor HIV testing closely

12. Evaluate testing programs and expand those that are effective.

Turning to measures to contain the epidemic, which is word-painted as a raging viral forest fire but in fact has been tailing off since the mid nineties as far official statistics show, we are once again talking condoms To prevent the spread of HIV among the sexually active, the Commission suggests shipping condoms into prisons, schools and nightclubs, and giving every nodding IV drug user a clean needle for his next shoot up.

They also ask the city to publicize the dangers of crystal meth among gay men, reduce the stigma of AIDS among blacks and let HIV positives know how they can stop spreading the virus. The former draws attention to a factor, supercharged speed, which in and of itself must knock the immune system out of the park as a result of its systemic effects, ruining sleep, digestion and heart rhythm, not to mention paranoid psychosis. The latter two proposals add up to more testing, it is fairly easy to see.

All very well and good, if you have never read a scientific review of the unscientific ideology of HIV-AIDS, and have not seen the studies that prove one basic fact in the peer reviewed literature that vitiates some of this advice and renders it nonsensical: HIV is not infectious, to any significant extent if at all, in heterosexual coupling. In fact, it is the least infectious disease culprit ever identified. It is pretty much never conveyed in heterosexual couples, studies show.



We wonder if there is any meaning in evidence that gay sex transmits the virus, or at least, “positivity”, but that is another story. There is also the fact that a rise in condom sales over the years has not correlated in the past with a decline in the prevalence of STDs, which reportedly have climbed in recent years regardless.

Of course, the same expert scientific reviews (described in the early posts of this blog) say that HIV is effectively inert and does no harm of any kind to anybody, like every other one of the 96,000 other retroviruses floating around our bodies, not even HTLV-1, pace Robert Gallo, who we hear continues to enjoy royalties from the tests for that retrovirus applied to all US blood used in transfusions.

(I recall once asking the genial if rogueish Gallo at one of his exclusive Washington conferences to which he invited me with the evident hope of snowing me under a six foot drift of scientific jargon and expertise, what the chances were of HTLV-1 giving leukemia to a human carrier, since there is famously a large area in Japan where that retrovirus is ubiquitous, but no added incidence of leukemia is observed.

“About one in a hundred carriers, ” he smiled. “Well, how often? ” I asked him. “Oh, once in fifty years!” he replied with one of his giant grins. “Isn’t that a rather weak correlation to prove causation?” I asked him innocently. “Oh really, you are such a boy scout!” he joked, giving me one of his patented elbow squeezes and going off to talk shop with his colleagues.)

But who are we to turn the world view of the highup Commission members completely upside down? After all, they include both Mathilde Krim and David Ho, scientific and social champions of the battle against HIV and well versed in every scientific and political justification of the AIDS=HIV banner they fight under. All 21 members boast of more than a decade of experience in AIDS, which makes it by definition impossible that they should have any interest in alternative views of the scientific foundation of the field. There is no political admissibility for even raising the topic.

Meanwhile according to Andrew Jacobs in his Times story,


The report, 18 months in the making, comes at a time of renewed urgency among public health officials, who say the fight against AIDS has been losing steam even as infection rates remain steady. The growing apathy, they say, may be partly responsible for the appearance of a rare and possibly virulent strain of H.I.V. that was reported last February by the city’s health department.

Yes, it is difficult to feel that the feeling of horrified alarm with which the AIDS Cassandras once imbued the public has not now degenerated into apathy. Private fundraising here has dropped in effectiveness even as AIDS has become something of a cash cow for foreign nations willing to apply US federal and private aid in AIDS in the officially sanctioned manner.

But is this due to rampant ignorance, or an example of The Wisdom of Crowds, as James Surowiecki of the New Yorker might have it? For twenty years now the prediction of a heterosexual epidemic of AIDS in America has failed to come about, Isn’t it likely that the mainstream public would lose interest in a danger that as time passes seems to be confined to active club gays and IV drug users in the US, and otherwise be spreading only in far flung foreign countries?

(Click below for the full Times story).

May 24, 2005

New York Proposes Measures to Slow the Spread of AIDS

By ANDREW JACOBS

A commission appointed by the city’s health department has proposed a set of measures to increase condom distribution vastly in prisons, schools and nightclubs, expand needle exchange for intravenous drug users and make H.I.V. testing a routine part of every emergency room visit.

The draft report, issued by the New York City Commission on H.I.V./AIDS, also calls on the city to pay for public awareness campaigns that would address crystal meth abuse among gay men, the strong stigma that AIDS has among African-Americans and the role that people infected with H.I.V. can play in stopping the spread of the virus.

“This report outlines the direction we need to take if we want to halt the epidemic,” said Ana Oliveira, the executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and one of the commission’s members. “The proof of the pudding, however, will be in the implementation.”

Although dollar figures do not accompany its recommendations, many of the commission members said the report, if adopted in its current form, would transform the way the city deals with H.I.V. and AIDS. The panel, whose 21 members included doctors, researchers and advocates for people with AIDS, also calls for increased access to treatment and housing for people with H.I.V. and AIDS.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City’s health commissioner, said he was pleased by the proposed recommendations, calling them “a blunt assessment of where we are and a message of optimism.”

If financed and put into effect, the proposals would drastically reduce the spread of H.I.V., he said, and “make New York City a national and global model of how to stop the epidemic.” The report will be formally adopted on June 13 after a public comment period.

The report, 18 months in the making, comes at a time of renewed urgency among public health officials, who say the fight against AIDS has been losing steam even as infection rates remain steady. The growing apathy, they say, may be partly responsible for the appearance of a rare and possibly virulent strain of H.I.V. that was reported last February by the city’s health department.

Although additional cases of that strain have not been documented, panel members said they were concerned that more than 4,000 New Yorkers test positive for H.I.V. each year. More worrisome, they said, is that a quarter of them learn their status only when they are found to have full-blown AIDS.

The report’s most potentially contentious proposals involve ways to increase H.I.V. testing, especially among minorities, the homeless and intravenous drug users. In addition to encouraging more people to get tested, the commission endorsed new state rules governing how data on H.I.V. and AIDS is gathered.

The regulations, which go into effect on a temporary basis next week, streamline H.I.V. testing consent forms and allow health officials to collect detailed information about a patient’s viral load and whether he or she is showing resistance to AIDS medications. Several commission members privately said their willingness to embrace the changes had encouraged the state to adopt the new regulations.

But Tracy L. Welsh, executive director of the H.I.V. Law Project, said she was worried the new rules would chip away at long-established safeguards on the privacy of those infected with H.I.V. “My concern is that this sets the stage for government involvement in private medical decisions,” said Ms. Welsh, who was not a commission member.

While they acknowledged public concerns over privacy, many of the panel’s members said they felt the benefits outweighed the costs. “I’m tired of folks coming through our doors who test positive and who were infected years earlier,” said Tokes Osubu, executive director of Gay Men of African Descent and one of the commission members. “Chances are, they may have been unknowingly infecting other people, and this is something we have to stop.”

A lay dissenter’s travails and courage – Christine Maggiore

May 19th, 2005

AIDS is an ethical battlefield, as well as a medical one. Activists and politicians who fight for patients’ rights against prejudice and official inertia have long made this clear, and we agree. But as well as the behavior of government officials, we have a different realm in mind.

We are thinking of science. It is the scientists who fight for honest review and public responsibility in the science of AIDS, and who refuse to sell out to the enormous psychological and financial pressures brought against them, the dissidents, who are the greatest heroes in AIDS, at least in our book.

With some establishment supporters too frightened or self serving to come out in public, Peter Duesberg, David Rasnick, Nobel prize winner Kary Mullis, Harvey Bialy and all those who have put their name to review in AIDS have moral courage and a devotion to science proper that deserves acknowledgment�not to mention a public spirit that makes the avowals of concern of those at the helm of the AIDS ship look storebought.

Equal courage is shown, we believe, by the few laypeople who also chart their own course in this field, especially those who are told they are “HIV positive” and should take AIDS medications, and who then decide instead to double check the conventional wisdom for themselves.

This in itself is brave. For the news inevitably has enormous impact, amounting to a death sentence in most people’s minds. The instinctive reaction is easy to imagine, and worth analyzing.

The human psychological response is to panic, and to cling to the nearest rock, or authority figure, as a source of rescue�the doctor who is managing your case. The assumed consequences are so dire that instead of seeking a second opinion, your spine turns to jello and your mode becomes infantile. You grab the security blanket of complete trust in and cooperation with your doctors, your nurses and your health workers, treating them as Godlike, the only source of authority and absolute power. Out of self-preservation, you demonstrate your total obeisance to their ideas. Any skeptic who doubts their powers is attacking your security and undermining your new religion.

Paradoxically, in this emotional transaction, you behave precisely as if you have fallen into the hands of a tyrannical ruler, or have been kidnapped. The victims of tyrants or kidnappers face ruthless jailers with the power of life and death over them, whom it is fatal to question or challenge, let alone to flout their wishes. Their wish must be your command, for they are the only ones who can save you. The psychology of the positive HIV test is to place you in the same emotional predicament of powerlessness and bondage.

