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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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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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Press and paradigm guards piling on Perth duo

October 27th, 2006


But legal eagles should spot the lie of the land

The Aussie press, having labeled the Perth duo “self styled experts”, is now quoting local paradigm guards as saying their claims are “insane”, old hat and disproven years ago, and certainly not the opinion of the Perth hospital where Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos works, nor of an associate professor in epidemiology at the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research.

Well, of course not. Let’s hope the judge can see that this is inevitable. All paradigms are supported by the generals and the army of mainstream believers before they are overthrown. That’s what future Nobel prize winners have to contend with in almost every case. The issue is whether this is a paradigm that hold less water than a colander, or something that can be defended by pointing to the literature.

Given Peter Duesberg’s extensive and unrefuted critique over two decades, the choice is pretty clear for any outsider who reads the material, who unlike the faithful doesn’t have to vouchsafe “HIV is the virus that causes AIDS through sex” as a necessary oath to win community patronage.

Presumably legal minds are likely to appreciate this is possible, and to discern the politics behind the pronouncements that disparage and dismiss the Perth arguments out of hand.

Doubts on HIV’s existence ‘insane’

Clara Pirani, Medical reporter
27 October 2006

AIDS experts have labelled claims by a Perth researcher that HIV does not exist as outrageous and dangerous nonsense.

Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, a medical engineer at Royal Perth Hospital, said on Wednesday that HIV was not a retrovirus and could not be transmitted by sexual intercourse.

At a leave-to-appeal hearing on behalf of Andre Chad Parenzee – an HIV-positive man convicted of endangering the lives of three girlfriends and sentenced to 15 years in prison – Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos said the existence of HIV had yet to be proved. She is a founder of the Perth Group of researchers who argue AIDS is not linked to HIV.

Andrew Grulich, associate professor in epidemiology at the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, described the group’s claims as “insane”.

“They have a very long and convoluted argument that has been comprehensively disproved many times,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Perth Hospital said yesterday that the hospital did not share the views of Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos. She said Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos did not work in HIV research or with AIDS patients.

Professor Grulich said the evidence that HIV exists was irrefutable. “How did the death rate from HIV and AIDS drop from 1000 a year to less than 200 a year in the space of one to two years when those drugs were introduced, unless there is a virus that these drugs are targeting?” he said.

“What they say is outrageous and quite dangerous because it encourages people to not be concerned about transmission.”

Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos said the techniques used by Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo, the scientists who discovered HIV in 1983, were flawed.

However, David Harrich, a molecular virologist from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, said their techniques had been re-tested and verified many times since 1983.

Coverage is expanding, and giving the Perth experts a fair shake: Accused denies existence of HIV

The Australian —” SA
Accused denies existence of HIV
Jeremy Roberts
October 26, 2006
AN HIV-positive man convicted of endangering the lives of three girlfriends is attempting to turn conventional science on its head by denying the existence of the virus that leads to AIDS.

Andre Chad Parenzee was convicted in February of endangering the lives of three women and faces 15 years in prison. One of the women now has HIV.

This week, he enlisted the expert evidence of two self-styled researchers – both members of the so-called Perth Group – who have used the witness stand to attack the “HIV myth”.

In what is believed to be an international legal and medical first, South Australian Supreme Court judge John Sulan has set aside two weeks effectively to put HIV on trial.

Prosecutors have prepared several expert witnesses to shore up more than two decades of global research – which underpins public health and safe sex campaigns – that HIV causes AIDS and is contracted through unprotected sex.

Prosecutors objected in this week’s leave-to-appeal hearing to Parenzee’s witnesses’ status as “experts” but Justice Sulan said he would address the objection after their evidence was heard.

The court heard argument from Parenzee’s counsel, Kevin Borick, who is working pro bono, that his client’s conviction cannot stand if HIV is based on flimsy science.

His expert witnesses received no money for their appearance this week, but their airfares from Perth were paid for by Parenzee’s mother.

Perth-based medical physicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, who has a Bachelor of Science and works as a medical engineer at Royal Perth Hospital, told the court that HIV was mistakenly identified by a French scientific team in 1983, which was headed by Luc Montagnier.

In a 50-page Powerpoint presentation, Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos said AIDS had nothing to do with HIV, which – if it existed at all – was not a retrovirus and not transmitted between people by sexual intercourse.

Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos argued that HIV had never been isolated, and was only identified in 1983 by a process called “reverse transcription”, which is said to create retroviruses.

She said the reverse transcription observed by Dr Montagnier in 1983, the so-called “discovery of HIV”, was not specific to HIV.

She said the main risk factors for getting AIDS remained the passive role in anal intercourse, and intravenous drug use.

Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos claimed AIDS was caused by prolonged exposure to semen, which oxidised cells, degrading them and led to numerous other serious illnesses – the AIDS-related illnesses – which end in death.

Secondly, she cited numerous scientific papers that concluded that vaginal sex did not transmit HIV.

Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos cited a 1997 published paper by University of California researcher Nancy Padian that calculated the risk of a male transmitting HIV to a female at 0.0009 per cent, for each act of vaginal intercourse.

According to the Padian paper, a man would have to have sex with his wife three times a week for 27.4 years to expose her to a 95 per cent risk of passing on HIV.

Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos’s colleague at the Perth Group, Val Turner, testified that the testing of HIV was “indirect” – it measured the presence of proteins and antibodies in blood assumed to be triggered by HIV.

Mr Turner said there was no test to directly detect HIV.
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George Orwell on AIDS reporting

October 26th, 2006


Andrew Sullivan quotes the master, but fails him

Oprah, Kristof also show Orwellian traits, but not the kind he would approve of

Uberpundit Andrew Sullivan was on Travis Smiley’s straight shooting interview show on PBS just now, hawking his new book, The Conservative Soul, and as unpredictable as ever.

Today this ever young conservative critic tells us that he feels that in the forthcoming elections conservatives should lose their seats, and he is even looking forward to it, as it is nothing less than what they deserve for so royally screwing up their time at the top, not to mention fooling him that there were WMDs in Iraq.

That is not too relevant here, of course. What was interesting, however, given his uncritical acceptance of the standard line in HIV∫AIDS, is the quote he then chose from George Orwell:

“One of my heros is George Orwell, and he said: To see what is in front of your nose is a constant struggle.

Refreshing humility, we thought, given the irony of the remark in the light of Sullivan’s determined credulity in the matter of HIV∫AIDS.

The truth about the meds

Andrew then informed Travis that “I was diagnosed with a fatal illness 13 years ago – HIV – and one of the things that came to me was, Tell the truth. Why are we journalists if we don’t tell the truth?”

More irony, perhaps. Still, if he is still taking the meds, as he earlier blogged, he seems to be doing alright. It is becoming clear that some people thrive on these things, or at least, are not particularly affected by them. Only a certain portion of patients are seriously affected, even though, as the recent big HAART study in the Lancet showed, those who are not ill before treatment tend to get AIDS symptoms very much earlier now. In fact, the mean (for those who get symptoms within the year) is two months. That is to say, half of those who get AIDS in the first year get it within two months of starting HAART.

Since they have no symptoms beforehand, it looks very much as if it is HAART that gives them the symptoms. In fact, it is hard to think of any other source.

But lively Andrew seems to be doing OK, as we say, unless he was sweating for some other reason than the heat from the studio lights. The point is that some people can survive HAART well enough, including presumably Magic Johnson, a robust athlete, after all, if he really is taking HAART as he claims in the ads.

