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Scott Swenson stands firm

March 31st, 2008

Fine example of Meme in action as blogger rejects “denialism”

Health seeker spurns “highbrow” science for personal experience

Fundamental mistake of HIV critics

guillotine.jpgOf interest to all those who wonder why it is that the scads of sceptics and myriad downright opponents of the ramshackle and inconsistency ridden HIV=AIDS paradigm make no headway at all even with those that should be concerned most about whether it is right or wrong, namely those who are rated HIV positive (ie have antibodies to HIV) in tests and subsequently follow their doctor’s orders and take “ARVs”, the AIDS drugs with all their unpleasant and ultimately often fatal side effects, the classic exchange reproduced below will tell them all they need to know.

This prize specimen of the complacency and total resistance of the paradigm faithful to any effort by well wishers to get them to review their basic assumption (otherwise known to the cognoscenti of this particular paradigm challenge as the virulent HIV-AIDS Meme, now globally pandemic and probably incurable in most cases, as in this instance) occurred at the end of March, 2008, and was provoked by a standard PC blog response by one Scott Swenson, Rev. Wright and PEPFAR, AIDS Complicity, to the views of the congregation-rousing preacher and pastor of Barack Obama, Rev Wright:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments about the government lying about AIDS are not isolated to black America, not even isolated to America at all, but are shared globally. They are not confined to conspiracy theorists or wackos, as difficult as that may be for some people hearing the concept for the first time to understand. Rev. Wright has said,
The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.
The first African woman to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai, shares these views,
In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare. Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious.

In 2005, a survey by the Rand Corporation found that half, that’s right, one in every two black Americans think AIDS is man-made, more than half believe the government has a cure they are withholding from the poor, and a quarter believe it was created in a government laboratory. As Phil Wilson, founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute, said in the Washington Post when the study was released,
It’s a huge barrier to HIV prevention in black communities. There’s an issue around conspiracy theory and urban myths. Thus we have an epidemic raging out of control, and African Americans are being disproportionately impacted in every single sense.
Google “government created AIDS” and up pops many sites and theories that AIDS experts have had to work overtime to confront. The “AIDS denialists”, people who believe that HIV does not cause AIDS, have been prolific in their attempts to offer different perspectives, some rooted in the beliefs that AIDS was deliberately spread, others believing it was simply an experiment gone awry. Still others believe the drugs (and profits drug companies are making from the disease) are more harmful than the disease itself.

For years, even South African President Thabo Mbeki ignored the devastation his country and continent experienced because he bought into the arguments of AIDS deniers.

When governments become complicit in public health pandemics, who can blame people for speculating?

Legitimate scientists and public health experts counter every argument at AIDS Truth.org. If you have doubts, please visit that site.

And so on. A promising beginning, but soon derailed by the usual assumption that any “denialism” in HIV/AIDS must be fringe lunacy and that the source of correction is none other than macaque researcher John P. Moore’s paradigm propaganda site, AIDSTruth.org.

wrightontv.jpgThe good pastor (we mention this in case you happened to be paying attention in the last two weeks to more meaningful affairs) you should know is now famous for referring to the “U S of KKK-A” and being used by the Clinton campaign in a vain bid to stain Obama by association with his supposed lack of patriotism (as in “patriotism, the last refuge of scoundrels” – Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary) and his supposed racism (racism as in pointing out that blacks still get the short end of the stick in virtually every realm of American public life outside entertainment).

The rousing Reverend is now recently retired from his fire and brimstone preaching against what he sees as the injustice and prejudice perpetrated against black Americans by white Americans, having made it clear that like many blacks he harbors deep suspicions that the “HIV virus” is a government concocted white attack on black America, and said so from the pulpit, an understandable piece of paranoia which as we have pointed recently here has a very high level of metaphorical truth to it, even if the specific reality he imagines is fiction.

Naturally his famous outbursts, viewed by tens of thousands on YouTube, have provoked all kinds of response in the blogosphere and the one by Scott is fully reproduced below with the comments that ran after it until today’s date (March 31 Mon) when it appears that author of the blog entry abruptly retired injured from any further interchange with his “denialist” readers, whom he characterizes as trying to “force” their opinions on him, which he will resist to the end, as nothing more than misinformation and personal attack, anonymous rhetoric and accusations, interfering with the work of saving himself and others from the effects of the Meme:

“I’m a person with HIV who has read your sites, believes like most people that I’ll stick with proven data as opposed to anonymous rhetoric and accusations, and continue to encourage people to trust their own experience with their bodies, their health care professionals, and their own research. Ultimately it is up to each individual to make their own choices and there will always be snake oil salesman parading as something they are not. What I “preach” here is for people to stay focused on the task at hand, preventing the further spread of a disease and not getting lost in the distractions that you and others make in the form of misinformation and personal attacks. My apologies that the timing and style of my posts are not more to your liking. It seems no one can get anything right but you. I will gladly make this my last reply to each of you.”

This despite the fact that some of the best and most succinct points that can be made to derail blind faith in the paradigm were made in this exchange, in an utterly reasonable manner, by some of the best minds that have been attracted by the great and enduring challenge of changing minds, dislodging absurdity and saving lives in this arena. We hadn’t heard from Cathyvm before, but her entries on Scott’s blog “RHReality Check” (RH stands for Reproductive Health) and some simultaneously here in our own Comments string set a new high level of informed reason and passionate concern.

And what was the standard reaction of Scott “Be the change you seek” Swenson, the man blessed with this brief hope of being better informed, whose native intelligence and charitable work was presumably the spur that excited the generous efforts of his betters to alleviate his admitted ignorance of the true state of science in the matter? Why, immediately to throw these well intentioned advisers off his tumbril, and this reflexive action purely for the sake of keeping up the speed of his and others’ journey towards the Place de la Concorde, and to ensure that everything being done to send more people in this direction should continue to be done as far and fast as possible:

You seem to be missing my point. I’ve read your studies, I’ve avoided medications, pursued alternatives and I’ve made my decision based on personal experience and reasoned study and judgment. No one has forced any belief upon me and neither will you. You continue to attempt to distract this debate from the main point in my original post, which proves my point, that in fact conspiracy theories and deniers are a distraction to the real work at hand — PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF DISEASE.

Meme bone protects brain

memegremlin.jpgWe offer this as the finest specimen of the Meme inhabiting a reasonably good mind and blocking contrary notions that has been demonstrated so far and so clearly in this field, where the Meme is pandemic. We are not singling out the unhappy Swenson for ad hominem trashing, we are exhibiting him as typical of a problem which defeats the correction of the HIV meme at every turn. This is the classic Catch-22 of HIV debate: those suffering from the ruling notion, which acts as a sort of mental tape worm, have no idea that their intellectual digestion is constricted by the presence of this devil, invisible to them but assiduously diverting all new ideas into its own gaping mouth.

So they imagine that criticizing the fundamental assumption they live by is criticizing the way they implement it, like a driver thinking maybe he is not driving well enough rather than understanding that those who are waving and shouting at him are telling him that someone has turned the signposts around and he is heading down the wrong road.

The whole topic of extending misinformation to black Americans reminds us of the unfortunate Arthur Ashe, celebrated tennis player and HIV positive forced onto his tumbril by his doctors despite being warned of the alternative views of the incorruptible Peter Duesberg. Arthur read Duesberg’s writings and confessed that they seemed very persuasive to him, but he had to leave them to others to pursue, he said. He had no alternative but to trust his doctors. Some time later, in those days of full dose AZT, he was dead

Unfortunately, Scott vouchsafes that while earlier he had the sense to abjure the drugs and take up alternatives, now he is back on them, so we fear losing him soon in the same fashion. Except that like so many patients, he is so sure he is on the right path that that confidence itself will help him along.

An exchange worth reading through

The brief episode highlights in a way that longer threads, such as the ones at Tara Smith’s Aetiology, do not, the manner in which people talk past each other when the scientifically minded try to inform the scientifically averse, when the minds of the latter are inhabited by the viral HIV=AIDS Meme.

Certainly the dissenters offered some fine posts in vain for the enlightenment of the hapless Scott, whose Meme renders him deaf to some of the most powerfully succinct summary evisceration of the reigning ideology of HIV=AIDS we have yet seen.

Others may benefit, however. The thread is long, though mercifully short compared with Aetiology blockbusters, and starts off with irrelevant material about Wright, but is so full of accurate and succinct high explosive, including some by our own distinguished MacD, who wrote as Brown on RHReallityCheck, and Cathyvm, a new and impressive voice for sanity in this increasingly absurd field, that we think the relevant part it is worth reviewing blow by blow:.

AIDS Truth?

Mr. Swenson,

It may be obvious to you and Marysia by virtue of certain undisclosed “transmission routes” that HIV is a virus. However, I don’t think that entitles you to peddle pure ignorance and prejudice.

Firstly, you use the term “denialists” to refer to those who question the official theory(ies) of AIDS, with which you are obviously no more familiar than with the
“denialists” themselves. “Denialist” was a term invented to smear critics of all stripes and associate them with holocaust deniers in the public mind. What is your justification for using this inflammatory term when you can’t even explain their main positions?….
Submitted by Brown on March 25, 2008 – 4:05pm.

(To which Scott “Be the change you seek” Swenson replied

“Your rant

Thank you for your sober and scientific rant. Being HIV positive myself, I have a firm and intimate grasp of the facts about HIV and AIDS, their causal relationship and their spread…. etc….

Lastly, why do I use the term “AIDS deniers?” Because I also once worked at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and understand the dangers of Holocaust deniers. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 26, 2008 – 7:39am.)

Civil Tone vs. Rant
I recognize that you’ve answered in a slightly more civil tone than I’ve used, however, that in no way changes the fact that you’re spewing the kind of prejudice and ignorance I normally only encounter on the right-wing hate blocks.

1. I don’t know if it was meant as an argument from authority but being HIV-positive means you have a personal interest in the issue, not that you have a firm grasp of it.

2. Those who question (not “deny”) that HIV causes AIDS stand in no relationship whatsoever to those who think it is spread intentionally or, even broader, “ideologues” of any stripe you don’t approve of. You have exchanged a falsehood for a smear: guilt by far-fetched association.

What you are doing is censoring intellectual debate concerning HIV and AIDS by lumping scientific critique and religious fanatics together. Are you also of the opinion we cannot critique the rationale for Iraq War because it endangers our troops? Or that we cannot inquire into the legality of governmental surveillance because it plays into the hands of terrorists?

3. Unfortunately you missed the point about racial disparity. The disparity has been consistent all through the HIV era for all demographics. This means that for Blacks and Whites in similar social and financial situations Blacks still test positive far more often than Whites. Native American Indians are even poorer than Blacks and they do not test positive at anywhere near the same rates as Blacks. In fact, they are much closer to Whites.

If you would have taken the trouble to go through the critiques of “Doubters” such as Peter Duesberg, the “Perth Group” and many others, you would have discovered that inexplicable, unforeseeable and highly embarrassing blunders, such as this:

Vaccine Failure Is Setback in AIDS Fight

or this:

Indian HIV estimate cut to 2.5 million people

are neither inexplicable, nor unforeseen by those you please to call “denialists”.

But I guess you’re so intimately familiar with the topic that these things and hundreds more examples I could come up with, like the initial high dose AZT fiasco (You do remember the “incubation period” for HIV used to be a LOT shorter back in the good old AZT-80s don’t you?), will only serve to convince you that anybody who doesn’t believe in chemo-therapy for pregnant mothers and their babies must be a nazi. How about chemo as a pre-sex prophylactic, does that strike you as Serious and Responsible enough?