In reality, of course, physicians and health workers are neither kings nor kidnappers, however similar their effect. They are, especially in AIDS, typically nothing more than underresearched and underinformed technicians repairing your body according to a manual written by someone else, whose logic they do not fully understand, since it doesn’t yet make complete sense.

They are doing their best to apply their limited conventional understanding of disease and medication to your case, an understanding drawn second, or more accurately, fifth hand, from the scientists who actually do the research, form the theories and write the papers which inform the scientific beliefs of AIDS, and thus by extension inform the medical authorities, and fill their textbooks and their teaching, through which their theory ultimately reaches the manual of the physician.

The few patients who are strong enough to keep their senses in this situation and seek a second opinion have to be unusually strongminded or brave, or both. For as they soon find out, the politics of belief in AIDS are more religious than scientific in nature. Any public questioning of the conventional wisdom is deplored as “dangerous” by those who are paid to work in the field, who are for some reason enthusiastically encouraged in this unscientific attitude by the scientists who lead the ideology. Thus those who like to think for themselves will usually run into the disapproval of their primary physician, and also of nearly all the people who are involved in AIDS care.

If they then uncover the contrary opinions of Peter Duesberg of Berkeley and other scientists and experts who adamantly reject the basic tenets of current AIDS ideology, and decide that they make more sense than the still unexplained, paradoxical, inconsistent and anomalous ideology of current “AIDS”-think, they then have to face down the authority of the biggest institutions and some of the best known scientists in America, if they are to retain the benefit of their own judgement.

Activist Christine Maggiore, author of What if everything you thought you knew about AIDS was wrong? is one of the bravest of these challengers of authority, and she has followed this thorny path without flinching. When she was found to be “positive”, she became one of the faithful, joining the congregation, believing implicitly in the conventional story of AIDS and proseltyzing those still free of it.

When later tests came back as negative, however, her doubts began. She looked into the question further, soon discovering that the challenges to the faith looked a lot more convincing and sensible to her than the dogma. In fact, Maggiore became completely persuaded that AIDS was, to use a blunt colloqial phrase, a crock, and she ended up writing one of the best lay introductions to AIDS as a scientific mess that have been published. The fourth edition of What if everything you thought you knew about AIDS was wrong? was published in 2000, and it continues to sell and deserves to. Like all the books critiquing the current AIDS wisdom, it remains as relevant as it was when it was written, its questions remaining current and unanswered.

The trials and tribulations Ms Maggiore has been through on her decade long journey are astounding. They are all courtesy of the hostility and arrogance of the prevailing wisdom and its congregation of the faithful, which seems to extend from every village busybody to automatic membership for almost every member of the judiciary. (Mere lawyers, on the other hand, are often refreshing exceptions to this universal credulity, perhaps because they are in the business of exposing bad arguments from confidence tricksters of many kinds).

Words From Alive & Well Founder Christine Maggiore

In 1992, I took what is commonly referred to as an HIV test. I had no symptoms of illness, no particular risks or fears, just a new doctor who insisted the test should be part of a regular medical exam. What began as a simple check up turned from routine to life altering when my results came back HIV positive.

Putting aside my shock and shame, I immediately sought out an AIDS specialist. This doctor declared that my test was not positive, not enough to be considered conclusive, anyway. Frightened and confused but hopeful, I followed his recommendations to take the test again along with other lab work to evaluate everything from my cholesterol to T cells.

According to the specialist, the results of this second HIV test were indisputably positive and my progression from somewhat positive to conclusively positive indicated a recent infection with HIV. I accepted his explanation even though the circumstances of my life excluded the possibility of a new infection.

Despite my positive diagnosis, the doctor declared me exceptionally healthy. He also told me that despite my exceptional health, there was nothing I could do to prevent devastating disease and an eventual death from AIDS. According to official estimates, I had between five and seven years to live.

The doctor warned me against wasting money on vitamins and other �foolish� attempts to save my immune system. Instead he advised I wait to become sick and then take AZT, a drug with severe side effects that could possibly make me sicker. I went directly from his office to a health food store in search of the forbidden vitamins. The following day, I began to look for a new AIDS specialist.

Life as I had lived, planned and hoped came to a grinding halt. I lost interest in my job running a clothing company I started in 1986 and had nurtured into a multi-million dollar enterprise. I gave up my goal of earning an MBA and dropped out of business school. Big Sisters of America immediately dropped me from their mentorship program when I confided to having tested HIV positive. Feeling like a cross between a leper and a total loser, I decided to keep my tragedy a secret. I stopped spending time with family and all but a few close friends. Instead, I attended AIDS seminars and joined a support group for HIV positive women where once a week we were encouraged to compare notes on our fears and frustrations, mention any potential symptoms, and lament the lousy deal we’d all been handed.

My AIDS activism began by accident when a friend, moved by my plight, tried to volunteer at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) and was turned away. Incensed that a warm, intelligent woman with the sincerest of motivations would be treated with such disregard, I complained to the men in charge. Before I could finish my reprimand, I had been drafted into their public speaker’s bureau.

Almost immediately, I was touring local high schools and colleges on behalf of APLA. I appeared as the person that HIV should never have happened to�a white, heterosexual, non-IV drug using business professional. APLA booked me for a year’s worth of engagements before I’d even finished their training course. I made audiences laugh, cry, and most importantly scared since I seemed to embody the slogan that everyone is at risk for AIDS.

My suggestions for improving the women’s HIV support group at LA Shanti turned into an invitation to speak for that organization which led to a position on the founding board of yet another AIDS group, Women At Risk.

Although my involvement in AIDS work began unintentionally, I took on my assignments with great passion and deepening sense that these efforts would give meaning to the tragedy that was now my life. I never for a moment imagined a future that might deviate from where I believed I was headed.

But then a year or so into my diagnosis and public service, and after interviewing half a dozen AIDS doctors whose recommendations ranged from immediate drug therapy to world travel, I found an anomaly among AIDS specialists�a doctor who didn’t routinely fill people with toxic pharmaceuticals and lethal predictions. She treated me as an individual rather than an impending statistic, and in doing so noticed my good health. She said I didn’t fit the profile of an AIDS patient, and urged me to take another HIV test. Afraid to raise my hopes, at first I refused. When I finally found the courage to retest, the result was inconclusive. Further testing produced a series of unsettling, contradictory diagnoses: a positive, followed by a negative, followed by another positive.

Confused by a personal situation that defied all the rules I’d been so passionately preaching as a public speaker, I turned for help to the AIDS groups where I worked. Instead of finding answers, I found my questions were dismissed and that persisting with my line of inquiry resulted only in meaningless explanations.

My desire to learn finally led me outside the confines of the AIDS establishment and into a body of scientific, medical and epidemiological data that defied everything I had been taught about AIDS, and everything that I had been teaching others. The more I read, the more I became convinced that AIDS research had jumped on a bandwagon that was headed in the wrong direction.

When it became clear that the information I had found, however life-affirming, was not welcome among the AIDS organizations I belonged to, I decided to start my own. In 1995, together with a few friends gathered from various support groups and other places along the way, I started Alive & Well to share vital facts about HIV and AIDS unavailable from mainstream venues.

In 1996, while trying to write a simple threefold brochure, the first version of my book �What If Everything You Thought About AIS Was Wrong� emerged. That same year, I met a wonderful man who became my husband. We have two beautiful, healthy children, ages six and two, who have never had so much as an ear infection.

In the 12 years since receiving my death sentence, I have taken an unexpected journey from frightened victim to AIDS activist to HIV dissident to spokesperson for new views about HIV and AIDS. I have abundant good health and live without pharmaceutical treatments or fear of AIDS.

The most surprising aspect of my story is that it is not at all unusual�I know hundreds of HIV positives that are alive and naturally well many years after receiving their own dire prognoses. Contrary to popular claims, what we have in common is not some unique genetic quality, but the ability to liberate ourselves us from unfounded fears and embrace our natural ability to live in health.

Through Alive & Well and my book, I hope to share vital facts, inspire essential dialogue and give other people who test HIV positive the chance to consider a destiny that differs from the one we are taught to expect.

Maggiore had to fight for the right to carry a child and give birth to her son without being forced to imbibe the dangerous drugs prescribed for pregnant “HIV positive” patients,, She then had to battle furiously to retain custody of her child. Luckily she married a documentary maker, Robin Scovill, whose support has included making two films about the issue, after she educated him on the reason and evidence involved. �The Other Side of AIDS� in 2004 followed �Questioning AIDS in South Africa� in 2000.

The kind of prejudicial disrespect and disparagement Maggiore, like all AIDS unbelievers, has been subjected to in the media are well sketched in a ABC 20/20 segment – “The Disbeliever” – she endured in 2001, which you can read if you click the next (Show) about twelve paragraphs below this point.

In this slanted coverage, Dr Mathilde Krim, a biologist and the French-accented, motherly little blonde-bunned founder of AMFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) and thus friend of Elizabeth Taylor (who signed on as chief AMFAR supporter and unofficial publicity magnet), is placed opposite her in the piece, opining that she must be “deluded”, and also, in as many words, “dangerous”.