What’s important is that this phenomenon shouldn’t be seen as contradicting the fact which has emerged from the Lancet and the JAMA studies this summer, which is that HAART gives people “AIDS”, and eventually kills many of them, doesn’t rescue any more from death now than it did nine years ago, and its success in diminishing the presence of the virus to “undetectable levels” only demonstrates that HIV has nothing to do with “AIDS” symptoms.

More AIDS lore on Oprah

Tomorrow, Oprah Winfrey continues her massive disinformation campaign on HIV∫AIDS with her 21 million viewers. She recently was seen interviewing Senator and future President Barack Obama and congratulating him and his wife on risking the HIV test in Kenya, thus encouraging a million more people (Oprah’s estimate) to fall in line with the CDC goal of testing everyone in the world.

Her program tomorrow will feature six beautiful women who will be said to have unfortunately contracted the virus from incautious liaisons with men who are HIV positive. How this is accomplished will not be investigated, nor will Nancy Padian be featured on the show.

The Hans Christian Anderson of AIDS

Seems to us that Oprah should have Nicholas Kristof on her show next, with or without Andrew Sullivan. Kristof is a world champion swallower of HIV∫AIDS fairy tales, as we have pointed out before, and now occupies a leading role as HIV∫AIDS propagandist. He recently visited Africa and filed a series of heartrending tales based on on-the-spot reporting.

His column The Deep Roots Of AIDS on September 19 was the pinnacle of achievement for the Times’ most expert ladler of HIV∫AIDS lore. Here is what readers learned:

70 years ago, a man in a remote forest in Cameroon “butchered a sick chimpanzee, and the AIDS virus was born”.

What made the chimp sick was SIV, genetically close to the main human variant of HIV.

The first proven case of AIDS dates from 1979 in Kinshasa, Congo, downriver from the forest.

The world can’t tackle global poverty unless we tackle AIDS effectively.

Pascal Nttomba was the breadwinner for 20 in his family, which lived in a nice wooden house in Yokadouma, Cameroon, and sent his children to technical school. Then he became sick, and neither traditional healer nor doctor could save him. ARVs are available only in the cities, as in most of Africa, so Pascal died. Now the family is destitute.

Hermine, 19, is prepared to save it by taking up with a sugar daddy, but this common arrangement in Africa has led to high infection rates among young women.

In a world of voluntary testing none of the family has been tested for HIV, and this “tip toeing approach” is costing millions of lives.

Unless we have routine testing the world is on track for a worldwide death toll of 70 million by 2020.

Unless they opt out, people in high prevalence countries should be tested “whenever they enter the medical system, marry, enter the armed forces, take a job in the civil service or get pregnant”.

This program of testing for all should be part of President Bush’s “fine program against AIDS” which will save 9 million lives and will be “Mr Bush’s best legacy”, and it should be extended with “even more money”.

AIDS is killing 8,000 people every day worldwide, and infecting 14,000 more, so we need a “more aggressive approach” if future Pascals are not to die and future Hermine’s are not to be sold into sexual slavery.

No better encapsulation of every element of the HIV∫AIDS fairy tale than this could possibly be imagined. Every scientific statement is contradicted by the scientific literature. Is Kristof in the employ of NIAID as a ‘consultant’? Is he a dinner buddy of Anthony Fauci or Mathilde Krim? Or does he do his scientific research simply by reading glossy pamphlets from the UNAID and WHO?

We intend to write to him and find out, but only when things have calmed down. At this very moment he is involved in battling to protect his sources for articles he wrote about the anthrax scandal in 2001, which a magistrate has just demanded he produce.

The Deep Roots Of AIDS

September 19, 2006

The Deep Roots Of AIDS

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

It was about 70 years ago, evidence suggests, that a man somewhere in this remote forest area of southeastern Cameroon butchered a sick chimpanzee — and the AIDS virus was born.

Chimpanzees here carry a strain of simian immunodeficiency virus (the monkey version of H.I.V.) that is genetically close to the main human variant. So the scientific betting is that the virus jumped to humans here and then traveled with human hosts by river south to Kinshasa, Congo, and then eventually to the wider world. The first proven case dates from Kinshasa in 1959.

I’m traveling with Casey Parks, the student who won my contest to accompany me on a reporting trip, and we’ve been talking to people about AIDS here in its possible birthplace because the world can’t address global poverty unless we tackle AIDS effectively — and in places like this, it’s obvious that still isn’t happening.

We met the family of Pascal Nttomba beside the fresh mound in the garden where he was buried two weeks ago. Mr. Nttomba was the breadwinner for the 20 people in the family.

The Nttombas were relatively well off, living in a nice wooden house and sending their children to technical schools to learn vocations that would take them up a notch in the world. But then Pascal became sick.

He could no longer work, and the family used all its savings to try to cure him — first paying a traditional healer and then a doctor. Neither did any good, although the doctor charged more.

In theory, antiretrovirals are available here to control the disease. But they are mostly for middle-class victims in the cities, and as in most of Africa, an ordinary person in a remote area has next to no chance of getting the drugs. And so Pascal died, and now the family is destitute.

”There’s nothing to eat in the house, since this morning,” said his father, Valeré. The women in the family were planning to scour the fields for cassava leaves to cook for dinner. They say they can also go into the forests to look for edible wild plants, but malnutrition looms.

The children in technical school have dropped out, because there is no money. One of them is Hermine, a 19-year-old, who is now at risk of being approached by an older sugar daddy offering gifts in exchange for being his mistress, a common arrangement in Africa that has led to high infection rates among young women.

”I’d do it,” she acknowledged — after all, the family needs money.

The family’s predicament underscores how the virus not only kills people but also further impoverishes the world’s poorest. And while the hardest-hit countries in southern Africa are doing a bit better against AIDS, others in the middle range like Cameroon or India haven’t woken up to the severity of the problem.

An essential challenge is that 90 percent of those with H.I.V. worldwide don’t know it, and you can’t begin to tackle the disease when no one knows who has it. Here, for example, neither Pascal’s wife nor any other member of his family has been tested.

The mantra has been ”voluntary counseling and testing,” but this tip-toeing approach is costing millions of lives.

It’s time to move to routine testing. Sure, that will cause difficulties; despite efforts to safeguard privacy, some who test positive will become pariahs and will be driven from their villages. But the present approach is even worse and is on track for a worldwide death toll of 70 million by 2020.

So unless they specifically opt out, people in high-prevalence countries should be tested whenever they enter the medical system, marry, enter the armed forces, take a job in the civil service, or get pregnant. That should be coupled with a pledge to try to make treatment available to all who test positive.

That emphasis on testing could be incorporated into the extension of President Bush’s fine program against AIDS, which will save some nine million lives and is up for renewal next year. That program, which provided huge increases in spending and will be Mr. Bush’s best legacy, should be extended with even more money, while dropping its obsession with abstinence-only programs.

With AIDS still killing 8,000 people every day worldwide — and infecting 14,000 more — we need to acknowledge that the present strategy isn’t adequate. We need a more aggressive approach, built around greater testing, so that we don’t go through another few decades with the Pascals of Africa dying needlessly and the Hermines selling themselves into sexual bondage.