Bonus question 1. Since you’re well into all aspects of these issues, perhaps you can tell us deniers what the gold standard for the EIA/ELISA and Western Blot HIV tests is – the tests I presume informed yourself that you are infected with an invincible, super-mutating, 100% lethal retrovirus, which somehow jumped the species barrier right into the American population at the exact time our biotech revolution developed the tools to discover such things indirectly?

Bonus question 2: How does HIV manage to kill cells at a higher rate than they can be regenerated?

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 3:11pm……

The Mark of a Serious and Responsible Scientist

You have placed yourself in excellent company Mr. Brown.

The Serious and Responsible AIDStruth website you link as the final authority on all matters HIV/AIDS remarkably assumes the exact same courageous stance as yourself: Slander individuals, misrepresent dissenting views, censor when possible. Here is part of their “Answering Denialists” manifesto:

“We will not:

Engage in any public or private debate with AIDS denialists or respond to requests from journalists who overtly support AIDS denialist causes.”

But I shall spare you another rant, as you kindly call it, and bow out before the temptation to censor becomes too strong for you.

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 4:19pm….

(To which Scott “Be the change you seek” Swenson replied:

Heckuva job Brownie …

Sorry Brown, not interested in taking your tests, have spent more than enough time reading the HIV skeptics sites and watching their circular logic you tube videos. For me and many others it all boils down to this: The disease is real, we have seen too many die and prefer to spend our time working to prevent the spread of the disease than arguing with you. You can throw all the links and test questions you want up in your next rant, I’m going to continue trying to make sure we get the right prevention tools and education to the people who need them. If only all the energy spent trying to divert attention could instead be spent teaching people to practice safer sex, delay sexual debut, remain faithful to partners and getting services and education to populations that need them, we might make more progress.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 27, 2008 – 3:46pm.

Brown then shot back with this:

The Mark of a Serious and Responsible Scientist

You have placed yourself in excellent company Mr. Swenson.

The Serious and Responsible AIDStruth website you link as the final authority on all matters HIV/AIDS remarkably assumes the exact same courageous stance as yourself: Slander individuals, misrepresent dissenting views, censor when possible. Here is part of their “Answering Denialists” manifesto:

“We will not:

Engage in any public or private debate with AIDS denialists or respond to requests from journalists who overtly support AIDS denialist causes.”

But I shall spare you another rant, as you kindly call it, and bow out before the temptation to censor becomes too strong for you.

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 4:19pm.

(To which Scott “Be the Change” Swenson immediately typed back:

Scientific Theory

Brownie, my understanding of scientific theory (albeit a lay understanding) is that once the scientific community has reached certain conclusions they become accepted, until proven otherwise. What seems to be the case here is that the people on the outside of science with respect to HIV/AIDS just can’t accept the fact that they have been proven wrong, so they keep carping, thus distracting others from the real task at hand, preventing further spread of HIV. If you want to debate gravity or where exactly the four corners of the earth are, go right ahead. Just don’t confuse innocent people who need prevention and treatment in the meantime.

Where do you stand on the theory that having sex with virgins will rid you of the AIDS virus? That was pretty widely believed in parts of Africa for years, perhaps even more than the theories you peddle. Should those beliefs also have equal weight?

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 27, 2008 – 4:36pm.)

Brown riposted:

My Beliefs

….If you knew anything about the theories I
“peddle”, or if you’re not just trying to smear, you would of course know that I (rather those scientists whose points I argue) do not consider it likely there is such a thing as an “AIDS” virus. I do not believe an HIV-positive test result can be reversed by having sex, although it could possibly be reversed by moving to another country. Likewise, the “AIDS” one has in the US if one tests HIV-positive and has a CD4 count below 200 could reliably be cured merely by crossing the border to Canada. Does that sound like mumbo jumbo to you? Well it does to me too. The mystical reason is that the criteria for an HIV positive test and the definition of “AIDS” are not standardized the world over.

As far as Africa goes, I think it likely that what we call AIDS is largely a renaming of old diseases. The problem would disappear with better living standards, sanitation, clean water, proper nutrition, effective treatment of emdemic diseases such as TB and malaria and, especially in South Africa, reductions in pollution.

I do not find the correlation between HIV and AIDS good enough to consider an HIV-positive test much more than a non-specific marker for some kind of challenge or accumulation of challenges and/or stressors to/of the immune system. The US statistics showing that Blacks are consistently much more likely to test positive than Whites across all demographics and during the whole HIV era, gives plausibility to the view that because of genetic differences Blacks are more likely to test positive.

Thus an HIV-positive test is certainly cause for concern, but not an indication that one is infected with an “AIDS virus” that can only be combated with DNA chain terminators, protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors etc. all highly poisonous. I believe that for some “AIDS” defining diseases,some of these drugs may have some benefit if used judiciously, but that it is madness to give them to clinically healthy people on background of an HIV-positive result, high “viral load” count, that does not count live virus, or low CD4 counts independent of clinical symptoms.

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 5:24pm.

At this another poster backed up Brown:


Well said, Mr.Brown

Well said, Mr. Brown……Well said. The bumbling incompetent unproven and ever conflicting “science” of believing HIV is the cause of AIDS is now going into its 26th unfruitful year.

For further information for those willing to educate themselves, the March 2006 Harpers Article: “AIDS: OUT OF CONTROL, AND THE CORRUPTION OF MEDICAL SCIENCE”, can be found online.

But woe to those religious heretics who question the HIV equals AIDS dogma. For no human ego, and certainly no over paid scientist or doctor, wants to ever admit he or she had erroneous beliefs!

In defence of Reverend Wright, even though I believe him to be quite mistaken about HIV, it is certainly understandable why he would believe HIV were “invented” to do away with unwanted groups of people. Throughout modern history, there have certainly been those in our government, as well as in positions of power throughout the world, who sought the possible means of doing away with unwanted groups, indigenous peoples, religious groups, as well as population control. Genocide and Eugenics are nothing new. There is great evidence of this throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, beginning with smallpox infected blankets being given to American Indians. Nazi Germany clearly showed us that our parents or grandparents lived in a world of such thinking. Genocides in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere still confront mankind today. Even in the latter years of the former apartheid government of South Africa, there were those considering a full extermination of the blacks, in order to hold onto control of the country and its wealth.

In looking at such facts, it is certainly understandable how Mr. Wright might come to believe AIDS were “created” for just such a situation.

However, Mr. Wright, as well as the rest of the HIV believers, including Mr. Swenson, Marysia, and all others who yet blindly follow the belief that HIV is the cause of AIDS, continue to ignore the realities of those who are suffering actual illness and disease, and the obvious effects on their immune systems of lives lived in an emotional state of helpless hopelessness, intensely high stress, drugs both licit and illicit, poverty, malnutrition, the strain of population explosions throughout the continent of Africa (whose population just so happens to have doubled over the last 25 years to now nearly one billion people), and the humiliations of still current racism and colonialism, as well as religiously based homophobism and the rejection and shaming of gays that still deeply and excruciatingly affects some gays in the western world.

These are the facts and realities that are and have been and continue to be at the very core of the illnesses suffered by those who are stricken with failed immune systems. No simple pill nor any vaccine will cure any of these maladies.

Yet, the HIV believers, and their viagra inspired belief that a pill is the answer to all of the hard questions, or that a simple pill will cure all of the worlds ills, are the single greatest barricade to confronting the very factual and very real reasons why millions of people yet get deathly sick and fail to heal, and fail to thrive.

Yet even this is very understandable, as there have been wonderful advances in science, technology, and medicine. And it is understandable that fears of plagues are still deeply entrenched in the minds of man. Much of today’s germaphobia of HIV, Sars, BirdFlu, etc, is just a modern extension of it.

But what is difficult to understand, is how 99 percent of the humans in the world can be so deluded by fear inspired falsehoods, and so unwilling or unable to empathize with gays being dispossessed by religions, families, and societies, or how so many can be unwilling or unable to empathize with the dispossessed starving downtrodden, poverty stricken masses. Yet all the while, blame an imaginary virus as the cause of the problem, and believe that a pill is the solution.

Question: How is it that so very many are yet so oblivious to the very simple realities of life on this planet, as well as some of the very simple solutions to much of these problems?

Answer: Human fear, human programming, human egos, and human greed.

www.duesberg.com
www.rethinkingaids.com
www.hivskeptic.wordpress.com

Submitted by Another take on it. on March 27, 2008 – 9:28pm.

(This is the point where Swenson agreed that poverty, malnutrition etc were part of the problem, but asserted that the drugs benefited HIV positive people and extended their lives, and he recommended AIDSTruth.org as the source of corrective science on the problem of “conspiracy theory” thinking in the field:

Common Ground, Not Just A Pill

Dear Another Take On It …. I completely agree with you that poverty, malnutrition, colonialism parading now as global trade, racism and misogyny/machismo/patriarchy/homophobia all feed into the spread of disease. On those issues we agree. I’ll even go so far as to say the pill(s) are NOT and should never be the entire focus of any policy to combat AIDS. Education, prevention, strengthening the role of women, fair trade, nutrition, clean water, sound economies and an end to bigotry will get us closer to the end of AIDS than any pill. But for people already infected, fighting for all those good causes you mention, if the treatment works, and gives them more life with which to fight for those causes, which many HIV+ people around the world do, then why stand in the way? Why not extend the life of positive people that they too might see the changes in the world we agree are needed? The science is clear, for people diagnosed with what science agrees is HIV, the meds extend life. Period. Are they toxic, do they have side effects, should they be given only with strict medical supervision — the answer to all these is definitively yes. If you believe in bettering the world as you suggest then surely you want to see people diagnosed with whatever you choose to believe HIV is live to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Are there some people who can live a long time without meds, yes again, with proper medical supervision. The pills are not the answer, they are a means to an end to strengthen people that might otherwise already be dead so we can together fight for a better life for the next generation. And since you offered more links, I’d like to repeat mine for readers seeking the currently accepted scientific understanding of facts related to HIV/AIDS, found at AIDSTruth.org.

But Brown then pointed out that the drugs might have a short term effect but were seriously toxic if not fatal soon enough:

Shifting Common Ground

Mr. Swenson

There should indeed be plenty of common ground for us to meet on. I would never advise anybody to stop taking medicine (s)he feels is helpful, and with which his/her doctor agrees. But do we not believe in informed consent? You say the science is clear, the HIV-drugs help those supposedly infected with HIV. How many MDs do you think are aware, never mind inform a clinically healthy patient with a positive HIV test and a high viral load/low CD4 count, of for example the peer-reviewed studies cited in this piece of dissident literature:

“The short-lived “Lazarus effect.” AIDS drugs can be effective in the short term against some fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections, but down the road, they gradually destroy health and life. In the U.S., peer-reviewed studies now acknowledge that AIDS treatment drugs cause more illness and death among HIV positives than AIDS-defining diseases do. In a recent study published in the Journal of AIDS, “All four classes of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and all 19 FDA-approved ARVs have been directly or indirectly associated with life-threatening events and death.” A study published in 2002 showed that deaths attributable to ARVs “surpassed deaths due to advanced HIV.” Other studies have found that people on AIDS drugs are twice as likely to die from liver and kidney failure and heart attacks as from AIDS-defining diseases.

The devastating effects of nevirapine. Nevirapine, commonly touted as a miracle drug for reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, causes liver failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rash that actually burns off layers of skin. The drug’s clinical studies in Uganda showed the opposite of reducing mother-to-child transmission and were so scandal ridden that nevirapine’s manufacturer, Boehringer-Ingelheim, withdrew its applications for nevirapine use by pregnant women in the U.S. and Canada. Because of this, nevirapine has never been approved for use among pregnant women in America, Canada, Europe or any First World nation. Several mothers died from nevirapine use in trials in the U.S. and Africa.