Dr. Krim: The problem here is she’s spreading the delusion to others, without any doubt that she’s maybe wrong, you know. And this is terrible. This is what makes me angry.

However, Christine, by then a practised advocate, shows that she is able to hold her own when she is given the chance. Asked by Connie Chung is she isn’t a flat-earther, she reminds Connie that the flat-earthers were the majority in their time, and their delusion was cured by science.

Connie Chung: There are people who think that you are just like those that did not believe that the Holocaust existed, flat-earth theorists. That’s what you are.

Christine Maggiore: Well, what I recall of history is that the flat-earthers were in the majority, and the people who questioned the idea of the flat earth were in the minority, and finally they were listened to.

The program ends of course with the banner of mainstream TV prejudice against a lay dissenter from established science still flapping in a strong breeze, and Krim allowed to have the last reassuring but essentially meaningless word:

Dr. Krim: I wish she were right, but she’s not. It would be nice, you know, if it was not – if we didn’t have an HIV virus in this world. But we have it, and we have to learn how to face reality and deal with it.

Those interested in true “balance”, instead of this false version, will ask why Peter Duesberg or Kary Mullis were not produced to back up Maggiore, instead of leaving her at the mercy of the media-skilled, supposedly scientifically expert Dr. Krim.

For example, Krim is permitted to imply, without challenge, that HIV is scientically proven to cause AIDS, which is precisely the point of HIV skeptics�that it is not. There is no proof of any scientific kind in any peer reviewed paper that HIV is the culprit, which Duesberg or Mullis would have been glad to point out. That is why the issue remains open, after twenty years during which the unlikely claim has remained a conjecture, but has been treated for funding purposes in science and health work as an established fact.

Connie Chung [to Dr. Krim]: Does HIV cause AIDS?

Dr. Krim: Absolutely. Absolutely. The evidence that HIV causes AIDS is as – good as the evidence that exists that polio is caused by a polio virus, and measles by a measles virus.

Millions hear this and think it is correct. But this is par for the course for media coverage of AIDS and its challenging review. It is something of a miracle that the dissenting view even succeeded as a proposed topic with the poltically canny 20/20 producers, except of course that it is the bias towards the sanctioned conventional wisdom that protects them from the ire and retribution of the NIH.

Luckily, Christine, who physically looks attractively soft, has a spine of titanium.

Maggiore on 20/20, August 24, 2001 – Transcript

Ms. Maggiore can be reached at Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, 11684 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604. Telephone: (877) 92-ALIVE. E-mail: christine@aliveandwell.org. Her book questioning the cause, identification, and treatment of AIDS is available through www.amazon.com or the Alive & Well website at AliveandWell

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Announcer: From ABC News, around the world and into your home. This is 20/20, with Barbara Walters. Tonight – a woman out on a limb. HIV-positive – and having unprotected sex with her husband. HIV-positive – she breast-fed her child. HIV-positive – and pregnant again.

Christine Maggiore: I’m a healthy person. Charlie’s a healthy boy.

Mathilde Krim: I think she’s deluded.

Announcer: The story of a mother hell bent on defying the conventional wisdom that HIV causes AIDS.

Connie Chung, ABC News: There are people who think that you are just like those who did not believe that the Holocaust existed. That’s what you are.

Announcer: Connie Chung with “The Disbeliever.”

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Announcer: And now, from Times Square in New York, sitting in for Barbara Walters, John Stossel.

John Stossel: Good evening, and welcome to 20/20. Barbara Walters has the night off. Our first story may make you angry. You’re about to meet a woman who’s infected with HIV, but she refuses to take any of the drugs which might fight the virus. Now, you could say that’s her choice. It’s her body. But what about her husband, with whom she has unprotected sex? And what about the kids they’re having together? What she’s doing seems cruelly irresponsible. Yet some people cheer it, and she’s now made converts around the world. Connie Chung has some hard questions for a mother we call ‘The Disbeliever.’

Connie Chung: It’s a picture-perfect day in the San Fernando Valley, and Charlie Scovill is celebrating his third birthday. With presents on the lawn, burgers on the grill, and a happy-jump in the backyard. It looks like the American dream. But this little boy’s future may be as fragile as bubbles on a summer breeze. Christine Maggiore, Charlie’s mother, is HIV-positive, and experts say there’s at least a one-in-four chance that Charlie is infected with the virus that causes AIDS. But don’t feel sorry for this little boy – or his mother. She says HIV can’t harm them.

Christine Maggiore: The idea that HIV causes AIDS is an idea that has not been proven to be correct or true.

Connie Chung: Wait a minute! The medical community has been telling us for two decades that HIV causes AIDS. Are you saying that HIV does not cause AIDS?

Christine Maggiore: I’m saying that there are many valid, vital reasons to go back and rethink what we’ve been told.

Connie Chung: Activists attack her. Dissidents admire her. AIDS experts wish she would just go away. But Christine Maggiore’s influence is growing. Her controversial book, What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?, questions even the most basic medical and scientific findings about AIDS. [To Maggiore:] You don’t even have a college degree. How could all of them, with their years and years of training and research, be so wrong, and you be so right?

Christine Maggiore: I don’t think it takes a medical degree or a scientific degree when your life is on the line.

Dr. Mathilde Krim: I think she’s deluded. And because the reality was too painful for her to accept.

Connie Chung: Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Dr. Mathilde Krim is the co-founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, AmFAR, which has raised more than $100 million to research and find a cure for AIDS. A scientist herself, with a Ph.D. in biology, Dr. Krim fears that Maggiore is doing incalculable harm in the fight against AIDS.

Dr. Krim: The problem here is she’s spreading the delusion to others, without any doubt that she’s maybe wrong, you know. And this is terrible. This is what makes me angry.

Christine Maggiore: I could be angry with Mathilde Krim. After all, it’s her paradigm that says I should have started AIDS drug therapies, I should have been living as though I were dying, I should not have had a child, and I should be quietly succumbing somewhere to illness.

Connie Chung: Maggiore never dreamed that she was at risk for AIDS. By the time she was 30, she was a successful entrepreneur, running a million-dollar clothing company in Florence, Italy. [To Maggiore:] Did you use intravenous drugs?

Christine Maggiore: No.

Connie Chung: Were you sexually promiscuous?

Christine Maggiore: No. I would describe myself as a pretty average single adult person. I had been involved in a long-term, what I believed was a monogamous relationship, at least from my end.

Connie Chung: In 1992, two years after the relationship ended, Maggiore took an HIV test during a routine medical exam. [To Maggiore:] Do you remember the moment that you were told you were HIV-positive?

Christine Maggiore: Oh, yeah, very clearly. It was a very long moment. I saw the typical photographs that you see of somebody who has AIDS, and thought that would be my future: that I would leave a miserable, isolated life of illness and an untimely death.

Connie Chung: Maggiore soon learned that her Italian ex-boyfriend had also tested HIV-positive. Believing she was terminally ill, she threw herself into warning others about the dangers of AIDS.

Christine Maggiore: Yes, I encouraged people to take tests. I called them accurate and specific, and I told people that everything added up in the world of AIDS science. And I believed that with my heart.

Connie Chung: Maggiore’s conviction was shaken to the core when a year later, another HIV test came back ‘indeterminate.’ Her next test was positive – and the next one, negative.

Christine Maggiore: I truly believed, based on the day and the result, I was either living or dying.

Connie Chung: Frustrated and angry, Maggiore desperately searched for answers. But the more she read, the more questions she had. She was shocked to learn that HIV tests measure antibodies, not the virus itself, and that no scientist could explain exactly how HIV causes AIDS. Then she came across the writings of Dr. Peter Duesberg, a controversial virologist at the University of California at Berkeley, who had been saying for years that HIV could not cause AIDS.

Christine Maggiore: I realized that what I had been taught, and what I was teaching other people, did not add up. Many times it was simply wrong.

Connie Chung: Maggiore became convinced that AIDS is caused not by HIV, but by known immune-suppressing risk factors such as recreational drug use, toxic AIDS treatments, even poverty and malnutrition.

Christine Maggiore: The diseases that we call ‘AIDS’ can range from chronic yeast infections to certain forms of cancer, to certain kinds of pneumonias. These happen to people who don’t test HIV-positive.

Connie Chung [to Dr. Krim]: Does HIV cause AIDS?

Dr. Krim: Absolutely. Absolutely. The evidence that HIV causes AIDS is as – good as the evidence that exists that polio is caused by a polio virus, and measles by a measles virus.

Connie Chung: At this sold-out benefit concert by the platinum-selling band Foo Fighters, thousands of teenage fans cheered this rebel with a cause.

Foo Fighters Band Member [concert film clip]: Everybody give her a hand!

Christine Maggiore: I encourage all of you to question what you’ve been told about HIV and AIDS!

Connie Chung: Last summer, Maggiore stepped onto the world stage at the 13th international AIDS conference in Durban, where she met with South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki reportedly became intrigued by the dissidents’ views while surfing the Net. Protests erupted when Mbeki stunned the world by questioning whether HIV was in fact the cause of the AIDS epidemic devastating his country. AmFAR shot back with this full-page ad in the New York Times. [To Dr. Krim:] Is Christine Maggiore putting lives in jeopardy?