Times Is Ordered to Reveal Columnist’s Sources

The New York Times

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October 24, 2006

Times Is Ordered to Reveal Columnist’s Sources

By NEIL A. LEWIS

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 — A federal magistrate judge has ordered The New York Times to disclose the identities of three confidential sources used by one of its columnists, Nicholas Kristof, for columns he wrote about the investigation of the deadly anthrax mailings of 2001.

The order, issued Friday by Magistrate Judge Liam O’Grady, requires the newspaper to disclose the identities of the three sources to lawyers for Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, who has brought a defamation suit against The Times. The order was disclosed Monday.

Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the newspaper would appeal the ruling.

Dr. Hatfill, a germ warfare specialist who formerly worked in the Army laboratories at Fort Detrick, Md., has asserted that a series of columns by Mr. Kristof about the slow pace of the anthrax investigation defamed him because they suggested he was responsible for the attacks.

Five people died in the attacks. Although the federal authorities identified Dr. Hatfill as a “person of interest” in the case, they have not charged him with any crimes.

At a deposition on July 13, Mr. Kristof declined to name five of his sources for the columns, but two have subsequently agreed to release him from his pledge of confidentiality. Judge O’Grady’s ruling identifies the remaining unnamed sources as two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and a former colleague or friend of Dr. Hatfill at Fort Detrick.

The judge ruled that the laws of Virginia applied and that under that state’s law, reporters have only a qualified privilege to decline to name their sources that may be outweighed by other factors.

He wrote that for Mr. Hatfill to have a chance of meeting his burden of demonstrating that he was defamed by the columns, he “needs an opportunity to question the confidential sources and determine if Mr. Kristof accurately reported information the sources provided.”

Mr. Kristof wrote about a government scientist he initially referred to as Mr. Z, saying he had become the overwhelming focus of the investigation. In August 2002, he wrote that Dr. Hatfill had acknowledged he was Mr. Z. at a news conference in which he said he had been mistreated by the news media.

The lawsuit was originally dismissed by a federal judge in Virginia in 2004. A divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond reinstated the case and the full appeals court, by a 6-to-6 vote, declined to overturn that ruling. The Supreme Court declined to intervene last March.

Judge O’Grady wrote: “The court understands the need for a reporter to be able to credibly pledge confidentiality to his sources. Confidential sources have been an important part of journalism, which is presumably why Virginia recognizes a qualified reporter’s privilege in the first place.”

He said Virginia law required the use of a three-part balancing test as to whether there is a compelling need for the information, whether the information is relevant and whether it may not be obtained any other way.

HIV on trial in court down under

October 25th, 2006


Appeal for ‘HIV murder’ being argued on rethinker grounds, gaining media coverage

Spurs ultimate fantasy of trial for HIV proponents for iatrogenic genocide

Thrilling news on “Hank’s You Bet Your Life” today, see Wrongful Sentence: HIV Finally on Trial in Australia”. Theoretical arguments for and against the HIV∫AIDS paradigm are being aired in court this week in Adelaide, Australia, as a judge determines whether a case will be permitted to go to appeal.

Otis, who is apparently now running Barnesworld under the direction of Dr Harvey Bialy, will be getting a blow by blow account filed by a reader, ‘Hollywood’, over the next two days. According to the news reports so far, the defense lawyers for a HIV+man convicted of endangering women by sleeping with them are arguing to be allowed to appeal on two main grounds: that HIV cannot be transferred through heterosexual sex, as studies show, and that proof is lacking that HIV actually exists.

We doubt that the second argument will get very far, since few other people can understand it fully and even Peter Duesberg says it is wrong. But the first one is proven by mainstream studies which cannot be dismissed, and are hard to interpret any other way, even though the HIV∫AIDS faithful try valiantly to do so, as Nancy Padian now does on the authoritatively misleading AIDS Truth website.

Moreover, this is a court and the minds involved are legal eagles who can think analytically better than most scientists, certainly those in HIV∫AIDS, so the Padian imitation of a pretzel won’t wash.

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Newsflash

Wed Oct 24: The likelihood of the case being decided on the narrow legal ground of whether the law has been adhered to or not suggests that the prisoner will not get off, because he knew that if he was told he was HIV positive, he had to tell his female partners, and he didn’t, and whether the science and the law was justified or not is irrelevant.

However, according to a Comment by Marcos Andrin of Argentina on the site of AdelaideNow a court decision in Argentina in 1997 did let five doctors go free on the grounds that there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS:

This is no news for me. In 1997 one Court of Appeals in my country declared not guilty 5 doctors who were acussed of infecting several patients during a dialisis procedure. The court said “there is no scientific proof that HIV is the cause of AIDS”….

Posted by: Marcos Andrin of Argentina 12:12am today

Marcos, if you read this, please let us know more.

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Meanwhile Australian health officials are on the alert, worried that the case may undermine two decades of ‘safe sex’. Obviously, the prosecutor will attack the credentials of the members of the Perth Group who will testify, Valentine Turner and Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos. But this will probably be in vain.

Check out the affidavit from Turner that the case is based on at the Rethinking AIDS site, Affidavit. It shows respectable credentials and is a written and well argued compendium of problems with the paradigm. We think the court is likely to find it intelligible, and perhaps the media too. The case seems likely to proceed to appeal, where the arguments will be fully aired in public.

This advance to a new airing of rethinker arguments in the courts realizes the hopes and plans which were discussed by Rethinking AIDS, the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of HIV∫AIDS, when they met in New York City in early June. A teleconference call was mounted with lawyers in Australia and the US and Canada to share ideas and information.

As Dean Esmay comments at Barnesworld, however, it will be an uphill battle to get anti-HIV arguments to be taken seriously when the overwhelming consensus is thought to be against them. “Without trying to be negative, I expect the courts will determine that the “scientific consensus” is enough to keep the man convicted, and that the existence of scientific dissenters is not enough to overturn a conviction.”

However, the full airing of the arguments and the new basis for reporters to convey some of them to the public will surely grant additional respectability and currency to them unless the prosecutor manages to trash the credentials of Turner and Papadouplos entirely, which doesn’t seem likely given the quality of the affidavit, their success in publishing in peer reviewed journals, and their respectable status as members of the Australian medical community.

Even so, any respect from the media will be grudging. Already, you can see how editors will treat the Perth experts – by putting ‘experts’ in quotes of questionability, as they have done in the headline below.

Nonetheless, this is the HIV∫AIDS cliffhanger of the week and probably of the next few months, and it represents what may be the first big step along a path that could lead to the legal, business and political communities becoming aware that the scientific leaders of HIVAIDS have pulled a fast one, and sacrificed many lives to boot.

In that case, as we have speculated before, it may well be that the officials and scientists who have crippled and prevented proper scientific debate and review both inside the field and outside it for twenty years may have to answer for it in the court of public opinion, in hearings on the Hill and perhaps even in the courts of law, though the latter seems a stretch.

But with the leaders of WorldCom and Enron drawing sentences of 25 years and 24 years respectively, perhaps it is not inconceivable. HIV∫AIDS is, after all, the Enron of science.

We’d suggest that Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Robert Gallo, at least, should buy condominiums in Rio or Macao, just in case.

See Man to challenge existence of HIV in courtin Australian Yahoo.

Tuesday October 24, 02:10 PM

Man to challenge existence of HIV in court

An HIV positive man convicted of endangering the lives of three former partners through unprotected sex is appealing against his conviction, claiming the HIV virus does not really exist.

It is believed to be the first time the existence of HIV has been challenged in a court of law.