Death by AZT. AZT, one of the main drugs promoted by the (RED) campaign, is one of the most toxic drugs ever approved for human use. It caused tens of thousands of premature deaths among the first generation of Western HIV positives who took it in the late 1980s. AZT is
carcinogenic, mutagenic, brain damaging, and toxic to all cells in the human body, especially immune system cells. Researchers have found AZT to cause severe mitochondrial disorders, tumors, blood cancers, anemia, severe birth defects and other disorders.

The tragedy of AZT for children. A Florida study found that rapid progression to AIDS-defining diseases was “three times more likely” in AZT-treated infants than in untreated ones. Many other studies have compounded this tragic finding. In 2000, British science writer Neville Hodgkinson wrote, “An Italian study examining 200 HIV-positive children found that, at three years old, children whose mothers took AZT in pregnancy were ‘significantly more likely’ to become seriously ill than babies of untreated mothers. They also had a higher death rate.”

AZT’s admitted toxicity. The inventor of AZT, Professor Richard Beltz, has warned of AZT’s long-term toxicities. Referring to the media-besieged government of South Africa, he wrote to advocate (lawyer) and magistrate A. Brink:

“I hope you succeed in convincing your government not to make AZT available.””

Active links to some of the studies can be found at rethinkingaids.com (second link submitted above at the end of the Comment by “Another take on it”) where I have quoted from. And there is much, much more on the various dissident sites, all quoting official sources and peer-reviewed studies. Why should this not be allowed to be taken into account in the doctor’s office – by the patient him/herself?

In Africa the situation is trickier: a villager who is told by the White Authority from Abroad that she and her baby are going to die if they don’t stop breastfeeding and start nevirapine immediately is unable to assess the situation, so this is all politics. Your article is about PEPFAR. The strong men behind PEPFAR want more treatment (more pills) less of other stuff. This is where our common ground is shrinking:

““U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced legislation that would ensure the highest priority for U.S. global HIV/AIDS funding would be saving lives by providing treatment to those infected and eliminating baby AIDS by preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child.”

Id=20080312006354&newsLang=en…

And in case you want to say this does not exclude the improvements in general health the dissidents are calling for, here’s the basic idea:

“I am concerned that many health programs in Asia, Africa, and the western hemisphere will be forced to shut down or greatly reduce operations under the president’s request,” said Congresswoman Lowey.

While it increases funds for HIV/AIDS, Lowey notes that the president’s request cuts $251 million from 2008 levels for health programs she and others say complement HIV/AIDS efforts.”

http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-03-11-voa92.cfm

Are dissidents really equal to holocaust deniers for agreeing with the Congresswoman? Here’s what Tshabalala Msimang, the much maligned South African Minister of Health has to say:

“However, South Africa’s health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who addressed the meeting yesterday, urged the EU not to focus on a single disease.

“We have many diseases in Africa that somehow never get mentioned because we have become so one-disease focused,” she said.”

http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=182523

Is Msimang’s objection really that of a murderous woman in denial?

For less technical discussions focusing on the politics of HIV/AIDS the interested reader can try:

http://newaidsreview.com/blog/index.php

Submitted by Brown on March 28, 2008 – 11:18am.

Another Take on It chimed in with the fact that the beneficial effect of the drugs is quite unproven because they have never been compared with a control group since 1987, and as far as we know a sugar pill might even do better, especially if the diseases incurred were treated directly. Moreover, the money trail led to serious questions as to bias:

Scott, you said: “The

Scott, you said:

“The science is clear, for people diagnosed with what science agrees is HIV, the meds extend life. Period.”

This statement, quite clearly to me at least, is obviously coming from your being well “programmed” in your beliefs, Scott. Perhaps from having so often heard the drug industries slogan of “life saving drugs”. I’m afraid that this statement is only a scientific fact in your and many other peoples imaginations only.

And here is the proof of my statement: There has been ABSOLUTELY NO placebo test of ABSOLUTELY ANY HIV DRUG, since 1987. Therefore it is absolutely NOT scientifically proven that any of the drugs have any effect at all other than the well proven toxic effects. It is nowhere in any scientific study shown that a mere sugar pill and appropriately treatment of the actual opportunistic infections would not do just as well or even better than any and all of the HAART drugs.

To be absolutely honest, there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the hiv drugs are in any way, shape, or form, extending of life, and study after study clearly shows the opposite!

Furthermore, studies have been highly corrupted by not showing who in the studies are drug addicts, not showing who were formerly dying of starvation, tb, malaria, etc, etc, etc, and also not showing WHAT ELSE they had been treated with to cure existing opportunistic infections. Therefore, every study to date has been highly corrupted, fast tracked through the FDA with most often absolutely no long term follow-up as is required by the fast track rules, as well as run and directed and paid for by the pharmacuetical company whose product was at stake.

The ACTG studies are most often done and run by individuals who are also highly invested in the drug companies…..

What with the now more than 110 billions of dollars that have been unsceptically and unquestionably thrown at it for the last 25 years? What with 530 of the top directors and scientists at the NIH having been found 2 years ago of taking undisclosed cash and stock from big pharma? Including 2 million to the former director of all AIDS drug clinical trials?

Just a bit naive of you and all the other wannabe do gooders, don’t you think?

Submitted by Another take on it. on March 28, 2008 – 11:14pm.

Yello stepped in too with the basic point that proper food not dangerous pills is clearly what African “AIDS” patients are most in need of:

I agree with Mr. Brown and

I agree with Mr. Brown and Mr. Swenson on the key issues of resolving the horrific consequences of abject poverty in Africa and anywhere else. I am a dissident, like Mr. Brown;
I look at the officially publish literature on the hypothetical “HIV”/AIDS link and find it sorely wanting.
Were it not for the politics and reputations as well as the cash flow, this disgusting medical miasma would have been junked years ago.

I am however, heartened to see a new group of mainstream AIDS researchers finally recognized that we need to deal with the root causes of the “AIDS epidemic” (all reformulated old diseases). Researchers like Eileen Stillwagon among others are insisting that ARVs are
worthless if we cannot ensure that all poor people
have food, clean water, stable sociopolitical economies and reliable local networks to provide all three.

The greatest demand of the majority of African HIV+ people
isn’t drugs, its food. They need food, good nutritious food.
Jeffrey Sachs visited many villages with people stated to be HIV+ and they always wanted food, not drugs, food!

The insanity of current african HIV/AIDS preventive programs has condoms and ARVs passed out like party favours while blind to the starvation and deprivation around them.

Tell me, how are these ARVs going to work with a malnourished, stressed population?

Submitted by Y’ello on March 29, 2008 – 11:48am.

Another Take on It then got in a nice crack at Scott’s expense having noticed he had retreated somewhat in his confidence that he was up to speed on HIV and AIDS science.

” Mr. Swenson, in one

Mr. Swenson, in one sentence above, you assure us of your firm knowledge on the subject at hand:

“Being HIV positive myself, I have a firm and intimate grasp of the facts about HIV and AIDS, their causal relationship and their spread”.

Then you later admit it is not so firm:

“Brownie, my understanding of scientific theory (albeit a lay understanding)….”

I do commend you for recognising, sir, that you do not know all there is to know on the subject, as one who thinks they already know all can learn nothing new…..”

Scott’s reply was a strongminded blast of conviction that his own experience fit his understanding perfectly and established that the drugs were proven helpful and enabled his friends to survive where those that listened to denialist claims had suffered, and placebo trials be damned. What would arguing denialist theories do to stop the spread of AIDS? What good would listening to denialist theories do for a young woman in Africa who tested positive, he demanded? Would she become the object of denialist scorn too?

Classic Distortion


Another take, Nice twisting of my words. By acknowledging my status I stated that my knowledge was “firm and intimate” not that of a scientist. Never in this dialog have I claimed to be a scientist. My knowledge is like that of millions of others who are HIV positive, based on extensive reading, including the information and sites of skeptics; evaluating alternative methods; paying attention to my own body and experience. All of the research I’ve done, again, like many people diagnosed, has been about understanding how to live with HIV. What I’ve learned is simple: I can’t imagine having this disease without supports, including basic and essential nutrition, clean water, and the ability to make decisions for myself. I can’t imagine not having the support of family, community, employment. I can’t imagine not having a wide range of medical data and expertise from which to draw the best conclusions for me. In other words, I can’t imagine what people in the developing world must deal with. But I’ve seen it, so I don’t have to imagine. You can continue adding skeptics/denialist links here all you want. When your scientific research proves your points to the place it is accepted by the scientific community, we’ll welcome them. Until then, I’m going to stick with my lay understanding of the earth being round, not based on any research I’ve done, but on accepted scientific fact and my own experience of the planet. People I know in the earliest tests for ARVs, prior to compassionate access, lived well during trials and died following them, when the test drugs were removed. Those tests were blinded and placebos were part of the trail, there was no assurance that the dying people volunteering were given actual medicines. To many people that seemed cruel, as cruel as taking the meds away after the trial. People I know avoided using medications for years in part because of claims and confusion of the denialist community, carefully monitoring their numbers taking care of themselves, and still wound up in the hospital. Those who survived went on meds and are now living healthy, strong lives managing the disease mindful of side effects of any meds, particularly any as strong as these. I’m sorry that I have not double blinded my experience with HIV to your satisfaction, or that my experience doesn’t have the equivalent of a placebo for you, it being real. Your beef, to the extent you have one is not with me or the millions of people learning every day to live with this disease, and all you are doing here is proving the point of my original piece. The larger point I made, which you studiously avoid with your personal attacks and efforts to establish more links for your web site, is that your efforts are not preventing the spread of AIDS at all, are they? You bemoan efforts to get prevention methods and education to people, and wow people with your theories, but what good is any of it to a young woman in Africa who today will be exposed to what I call HIV, what you call XYZ, because she cannot negotiate a sexual relationship with her husband who has contracted the virus? What do all your papers and links and rants do for her? Will her opinion and experience be the subject of scorn for you as mine is? Do only you know the truth?

For readers looking for more science and experience, in addition to AIDSTruth, see also

* Denialism Blog
* Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
* Debate Transcript of TAC v. denialist
* Aeitology at Science Blogs

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 30, 2008 – 7:01am.

It was at this point that Cathyvm a newcomer to the debate arrived and delivered a bunkerbuster with the authority of an experienced medical writer on AIDS:

An independent dissenter

I agree with Y’ello. As a medical writer I wrote a lot about ARVs at the end of the 1990s when HAART drugs were proliferating. Study after study and all I could do was wonder – so their CD4 cell counts went up, and their “viral loads” dropped, but did they live any longer? Did they have a better quality of life? Despite the plethora of studies my question was never (and to this day still hasn’t been) answered.
Current disability has allowed me free reign and plenty of time to peruse the literature. When I looked at the HIV-AIDS papers I was stupefied. The evidence that HIV caused AIDS was completely absent. I actually sat in front of my computer crying. At this point I did not know of the existence of the dissidents and egotistically thought I was the only person on the planet to have figured this out. I wasn’t ‘swayed’ by anybody’s argument – I have seen the evidence (or lack of) with my own eyes.
If there is controversy (and there is plenty) I think any scientist refusing to even look at evidence refuting his/her pet HIV theory is committing intellectual dishonesty of the worst kind, because this dishonesty is causing unnecessary suffering and death. I did not enter the medical profession in order to harm people, and find the attitude of the “Establishment” inexplicable.
Since qualifying 25 years ago I have seen many erroneous theories come and go, but this one has stuck like the proverbial brown stuff on the blanket because there is so much financial, emotional and political investment. It has become a black hole of truth, honesty and integrity.
Mr Swenson you seem like an intelligent man. Please go and read the evidence for yourself – it might just save your life.