Dr. Krim: I believe she is putting lives in jeopardy, and what she says she has learned draws people to the conclusion that they can throw away their condoms and stop taking medications.

Connie Chung: Mainstream scientists say the evidence is irrefutable. HIV can be found in the blood of almost 100 percent of those diagnosed with epidemic AIDS, and virtually no one without HIV will develop AIDS.

Dr. Krim: To see others, on spurious, disingenuous arguments, fight us and undermine what we’re doing is very, very difficult to accept. And frankly offensive.

Connie Chung: Offensive?

Dr. Krim: Yes.

Connie Chung: Maggiore knows that according to statistics, she has a 95 percent chance of dying from AIDS within the next six years – unless she is treated. But not only has she refused to take anti-HIV drugs, she has consistently broken all the rules, including the warnings about unprotected sex. Her husband, documentary filmmaker Robin Scovill, who provided additional video footage for this report, knew that Maggiore was HIV-positive when they became involved.

Robin Scovill: I just never really bought the premise that if you have sex with the wrong person, you’re going to be infected and your life as you knew it is over. I just never really bought that.

Connie Chung: Shortly after they became intimate, Maggiore discovered she was pregnant.

Christine Maggiore: Well, first we laughed, and then we cried, and then we laughed.

Robin Scovill: Yeah, we – yeah, exactly!

Connie Chung: They had made a decision to play Russian roulette with their own lives. But would they be willing to gamble with their baby’s life as well? Doctors warned that there was a 25 percent chance that Maggiore would transmit the deadly virus to her unborn child – unless she took powerful anti-HIV drugs like AZT. Maggiore refused.

Christine Maggiore: I did not want to expose my growing child to toxins during pregnancy.

Dr. Krim: I can’t believe a mother would put her child at risk. This is where I say good luck to her, because she is taking a terrible chance.

Connie Chung: Because she refused to take AZT, no hospital or clinic would accept Maggiore as a maternity patient. A midwife finally agreed to help her with a natural birth at home. Charles Dexter Scovill entered the world in an inflatable swimming pool in Maggiore�s living room. And, true to her beliefs, Maggiore made yet another radical decision: she began breast-feeding her child, even though experts say HIV can be transmitted through breast milk.

Christine Maggiore [film clip, meeting with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, January 16, 1999]: I’m Christine Maggiore, from HEAL / Los Angeles.

Connie Chung: She even breast-fed Charlie, then more than a year old, during this meeting with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Christine Maggiore [film clip]: And antibodies can’t cause disease, and they don’t predict future illness.

Connie Chung: Maggiore didn’t know it then, but her public display of her private convictions would backfire. When Charlie was 2 1/2, an anonymous call was made to the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services. The caller complained that Charlie was malnourished and was being breast-fed by his HIV-positive mother.

Christine Maggiore [film clip]: Right as we speak, a representative from Child Protective Services is approaching our front door.

Connie Chung: The woman coming to the door was a county social worker with the power to take Charlie away.

Christine Maggiore: It’s insane. It’s just completely insane. It’s like the world is upside down. But when you’re inside of it, and it’s your life, and your child, and your everything, then it matters a lot.

Connie Chung: Charlie’s pediatrician, Dr. Paul Fleiss, came to Maggiore’s defense.

Dr. Paul Fleiss: Charlie is a very healthy boy. He has never been sick. I think his mother takes very good care of him.

Connie Chung: Charlie was allowed to remain at home. [To Maggiore:] If you are wrong, aren’t you afraid of what you’re saying could profoundly affect not only your own health, but the lives of thousands of people?

Christine Maggiore: I think I’m successful when I get people to think and that’s all I’m asking is for people to think about these issues. What I do is not about a philosophy –

Connie Chung: -I know, but you could affect their lives.

Christine Maggiore: I hope to affect their lives –

Connie Chung: – I mean in a detrimental way. If you’re wrong –

Christine Maggiore: I’m not in a position to be right or wrong. I’m providing people with information that they can use to make informed choices about their life and their health.

Connie Chung: Yet when it comes to her son, Maggiore has chosen to remain uninformed. Like his father, he’s never been tested. [To Maggiore:] A lot of people would think that it was irresponsible of you to not test him. Doesn’t he have a right to know?

Christine Maggiore: I don’t need to risk introducing into his life a label that will wrongly describe him as ill when he’s not.

Dr. Krim: She’s afraid of testing him, she’s afraid of testing her husband, because she’s in denial and she is afraid.

Connie Chung: Experts say that the incubation period between HIV infection and full-blown AIDS is 10 years.

Dr. Krim: She is in fact a rather common occurrence of somebody who is a slow non-progressor.

Christine Maggiore: Mathilde Krim would describe me as ‘a slow progressor,’ as if to make ‘progress’ I need to become ill! Then I’ll be fulfilling my obligation as somebody who’s HIV-positive.

Dr. Krim: She is still in – within, you know, the asymptomatic period. That may last a few more years.

Christine Maggiore: What kind of system is that? What kind of language is that to use to put on me, to describe me? I mean, there are so many people, I’m not an exception. We progress every day in our lives by staying healthy and productive, and off of toxic drugs.

Connie Chung: There are people who think that you are just like those that did not believe that the Holocaust existed, flat-earth theorists. That’s what you are.

Christine Maggiore: Well, what I recall of history is that the flat-earthers were in the majority, and the people who questioned the idea of the flat earth were in the minority, and finally they were listened to.

Dr. Krim: I wish she were right, but she’s not. It would be nice, you know, if it was not – if we didn’t have an HIV virus in this world. But we have it, and we have to learn how to face reality and deal with it.

Connie Chung: Right or wrong, Maggiore remains convinced that she’s beaten the odds. Today she’s five months pregnant with her second child, a daughter. She’s not taking AZT or other anti-HIV medications during pregnancy. As with her first child, Maggiore is rolling the dice against a dreaded disease. And it’s winner-take-all.

John Stossel: If you’d like to talk on-line with Christine Maggiore, go to abcnews.com for more information.

Logic and reason, of course, are things which exist in an alternate universe as far as this kind of television coverage is concerned. So we end with this noxious paragraph below, which implies that Maggiore is still within the paradigm, and merely gambling with her chances of escaping the dire consequences of flouting the dogma which still rules intact, impervious to her points. What is really a chess game of logic, which Maggiore has won with what looks very much like a fool’s mate, is represented as backgammon, where she has merely rolled some lucky dice.

Connie Chung: Right or wrong, Maggiore remains convinced that she’s beaten the odds. Today she’s five months pregnant with her second child, a daughter. She’s not taking AZT or other anti-HIV medications during pregnancy. As with her first child, Maggiore is rolling the dice against a dreaded disease. And it’s winner-take-all.

Mathilde Krim was more pertinent some time ago when in a stroll during a conference we asked her what she thought of Peter Duesberg’s dissent. “Well,” she confided, “We can’t prove HIV is the cause of AIDS, and Peter can’t prove it is not.”

This happens to be as true as ever, these many years later. As is its corollary, which Krim didn’t state, and apparently hasn’t faced up to even today. That corollary is the very simple proposition, If you don’t know what you are doing, it is better to err on the side of caution and not administer powerful drugs which are well-established by the peer-reviewed literature as dangerous and, in the end, fatal.

Of course, that is only common sense, a corrective rarely applied to AIDS and its ideas, though often enough by Christine Maggiore, who pricks fantasies like soap bubbles when she talks her robust brand of sense to an interviewer.

We particularly like the many needles of reality she used on the AIDS bubbles in her classic interview with the Valley Advocate in 1998.

For example:

Have you heard about the AIDS vaccine? They’re trying that out in Thailand now.

Yeah. That’s a pretty lame idea. Think about it. People who test HIV positive have antibodies; a vaccine is something that provides you with antibodies as protection. Hello? What synapse busted in somebody’s brain for that to take place? But most people do not know that the HIV test is testing for antibodies. They assume, as I did for the longest time, that it is testing for something that can measure disease. When it’s a life or death thing, you tend to be so paralyzed with fear that you tend not to ask. And then you have a person in authority telling you this.

And a nice comment on the lack of public debate:

But if there are already gaps in their arguments that you and other dissidents have found, wouldn’t you think that its inevitable that they will come out?

Yes. And you would think that they would like that to come about sooner rather than later so as to save some people’s lives. But one analogy is that this is like a steamship: once something gets this big, it becomes hard to turn it.

But you’ve already tried talking to people about this issue?

We have, and if you check out our web site Alive and Well that lists the 120 or so people and organizations that we have challenged to a debate with us.

And have any of them come forward to debate with you?

No. And another thing, too, is that they don’t have to. If you’ve got the predominant paradigm on your side, why would you bother to come forth and pit yourself against… what? A little rag-tag group that says you’re doing something wrong? And all you have to do is show up and shake hands and you win awards and government funding. Why would you bother? Its like O.J. appearing before the American public for a little question-and-answer. Why would [he] do that? He’s been found innocent. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Good realistic stuff, and nice examples of how once stripped of formality, truth emerges naked. Here is the whole thing, a classic Maggiore performance freed of any necessity to kowtow to the borrowed celebrity power of a Mathilde Krim.