Andre Chad Parenzee is awaiting sentence for having unprotected sex with three women who were unaware he was carrying the HIV virus.

But his lawyer, Kevin Borick, today argued that Parenzee’s conviction should be quashed because there is no scientific proof that HIV actually exists.

Mr Borick will call evidence from two Western Australian based scientists, who will argue that the virus has never been isolated, current testing regimes are inconclusive and that there is no proof HIV is transmitted sexually.

Prosecutors plan to call evidence from five HIV experts, who will claim that Parenzee’s defence argument was debunked by the scientific community in the 1980s.

HIV, sex not linked, ‘experts’ tell court from Adelaide Now.

HIV, sex not linked, ‘experts’ tell court

COLIN JAMES, LEGAL AFFAIRS EDITOR

October 25, 2006 12:15am

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SOUTH Australian prosecutors have been forced to defend claims made by a prominent lawyer that HIV cannot be spread by sexual contact.

Criminal barrister Kevin Borick, QC, yesterday began a four-day hearing in the Supreme Court in a bid to prove HIV – which causes AIDS – is not transmitted sexually.

Mr Borick is seeking leave to appeal against the conviction of an Adelaide man, Andre Chad Parenzee, 35, who had unprotected sex with three women despite knowing he was infected with HIV.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has spent several months gathering scientific evidence to refute claims made by two “experts” engaged by Mr Borick that HIV cannot be sexually transmitted.

The pair – physicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos and emergency physician Dr Valender Turner – are part of an organisation called the Perth Group, which has spent two decades trying to overturn scientific findings on HIV.

The case is being closely monitored by state and federal health officials, who are concerned it could undermine more than two decades of public education about the need to practice safe sex.

In his opening address yesterday, Mr Borick told Justice John Sulan it was “the first time a Supreme Court has been required to consider the evidence on this issue and to deliver judgment”.

“No evidence for sexual transmission of HIV can be found even in the best conducted studies published from the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States of America and Africa,” he said.

“The evidence and arguments we will advance in support of the basic propositions are not new. In fact, they first surfaced shortly after the claim HIV was ‘discovered’ in 1983.

“The reaction from the relevant scientific community and the medical community is one of disbelief.”

Mrs Papadopulos-Eleopulos, from the Royal Perth Hospital, yesterday spent several hours using a slide presentation to explain to Justice Sulan her long-standing theory on why HIV cannot be sexually transmitted.

The case will continue today with evidence from Dr Turner, a part-time consultant with the Western Australia Department of Health, on why the testing for HIV is allegedly flawed and inaccurate.

Companies back down on HIV∫AIDS claim

October 20th, 2006


Astonishing revelation on Barnes blog by Culshaw

Elite critics reach critical mass on expanded blog

In an extraordinary development, companies making HIV tests are backing down on their claim that HIV is the undisputed cause of AIDS.

Mathematician Rebecca Culshaw has just posted a very important note on the blog Barnesworld, now renamed “You Bet Your Life”, at Dear Dr. Culshaw: “Well, What About Those Tests?”.

Culshaw has discovered that the inserts with AIDS tests show that the companies that make them have been backing down over the past year or two in the firmness of their statements that HIV is the cause of AIDS. She writes:

I doubt even more that the majority of medical practitioners are aware of the subtle but significant shift in the language used in HIV test kits since the beginning of the AIDS era. For example, from 1984 until the very recent past, test kit inserts contained the unambiguous statement “AIDS is caused by HIV”. In 2002, the OraSure toned down that statement to say: “AIDS, AIDS-related complex and pre-AIDS are thought to be caused by HIV.”But just this year, in a remarkable – and potentially significant – shift in thinking, the trend seems to be toward making an even less committal statement. For example, Abbott Diagnostic’s ELISA test insert contains the following sentence: “Epidemiologic data suggest that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by at least two types of human immunodeficiency viruses, collectively known as HIV.”

Vironostika appears to be even less willing to support a true causal role, as their 2006 test kit insert says: “Published data indicate a strong correlation between the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and a retrovirus referred to as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).”

This remarkable shift in corporate conviction is as yet unexplained, but we suspect it has a lot to do with the appearance on the Web over the last two years of a copious amount of intelligent material undermining the sanctity of the paradigm, now increasingly crippled by mainstream papers removing the pillars of evidence supporting it.

Barnesworld heats up

One blog which has mercilessly tweaked the noses of the poobahs of paradigm power who act as the priesthood preserving the HIV∫AIDS claim from media and scientific review is of course Barnesworld, now retitled ‘Hank’s “You Bet Your Life”‘, which is run by a West Coast lawyer under the pseudonym of Hank Barnes, who among other credits has mercilessly gone after John Moore of Cornell for his sins in misleading the public with his pretence that the scientific review of the HIV∫AIDS paradigm by its critics is not worth answering.

Recently the site has become more of a must read as it has expanded its offerings to include posts which are reprints of key material offered by the best HIV∫AIDS critics over the years, prepared by a new young partner, Otis, as well as original posts by the same elite group.

A couple of days ago a notable excerpt from science writer, editor and professor Harvey Bialy’s seminal book Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter H. Duesberg, Harvey Bialy: “I Remember Maddox” detailed a similar backing down by Nature editor John Maddox from an adamant hostility to Peter Duesberg’s critique of HIV∫AIDS nonsense to an acknowledgement of its merit, and an opening of its pages to his latest critique, a surrender that unfortunately didn’t last very long (the volatile Bialy is pictured here with his peacable pet parrot Attila):

The years since 1995 have been much kinder to the points raised above, and that Peter and I elaborated in the remainder of the Genetica essay, than they have to David Ho and his fanciful notions of what constituted viral and cellular dynamics in an AIDS patient and how to measure them — ideas that have been thoroughly repudiated in the scientific literature. This is a fact of such common knowledge that stating it requires no reference.But as with so much else in AIDS there is an enormous disconnect between what is told to the media to tell to the public and what is really so as acknowledged now even in the best journals, like JAMA.

Although the waffle language is closer to what is found in difficult to negotiate UN resolutions than the prose expected of esteemed journals only a few short decades ago, the students in PH253 and the rest of the attentive audience will not miss the inescapable, and only proper scientific conclusion after 20+ years of assuming HIV was appropriately named*. And that conclusion is?

It’s not the virus. Our bad.

Another post this week republished part of science journalist and author (AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, Fourth Estate, UK, 1996) Neville Hodgkinson’s review of how Uganda has failed to realize the dire predictions of AIDS doomsayers that 30 per cent of its population would be dead by now of AIDS. That is at Neville Hodgkinson on AIDS in Uganda.

Over the next 15 years, prestigious newspapers and magazines across the globe repeatedly published similar reports; the consensus was that a devastating proportion of the Ugandan population was doomed by Aids to premature death, with all the consequences on families and the society as a whole. Their predictions announced the practically inevitable collapse of the country in which the worldwide epidemic supposedly originated.The data seemed authoritative. By mid-1991, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was estimating that 1.5m Ugandans, nearly a tenth of the general population and a fifth of those sexually active, had the HIV infection. WHO predicted that in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, child deaths in the 1990s could increase by as much as 30% because of Aids. In November 1996, the agency reported that more than three million children were already feeling the direct impact of Aids in Uganda alone.