Submitted by Cathyvm on March 29, 2008 – 9:09pm.

(To which Scott, demonstrating the power of the Meme in blocking even the core reviewing neurons in the brain, wrote that he shed tears for Cathy toobut after avoiding the meds for years he had given in “at death’s door” and arguing with skeptics was a useless diversion from effective action in fighting poverty, malnutrition and bad water:

Cathyvm

Cathyvm,

Thanks for sharing your experience. We all shed many tears for this experience. I’ve read many, many alternative theories and come to the conclusion I would rather spend the time and energy I have in this life working to prevent the spread of the disease, than arguing with elites. To Y’ello’s point, I do not think it is wrong to question, either. For years I avoided the meds, with a doctor’s supervision, only to knock on death’s door. The reason I use the terms “rant” above, is because the skeptical community seems bent on lording its theories over people’s experience. No one held a gun to my head and forced me to take meds. And yes, much more than meds are required to fight this disease, whatever you want to call it. I could read one million studies and not one of them will change the fact that today, because of the policies of the US Congress and White House, some people will not have the information or education to PREVENT themselves from being exposed. I would much rather put our collective energy into changing that fact and addressing poverty, malnutrition, clean water problems, than arguing with skeptics.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 30, 2008 – 7:28am.)

To which Your Truth is Not My Truth very accurately replied that in the absence of more information there were many other factors that could have caused Swenson’s illness, obviously, including the mental stress which was relieved when he finally did take the “meds”, and the power of belief could never be underestimated:

“For years I avoided the

“For years I avoided the meds, with a doctor’s supervision, only to knock on death’s door”.

Scott, thanks for sharing, but you are only giving us only a very tiny anecdotal piece of the picture of what all was going on with you and your life at the time.

And what do you mean you had “knocked on death’s door”? You did not tell us the actual illness/’es that you had contended with? And just how is it that you know that whatever actual illness you had dealt with is any kind of evidence that HIV was the cause? After all, just the stress alone of being told one is HIV positive is enough to make the strongest and healthiest of people sick. Google the words stress and thymus. Stress is well proven to cause the thymus gland, where one’s CD-4 T Cells are created by the way, to shut down. High stress can cause the thymus to shrink by 50% in 24 hours. Ongoing high levels of stress cause thymus malfunction to also be ongoing, and continuing in such a state can most definitely lead to the straw that finally breaks the camels back.

Without more forthcoming info, we don’t know if you had some fungal infections perhaps from taking too many antibiotics, KS or PCP perhaps from poppers sniffing, or if you simply were stressing out over your diagnosis, and finally got run down and came down with pneumonia or other common illnesses, just the same as many hiv negative people do. Or if you had been abusing your body with poor eating habits or even illicit drugs prior to your illness.

There can be many reasons that contribute to illness, regardless of HIV diagnosis status.

You also did not tell us what all you did, or what other changes you made at the time of regaining health besides HIV drugs. Did you reach a point of acceptance over a lost love affair? Did you make peace with yourself or your maker? Did you stop using drugs or alcohol? Such factors are very important to healing and one should not overlook them and simply ascribe all healing to be drug induced when there are usually many more factors involved.

You also did not tell us the extenuating circumstances that were underlying your life and emotional circumstances, that highly likely also led up to your actual illness, such as extremely high levels of inner emotional stress prior to your actually becoming ill, or perhaps prior medications or other drug use that may have contributed, or even the stress inducing and body weakening effects of your own prior mental expectations of eventually getting ill because you are programmed to believe that such would happen because you had earlier tested HIV poz. After all, you said you were seeing a doctor even before you got ill and before you took any meds. So, you were seeing him/her even when you were completely well. Most likely, you were also following CD counts and viral load numbers and further scaring yourself silly every time the numbers went up and down. Did you yourself, along with your doctor’s assistance, perhaps finally succeed in actually nearly scaring you to the point near death sickness?

I would only hope you could be honest, not with me, Scott, but with yourself, in addressing these very important factors that you yourself have likely been in denial of and have continued to overlook while blaming all your illness on HIV, and while contending that your wellness was the result of taking the meds. Undoubtedly finally taking the meds also certainly reduced your stress level if you had earlier been stressed out over the fear of getting sick because you were not taking them, but a simple sugar pill may have done the same.

You might or might not want to analyze this carefully, because it is highly likely that your own experiences are yet more evidence of the “power of your own mind”,as well as the “power of suggestion”, as well as the placebo effect of getting well after taking some med because you, convinced by your doctors, simply believed you would.

I don’t know what the truth is Scott, but I am also sure that you, as well as JP Moore, who’s supposed AIDStruth site you love to promote, are not necessarily the holders of all higher truths either.

Submitted by Your truth is not my truth. on March 30, 2008 – 1:48pm.

(Immune to this line of reasoning, Swenson then maintained his position that arguing with people who believe only they are right is a waste of time and that he preferred to go with his own experience and beliefs which had enabled him to survive today, rather than anything “you promote”:

Thanks for making my point again…

I’m not assuming my truth is your truth, but I assuming that by putting more energy toward preventing the spread of disease we would all be better off — the only point I’ve consistently tried to make through many attempts at diversion and distraction in this dialog. I offer anecdotes and speak from personal experience because I want other HIV+ people to understand that their experience with their bodies is more valuable than all the conspiracy theories and deniers. My experience also counters many of the assumptions made about me in earlier comments, and demonstrates that many doctors are not pushing drugs, but learning how to manage a complicated disease and are open to alternative methods. While I’d love to publish my entire medical and personal history here online for you to pick over, perhaps you might trust me enough to understand my truth and what I say and not suggest that just because I don’t agree with you that I’m wrong, or worse, lying. That mentality, that everyone else in the world is wrong and only you can possibly be right, is classic of conspiracy theorists and deniers of every stripe.

The stress of being told one is HIV+, a point you raised, is manageable with facts. Stress comes from people like you who are not working to save one life, or prevent the spread of any disease, but joining with the complicity of the GOP ideologues who believe abstinence-only is a solution, and the spineless Democrats who refuse to learn from public health experts on the ground in Africa working to improve all aspects of the fight against AIDS.

I offer sites like AIDSTRUTH and others listed above, so that anyone who is HIV+ and reading this has benefit of not only your links, but those of accepted science as well. I trust that when people read the facts, they will make the best decisions for themselves. I did, and I’m alive today not because of anything you promote.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 8:15am.)

Brown very reasonably urged him to reconsider, pointing out that the key issue was what was the cause of AIDS illnesses and vouchsafing that his extensive acquaintance with Thai prostitutes had uncovered very little actual “AIDS”, and no one was “lording it” over the bloggger, who could find thousands of discussants at another Website overwhelmingly against the drugs:

Peace

Mr. Swenson,

We seem to have returned to your initial mistake, confusing HIV and AIDS. Nobody denies the reality of what you call
“AIDS”; nobody questions the very real diseases you and others may be struggling with. We question the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS.

The African woman who cannot negotiate a sexual relationship
with her husband has no way of knowing whether what knocks her down 10 years later is HIV or something else. Neither have you.

I have spent the past 8 years among supposedly high-risk people (Thai prostitutes). I’ve known dozens of them for years and I am struggling to find even anecdotal cases of “AIDS”. Is your eyewitness account worth more than mine?

I’ll tell you the difference between Africa and Thailand, my friend: the living standards are much better in Thailand, and so the prostitutes who work in the tourist areas don’t get “AIDS” unless they are heavily into drugs, which very few of them are.

It is depressing to see that you think well-informed critics are “lording it” while you link to the “scientific proof” that HIV causes AIDS on AIDStruth.org and similar places. We’ll meet you on any level you desire. This website, the largest dissident forum in cyberspace, has hundreds of HIV+ people as members, many of them doubters and fence sitters, but overwhelmingly against the drugs:

http://groups.msn.com/aidsmythexposed/general.msnw

After 25 years, and with thousands upon thousands of doubters and dissenters from all corners of the planet and all walks of life, is it not conceivable that we may have a point, although we cannot claim to have all the answers?

Submitted by Brown on March 30, 2008 – 4:04pm.

Another Take on It reiterated that the drug studies never included placebos and the beliefs of the patients were obviously a huge factor in conditions where earlier drugs (AZT) had been much more toxic than the one more recently given patients, boosting the apparent improvement when the latter were brought in (and AZT dose lowered drastically):

absolutely agree with

I absolutely agree with “Your Truth” above.

Scott said: “People I know in the earliest tests for ARVs, prior to compassionate access, lived well during trials and died following them, when the test drugs were removed. Those tests were blinded and placebos were part of the trail, there was no assurance that the dying people volunteering were given actual medicines.”

That is not at all true, Scott. Your saying such is evidence that you have unfortunately not actually read any of the post AZT drug studies. The only HIV drug that has used any placebos at all was the very short (4 month long) AZT trials. There is nowhere in any literature placebo trials of any other drugs. All tests after AZT were done by comparing one drug to another, such as AZT versus a protease inhibitors, or AZT versus AZT plut protease inhibitors.

As such, it is no wonder, to me at least, that your AZT dosed friends had passed away prematurely. The average person taking high dosage AZT monotherapy between 1987 and 1995 lived an average of 8 months to 1-1/2 years after taking AZT.

Furthermore, all HIV positives back then were told HIV was a death sentence with no cure. They were all living in a severe state of intensely high stress followed by apathetic hopelessness that highly influenced their immune systems in the most suppressive of ways.

No wonder at all that the death rate had skyrocketed from 87 to 95, whereinafter patients were finally told they could live longer by taking the newer drugs. When patients were finally told they could live longer, they did. The power of suggestion was certainly at work here, as is plainly evident. When patients were told they would die, they did. When they were told they could live longer, they did.

Submitted by Another take on it. on March 30, 2008 – 9:33pm.

(Exhibiting the protective effect of the Meme irradiated bone stratum protecting its residence in his skull, Swenson then tries to claim that his story of a Navy study with placebo involving his friends is accurate, and staunchly rejects the power of suggestion as a factor, choosing to stand firm in working to curb the spread of the disease while the doubters continued to spread misinformation:

Navy

You might want to check your research again. Studies done by the US Navy of HIV+ people in the services during the earliest part of the pandemic (88-93) tested not AZT (why are people still arguing about AZT?) but a cocktail of drugs. The study included placebos for at least the initial stage. Compassionate access was not offered after participants left the study.

As to the power of suggestion, I’d like to suggest that we respectfully agree to disagree. I’m going to work to prevent the spread of the disease while you continue to spread misinformation.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 8:36am.)

At this point Truthseeker attempted in vain to sketch the general context in which these factors might seem more convincing to Swenson, as follows:

A fantasy narrative

You bemoan efforts to get prevention methods and education to people, and wow people with your theories, but what good is any of it to a young woman in Africa who today will be exposed to what I call HIV, what you call XYZ, because she cannot negotiate a sexual relationship with her husband who has contracted the virus? What do all your papers and links and rants do for her? Will her opinion and experience be the subject of scorn for you as mine is? Do only you know the truth?