Interview with Christine Maggiore — 6/9/98

Ms. Maggiore is the founding member of HEAL-LA, an activist group that speaks out against the direction and methods of orthodox AIDS researchers. She is also the author of a handbook titled, “What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?” published by HEAL.

Interviewed by Sarah Klipfel

Advocate: What do you see as the major points of contention between the dissidents and the orthodox AIDS researchers?

Maggiore: The reliance on antibody tests to diagnose infection when the antibody test can’t do that; the inaccuracy of the antibody test to diagnose what is supposed to be a fatal illness; the notion that HIV has been proven to be the cause of AIDS, which is not correct; and the use of chemotherapy treatments such as AZT and other experimental chemicals like protease inhibitors that all focus on eradication and inhibition of HIV, which has never been proved to be there, and as a treatment for immune suppression. I think those are the main points of contention.

With the inaccurate test, then, do you think that patients are being misdiagnosed?

Well, if you have an inaccurate test that automatically leads to misdiagnosis; and the notion that you can use an antibody test to somehow tell if a person is infected with something is obtuse. … But rather than say that people are being misdiagnosed, I would say that people are being erroneously diagnosed.

Because the test is not an accurate one?

Meaning that there is no such thing as one antibody specific to any disease, so an antibody test in and of itself is inaccurate.

I was wondering about the drug treatment issue that you bring up. Don’t you recommend that people diagnosed with HIV not take the new drug treatments?

Well, it’s not really my recommendation. Its more my opinion after examining the literature that the drugs offer no positive benefit.

What do you say, then, to people who have shown improvement after taking the drugs?

People show improvement with all kinds of things. Placebos, just because, and there’s also that when you introduce more toxic chemicals into your body, each one has a lesser chance of being assimilated fully. And the people who are feeling better are few. The news reports tend to emphasize those, but if you talk to people in real life, a lot of people believe that they’re doing better because their, quote: “viral load” counts are down, that’s another stupid test, but the compromises are that they have diarrhea, their hair is falling out, they develop buffalo humps, liver failure, sudden death, even if you look at the ads for the drugs, they don’t even say anything good if you look at the fine print.

So you don’t think there’s any actual chemical connection to people getting better?

I can’t see a reason scientifically why there would be. If you can’t isolate a virus in people who are, quote: “ill,” why is a chemical that is designed to inhibit viral replication making people feel better? I mean, the virus isn’t even there. If it is having any beneficial residual effects it has nothing to do with the intended effects of the drug. Back when AZT was first released for use, there were all kinds of people claiming that it was life-saving; now they’re all dead.

(We discussed possible speakers for the orthodox side of the debate. Maggiore advocated Public Health officials rather than members of ProjectInform because of their obligation to address possible public safety issues).

Why do you think there’s so much reluctance on the part of the orthodox AIDS researchers to want to advance dissident concerns scientifically and figure out the gaps?

Because if this immune suppression associated with AIDS turns out not to be viral then they’ve spent a good deal of their life and time mistreating people. So that’s lawsuits, guilt.

But if there are already gaps in their arguments that you and other dissidents have found, wouldn’t you think that its inevitable that they will come out?

Yes. And you would think that they would like that to come about sooner rather than later so as to save some people’s lives. But one analogy is that this is like a steamship: once something gets this big, it becomes hard to turn it.

But you’ve already tried talking to people about this issue?

We have, and if you check out our web site aliveandwell.org), that lists the 120 or so people and organizations that we have challenged to a debate with us.

And have any of them come forward to debate with you?

No. And another thing, too, is that they don’t have to. If you’ve got the predominant paradigm on your side, why would you bother to come forth and pit yourself against… what? A little rag-tag group that says you’re doing something wrong? And all you have to do is show up and shake hands and you win awards and government funding. Why would you bother? Its like O.J. appearing before the American public for a little question-and-answer. Why would [he] do that? He’s been found innocent. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

But don’t you think the “rag-tag” group is getting bigger?

Oh, absolutely. Doctors and scientists lead rather insulated lives. A lot of the doctors who treat AIDS patients don’t even know about the side effects their own patients are having because the nurses deal with them on that. They’re not really in the mix with the rest of us.

So what do you think the major problem is? Funding? Media attention?

Well, it’s a common thing in a society driven by profit margins that you can’t do anything without making money. The whole thing is a huge money-maker. Its a boom growth industry for the pharmaceutical companies. They’re being subsidized by the U.S. government and the World Health Organization. As people in this country and other industrialized countries move away from AZT as a monotherapy — it’s now considered reckless and irresponsible to do that — they’re able to dump it in the Third World and have different health organizations pick up the tab for poisoning people.

Have you heard about the AIDS vaccine? They’re trying that out in Thailand now.

Yeah. That’s a pretty lame idea. Think about it. People who test HIV positive have antibodies; a vaccine is something that provides you with antibodies as protection. Hello? What synapse busted in somebody’s brain for that to take place? But most people do not know that the HIV test is testing for antibodies. They assume, as I did for the longest time, that it is testing for something that can measure disease. When it’s a life or death thing, you tend to be so paralyzed with fear that you tend not to ask. And then you have a person in authority telling you this.

So it sounds like a major issue is to develop a more accurate test?

Well, first of all you have to find out if the microbe that you’ve been testing for has been substantiated as the cause of the disease. If you go and test AIDS patients, you can find that they test positive in greater numbers for a variety of microbes and bacteria; also people, just general human beings, have between 50,000 and 100,000 retroviruses that just hang out in their bodies. So people will test positive for lots of things. Like birds on a electrical wire during a power failure, it doesn’t mean they caused it. It just means they were there.

What does this mean about the existence of an HIV virus? What about the French research team led by Luc Montagnier in the early ’80s who claim to have found a retrovirus? Is what they found now proven to be incorrect?

Well, there are certain criteria to prove that a retrovirus, in particular, comes from outside your own body. Our human DNA can produce what are called “endogenous” retroviruses. It doesn’t come from outside, it’s just being spit out from within your own body. And it’s stuff that doesn’t do anything. So, first, the whole notion that HIV causes AIDS is based on the studies of a cancer doctor who spent twenty years trying to say that retroviruses cause cancer.

Dr. Robert Gallo.

So, basically he is taking his pet project and applying it to a new problem. That’s hardly a substantial and well-founded way to address a new problem, to blame whatever you have hanging around your lab for causing the problem. It defies logic, in that they studied these things for 20 years because retroviruses don’t kill cells, but then this guy comes along and says: “Oh look at this retrovirus, and its killing the T-cells!” Well, they’ve never shown the virus to be in T-cells, and as a matter of fact, when they culture and grow the conglomeration of particles they call the HIV virus, they grow it in immortal T-cell lines. That is, they’re growing it in T-cells that never die because the HIV doesn’t even bug them.

So they’re setting up an unreal situation.

Yeah, it’s a totally unreal scenario; and rather than say, “Oh, God, in 1984 we took off and went from zero to sixty in the wrong direction, they initiated all these Public Health programs…. They keep trying to explain with this “Oh what a tangled web we weave”-theory way of doing stuff. The web becomes more and more tangled, and HIV becomes more and more mysterious. When the drugs… when people first start with them, the body responds as it would if it were under attack from anything, especially from a poison — it perks you up. They call that the drug “working.” It elicits the body to create more T-cells in response to an attack. And then when the body tires itself out from trying to constantly produce what is being destroyed, they blame that phenomenon of quote: “the drug is no longer working,” on a mutant strain of the virus, rather than saying, “Well, maybe the drug was never working in the first place.”

But didn’t it seem like AIDS was, at first, a new form of old diseases?

They’re all old diseases in the AIDS definition. It’s just that they were showing up where you typically wouldn’t see them. You wouldn’t have found a 24-year-old with Kaposi’s Sarcoma, that was an old Mediterranean man’s disease. Also, it wasn’t something particularly lethal. It was just something you coexisted with, and you looked kind of icky.

So there is something that’s turning these diseases into something lethal?

Yeah. It’s called screwing around with chemicals and not sleeping. When you look back on the original AIDS cases, and you see how these people lived, that [they were] in their mid-20s, their average number of sexual partners was already over 1,000, that they had had syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, amoebic infections, parasitic infections, Hepatitis, all kinds of things over and over again, had spent years on antibiotics, many lived on crystal meth, which means you don’t eat… I mean, malnutrition is the number one cause of immune deficiency in the entire world. Of course you’re going to fall apart in all sorts of ways; and things that would not normally bother a person who has a defense system and is healthier, are going to tear you down. It’s going to make it impossible for your body to defend itself, because your body is so weak. If you look at the most popular AIDS-defining illness in the United States, PCP pneumonia — everyone in the world has PCP bacteria in their lungs. But who gets sick? People who wear themselves out. If you follow what the AIDS definition is in Africa, PCP is not even in the definition.

But how do you explain, then, the presence of HIV in newborns and hemophiliacs?