Today the public prints and airwaves are still full about the African “Aids crisis”. But you will read little about Aids in Uganda. The reason: all prophecies have proved false, as the results of a 10-year census published last year has shown. Uganda’s population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4% between 1991 and 2002, one of the highest growth rates in the world, due to persistently high fertility levels (about seven children per woman) and a decline in infant and childhood mortality rates. Economic development has also shown constant growth over the same period reflecting the energy and determination of Ugandans to improve their living conditions. Fewer people are testing HIV-positive and nationally, the figure is now put at around 5%.

Further down is a replay of Peter Duesberg’s analysis of the same topic, Peter Duesberg on AIDS in Africa, presented to the South African AIDS Advisory Panel convened by President Thabo Mbeki in 2001, just before the Durban AIDS Conference.

Thus African AIDS is certainly not one of the historical microbial epidemics described by Camus and Anderson (see above). Since no immunity has emerged in over a decade the restriction of African AIDS to a relatively small fraction of the large reservoir of susceptible people indicates non-contagious risk factors that are limited to certain subsets of the African population.In view of the very small share (0.6%) that the African AIDS epidemic seems to hold on Africa’s total mortality, the question arises whether the mortality claimed for AIDS is in fact new and can be distinguished from conventional mortality, or whether it is a minor fraction of conventional mortality under a new name.

In its mix of new and old contributions by elite HIV∫AIDS critics, Barnesworld is now asserting itself as the leading group blog attacking the HIV∫AIDS paradigm on the Web.

Why gays love their ARVs

October 19th, 2006


GMHC provides opportunity to speak to gays about their meds

The art is therapy, the science is a mystery, and psychology rules

Last night GMHC in New York City celebrated “the first 25 years of the fight against AIDS” with an art opening – a show of the art of gay men with AIDS, giving us another opportunity to meet more gay men with HIV that are “on the meds”, and talk to them about their experience and their thoughts about their predicament.

As it happened on the way there we passed this huge ad on the 51st Street subway platform for what we were told later was the most popular ARV medication at present, Truvada. If you enlarge it (two clicks for maximum size) you will be able to read the anti gay graffiti (mild) and also the impressive list of horrible side effects risked by those who take it.

Truvada’s dangerous success

The extraordinary ability of the drug industry to announce such a grotesque list of expected side effects without impairing the willingness of the patient who reads the ad to swallow the pills is reminiscent of the tobacco industry, and its labelling of cigarette packs as deadly without much effect on consumption, or the TV ads for drugs with innumerable unpleasantnesses attached.

The fact that gay men can take these drugs without investigating their fundamental rationale is the mystery we wanted to solve in a few more friendly chats with the subjects. Presumably their confidence in the meds is a tribute to their trust in the medical profession, in HIV∫AIDS science, and the pharmaceutical industry, which seems odd, since gay activists distrust the latter on the grounds that they love profits more than patients.

There is also the point that these days almost everybody double checks the knowledge of their physicians by searching the Web, since they suspect probably correctly that by the time the docs have seen their patients and worked out how to get paid by filling in forms in triplicate they have little if any time to skim more than the latest headlines in JAMA and the NEJ. Exactly why the gay patients on the meds do not read the copious intelligent material on the Web questioning the drugs and their theoretical relevance to immune system dysfunction, or do not take it seriously, is also a mystery, at this stage, when some 24 books have been written and so much activity has been seen on the Web in the last two years.

This is an closeup photo which will enlarge to readability if you click it once or twice, whereupon you can see the full list, which includes so many stated risks, that as far as we are concerned they would, if we read them, prompt us instinctively to throw the stuff with great alacrity into the nearest garbage can and wash our hands of the whole pack of doctors and health workers who peddled such dangerous substances as cures for anything at all, since the potential cost is clearly not worth it if there is the slightest doubt that it does anything less than save your life for sure, and such a list of detrimental impacts by itself raises overwhelming doubt that there can be any wise rationale behind it, even if we knew nothing about the literature which rejects HIV:

Buildup of acid in the blood leading to nausea and muscle weakness, a medical emergency which may need hospital treatment immediately;

Serious liver problems with liver enlargement and fat in the liver, turning the skin and whites of the eyes yellow;

Flareup of Hepatitis B virus;

Kidney problems;

Possible bone damage;

Changes in body fat distribution (ie ravaged face, neck humps, fat on belly;

Dizziness;

Diarrhea

Vomiting

Headache,

Abdominal pain

Depression,

Rash,

Gas,

Skin disoloration (spots and freckles).

Plus, watch out if you are taking other ARVs, your health care provider may need to adjust your therapy and follow you more closely.

Reviewing this forbidding list of the crippling effects you risk by taking this chemotherapy, one had to wonder anew how it is that anyone carry on taking the pills for long without encountering problems severe enough to stop, or at least to prompt one to doublecheck the necessity of carrying on. But as we understand it, patients fervently believe in the efficacy of the regimen, as if it were some kind of manna from heaven, or wafer of communion in the church of the blessed paradigm.

We hoped to find out some indication of the roots of this irrationality at the show opening party, which was held for the thirty or more painters and photographers with HIV that were invited by GMHC and the Ryan Chelsea Clinton Community Health Center to contribute works.

Searching for rationality

Entering the Ryan Chelsea Clinton Community Health Center after navigating round a block long white limo parked outside, we found Everett Faulkner, a tall, good looking older African American standing against the wall nursing a soft drink, who turned out to be one of the two photographers whose work had been chosen for the show. His photo was that of a train engine he had found in the Danbury Train Museum, a splendid streamlined monster which loomed impressively over his camera lens, a beautiful artefact from an earlier age when rail engineering was aesthetic as well as practical.

We chatted to Everett about his picture, which he said was one of many he has taken as a freelance photographer of trains, landscapes, and other topics; he listed a few, and we noticed that none of them involved people. Clearly, Everett was an independent by nature. So we asked him whether he was on the meds, and how he felt. He told us amiably he has been on them since 1999, and he felt fine, he hadn’t suffered major symptoms, and he counted himself “lucky”. We asked him whether he had tried giving up taking them, and he said he had found that when he went off them for a short time, he felt worse, so he had returned to using the drugs. The only thing he complained about was fatigue, which meant he wasn’t able to stand for very long.

Had he ever heard of people questioning the whole rationale of the drugs, we asked. He said he had but he hadn’t really looked into it himself. We found ourself telling him what we thought – that we wouldn’t trust the scientists who peddled the paradigm with our wallet, and that we saw that the idealists who sacrificed gain to hold on to their view were the critics, who were penalized and censored. Not surprisingly, perhaps, we found him only mildly interested in what we said, but not overly curious – after seven years of taking the drugs, it didn’t seem that he could easily entertain the idea that he might have been misled, and it wasn’t something that caught his imagination.

We took a picture of him with one of the two curators of the art show, Michi Yamaguci, who said he liked Everett’s work, and then went to examine the art, which turned out to be mostly untalented daubs, serving self expression and presumably comforting to the patients, but with little or no artistic value. Were we wrong to conclude that the general intelligence of the artists was not that high? It is hard to be intelligent when ill, because it takes the edge off the mind and the psyche, and many of the artists and others present were noticeably sweaty faced. Moreover, we have to report we recognized that peculiar sense of detecting germs when talking to some people that we recall from past exposures to AIDS patients taking medications.

But anyway, there was another good photographer, who had two works in the exhibition, a night shot of a silhouetted urban skyline, and a picture of a little girl staring into his camera with particularly open gaze.