This kind of story is based on a false assumption that HIV positivity is transmitted between heterosexuals, which Nancy Padian’s study showed very conclusively (it was a large study over six years of discordant couples of which almost fifty used no precautions whatsoever) was negligible if not nil.
In other words, whether African women can rule their husbands on not is not a factor in whether they themselves test positive or not, because we can be certain in every case that it was not transmitted to her by her husband, whether he visited Nairobi prostitutes along his truck route or not.

But almost everybody is told and believes that HIV is transmitted in heterosexual sex, as if the study was the fantasy. Of course, Nancy Padian is trying to backpeddle from her fatal conclusion on AidsTruth since it is the most impolitic of findings, but it stands nonetheless.

Mr Swenson, you are an intelligent man caught in a scheme initiated by Robert Gallo with a claim in 1984 that elicited knowing guffaws from insiders who knew him and his science (afterwards shown publicly by a federal investigation to be as bad as everyone thought) and you have used your mind to rationalize it in your own case. That is why on scienceguardian.com we count it as a meme that once it infects the mind of its victims never allows itself to be uprooted.

One of the problems is that the brighter the person the better he/she is at rationalizing what continually emerges in the literature as a paradoxical and inconsistent fiction.

Your very intelligence is catching you here. All that we can do is urge you to read the other side and see how the inconsistencies vanish if the claim is denied and other causes of AIDS are accepted in their own right as sufficient and necessary.

But it is painful for all of us to read material which we initially judge as worthless because it doesn’t fit the mental frame we are already using. So you probably will continue to take the easy route and dismiss the HIV critique and rejection as dealt with and rejected by good scientists and good science.

In fact, the best science is the review and rejection of HIV in the literature which has not been properly answered and refuted. In fact, there has not been a since answer attempted in the same elite journals. All of the scientific answers damning the critique have been delivered in other journals and on non-peer reviewed Web pages at the NIH CDC etc.

Evasion and censorship and condemnation ad hominem add up to an overwhelming political case against the paradigm proponents as scientifically too vulnerable to be able to answer the critics head on.

Thus both science and politics argue that the critics are right, however unusual this may be in science. In fact it is not that unusual. Almost every Nobel winner I talk to has a horror story of his in the early days his progressive correction of the prevailing belief in his/her field was resisted mightily by those perched on the status quo.

It is standard in the academy in any field, in fact. So we can only urge you to save yourself by opening your mind to the possibility that you will find the same truth as Cathvm above.

You cannot judge by your experience in finding benefit in the drugs, for there are good reasons why they might have a temporary beneficial effect on those whose have immune systems weakened from whatever reason and are therefore infested with parasites which are cleansed by such poisons. In the end the stats show that all die, as you seem to be aware, and which is shown by the fact that half the first year AIDS deaths in the US currently are from drug symptoms (liver and kidney rot) which are not on the extensive list of AIDS symptoms at all.

All of this would be clear to you if the Times and other science writers and their coverage had not been intimidated and twisted for years by Anthony Fauci and his pr brigade at NIAID who in writing explicitly threatened investigative journalists and editors with expulsion from the NIH loop by which they live if they mentioned Peter Duesberg, the chief critic, whose scientific status was higher than any of his opponents and still is to all who value science and truth.

Submitted by Truthseeker on March 31, 2008 – 12:03am.

(Scott replying to earlier posts repeats firmly that it is no good trying to distract from his duty of PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF DISEASE because he has gone through all this before in his life reading all the studies and exploring all the alternatives and his experience and reason tell him that it is no longer relevant to him whether it is right or wrong, it is simply a distraction which only interferes with what should be done.

You seem to be missing…

You seem to be missing my point. I’ve read your studies, I’ve avoided medications, pursued alternatives and I’ve made my decision based on personal experience and reasoned study and judgment. No one has forced any belief upon me and neither will you. You continue to attempt to distract this debate from the main point in my original post, which proves my point, that in fact conspiracy theories and deniers are a distraction to the real work at hand — PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF DISEASE.

I note in Brown’s comment above that “hundreds” of “dissenters” are on the site Brown refers to.

Doesn’t it seem strange that with millions people dealing with HIV, most with easy access to your well linked sites of dissent, that only hundreds (he later says thousands, so I’ll even grant four digits) are active on that site. You see, what I’m saying is not that we’re not aware of your point of view — but that we are. We’ve evaluated it and we’ve made a different choice. Thank you for you offers of help, but with friends like you, who needs disease?

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor )

Brown then directed Swenson to a Comment Cathyvm had tried but failed to post at his blog and copied to this site (Science Guardian) in Comments as follows:

“Scott I’m glad nobody put a gun to your head to make you take your meds – you made the choice yourself.
Y’ello you can cry with me anytime – these days I get to do it frequently. You see Scott, the issue of HIV-AIDS is no longer purely an academic issue for me. Here in NZ there is a little boy (and I’m sorry to say now his sister also) with guns to their heads in the form of a zealot paediatrician and the family court. Neither children have ever had an AIDS-defining illness. Both children, according to the pediatric HIV treatment guidelines are not actually in the “must treat” category either. The boy is as sick as a parrot on the meds and healthy when not taking them, and he has had a severe hypersensitivity reaction to Abacavir, but the paediatritian is unmoved. These children’s mother died 18 months ago from a severe reaction to HAART after less than 2 weeks “treatment”. The sister has now come under mandatory treatment because she is MILDLY anaemic – they both are. I’m 99.999% sure these kids have alpha-thalassaemia trait – not only does this make them likely to have tested false-positive to HIV in the first place, but also makes them far more susceptible to the bone marrow destruction caused by AZT. The paediatrician and the PCP have refused to do the DNA test to confirm this diagnosis, and we have not got access to any private testing.
In what parallel universe is it okay to take two beautiful perfectly healthy children and destroy them with the same “medicines” that killed their mother. And imagine the anguish of this poor father (I don’t need to imagine it – I see it) that if he doesn’t make his children sick with the drugs the state will remove them and make them sick anyway. And when they are poisoned by the meds, the medical explanation will be that they died of AIDS and the health professionals can go home safe and smug in the knowledge that they have “done the thing right” rather than “done the right thing”.
Cue the crying Y’ello.”

I read this (again) and I want to cry all over again (and I am not generally a cry-baby). I am a nobody standing up to a seemingly indefensible “Spanish Inquisition” where the only crime these children have committed is to have a common African blood trait; one issue of which the zealot paediatrician seems unaware and unwilling to investigate. We have all been very humane and respectful towards Mr Swenson and this has obviously confused him. Why he didn’t post my second comment is anyone’s guess – too emotional perhaps?
In all my years as a nurse I’d like to think I have always been a good and effective patient advocate – this HIV crap has given it a whole new dimension.

Cathyvm

Brown wrapped this link with the following comment:

Nobody Is Taking Away Your Choice

We’re offering choice to others not as fortunate as yourself choice. Here’s a story Cathy has been trying to post:

819…

Mr. Swenson, I think we were all content to let the matter rest without embarrasing you any further, but your peculiar practice of inserting your answers after each post at a later date, accusing and distorting wildly, bends the rules of debate somewhat.

A few points beginning from the bottom:

1. what’s so difficult about my writing style? I said there are thousands of (active) sceptics worldwide and hundreds of HIV+ sceptics on aidsmythexposed.com alone (According to the numbers they give, there are 2500 members, but not all are HIV+)

2. You say the real work at hand is preventing disease. Of course the real work at hand is preventing disease. Does proper nutrition, sanitation, higher living standards, reductions in environmental pollution not prevent disease? I feel it’s you who is straying from the topic by constantly airing your conspiracy theories about conspiracy theorists conspiring to stop the spread of toxic drugs worldwide.

3. I appreciate that you feel more comfortable preaching, saving and damning in an anecdotal style, but the normal practice when one refers to a scientific study is to leave at least enough clues so that other debaters can look it up. If you want us to accept that the US Navy conducted placebo-controlled tests with drug-cocktails on recruits all the way back in 1988, could you at least reference the study?

I’ll betcha ya can’t… unless you have a very liberal interpretation of “placebo-controlled”, such as, “The study included placebos for at least the initial stage”. Can you define “initial stage”, Mr. Swenson?

Mr. Swenson, if the studies concluded in 1993, just around the time when the cocktails became publicly available, why on earth was “compassionate access not offered after participants left the study”? How could people not have access to something that was becoming publicly available, and what point is that supposed to prove?

Submitted by Brown on March 31, 2008 – 3:42pm.

(Scott then signs off with a long post repeating his resistance to giving denialists the attention that he prefers to devote to stopping the spread of the disease, since his personal experience tells him so:

Not embarassed at all …

Brown, I’m not embarrassed in the slightest, not even sure why you would think so. I’m not debating you as a scientist, I’m not pretending to be something I’m not. I’m a person with HIV who has read your sites, believes like most people that I’ll stick with proven data as opposed to anonymous rhetoric and accusations, and continue to encourage people to trust their own experience with their bodies, their health care professionals, and their own research. Ultimately it is up to each individual to make their own choices and there will always be snake oil salesman parading as something they are not. What I “preach” here is for people to stay focused on the task at hand, preventing the further spread of a disease and not getting lost in the distractions that you and others make in the form of misinformation and personal attacks. My apologies that the timing and style of my posts are not more to your liking. It seems no one can get anything right but you. I will gladly make this my last reply to each of you.

The study I referred to will just be more anecdotal information from your perspective, because I was not involved in it as a researcher, but as the supportive friend of two people in the Navy directly involved with it and receiving medications from it. I sat with them as they debated whether or not to go into the study since there was no assurance they would get the drugs. I was with them when at the conclusion of the five year study, with the drugs not yet on the market, they were told they would not continue receiving the medication as the trial completed its data and moved into the next phase. I was with one of them, when he died two years later, after each of us had attended the funeral of the other; both began steady declines at the conclusion of the trial. Again Brown, I’m sorry that I’m not able to engage you on the very high brow discussion you’d like to have about what to call a disease that continues to kill millions, or who is responsible, or which scientific researchers we should applaud and which we should decry. Mine is personal experience, with many friends and my own health. The science is not what I am arguing, there are many far more qualified than me to do that and they have bested the likes of you at every turn. The case I make is about how people will try to distract us from the far more important prevention work at hand, playing into the fear-mongering of the GOP ideologues and preventing Democrats in Congress from doing what is right by learning from the first five years of PEPFAR. Which, in terms of debating points, you and your colleagues have yet to address in all this back and forth, so bent on distracting the discussion to things only you and a few others wish to continue debating while millions more are trying to live. Since you suggested it, I’ll agree, I too am content to leave this conversation where it is.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 4:44pm. )

The thread then sank into inactivity, save for a vain request from Brown for the reference to the supposed Navy study claimed by Swenson without specifics, and a coda provided by some reader who thoroughly approved of Scott ignoring the denialists and their misinformation as distracting from the main business of all those concerned about AIDS, which is to stop the further spread of the disease:

Poz links on race

First off, thanks Scott for sharing your experience, that is what matters most. Thanks also for engaging these comments with a genuinely good spirit. You are right that all they are is a distraction. Back to the point of your original article, the link below is to poz.com and contains links to Nick Kristoff’s NY Times piece on the subject and two other archived pieces that discuss the misinformation that those of us working to prevent further spread of the disease are up against. Keep up the good fight!

http://www.poz.com/articles/black_aids_conspiracies_1_14332.shtml

Submitted by Living Positively on April 1, 2008 – 9:24am.

The post is dated appropriately enough April Fool’s Day. When the issue of whether AIDS is correctly attributed and medicated is viewed as a “distraction”, one can only say that this is a very good example of how strongly the meme occupies the minds it takes over in its conquest of the planet.

Perhaps we should offer the DVD of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers for sale here.