Newborns? 80 percent are born to moms that are crack-addicted and drug-addicted.

But don’t you think there are the exceptions of people who are otherwise healthy?

Yeah, but those are the ones that tested positive and then they’re thrown on AZT during their pregnancy; or as soon as the baby is born and it is tested and it tests positive for its mother’s own antibodies — the baby doesn’t even have an immune system yet — then they go and put the baby on AZT, a toxic, DNA-chain-terminating, chemotherapy drug. Good luck living through that. Of course they’re going to get sick. You know, I just read an article about a woman who was on AZT during her pregnancy and her baby was born with extremely life-threatening anemia, which is one of the side effects of AZT. Anemia’s not even an AIDS-defining illness; it’s drug-induced.

So you think it’s impossible, then, that any normal, healthy person would contract the disease?

There is not a single one in all of the literature. Not a single one in which HIV has been the only risk factor. Not one. I’ve scoured all of the medical literature — people do all the time who are on, quote, “this side of this issue” — looking for a single case proving that HIV was the only risk factor, that mom wasn’t doing coke or crack, that the baby wasn’t born with some sort of immunodeficiency that was unrelated to HIV or viruses, that the person who went on to get AIDS just tested HIV positive, never went on any drug therapies, never did anything that would compromise their health and suddenly died. It’s just not there.

But you do think there is something there that is making diseases worse than they were?

It’s not “something,” you have to look at the individual person, which is what Western medicine tends not to do, and has completely forgotten about in this case. They’re not saying: “Well, gee, we’ve got Bob over here who’s a hemophiliac and he’s awful sick; and we’ve got Dave over here who’s a drug-using homosexual and he’s awful sick; What’s wrong with Dave and what’s wrong with Bob?” Well, Bob’s been using Factor 8 for the last 15 years of his life, which is the distillation of the blood of 20,000 people he’s never met. That causes an immune response. And Dave over here has been on crystal meth for the last three years, and before that he was having problems with alcohol abuse, he’s had syphilis 15 times, gonorrhea six times… You know, its silly to focus on an “it” in a situation where you have 29 diseases, some are fungal, some are bacterial, some are caused by cell-proliferation, others caused by cell-depletion, and say its one thing. It’s like a dream world for someone who wants to patent one thing as a cure. It’s a dream world for somebody who doesn’t want to take responsibility for their wellness or their illness. In the case of hemophiliacs, I use the word “responsibility” in that a hemophiliac should be told: “You’re putting Factor 8 into your body. I mean, God, sir, this stuff is extremely immuno-suppressive.”

What would you recommend, then? How about research that goes back to only what can be proven about HIV and AIDS?

I would recommend, I mean if I were in charge of everything, remove the “HIV” and treat people for what’s wrong with them.

So, say that there is no such thing as HIV?

Yeah. If somebody shows up at your office with quote: “AIDS” and immune suppression, take a look at their life, take a look at their medical history. If you took HIV out of the picture, you could treat people for what is wrong with them, rather than projecting onto healthy people that there will be something wrong with them, and scaring them into taking toxic chemicals and making something wrong with them. And the people who are genuinely ill, you could help by addressing what’s really wrong with them. If you look at it through the lens of AIDS, the person who has a yeast infection gets the same treatment as the person who has tuberculosis as the person who has cancer. They all get put on the same “cocktail” drugs.

But doesn’t it seem like people may be treated for what is specific to their disease and it’s not working because there is something wrong with their immune system?

Well, if you have an immune system that’s not functioning, that’s something wrong; but its not anything mysterious or strange or contagious, its just that your immune system is broken down. You know, I was misdiagnosed as an adolescent with having a problem with my thyroid that I never had. I was put on a very powerful medicine that caused me to have immune suppression — it depleted the calcium and potassium in my body, it caused me to lose bone marrow, bone density, I was sick a lot, it caused my heartbeat to elevate, and my body temperature to rise, I was losing my hair; and I was on the medicine for 18 years. It took about eight years before it got really noticeable and horrible — kind of like wearing shoes that don’t fit, you just get used to the pain — but I was horribly immune-suppressed because of that, and it took me a while to get better. How I got better was not taking other chemicals. I stopped taking the medicine under the care of a doctor who understood that I never had the problem in the first place. Then I had to rebuild my health. The only way you rebuild your health is through exercise, diet, supplementation, things like that. There’s no chemicals, produced by any pharmaceutical company, that will restore your health.

Which is restoring your immune system as well.

Yeah, I mean, there’s even debate about what the immune system is. The immune system is our entire body, and that even starts with our skin. Burn victims can die, not because the burns kill them, but because their skin is gone and they have nothing to protect them. Our whole body is an immune system, our whole body is a functioning organism, that requires other things to aid its function, to optimize its function; and when you mess with that balance — especially with antibiotics in the stomach area — you’re no longer able to intake the nutrients in food because you’re not digesting properly. Right there you’re on the track to living life as a sick person.

It’s more human and complex than HIV=AIDS=DEATH. Western medicine tends to simplify and look for patentable solutions. I mean, God forbid you tell someone to go on a diet rather than give them Fen-Fen. People are so loathe to doing anything themselves about their health and well-being, they would rather rely on chemists and doctors. But it’s a changing trend, thank God.

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But perhaps the best example of how feisty and victoriously sure of herself Christine Maggiore has become after fathoming the merits ( or lack thereof) of HIV–think over the years is this account, My Bout of So-Called AIDS, that she wrote of being briefly taken in by a diagnosis of an “AIDS-defining condition”.

My Bout of So-Called AIDS

By Christine Maggiore

Home

This document was provided by:

Health Education AIDS Liaison, Toronto

www.healtoronto.com

tel/fax:(416) 406-HEAL

This past March, I had the unsettling experience of being diagnosed with an AIDS defining condition. The news arrived with cruel precision on the 10-year anniversary of my testing HIV positive, coinciding perfectly with the orthodox axiom that we get a decade of normal health before our AIDS kicks in.

The diagnosis was based on a grade 3 Pap smear with cervical dysplasia, a result that insinuates cancer. Devastating enough on its own, my HIV positive label added a layer of complication.

As you may know, cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer were added to the AIDS definition in 1993 causing the number of women classified with AIDS to increase notably. Even though some 65,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with cervical cancers, and only a small fraction of these (about .0015%) are among women that test positive, HIV + cervical abnormalities = AIDS.

I imagined Dr. Matilde Krim cackling with delight at this seemingly tragic turn of events. Director of the orthodox AIDS research group AmFar, Krim had pronounced me “delusional” in a national television broadcast last fall for daring to consider myself healthy. According to the good doctor, I am merely enjoying the so-called latency period between testing positive and getting sick. During her interview, she did everything short of wish I would die of AIDS.

As an outspoken representative for alternative AIDS views, a full time mascot for healthy HIV positives, and a new mother for the second time, tackling this challenge was the last assignment I wanted. The diagnosis was totally inconvenient to my life and work. I fell prey to despair, called my husband and sobbed into the phone. Together, we recovered my rationality. I dried my tears and asked the doctor to perform another test.

Given the unreliability of diagnostics in general, and the fact that Pap smear slides are read by lab technicians for a matter of seconds, this seemed a perfectly reasonable request. She refused, however, imploring me to “stop being in denial,” and acquiesced only after I politely but unrelentingly insisted. Holding my own was emotionally exhausting, and in the end it felt more as if she were humoring me than respecting my judgment.

The second Pap came back grade 2, a slightly less concerning level of diagnosis. According to my doctor, this suggested the presence of Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, a supposedly contagious condition associated with cervical cancer. Since I have never been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, my husband’s never had one, we’ve been together for six years, and all my previous Paps have been normal, I questioned the new results. My skepticism seemed to reinforce her notions I was lolling in denial. Our conversation turned contentious.

I cited information refuting the HPV/cervical cancer hypothesis, Professor Peter Duesberg’s well-referenced deconstruction in particular. I recalled how the assumption that HPV caused cervical cancer had risen to popularity in the late 1970s following the complete failure of the Herpes Virus/cervical cancer hypothesis of the 1960s. That according to studies, half the American adult population is infected with HPV yet only 1 percent of women develop the cancer, and while equal numbers of men and women have HPV, men rarely develop penile cancers.

My doctor responded by recommending I see a specialist.

After much discussion, the new gynecologist acknowledged the presence of HPV only correlates with cervical cancer in some cases, and there is no evidence of a direct, causal relationship.

Both gynecologists agreed I should disregard the second test and consider the one indicating cervical dysplasia to be correct. Both recommended a colposcopy (a fairly invasive and painful procedure), to prepare for a biopsy, and urged me to act promptly. Instead, I decided to gather other opinions from holistic health practitioners.

In consultation with a naturopath, I determined I would follow the gynecologists’ advice and act as if the worst-case scenario were true, that I had cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer. Together, we created a protocol that would serve to better my health no matter what diagnosis – if any – were correct. This program included detox, colon hydrotherapy, digestive enzymes, daily juicing, food combining, some new supplements, and regular exercise – something I’d slacked off on since the birth of my daughter. On my own, I added ozone therapy to the regimen.