That author, Mitchell Stout, posed with both works and afterwards we struck up a conversation with him too along the same lines. He said he had been taking the meds religiously for some years, but he also counted himself “lucky” because he hadn’t suffered terribly bad effects, except gas. Had he ever taken a drug holiday? Yes, once, for three weeks. He hadn’t felt any ill effects from it. So why did he go back on the drugs? It seemed he was simply being a dutiful patient. We asked why he didn’t just stop and see what happened? “Oh I am not a lab rat!”, he said indignantly. Anyhow, he earnestly assured us, the virus is extremely cunning, and you never knew what it might do next. We suggested that maybe given the criticism of the validity of the drugs, perhaps he might consider it. “Oh no”, he said, “You’re talking to the wrong person here! Excuse me, I have to go find someone.”

The impression we got was that taking the drugs was rooted in his life as some part of his identity now, and the idea of any change was disturbing to him. He gave us the impression that any idea that he had been doing the wrong thing for years was a matter of challenging his life philosophy. The troubled science was clearly a subject which he was simply not equipped to handle.

At this point we gave up our investigation, deciding that these glimpses of the deep rooted nature of the meds as part of a philosophy and culture were enough to suggest that seeking to provoke any independent thought on the part of these recipients of GMHC patronage was a waste of time by definition. Their meds were part of a complex cultural system, a gay mentality that incorporated the whole ethos as part of gay identity, at least in these circles. It seemed to go far deeper than the gay politics we had imagined, the Don’t Blame Us, Blame the Virus ethos, which has always seemed too weak to sustain HIV and lethal drugs as sacred. We left, after checking in with the GMHC media representative, and getting on his email list for future events.

As the Comments on this blog will show, this very topic then came up without any prompting by us today on the thread under the Buy a red nano, save an African life post. One comment in particular from Dan seemed to mirror our sense of what was involved in talking to the GMHC artists.

The intertwining of “AIDS” to our identity runs so deep for so many gay men, that they cannot even imagine a world without “AIDS”. It’s ours. We own it. Don’t you truthseeker, a heterosexual, even try to take away this most basic, fundamental part of our character/identity.

Thinking over our talks with the GMHC artists this matches precisely the impression we got. It also explains so much other stuff to do with gays’ trust in their doctors on this life threatening subject. Why do grown men docilely accept the Kool Aid of ARV’s from the hands of their physicians, led as they are by Dr Fauci and the pharmas, but criticized so powerfully and without refutation by distinguished scientists and experienced commentators on the Web and in books, not to mention journals? Why do they do this so meekly even when their very lives are at stake? Why, when activism is the very hallmark of gay AIDS on every other basis – such as wrenching drugs from the hands of researchers before trials have been completed?

For this writer it all harks back to the experience he had long ago at the San Francisco AIDS conference of 1989, when a writer for Vanity Fair, a sophisticated urbanite capable of writing worldly pieces on the most demanding topics, was told of the validity of the critique of HIV∫AIDS and advised to research it for himself, since he was HIV positive and taking meds, at that time meaning AZT, at much higher and more lethal doses than prescribed as part of HAART today. He wouldn’t really listen, even when we put a draft of an assigned article for Harper’s magazine through his door later (opened a crack for his hand to stretch through and take it), a few months before he died.

Matthew Grace panics the GMHC

But a similar incident that was even more striking was the amusing but depressing and telling incident which happened a year or so ago to filmmaker and nutritionist Matthew Grace, author of A Way Out: Disease, Deception and the Truth about Health. Grace is an extreme skeptic about modern medical treatment for ailments, having been diagnosed with “multiple schlerosis and spinal cord degeneration” and being unable at one point to stand or even move his legs.

Given little hope of recovery from this crippling state, he refused all conventional treatments and fought his way back to health and impressive strength and vitality using his own precriptions for nutrition and exercise. His book has a photo on the back which in itself is a remarkably strong argument for the validity of his theories, however extreme. For as it shows, there is no one in New York who looks healthier and stronger than the rugged jawed, thick biceped, smooth skinned Grace, veins and muscles rippling in the picture and straight backed and glowing with health in real life.

Grace has been lecturing on the HIV∫AIDS theory for some years, attacking it as yet another example of the misguided venality and commercial fiction of a drug based medical culture. He has also been filming a documentary, and one day he arrived at GMHC, where several representatives of the gay activist group were delighted to meet with him and be filmed advancing their platform. having been told that his topic was “Heroes of AIDS”. Half way through the interview, Grace announced that he wanted to contribute $150,000 to the work of the organization, and produced a check for that amount made out to GMHC.

He said, however, he had one stipulation. What was that? the GMHC people asked. “That you show me convincingly why you believe that HIV causes AIDS”, said Grace. Apparently this resulted in an instant uproar and the summary folding of the interview session, with Grace and his crew ushered out to the sidewalk as if they were enemies threatening the whole foundation of GMHC’s social and cultural existence.

The question raised, of course, is why there is such alarm if this foundation stone is investigated, and if it is so cracked and vulnerable to examination, why is such a large and active gay activist body governing the health and treatment of a large part of the gay community built on such a rickety foundation?

The answer, of course, is much more deeply rooted than a discussion of the science would indicate.

How medicine mistreats aged

October 18th, 2006


Jane Gross’s piece on oldies quietly nails financial distortion of medical careers

Surgery planned for a complaint cured by antibiotics

A front page piece in the Times today points up the basic flaws in medicine today by showing how it fails to deal properly with aged patients. The cause of the problem: high technology makes it far more profitable to ignore the elderly, who usually don’t need it.

One old lady of 97 was probed and tested in a hospital to diagnose her sudden change in behavior, and then lined up for surgery – until a geriatrician recognised it was merely a silent infection, and cured her in days with an antibiotic.

But when Mrs. Foley saw a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, surgery proved unnecessary. The geriatrician, Dr. Rosanne M. Leipzig, suspected a silent infection — something the other doctors had missed because Mrs. Foley had no fever, as old people rarely do.

Indeed, within days, antibiotics had done the trick. For the Foley family, it was a welcome result. They had reason to count themselves fortunate to have found a doctor who specialized in treating the elderly.

The piece by jane Gross is remarkable for quietly noting the basic flaws in the practice of medicine today that have come with expensive high tech equipment and the way in which it has influenced interns to choose superspecialities like radiology and orthopedic surgery – $400,000 a year – rather than geriatrics -$150,000 – even though the latter field is the most interesting, the most complex, and the most deserving of good minds.

The most memorable discouragement came during his residency, from a pulmonologist, Dr. Shah said.

“When I passed him in the hall, he would shake his head and mutter, ‘Waste of a mind,’ ” he said. “My retort was always that the geriatric population is often the most complicated, not only medically but also socially and psychologically, and that was exactly the specialization you should want your top students going into.”

The result is that most hospitals haven’t a clue how to diagnose elderly patients correctly. Judging from the article, the elderly would be better to steer clear of hopsitals as long as they can.

That lack of training can lead to misdiagnosis, because it is often tricky to tell the difference between physical, psychological and cognitive conditions in this age group. That was the case for Rita Zaprutskiy, 75, of Houston who went to the emergency room with a painful arthritic knee, had surgery, was given an array of pain medications and then seemed to lose her mind.