The POZ link refers to this Op Ed piece by Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times March 30, which argues that any idea on the part of blacks that AIDS is a conspiracy by the US government is brainless, and a symptom of how much we need to improve education in this country, black and white:

The New York Times

March 30, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
‘With a Few More Brains …’
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Ten days ago, I noted the reckless assertion of Barack Obama’s former pastor that the United States government had deliberately engineered AIDS to kill blacks, but I tried to put it in context by citing a poll showing that 30 percent of African-Americans believe such a plot is at least plausible.

My point was that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not the far-out fringe figure that many whites assume. But I had a deluge of e-mail from incredulous whites saying, in effect: If 30 percent of blacks believe such bunk, then that’s a worse scandal than anything Mr. Wright said.

It’s true that conspiracy theories are a bane of the African-American community. Perhaps partly as a legacy of slavery, Tuskegee and Jim Crow, many blacks are convinced that crack cocaine was a government plot to harm African-Americans and that the levees in New Orleans were deliberately opened to destroy black neighborhoods.

White readers expressed shock (and a hint of smugness) at these delusions, but the sad reality is that conspiracy theories and irrationality aren’t a black problem. They are an American problem.

These days, whites may not believe in a government plot to spread AIDS, but they do entertain the equally malevolent theory that the United States government had a hand in the 9/11 attacks. A Ohio University poll in 2006 found that 36 percent of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the attacks on the twin towers or knowingly let them happen so that the U.S. could go to war in the Middle East.

Then there’s this embarrassing fact about the United States in the 21st century: Americans are as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution. Depending on how the questions are asked, roughly 30 to 40 percent of Americans believe in each.

A 34-nation study found Americans less likely to believe in evolution than citizens of any of the countries polled except Turkey.

President Bush is also the only Western leader I know of who doesn’t believe in evolution, saying “the jury is still out.” No word on whether he believes in little green men.

Only one American in 10 understands radiation, and only one in three has an idea of what DNA does. One in five does know that the Sun orbits the Earth …oh, oops.

“America is now ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism,” Susan Jacoby argues in a new book, “The Age of American Unreason.” She blames a culture of “infotainment,” sound bites, fundamentalist religion and ideological rigidity for impairing thoughtful debate about national policies.

Even insults have degenerated along with other discourse, Ms. Jacoby laments. She contrasts Dick Cheney’s obscene instruction to Senator Patrick Leahy with a more elegant evisceration by House Speaker Thomas Reed in the 1890s: “With a few more brains he could be a half-wit.”

Her broader point is that we as a nation will have difficulty making crucial decisions if we don’t have an intellectual climate that fosters an informed and reasoned debate. How can we decide on embryonic stem cells if we don’t understand biology? How can we judge whether to invade Iraq if we don’t know a Sunni from a Shiite?

Our competitiveness as a nation in coming decades will be determined not only by our financial accounts but also by our intellectual accounts. In that respect, we’re at a disadvantage, particularly vis-à-vis East Asia with its focus on education.

From Singapore to Japan, politicians pretend to be smarter and better- educated than they actually are, because intellect is an asset at the polls. In the United States, almost alone among developed countries, politicians pretend to be less worldly and erudite than they are (Bill Clinton was masterful at hiding a brilliant mind behind folksy Arkansas sayings about pigs).

Alas, when a politician has the double disadvantage of obvious intelligence and an elite education and then on top of that tries to educate the public on a complex issue — as Al Gore did about climate change — then that candidate is derided as arrogant and out of touch.

The dumbing-down of discourse has been particularly striking since the 1970s. Think of the devolution of the emblematic conservative voice from William Buckley to Bill O’Reilly. It’s enough to make one doubt Darwin.

There’s no simple solution, but the complex and incomplete solution is a greater emphasis on education at every level. And maybe, just maybe, this cycle has run its course, for the last seven years perhaps have discredited the anti-intellectualism movement. President Bush, after all, is the movement’s epitome — and its fruit.

Comment on this column on my blog at: www.nytimes.com/ontheground, and also join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kristof.

Given Nicholas’ enduring lack of education about HIV/AIDS science and its blatant incredibility when scrutinized by any thoughtful reader, the irony of this kind of Meme-ruled writing at the highest Op-Ed level in the country is too rich to be funny.

Here is the entire Swenson page, for reference:
THE RH BLOG

Rev. Wright and PEPFAR, AIDS Complicity
Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 21, 2008 – 11:19am

Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments about the government lying about AIDS are not isolated to black America, not even isolated to America at all, but are shared globally. They are not confined to conspiracy theorists or wackos, as difficult as that may be for some people hearing the concept for the first time to understand. Rev. Wright has said,

The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.

The first African woman to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai, shares these views,

In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare. Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious.

In 2005, a survey by the Rand Corporation found that half, that’s right, one in every two black Americans think AIDS is man-made, more than half believe the government has a cure they are withholding from the poor, and a quarter believe it was created in a government laboratory. As Phil Wilson, founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute, said in the Washington Post when the study was released,

It’s a huge barrier to HIV prevention in black communities. There’s an issue around conspiracy theory and urban myths. Thus we have an epidemic raging out of control, and African Americans are being disproportionately impacted in every single sense.

Google “government created AIDS” and up pops many sites and theories that AIDS experts have had to work overtime to confront. The “AIDS denialists”, people who believe that HIV does not cause AIDS, have been prolific in their attempts to offer different perspectives, some rooted in the beliefs that AIDS was deliberately spread, others believing it was simply an experiment gone awry. Still others believe the drugs (and profits drug companies are making from the disease) are more harmful than the disease itself.

For years, even South African President Thabo Mbeki ignored the devastation his country and continent experienced because he bought into the arguments of AIDS deniers.

When governments become complicit in public health pandemics, who can blame people for speculating?

Legitimate scientists and public health experts counter every argument at AIDS Truth.org. If you have doubts, please visit that site.

In American history, the haunting legacy of the government sponsored syphilis experiments on black men at Tuskeegee, the well documented facts of environmental racism that exposes black families to toxins at a higher rate than whites, and a history of disparities in the health care system for blacks all combine to make the 2005 survey results both shocking, and upon reflection, understandable.

These are the facts and the context from which Rev. Jeremiah Wright spoke, as shocking as those facts are to many Americans, as difficult as his anger is to hear.

What context was Rev. John Hagee speaking from when he called Catholicism a whore-religion? What context were Rev. Jerry Falwell and Rev. Pat Robertson speaking when they claimed the September 11, attacks were God’s damnation of America because of abortion and homosexuality? What context does the Rev. Fred Phelps speak from when he says AIDS is God’s curse on America as he protests the funerals of American soldiers?

It seems that many people preach extremism that is hurtful and shocking to different segments of American society.

As we’ve been covering extensively, the Congress of the United States is about to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). But Congress and the White House are unwilling to do what public health experts around the world agree must be done to more aggressively attack HIV/AIDS.

So when it comes to the facts of AIDS, what’s worse? Conspiracy theories that contribute to the belief that the government spread AIDS? Or a government that fails to act on the reality-based public health evidence it has, all of which concludes that we must do more, differently, to fight the spread of AIDS in Africa, especially for women and girls?

Congress and the White House could go a long way to silencing the conspiracy theorists by doing what is right on PEPFAR now. The disease is here and spreading at still alarming rates. Those are undeniable facts.

Regardless of its origins, AIDS must be confronted with reality, not politics or feel-good government pandering, throwing more tax dollars at less-than-optimal programs.

To have the facts to fight AIDS more aggressively and ignore them, as Congress and the White House are preparing to do, only adds fuel to the conspiracy fires.

The battle against AIDS is difficult enough as it is. The government must come down decisively on the side of science, public health, prevention, education and treatment based on real evidence, real science and real world experience. Ideology and conspiracy theories only contribute to the further spread of AIDS.

Related Posts:

* Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Nobody Should Have to Die Like This
* PEPFAR Coverage

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37 comments
Thank you

Scott, thank you, it is nice to hear a white (assuming that you are, of course–just concluding that from your photo, but one never knows) person not just dismiss the historically, deeply rooted paranoia that people of Africa descent (on the Mother Continent or in Diaspora) often experience. While at the same time you are trying to get out the truth about HIV/AIDS, which in the US and worldwide globally affects people of color most of all.

The suspicion of genocide is something that has a reality basis on so many other issues, unfortunately. For example, gang violence in my own neighborhood is treated outside the community not as a serious publci health problem that requires a societywide commitment to uproot it; it is met with apathy, hostility (“those criminals are just asking for it”), and even perverse titillation.

No wonder there’s a feeling in the community that this is willful indifference to the precious lives of African Americans, especially young Black men. And not just indifference–*complicity.* The drug trade fuels a lot of the violence, and many of the customers coming in at 3 am are whitefolks in big luxury vehicles.

The word “genocide” is not so far from the tips of people’s tongues.

Black Americans and Black Africans are still struggling profoundly with the psychological, spiritual, and societal repercussions of slavery and colonialism. Even as white privilege, including the white stranglehold on global material wealth, remains deeply entrenched.

To Rev. Wright’s great credit, Trinity UCC was one of the first Black churches in Chicago to openly and compassionately address the needs of community members with HIV/AIDS.

And if I’m not mistaken, Wangari Maathai and her Green Belt Movement have included HIV/AIDS prevention in their work on women’s empowerment.

The inaction of Thabo Mbeki, on the other hand, has resulted in who knows how many utterly preventable infections, illnesses, and deaths.

Submitted by Marysia on March 21, 2008 – 6:57pm.
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Added: March 20,

Added: March 20, 2008
Already 72,000 people have watched this video
Watch Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s 9-11 sermon in context

Added: March 20, 2008
Already 22,000 people have watched this video
Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s God Damn America in context

Submitted by Betsy on March 21, 2008 – 10:21pm.
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contexts

Betsy,

Yes, there are contexts to these things that so many white people are bristling at now….But the consciousness of white privilege throws blinders over those contexts, and obstinately refuses to take them off in too many cases.

Doesn’t mean Rev. Wright isn’t wrong about some things. But trying to understand how and where he arrived at those views is treating him as a human being, and one with a specific cultural history (like any of us).

Submitted by Marysia on March 21, 2008 – 11:04pm.
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What are you saying?

Are you saying that there is a conspiracy against people of color? … Or are you saying that we should help prevent the causes of AIDS? If so, you may be interested in a report from Amnesty International regarding a cause of millions deaths from AIDS and other diseases. If rhetoric and political posturing are secondary to saving lives, you should address this cause. Otherwise you are complicit too.

Submitted by conscience on March 21, 2008 – 6:59pm.
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Vulnerable Populations

The Amnesty International report referenced above deals with dirty needles, or the reuse of needles. Most global efforts and public health strategists agree that to make progress curbing HIV/AIDS, we must address all vulnerable populations which includes IV drug users, sex workers, and men having sex with men. We also need to ensure that medical communities in rural parts of the world have the supplies of clean needles they need. All of these vulnerable populations get to the discussion of privilege, be it white, male, global north, or other, discussed in other comments. The very people (ideologically) preventing PEPFAR from addressing the most vulnerable populations are the same people who would not allow Ronald Reagan to speak about AIDS as his good friend Rock Hudson was dying of it. It is these same ideologues who thought it was God’s curse on certain people who deserved it (just as they believe poverty is with their “boot strap” mentality), and who to this day only barely mask those same harsh judgments while touting all the good they are doing. It is this ideology that has ensured AIDS spread and it is this ideology that refuses to address what must be done. The saddest part is that certain AIDS groups, whose very mission addresses the poverty and lack of power people most vulnerable to getting HIV/AIDS deal with every day, have become complicit in the political calculations that will allow PEPFAR to be passed without so much as a debate on the issues that allow the disease to continue to spread, or the evidence that suggests what we must do differently. As I said in the piece, neither conspiracy theories or our fixation on them, nor ideology and our complicity with it, will address the reality of HIV/AIDS. No amount of money will paper over the failures Congress and the White House are agreeing to. No amount of money will excuse the reality that once again allows privilege to dictate and celebrate, while others face certain death.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 24, 2008 – 8:52am.
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response to “what are you saying”

First of all, I have known from the beginning of the pandemic that AIDS is caused by a virus, by certain specific transmission routes. A virus that originated in nature, not from the “sin” of same-sex relationships, or from being targeted by the CIA cause you’re Black, or anything ridiculous like that. Although some white people have never heard it before, that theory about the HIV virus being invented to purposefully kill Black people has been floating around for years.