Life went on as normal, apart from the whirr of the juicer every morning and arranging for childcare during the ozone infusions.

Although I vacillated between dauntless, nervously hopeful and scared, my confidence in what I know about HIV and AIDS did not waver. What makes sense in times of health makes the same sense in time of health challenge. I felt no temptation to suddenly regard my positive HIV test as an illness in need of treatment. Sometimes I worried how others might interpret or use my situation, but the possibility of cancer did not inspire any panicked denouncing or erosion of what I understand about science, medicine, natural health, HIV and AIDS. If given a choice, I would have preferred not having to deal with another dreaded diagnosis, but as long as life dished it up, I accepted the opportunity to learn.

In August, I had a new Pap smear performed by a third gynecologist. I used an assumed name and did not mention my HIV status. This time the result was normal.

My doctor was at lunch when I called with the good news, so I left a message with the front office manager who was totally unimpressed. She explained, “That happens all the time. Most women get an abnormal Pap after having a baby. We just run the test again and it usually comes back normal. If not, the doctor gives them this little cream and that takes care of it.”

Until that moment, neither doctor had mentioned an abnormal test was normal after childbirth, that second smears are routinely performed in such cases, or that there was any “little cream.”

I have since discovered that the overwhelming majority of my female friends�all HIV negative, some with children – have received abnormal Pap results like mine. For them, a second test was a matter of course rather than a hard won concession. In every case, their results reverted to normal with no therapy.

Testing HIV positive often means being treated differently – with prejudice, based on unfounded assumptions, and as though well informed decisions are elaborate forms of denial. It seemed the dysplasia diagnosis confirmed my doctors’ beliefs about HIV, and my supposed illness was the expected outcome. I felt frustrated, and even humiliated. I had to insist on getting what everyone else receives without discussion�the chance to be a healthy human being until proven otherwise.

Whenever I speak in public someone invariably asks, “If HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, why do a lot of people who test HIV positive get sick and die?” I think a better question is: How does anyone who tests positive remain well?

Between the initial devastation of the diagnosis, the subsequent social isolation, dire predictions by doctors, lab tests measuring out our remaining time, medical care that assumes our inevitable early demise, AIDS organizations poised to usher us into death, negative expectations of friends, family and the public, constant media reports on the incurable fatal virus, pressure to consume toxic drugs, to regard ourselves as infected, abnormal, and ill, pitches to sell off our life insurance, exchange work for disability, and get a handicapped parking pass, and official orders to keep a safe, latex-covered distance from people we love, I wonder how so many of us manage to live.

According to official definitions, I had AIDS a few months ago. I’ll never know if the detox, ozone treatments, and dietary changes “cured” me, if the diagnosis changed along with my name, or as with most women, my cervical abnormalities went away on their own – if they ever existed in the first place. Of one thing, however, I feel certain: My knowledge and convictions prevented me from accepting an unverified diagnosis, engaging in unnecessary invasive procedures, and from believing my ability to live in health had come to a crashing halt.

All too often, our options are limited by medical authorities that encourage us to believe the worst, disregard the facts, deny our intuition, doubt our health, and quietly obey orders. I offer my experience with hopes that those of you also labeled HIV positive will create a foundation of knowledge that supports your choices and that enables you to act in your best interests when faced with life’s many challenges.

With good wishes to all,

Christine

Christine Maggiore, Founder/Director Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives

Alive and Well

11684 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604 USA

Tel 818/780-1875

National Toll-free 877/411-AIDS

Fax 818/780-7093

Note: The information on this website is presented for educational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional

The key paragraph is one which tells much about the alarmist con game which is unhappily part and parcel of the practice of too many medical professionals today, perhaps partly because they must keep one eye at all times on the malpractice lawyers who are making their lives a misery. The panic she is misled into by the doctor’s advice is dissipated by the helpful honesty of the staff.

My doctor was at lunch when I called with the good news, so I left a message with the front office manager who was totally unimpressed. She explained, “That happens all the time. Most women get an abnormal Pap after having a baby. We just run the test again and it usually comes back normal. If not, the doctor gives them this little cream and that takes care of it.”

Until that moment, neither doctor had mentioned an abnormal test was normal after childbirth, that second smears are routinely performed in such cases, or that there was any “little cream.”

However, let’s note that although Christine was buoyantly combative after she found out just how spurious the threat to her life and health really was, she tells of her initial despair, even after so many years of challenging authority:

The diagnosis was totally inconvenient to my life and work. I fell prey to despair, called my husband and sobbed into the phone. Together, we recovered my rationality. I dried my tears and asked the doctor to perform another test.

And of the great concern and how many decisive actions she took to deal with it before she learned the reassuring truth.

For as her own paragraph in that story emphasizes, the psychological burden of the negative opinion of the medical establishment is very heavy, whether you are newly diagnosed “HIV positive” or heavily armed with needles that prick the fantasies of theory. The most powerful weapon in the armory of the medical establishment is the psychology of authority, whether used to cure or, as in the case of AIDS, to condemn the patient. And its handmaiden is panic.

A personal tragedy

The reason we were thinking of Christine Maggiore today is that we have learned that she has suffered the most grievous private tragedy that any parent can suffer in life. She has lost a child, her second born, her sweet natured and gentle three year old daughter Eliza Jane.

Her many friends all over the world were told of this in the following email, in which a friend describes the tragedy and conveys the news which Christine and her husband are too much in a state of shock and despair to convey.

All those interested in the disasters that current attitudes in medicine and particularly in AIDS can visit on even enlightened and courageous people should study this story, for it reveals that Christine’s irretrievable loss might have been, in a disastrous irony, the fault of the same drug based medical culture, and the panic that thrusts people into its arms, that she was fighting in AIDS.

I am deeply saddened to inform you that Eliza Jane, the younger of Christine Maggiore’s two children, died suddenly and unexpectedly of undetermined causes on Sunday (May 15th).

Christine, her husband Robin Scovill, and their son Charlie, are obviously in shock and deep despair, but are buoyed by their personal strength and their network of friends and family. I talked to Christine for a little while on Tuesday and, in between tears, we had the occasional laugh at memories of Eliza Jane’s lovely (but often challenging) personality.

Like most parents, Christine and Robin would do anything for their children, they meant the world to them, and losing one is simply the worst nightmare they could possibly endure. It’s no easier for Charlie, age 7, who has to endure the loss of his loved little sister. In his innocence of modern rules and regulations he wanted to bury her in their backyard garden, expressing his desire to keep her close to him.

Eliza Jane, 3 years old, was sick for several days with a condition that three different pediatricians diagnosed as a simple ear infection. None of them prescribed antibiotics, as most ear infections clear without them. All three pediatricians advised to start natural approaches. The condition did not appear worrisome or threatening. Eliza Jane still had flashes of her normal bouyant and independent personality, sometimes laughing and arguing with Charlie, although much of the time she was unusually restless and uncomfortable.

Eventually a reddened inner ear led Christine and Robin to use antibiotics and some tylenol as prescribed on the afternoon of Saturday, May 14th, by one of the three pediatricians who came to their home to see EJ. This would be the fourth time the problem was diagnosed as an ordinary ear infection, and the fourth time that they were told EJ had no swollen glands, no sore throat, and no congestion in the lungs -potential signs of worse or worsening condition. Some time after this Eliza Jane started to vomit and then suddenly, on Sunday night, went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. Heroic efforts by the ambulance crew and the E.R. trauma team could not revive her.

I am writing to let you all know about this, after checking the details with Christine and Robin. They wanted to write to everyone personally, but are obviously overwhelmed so they asked me to carry the news to you.

If you would like to send a card or letter with your sympathies, please send them c/o “Alive & Well, 11684 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA, 91604, USA”. If you feel so inclined, feel free to make a donation to Alive & Well or to a children’s charity of your choosing.

Eliza Jane will always be in the garden in a corner of our hearts, where the wind often makes the flowers dance.

It is impossible to read this story without your heart going out to a parent whose loss is so sudden and enormous. But if you read this account of the family tragedy more than once, your sympathy for Christine Maggiore may double, if that is possible. For what is clearly implied is very simply, that her child was allergic to the antibiotic given her, and that the reasons why it was administered despite misgivings are rooted in the culture of modern medicine which Maggiore has long fought to change.

It seems clear what happened. Three pediatricians, aware of the dangers of giving three year olds antibiotics, advised her to let the infection run its course, and let it be suppressed in the natural course of events by the immune system of the child. This evidently accorded with the parents’ own educated view that antibiotics were to be avoided if possible as a first line of defense, since adverse reactions are always possible, especially in young children.

Although the infection reddened the inner ear, there was no glandular or other systemic disturbance. One would have expected a natural remedy such as garlic to be applied. But then for some reason, against everyone’s instinct of caution, antibiotics were given in the end, and the systemic reactions which had been entirely absent up to that point appeared, including vomiting, and eventually cardiac arrest, with intervention tragically ineffective.

Of course, we do not know all the details and any outside speculation is without any medical authority. But apparently, in a catastropic irony, under the weight of parental reponsibility Christine Maggiore and her husband panicked on behalf of their treasured charge, and after years of pressure to do the conventional thing in AIDS, made a risky decision to entrust the welfare of their child to a standard tool of modern medicine and its drug infatuated approach. She gave in to what her whole life had been devoted, in her own case, to keeping at bay.