Four hospitalizations and six months later, Mrs. Zaprutskiy’s daughter said, the family was urged to put her in a nursing home because of severe dementia. Instead, her daughter, Yelena Schwarz, tried one last psychological evaluation, at a county hospital, and unwittingly wound up in a geriatric unit. There the doctors knew, from the sudden onset of her symptoms, that Mrs. Zaprutskiy did not have dementia, but rather treatable psychiatric conditions, including depression.

All in all, the article makes some terrific admissions and is a vivid description of how money distorts the shape of what used to be viewed as a vocation as much as a profession. Luckily hospitals are trying to correct the problem, including a novel program at the University of Oklahoma where elderly patients “regale” students at lunch with stories from their lives.

October 18, 2006

Geriatrics Lags in Age of High-Tech Medicine

By JANE GROSS

Margaret Mary Foley, 97, just wasn’t herself. Overnight, she stopped eating, went from mildly confused to disoriented, and was unable to urinate. When her panicked family rushed her to the emergency room, doctors did invasive tests, difficult for a woman her age, and then suggested surgery.

But when Mrs. Foley saw a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, surgery proved unnecessary. The geriatrician, Dr. Rosanne M. Leipzig, suspected a silent infection — something the other doctors had missed because Mrs. Foley had no fever, as old people rarely do.

Indeed, within days, antibiotics had done the trick. For the Foley family, it was a welcome result. They had reason to count themselves fortunate to have found a doctor who specialized in treating the elderly.

Even as the population ages and more people like Mrs. Foley need them, geriatricians are in short supply. It is a specialty of little interest to medical students because geriatricians are paid relatively poorly and are not considered superstars in an era of high-tech medicine. In fact, the credo of geriatric medicine is “less is more.”

In 2005, there was one geriatrician for every 5,000 Americans 65 and older, a ratio that experts say is sure to worsen. Of 145 medical schools in the United States, only 9 have departments of geriatrics. Few schools require geriatric courses. And teaching hospitals graduate internists with as little as six hours of geriatric training.

The mismatch between supply and demand is “a troubling issue for us,” said Dr. Leo M. Cooney, a professor at Yale University School of Medicine. In a good year, Dr. Cooney said, one of 45 internal medicine residents decides to be a geriatrician.

The rest, he said, choose “super specialties” like cardiology or oncology. This, despite the fact that geriatricians reported the highest job satisfaction of any specialty in a 2002 survey in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Interest is also low at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, which has a rare requirement that medical students do a four-week rotation in geriatrics. Eighty percent said it was time well spent, but less than 10 percent considered it as a career, said Dr. Marie A. Bernard, chairwoman of the geriatrics department. “They want to do laser-guided this and endoscopic that,” Dr. Bernard said.

Caring for frail older people is about managing, not curing, a collection of overlapping chronic conditions, like osteoporosis, diabetes and dementia. It is about balancing the risks and benefits of multiple medications, which often cause more problems than they solve. And it is about trying nonmedical solutions, like timed trips to the bathroom to improve bladder control.

But these are common-sense remedies in a health care system that rewards the heroics of specialists, in both compensation and prestige. The best-paid doctors are those who do the most procedures; radiologists and orthopedic surgeons top the list with average annual incomes of $400,000. Geriatricians, who do a residency in internal or family medicine and then a fellowship in geriatrics, are near the bottom, at $150,000 a year.

While fellow residents followed the money, Dr. Amit Shah, who had the luxury of no medical school debt, chose a geriatrics fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, despite being dissuaded by many people.

The most memorable discouragement came during his residency, from a pulmonologist, Dr. Shah said.

“When I passed him in the hall, he would shake his head and mutter, ‘Waste of a mind,’ ” he said. “My retort was always that the geriatric population is often the most complicated, not only medically but also socially and psychologically, and that was exactly the specialization you should want your top students going into.”

Reimbursement drives doctors’ compensation. Gastroenterology, for instance, became more lucrative — and popular — once Medicare, which sets the standard for most other health insurance, began paying for screening colonoscopies. Geriatricians joke that they are waiting for the invention of a geriscope, so that they too can bill for procedures.

Meanwhile, much of what they do — communicating with family members, discouraging unnecessary tests — is time consuming but not reimbursed.

Another disincentive is the lowly status of geriatrics at most of America’s medical schools, which expect more ambitious choices from top residents like Dr. Shah. In Britain, where every medical school has a geriatrics department, it is the third most popular specialty. Reimbursement there goes up with the age of each patient, a formula that improves compensation.

Historically, the explanation for not requiring geriatric training in this country has been that a majority of hospital patients are old, and thus doctors-in-training absorb what they need to know by osmosis. Nonsense, said Dr. Robert N. Butler, president of the International Longevity Center in New York and the first chairman of geriatrics at Mount Sinai. “All patients have hearts,” Dr. Butler said, “but that doesn’t make all doctors cardiologists.”

One proposed solution to the shortage is for geriatricians to limit their practice to the frailest of the elderly, generally those past 85, along with a subset in the 65-to-85 age bracket who have complicated needs. According to a 2002 study at Johns Hopkins University, 20 percent of those 65 and older have at least five chronic conditions.

Another solution, gaining a foothold among the nation’s top academic geriatricians, is to focus on teaching the core principles of their specialty to everyone, be they surgeons or discharge planners, because it is unrealistic to assume there will be enough geriatricians to go around.

“If we got to the point where everybody in the health care system was an expert in caring for older people, we wouldn’t need geriatricians,” said Dr. Cooney of Yale. “Or we wouldn’t need them as frontline providers. We’d be like consultants, making sure everyone else was as skilled as possible.”

Specialists, internists and emergency room doctors without sufficient training in geriatrics can pinpoint their own inadequacies. In recent surveys by The Journal of the American Medical Association, many said they were unprepared to deal with end-of-life decisions, communication with family caretakers, depression and other issues of aging.

That lack of training can lead to misdiagnosis, because it is often tricky to tell the difference between physical, psychological and cognitive conditions in this age group. That was the case for Rita Zaprutskiy, 75, of Houston who went to the emergency room with a painful arthritic knee, had surgery, was given an array of pain medications and then seemed to lose her mind.

Four hospitalizations and six months later, Mrs. Zaprutskiy’s daughter said, the family was urged to put her in a nursing home because of severe dementia. Instead, her daughter, Yelena Schwarz, tried one last psychological evaluation, at a county hospital, and unwittingly wound up in a geriatric unit. There the doctors knew, from the sudden onset of her symptoms, that Mrs. Zaprutskiy did not have dementia, but rather treatable psychiatric conditions, including depression.

One way to sharpen the skills of assorted specialists is to welcome them at continuing education classes for geriatricians. At a popular Mount Sinai seminar called “The Hazards of Hospitalization,” a nongeriatrician asked Dr. Helen M. Fernandez how she would deal with a 90-year-old woman in the emergency room with dizziness.

After hearing the woman’s history, Dr. Fernandez said she would fight against admission. “You need to be brave enough to march down to the E.R.,” she said, “and tell the attending she’s your patient and you want to peel her off some of her meds before doing a full cardiac work-up.”

In another course, “The 10 Minute Geriatric Assessment,” Dr. Fredrick T. Sherman told students to “get the focus off the stethoscope” and watch their patients move around. Can a woman get out of a chair without pushing off with her hands? That means she can still use the toilet. Can a man put on his socks? If not, he will soon need someone to dress and bathe him.