And I am not in denial about the pandemic. I wish I could do so much more, but I have over the years taken action on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment–starting back in the late 80s/early 90s when I taught a group of teens about HIV/AIDS and safer sex, and worked on an HIV/AIDS research project benefiting gay and bisexual men of all races.

And most recently, I have been involved with Nonviolent Choice Directory, www.nonviolentchoice.info, which (among other things) publicizes resources and advocacy campaigns relating to global issues of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

Do I believe there is a conspiracy against people of color? Not in the sense of some diabolical effort to kill people of color by inventing & deliberately spreading the virus.

I do believe that white privilege is so institutionalized and engrained worldwide that the pandemic disproportionately affects people of color–it’s not simply because people of color are present in so much larger numbers than whites.

In South Africa, for example, the virus spread so rapidly because of the migrant labor system enforced under apartheid–and which wasn’t supplanted by something better after the end of apartheid.

Because the deep poverty remained for so many families, the only chance for survival was–and is– to send away their adult male members to the mines, the cities, etc. At the same time, apartheid and its legacy–including the Mbeki government’s denialism– have meant that South African Blacks have been systematically denied in very large numbers access to basic health services necessary for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

Here is the grain of truth in the conspiracy theory about HIV/AIDS: white privilege creates the conditions for it to disproportionately affect and kill people of color.

White privilege then denies millions of said human beings the services necessary to prevent and ease utterly preventable sufferings and deaths.

This can be seen, for example, in the fact that large multinational manufacturers of antirretrovirals have tended to care more about their intellectual property rights and their bottom lines than about the right of their fellow human beings to life and wellbeing.

White privilege does not only manifest itself in individual , purposive deeds of cruelty, but more often and more broadly in systems that maintain power imbalances favoring whites.

So…while the origin of the virus can be characterized as a natural disaster of sorts, the reality of the pandemic hitting people of color hardest is a humanmade disaster, and one which we are responsible to systematically undo. And that requires undoing the global structures of white privilege.

White privilege is not dismissable as a “conspiracy theory.” Although it can sound as absurd and paranoid as one to whites who have not yet faced it.

Submitted by Marysia_ on March 24, 2008 – 8:51am.
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Wright’s comment is timely

Your point is well made that the history behind the Tuskegee clinical trials could have influenced Jeremiah Wright to believe the HIV-conspiracy theory as true. It is not only in history, however, but in the posture of our scientists today that his words may ring timely.

For instance, look at Dr. James Watson, a renowned scientist noted for his Nobel Prize in discovering the DNA chemical structure. He went on a tour in the US speaking on the determination of intelligence through genetics. Unbelievably, he referred to specific races as having lower intelligence and advocated eugenics through genetic analysis of human DNA. His words and ideas reeked of racism and elitism, but colored with the sparkling lust and lure of scientific genetic advancements. When I saw Watson speak on these subjects in Connecticut in 2007, I was appalled and frightened not only at what Watson said, but by the reaction of the crowd. An estimated 500 people literally stood up and gave Watson a standing ovation. A few months later, I was relieved to hear of the public outcry from European community who had immediately cancelled Watson’s speaking tour upon hearing him. But it still disturbs me today at how the American people were fooled by Watson’s words, by his title, credentials and Nobel Prize.

And if some blacks believe (rightly or wrongly) that HIV was used or created purposely to reduce the black population, they would be even more frightened to know what racially targeted genetic technologies can now be created in a test tube these days. The scientific community, biomedical community and the US government, however, have intentionally downplayed the dangers associated with genetic technologies. A smoke screen of secrecy surrounding any form of scientific accident or abuse is protected by the institution of a self-policing policy without any laws to protect the public. Consequently, there are no legal remedies toward any unintentional or intentional atrocities that may have or will occur. Biotech workers rights for safety and health are also surprisingly non-existent. In fact, the United States government (OSHA) has even declared that “trade secrets” supersedes a worker’s right to biological exposure records which are necessary to obtain appropriate healthcare. This unprincipled scientific movement is consistent with keeping up the façade that current genetic technologies are safe and can do no harm. It provides assurance that the American public’s sight is limited only to the lust and attraction of scientific advancements and not to the serious dangers that they pose.

Our academic community, who has deeply embedded themselves in profit making industries all in the name of scientific advancement, has lost the equilibrium point with human rights, human dignity and public safety and no longer represent the public’s interest. Jeremiah Wright’s words may seem a bit controversial; but in fact, they are timely. The difference is, however, that today the inappropriate use of science affects us all, and not just the black population as seen in the shameful Tuskegee experiments.

Submitted by watchdog on science on March 24, 2008 – 10:40am.
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Yes, it is true that we can

Yes, it is true that we can all be affected by abuses of science. However, those abuses occur within a global society that is more likely to abuse some groups with more impunity than others.

James Watson has been running around with his appalling prejudices for decades, and has gone appallingly unchallenged. Starting with his discrediting and minimization of the painstaking, essential work that his colleague Rosalind Franklin, a Jewish woman, did on the structure of DNA.

He has also endorsed the use of prenatal diagnosis, should a “gay gene” be discovered, to prevent LGBT people from coming into the world. He hid for a long time from the public the fact that he and his wife have a sevrely disabled son, and he has had publicly said that had the diagnostic technology been available at the same time, he would have had the son aborted. (No word on what his son or wife has to say on the matter.)

In 1973 he publicly advocated the killing of disabled newborns. Not surprisingly, disabled people especially those of us with a disability rights movement sort of perspective are not too fond of what Watson stands for…

The fact that a prominent white man can get away with things like this, while Rev. Wright is excoriated for saying what he has, just attests to the power structures I just mentioned….

Submitted by Marysia on March 24, 2008 – 12:34pm.
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AIDS Truth?

Mr. Swenson,

It may be obvious to you and Marysia by virtue of certain undisclosed “transmission routes” that HIV is a virus. However, I don’t think that entitles you to peddle pure ignorance and prejudice.

Firstly, you use the term “denialists” to refer to those who question the official theory(ies) of AIDS, with which you are obviously no more familiar than with the
“denialists” themselves. “Denialist” was a term invented to smear critics of all stripes and associate them with holocaust deniers in the public mind. What is your justification for using this inflammatory term when you can’t even explain their main positions?

You write:

“The “AIDS denialists”, people who believe that HIV does not cause AIDS, have been prolific in their attempts to offer different perspectives, some rooted in the beliefs that AIDS was deliberately spread, others believing it was simply an experiment gone awry. Still others believe the drugs (and profits drug companies are making from the disease) are more harmful than the disease itself.”

Not a single word of this is correct apart from the first line. In fact, it6 looks like you can’t even tell the difference between HIV and AIDS. Pray tell, Mr. Expert on Reality and Facts, how can the “denialists” believe that HIV is harmless and at the same time that AIDS was deliberately spread? How exactly was AIDS deliberately spread if not by a virus? No wait, let me get you started on the right foot: define “AIDS”. Which criteria must be fulfilled to be diagnosed with AIDS?

Marysia says higher prevalence of HIV and AIDS in South Africa is due to poverty and the migrant labor system. What do you think, Mr. Expert on Real Science and Real Solutions? I see you think that it’s due to Black superstition and conspiracy theories.

“It’s a huge barrier to HIV prevention in black communities. There’s an issue around conspiracy theory and urban myths. Thus we have an epidemic raging out of control, and African Americans are being disproportionately impacted in every single sense.”

Ok, let’s exercise our brains a little on that one shall we? Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS because they believe they have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. But how did they come to believe that if not by being disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the first place – that is, before their superstitions and conspiracy theories could have influenced the
disproportionate spread of HIV/AIDS. So which came first, Mr. AIDStruth, the hen or the egg?

Your favorite theory focuses on Afro-Americans, Marysia’s theory on South Africans. Marysia’s theory was completely different from yours; should we discard his/her theory since yours explains the African “epidemic” quite nicely as well?

Before you start demonstrating your excellent grasp of the topic let me present the conundrum for you:

The cultural, geo-political, cultural etc. differences are ALL PRESENT IN THE US STATISTICS! No need to bring in South Africa. Within EVERY SINGLE DEMOGRAPHIC SUBSTRATUM of the US population, BLACKS CONSISTENTLY test HIV positive FIVE TIMES MORE OFTEN than WHITES on average.

If you don’t get it, you’re welcome to educate yourself here http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/ Or post examples of some other infectious diseases that behave in the same way.

PS If this is all over your head, just compare the sober scientific tone on the sceptical, not “denialist”, site I’ve linked with the political smear jobs you find under the AIDStruth news items.

Submitted by Brown on March 25, 2008 – 4:05pm.
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Your rant

Thank you for your sober and scientific rant. Being HIV positive myself, I have a firm and intimate grasp of the facts about HIV and AIDS, their causal relationship and their spread. My point in the sentence you have a nit with, was that those who deny HIV causes AIDS and those who believe it is purposefully spread are in close relationship, all contributing to the delay of dealing with a very real pandemic. Far more importantly, these doubters, if you deny the denial-ist phrase, impede progress of government action. As we are currently witnessing in the PEPFAR debate, when advocates side with ideologues, there are already enough impediments to doing what is right.

To your point of racial disparity of the disease, you are right. It is true of almost every disease. The disproportionate impact of the disparities of our health care system and racism, women and girls, or based on economic means as opposed to human need, is well documented. But again, where are the profiles in courage standing up to change those realities by changing our policies instead of simply using those facts to perpetuate the very causes of the disparity in the first place?

Lastly, why do I use the term “AIDS deniers?” Because I also once worked at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and understand the dangers of Holocaust deniers. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 26, 2008 – 7:39am.
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Civil Tone vs. Rant

I recognize that you’ve answered in a slightly more civil tone than I’ve used, however, that in no way changes the fact that you’re spewing the kind of prejudice and ignorance I normally only encounter on the right-wing hate blocks.

1. I don’t know if it was meant as an argument from authority but being HIV-positive means you have a personal interest in the issue, not that you have a firm grasp of it.

2. Those who question (not “deny”) that HIV causes AIDS stand in no relationship whatsoever to those who think it is spread intentionally or, even broader, “ideologues” of any stripe you don’t approve of. You have exchanged a falsehood for a smear: guilt by far-fetched association.

What you are doing is censoring intellectual debate concerning HIV and AIDS by lumping scientific critique and religious fanatics together. Are you also of the opinion we cannot critique the rationale for Iraq War because it endangers our troops? Or that we cannot inquire into the legality of governmental surveillance because it plays into the hands of terrorists?

3. Unfortunately you missed the point about racial disparity. The disparity has been consistent all through the HIV era for all demographics. This means that for Blacks and Whites in similar social and financial situations Blacks still test positive far more often than Whites. Native American Indians are even poorer than Blacks and they do not test positve at anywhere near the same rates as Blacks. In fact, they are much closer to Whites.