And once allowed to proceed, the establishment and its medication in effect gambled with the life of her child, and lost.

One can only hope that Ms Maggiore’s tragedy is not compounded by the fiendish ignoramuses of AIDS politics, who are likely to twist this failure of conventional medicine into an accusation that somehow links it with her rejection of conventional diagnosis and treatment of her “HIV positive” status.

The plain fact of the matter is that when Christine Maggiore finally gave conventional medicine her trust, it let her down.

SARS’s disappearing magic act

May 15th, 2005

Well, well. The once global plague-du-jour, SARS, has now vanished from the screens of our ever alert health watch dogs, and now there is not a single case of this dread killer extant, as far as the authorities know. According to a Times article today (Sun May 15), “it has disappeared, at least for the moment”, which is a “surprise.”

Skepticism carried too far becomes cynicism, of course, and we wouldn’t want that, not at least while we are in our present state, which we freely admit, of being completely ignorant as to the real facts of the matter. But it is hard not to wonder if SARS ever existed at all, and was not a number of cases of bad flu, say, rewritten.

Photos of a menacing looking coronavirus were produced as evidence of the culprit, but a test for SARS in humans was never developed, and now we have it doing a “surprise” disappearing act while the full resources of Western defenses against new Chinese-bred health threats are devoted to avian flu, now counted as a far greater potential catastrophe.

Our ignorance is shared by the Chinese it seems:

Health officials in China are also less alarmed, but they warn that SARS could still pose a threat. This caution partly reflects the lack of knowledge about the virus: What caused it to become so virulent in the initial outbreak? Where has it gone? Will it come back?

While the hope is that the virus has helpfully “mutated into oblivion”, we are warned that this may not be the case. Eternal vigilance is still necessary, as always.

“We’d be lucky to believe that, and that would be very nice, but there is no research to support that,” said Dr. Julie Hall, the SARS team leader at the Beijing office of the World Health Organization. “Just because we’ve not seen SARS anymore this year doesn’t mean it is not out in the wild this year.”

Well, whatever the truth about SARS—and we emphasize that we have no expert reasons to question the story, other than the outbreak of global skepticism we have caught after being exposed to the published and peer reviewed scientific literature rejecting HIV in AIDS—it must be upsetting for the civet cats which the Chinese like to dine on, since this culinary habit was interrupted by the SARS panic, but will now eventually resume, one supposes.

One thing we are left baffled by is the fact that the occurrence of SARS in civet cats is apparently easily mapped—

Dr. Zhong, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, said new tests of wild civets from northern China found that none had been exposed to SARS, but as the animals moved closer to the wildlife markets in Guangzhou, the ratio of those exposed to the illness climbed rapidly.

whereas, as we noted, no test was developed for humans.

Despite this grave handicap of not being able to test if SARS was there or not, containment efforts were successful, and we must chalk up a resounding success for WHO and the Chinese.

Dr. Kathryn V. Holmes (a professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver) credited the fact that SARS had “vanished” this year to the aggressive containment efforts by the World Health Organization and the Chinese government.

“The vanishing was a piece of outstanding coordination throughout the world,” she said. “They controlled the epidemic without having a good diagnostic test for the virus.”

This is the full Times story:

The New York Times

May 15, 2005

After Its Epidemic Arrival, SARS Vanishes

By JIM YARDLEY

BEIJING, May 14 – Two and a half years after a mysterious respiratory illness from southern China infected thousands of people around the world and brought dire predictions of recurring and deadly plague, the virus known as SARS has again provided a surprise.

It has disappeared, at least for the moment.

Not a single case of severe acute respiratory syndrome has been reported this year or in late 2004. It is the first winter without a case since the initial outbreak in late 2002.

In addition, the epidemic strain of SARS that caused at least 774 deaths worldwide by June of 2003 has not been seen outside a laboratory since then. SARS is not even the nastiest bug in its neighborhood, as health officials warn that avian influenza in Southeast Asia poses a far greater threat.

In cities like Guangzhou and Beijing, once under a state of alert because of SARS, public hysteria about the disease has long since given way to public nonchalance. “Very few people talk about it anymore,” said Cheng De, 22, as he walked through a subway tunnel last month in Guangzhou, the city at the center of the first two SARS outbreaks. “People think it is in the past.”

Health officials in China are also less alarmed, but they warn that SARS could still pose a threat. This caution partly reflects the lack of knowledge about the virus: What caused it to become so virulent in the initial outbreak? Where has it gone? Will it come back?

Most researchers and health officials are not counting on the rosiest scenario – that SARS has simply mutated into oblivion.

“We’d be lucky to believe that, and that would be very nice, but there is no research to support that,” said Dr. Julie Hall, the SARS team leader at the Beijing office of the World Health Organization. “Just because we’ve not seen SARS anymore this year doesn’t mean it is not out in the wild this year.”

Health officials in China are also less alarmed, but they warn that SARS could still pose a threat. This caution partly reflects the lack of knowledge about the virus: What caused it to become so virulent in the initial outbreak? Where has it gone? Will it come back?

Health officials have categorized SARS into three known outbreaks: the worldwide epidemic of more than 8,000 cases that began in November 2002 and ended in June 2003; the second outbreak from December 2003 through January 2004 that involved a milder strain of the virus and caused only four cases; and the nine cases traced to laboratory accidents in China, Taiwan and Singapore between March and May of last year.

Scientists agree that SARS jumped from animals to humans, probably in wildlife markets in the region around Guangzhou, where workers live near the animals they slaughter and sell. In January 2004, Chinese officials ordered a nationwide culling of civet cats from restaurants and wildlife markets after Chinese scientists concluded that the animal was the primary source of the outbreaks. The small, weasel-like animal is considered a delicacy in southern China.

“This year nothing happened because we have very, very strong rules now controlling the wildlife markets,” said Dr. Zhong Nanshan, China’s leading SARS expert, who advocated the cull of civets.

Dr. Zhong, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, said new tests of wild civets from northern China found that none had been exposed to SARS, but as the animals moved closer to the wildlife markets in Guangzhou, the ratio of those exposed to the illness climbed rapidly.

“There must be something happening in the transportation of civets from the north to the markets in Guangzhou,” Dr. Zhong said.

He said his researchers were still trying to determine why civets were so susceptible to the disease and how, specifically, it jumped to humans. It is also unclear what other animals, if any, are carriers of the disease. Rats were initially suspected in the 2003 outbreak in Hong Kong. Ultimately, SARS had a fatality rate of 10 percent, though for people 60 and older the death rate rose to 50 percent.

This year, Dr. Kathryn V. Holmes, a prominent microbiologist who has studied coronaviruses like SARS for more than 20 years, caused an immediate stir in China after giving a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. News media reports in China quoted Dr. Holmes as saying that SARS no longer existed in the wild and that the virus no longer presented a serious health threat to the world.

In a telephone interview recently, Dr. Holmes, a professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, said her comments should never have been interpreted to mean that SARS no longer existed in nature. Instead, she said she was referring to recent research showing that the epidemic strain of SARS that passed from person to person during the initial worldwide outbreak had not been seen since June 2003. This strain mutated after passing from animals to humans in a way that caused it to spread rapidly and become more virulent.

“People are trying to understand which of those mutations was responsible for human-to-human transmission and high virulence in humans,” Dr. Holmes said of one of the fundamental unanswered questions about SARS.

Dr. Holmes credited the fact that SARS had “vanished” this year to the aggressive containment efforts by the World Health Organization and the Chinese government.

“The vanishing was a piece of outstanding coordination throughout the world,” she said. “They controlled the epidemic without having a good diagnostic test for the virus.”

Research on different SARS vaccines is under way at several laboratories in China and elsewhere. Dr. Hall, the World Health Organization expert in Beijing, said the most reassuring discovery about SARS was that it could be contained. But, she noted, the fact that the disease spread quickly throughout the world also showed the potential for more serious diseases like avian flu to cause an epidemic.

“One thing that has come out of SARS is the need to strengthen public health surveillance,” Dr. Hall said. “If SARS revealed the gaps in the system, then avian influenza has increased the urgency to fill those gaps.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Pigs, sheep and cows–too bright to eat?

May 14th, 2005

ABC network news tonight (Sat May 14) carries an extraordinary update on animal intelligence. A pig has learned to operate a computer joystick to manoever a small square cursor into a rectangular area to release food into its trough at will. A Russell fox terrier was unable to learn to do this in a year. A sheep also managed an IQ test of some kind, and there was some kind of evidence that cows actually get excited when they solve a problem, not to mention that they make meaningful friends with other cows.

Unfortunately, ABC’s news site does not respond to searching for computer + pigs or similar, so we will have to google for more. Meanwhile Jane Goodall is asked whether we all should be vegetarian, if farm animals are so much more conscious of meaning that we have thought. She says she has been vegetarian for a long time.

All this certainly throws new light on the cruelties of the factory system for meat production in this country.


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