“We want to know what they can do and what they can’t do,” Dr. Sherman said. “That’s a better predictor of the future than a head-to-toe exam.”

A new form of geriatric training comes from elderly patients recruited as mentors, like Alberta Harris, 85, who lunches with students at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, regaling them with stories of her life. Residents learn other lessons when they visit the elderly at home. Many doctors consider family members impositions on their time. Seeing them as day-to-day caretakers makes it clear that in geriatrics, an adult daughter, like Mrs. Zaprutskiy’s, is an essential ally.

Ordinary floor nurses can also bring a geriatric sensibility to a hospital. An institute at the New York University School of Nursing helps small community hospitals identify nurses with an affinity for the elderly and provides them with a training curriculum and guidance on how that nurse can be a resource to others.

To increase the number of specialists, N.Y.U. and other nursing schools are building a cadre of geriatric nurse practitioners. Many work in hospital units reserved for the frailest patients, who can spiral downward quickly from a setback like a skin infection or a broken rib.

Mrs. Zaprutskiy was treated in such a unit, run by Dr. Carmel Bitondo Dyer of the Baylor College of Medicine. On a recent visit, while her daughter and doctor discussed the case, Mrs. Zaprutskiy played Russian and Yiddish folk songs on a piano in the day room, her crooked fingers moving gracefully across the keyboard.

Ms. Schwarz wondered if her mother’s psychiatric condition had been caused by medication. Dr. Dyer said there was no way of knowing for sure. But misdiagnosis and overmedication of the elderly is common.

“We see it all the time — elderly people who go from hospital to hospital with no results,” Dr. Dyer said.

“When patients are diagnosed correctly and care is managed accordingly, we see great improvements,” she continued. “Sometimes we don’t cure them; we just make them feel better. But that’s a good thing.”

Laura Griffin contributed reporting.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Can the Times be relied on?

October 18th, 2006


Years of misleading readers on HIV∫AIDS creates suspicions of wider rot

For example, microwave ovens and nutrients

Taking a break from the irrationality of HIV∫AIDS to a lighter topic we know very little about, microwaving food and whether it loses nutrients and taste, and whether the Times is any more authoritative on that important theme, we note the following:

Yesterday’s “REALLY?” column (Tues Oct 17) by Anahad O’Connor is part of a weekly series where the New York Times helpfully offers readers its verdict on whether popular claims are valid or not, based on science.

Is it unfair and an illusion based on knowledge of the atrocious performance of the newspaper in the realm of HIV∫AIDS science that one views this text with a jaundiced eye, and wonders about its accuracy?

This is the column, with comment:

October 17, 2006

Really?

The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR

THE FACTS They are a staple in kitchens everywhere, but for about as long as microwave ovens have been around, people have suspected that the radiation they emit can destroy nutrients in food and vegetables.

Your mileage may vary. but we have always found microwave ovens destroy the taste of food, and after keeping one around for the sole purpose of sanitizing kitchen cleaning rags (dampened and cooked in the microwave, they could quickly be sterilized), we tossed it on orders from the boss to save space.

According to most studies, however, the reality is quite the opposite. Every cooking method can destroy vitamins and other nutrients in food. The factors that determine the extent are how long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used and the cooking temperature.

This seems already to overlook the one great distinction of the microwave, as we understand it, which is that it cooks by agitating the molecules of water, fats and sugar inside food at 2450 million cycles per second and thus heating and boiling the water inherent in the food.

Since microwave ovens often use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times, they generally have the least destructive effects. The most heat-sensitive nutrients are water-soluble vitamins, like folic acid and vitamins B and C, which are common in vegetables.

Does Anahad even understand the microwave process? This suggests he does not. The point about microwaves is not that they heat food hotter than other means of cooking, but faster, by agitating the internal molecules etc. In other words, from the inside out, as it were, rather than the outside in. A microwaved stalk of broccoli will heat up at every point, rather than from the surface inwards as in boiling water.

In studies at Cornell University, scientists looked at the effects of cooking on water-soluble vitamins in vegetables and found that spinach retained nearly all its folate when cooked in a microwave, but lost about 77 percent when cooked on a stove. They also found that bacon cooked by microwave has significantly lower levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines than conventionally cooked bacon.

This information sounds reliable, and makes sense, since obviously boiling a vegetable in water will leach its water soluble constituents out of it, as all of us can see when we look at the colored liquid when the vegetables are cooked, and anyway, boiling bones in soup leaches out the goodness from the marrow, so we know it will do it to vegetables.

The information about bacon is interesting. Is this because microwaving doesn’t heat bacon to high temperatures and burn it? Bacon, of course, is one of the essential foods worth risking a heart attack over, but any news of a way to block its ill effects is welcome.

When it comes to vegetables, adding water can greatly accelerate the loss of nutrients. One study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 found that broccoli cooked by microwave — and immersed in water — loses about 74 percent to 97 percent of its antioxidants. When steamed or cooked without water, the broccoli retained most of its nutrients.

What on earth does Anahad mean with this? Apparently he means cooking broccoli in water in a container in a microwave, thus boiling the water around it. This seems absurd. Is this how people microwave broccoli? One would have thought they would simply microwave the raw vegetable, which would be quicker and prevent the leaching.

Anyhow, the whole point of the question was to compare microwaving with other ways of cooking in its loss of nutrients, surely, never mind about using it to boil the vegetables in water. And surely taste interests everybody and is dependent on nutrient preservation or loss? Why no mention of taste?

THE BOTTOM LINE Microwave ovens generally do not destroy nutrients in food.

The whole column seems not to answer the question that the claim posed, which is whether microwaving destroys more nutrients than rival methods. Obviously boiling water leaches out nutrients, but that’s just a red herring. We want to know whether a microwave loses nutrients in its pure, microwaving mode. We are only told that it retains “most” of the nutrients”.

The whole thing smacks of a stressed Anahad doing a superficial job, perhaps due to shortage of time, on a matter of keen interest to foodies everywhere. Perhaps Anahad does not realize the skepticism with which readers who are familiar with the HIV∫AIDS debacle will now approach anything in the Times to do with science.

The fallibility of the Times is not just revealed by comparing its record in covering HIV∫AIDS with the scientific literature of the field, of course. In the last few years, there have been more than one giant embarrassment for its editors, from front page reporter Jayson Blair’s humiliating exposure as a fiction writer who filed stories bylined in the South from his apartment in New York City, to the revelation that Judith Miller was suckered by her high level contacts in the Bush Administration into insisting that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

To our mind, however, the most annoying incompetence of the Times is the daily irritation produced by its inadequate search engine. Take the above Anahad O’Connor column, for instance. At this moment, 3.11 am on Wednesday morning, October 18, asked to find “Anahad O’Connor” the search engine cannot produce any more recent column of Anahad’s than the October 10 “REALLY?” column on “THE CLAIM — A plane’s back row is the safest place to sit. ” (Answer: No seat is safer than any other. But you improve the odds by flying non-stop, avoiding multiplying the dangerous landing and taking off phases of flight.)

Yet a search for “microwave nutrients” will produce Tuesday’s column.

Ten years into the Web revolution proper and the New York Times cannot even get its act straight on the search engine which is probably the most visited page on its site.

Is it not time that this vital organ of current history employed fact checkers and reviewed its performance as a news data base, which is surely what it will soon turn into before being swallowed up by the Wikipedia, which is already updating its entries the same day as relevant events happen.


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