If you would have taken the trouble to go through the critiques of “Doubters” such as Peter Duesberg, the “Perth Group” and many others, you would have discovered that
inexplicable, unforeseeable and highly embarrassing blunders, such as this:

Vaccine Failure Is Setback in AIDS Fight
2003398.html…

or this:

Indian HIV estimate cut to 2.5 million peoplehttp://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/C216549D-65B8-483D-8C84-D513A22900B6.asp

are neither inexplicable, nor unforeseen by those you please to call “denialists”.

But I guess you’re so intimately familiar with the topic that these things and hundreds more examples I could come up with, like the initial high dose AZT fiasco (You do remember the “incubation period” for HIV used to be a LOT shorter back in the good old AZT-80s don’t you?), will only serve to convince you that anybody who doesn’t believe in chemo-therapy for pregnant mothers and their babies must be a nazi. How about chemo as a pre-sex prophylactic, does that strike you as Serious and Reponsible enough?

Bonus question 1. Since you’re well into all aspects of these issues, perhaps you can tell us deniers what the gold standard for the EIA/ELISA and Western Blot HIV tests is – the tests I presume informed yourself that you are infected with an invincible, super-mutating, 100% lethal retrovirus, which somehow jumped the species barrier right into the American population at the exact time our biotech revolution developed the tools to discover such things indirectly?

Bonus question 2: How does HIV manage to kill cells at a higher rate than they can be regenerated?

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 3:11pm.
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Heckuva job Brownie …

Sorry Brown, not interested in taking your tests, have spent more than enough time reading the HIV skeptics sites and watching their circular logic you tube videos. For me and many others it all boils down to this: The disease is real, we have seen too many die and prefer to spend our time working to prevent the spread of the disease than arguing with you. You can throw all the links and test questions you want up in your next rant, I’m going to continue trying to make sure we get the right prevention tools and education to the people who need them. If only all the energy spent trying to divert attention could instead be spent teaching people to practice safer sex, delay sexual debut, remain faithful to partners and getting services and education to populations that need them, we might make more progress.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 27, 2008 – 3:46pm.
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The Mark of a Serious and Responsible Scientist

You have placed yourself in excellent company Mr. Brown.

The Serious and Responsible AIDStruth website you link as the final authority on all matters HIV/AIDS remarkably assumes the exact same courageous stance as yourself: Slander individuals, misrepresent dissenting views, censor when possible. Here is part of their “Answering Denialists” manifesto:

“We will not:

Engage in any public or private debate with AIDS denialists or respond to requests from journalists who overtly support AIDS denialist causes.”

But I shall spare you another rant, as you kindly call it, and bow out before the temptation to censor becomes too strong for you.

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 4:19pm.
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Scientific Theory

Brownie, my understanding of scientific theory (albeit a lay understanding) is that once the scientific community has reached certain conclusions they become accepted, until proven otherwise. What seems to be the case here is that the people on the outside of science with respect to HIV/AIDS just can’t accept the fact that they have been proven wrong, so they keep carping, thus distracting others from the real task at hand, preventing further spread of HIV. If you want to debate gravity or where exactly the four corners of the earth are, go right ahead. Just don’t confuse innocent people who need prevention and treatment in the meantime.

Where do you stand on the theory that having sex with virgins will rid you of the AIDS virus? That was pretty widely believed in parts of Africa for years, perhaps even more than the theories you peddle. Should those beliefs also have equal weight?

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 27, 2008 – 4:36pm.
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Sorry I’m Brown

and you’re Mr. Swenson.

The confusion was not intended

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 4:43pm.
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confusion understandable

not intended, but somehow fitting. Thanks for the dialog.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 27, 2008 – 5:11pm.
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My Beliefs

First, I have given a different email address. This was because the old one for some reason wasn’t accepted nothing to do with conspiracies (-:

Secondly, If you knew anything about the theories I
“peddle”, or if you’re not just trying to smear, you would of course know that I (rather those scientists whose points I argue) do not consider it likely there is such a thing as an “AIDS” virus. I do not believe an HIV-postive test result can be reversed by having sex, although it could posibly be reversed by moving to another country. Likewise, the “AIDS” one has in the US if one tests HIV-positive and has a CD4 count below 200 could reliably be cured merely by crossing the border to Canada. Does that sound like mumbo jumbo to you? Well it does to me too. The mystical reason is that the criteria for an HIV positive test and the definition of “AIDS” are not standardized the world over.

As far as Africa goes, I think it likely that what we call AIDS is largely a renaming of old diseases. The problem would disappear with better living standards, sanitation, clean water, proper nutrition, effective treatment of emdemic diseases such as TB and malaria and, especially in South Africa, reductions in pollution.

I do not find the correlation between HIV and AIDS good enough to consider an HIV-positive test much more than a non-specific marker for some kind of challenge or accumulation of challenges and/or stressors to/of the immune system. The US statistics showing that Blacks are consistently much more likely to tests positive than Whites across all demographics and during the whole HIV era, gives plausibility to the view that because of genetic differences
Blacks are more likely to test positive.

Thus an HIV-positive test is certainly cause for concern, but not an indication that one is infected with an “AIDS virus” that can only be combatted with DNA chain terminators, protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors etc. all highly poisonous. I believe that for some “AIDS” defining diseases,some of these drugs may have some benefit if used judiciously, but that it is madness to give them to clinically healthy people on background of an HIV-positive result, high “viral load” count, that does not count live virus, or low CD4 counts independent of clinical symptoms.

Submitted by Brown on March 27, 2008 – 5:24pm.
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Well said, Mr.

Well said, Mr. Brown……Well said. The bumbling incompetent unproven and ever conflicting “science” of believing HIV is the cause of AIDS is now going into its 26th unfruitful year.

For further information for those willing to educate themselves, the March 2006 Harpers Article: “AIDS: OUT OF CONTROL, AND THE CORRUPTION OF MEDICAL SCIENCE”, can be found online.

But woe to those religious heretics who question the HIV equals AIDS dogma. For no human ego, and certainly no over paid scientist or doctor, wants to ever admit he or she had erroneous beliefs!

In defence of Reverend Wright, even though I believe him to be quite mistaken about HIV, it is certainly understandable why he would believe HIV were “invented” to do away with unwanted groups of people. Throughout modern history, there have certainly been those in our government, as well as in positions of power throughout the world, who sought the possible means of doing away with unwanted groups, indigenous peoples, religious groups, as well as population control. Genocide and Eugenics are nothing new. There is great evidence of this throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, beginning with smallpox infected blankets being given to American Indians. Nazi Germany clearly showed us that our parents or grandparents lived in a world of such thinking. Genocides in Europe, Africa, and elsewhere still confront mankind today. Even in the latter years of the former apartheid government of South Africa, there were those considering a full extermination of the blacks, in order to hold onto control of the country and its wealth.

In looking at such facts, it is certainly understandable how Mr. Wright might come to believe AIDS were “created” for just such a situation.

However, Mr. Wright, as well as the rest of the HIV believers, including Mr. Swenson, Marysia, and all others who yet blindly follow the belief that HIV is the cause of AIDS, continue to ignore the realities of those who are suffering actual illness and disease, and the obvious effects on their immune systems of lives lived in an emotional state of helpless hopelessness, intensely high stress, drugs both licit and illicit, poverty, malnutrition, the strain of population explosions throughout the continent of Africa (whose population just so happens to have doubled over the last 25 years to now nearly one billion people), and the humiliations of still current racism and colonialism, as well as religiously based homophobism and the rejection and shaming of gays that still deeply and excrutiatingly affects some gays in the western world.

These are the facts and realities that are and have been and continue to be at the very core of the illnesses suffered by those who are stricken with failed immune systems. No simple pill nor any vaccine will cure any of these maladies.

Yet, the HIV believers, and their viagra inspired belief that a pill is the answer to all of the hard questions, or that a simple pill will cure all of the worlds ills, are the single greatest barricade to confronting the very factual and very real reasons why millions of people yet get deathly sick and fail to heal, and fail to thrive.

Yet even this is very understandable, as there have been wonderful advances in science, technology, and medicine. And it is understandable that fears of plagues are still deeply entrenched in the minds of man. Much of today’s germaphobia of HIV, Sars, BirdFlu, etc, is just a modern extension of it.

But what is difficult to understand, is how 99 percent of the humans in the world can be so deluded by fear inspired falsehoods, and so unwilling or unable to empathize with gays being dispossessed by religions, families, and societies, or how so many can be unwilling or unable to empathize with the dispossessed starving downtrodden, poverty stricken masses. Yet all the while, blame an imaginary virus as the cause of the problem, and believe that a pill is the solution.

Question: How is it that so very many are yet so oblivious to the very simple realities of life on this planet, as well as some of the very simple solutions to much of these problems?

Answer: Human fear, human programming, human egos, and human greed.

www.duesberg.com
www.rethinkingaids.com
www.hivskeptic.wordpress.com

Submitted by Another take on it. on March 27, 2008 – 9:28pm.
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Common Ground, Not Just A Pill

Dear Another Take On It …. I completely agree with you that poverty, malnutrition, colonialism parading now as global trade, racism and misogyny/machismo/patriarchy/homophobia all feed into the spread of disease. On those issues we agree. I’ll even go so far as to say the pill(s) are NOT and should never be the entire focus of any policy to combat AIDS. Education, prevention, strengthening the role of women, fair trade, nutrition, clean water, sound economies and an end to bigotry will get us closer to the end of AIDS than any pill. But for people already infected, fighting for all those good causes you mention, if the treatment works, and gives them more life with which to fight for those causes, which many HIV+ people around the world do, then why stand in the way? Why not extend the life of positive people that they too might see the changes in the world we agree are needed? The science is clear, for people diagnosed with what science agrees is HIV, the meds extend life. Period. Are they toxic, do they have side effects, should they be given only with strict medical supervision — the answer to all these is definitively yes. If you believe in bettering the world as you suggest then surely you want to see people diagnosed with whatever you choose to believe HIV is live to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Are there some people who can live a long time without meds, yes again, with proper medical supervision. The pills are not the answer, they are a means to an end to strengthen people that might otherwise already be dead so we can together fight for a better life for the next generation. And since you offered more links, I’d like to repeat mine for readers seeking the currently accepted scientific understanding of facts related to HIV/AIDS, found at AIDSTruth.org.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 28, 2008 – 6:15am.
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Shifting Common Ground

Mr. Swenson

There should indeed be plenty of common ground for us to meet on. I would never advise anybody to stop taking medicine (s)he feels is helpful, and with which his/her doctor agrees. But do we not believe in informed consent? You say the science is clear, the HIV-drugs help those supposedly infected with HIV. How many MDs do you think are aware, never mind inform a clinically healthy patient with a positive HIV test and a high viral load/low CD4 count, of for example the peer-reviewed studies cited in this piece of dissident literature:

“The short-lived “Lazarus effect.” AIDS drugs can be effective in the short term against some fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections, but down the road, they gradually destroy health and life. In the U.S., peer-reviewed studies now acknowledge that AIDS treatment drugs cause more illness and death among HIV positives than AIDS-defining diseases do. In a recent study published in the Journal of AIDS, “All four classes of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and all 19 FDA-approved ARVs have been directly or indirectly associated with life-threatening events and death.” A study published in 2002 showed that deaths attributable to ARVs “surpassed deaths due to advanced HIV.” Other studies have found that people on AIDS drugs are twice as likely to die from liver and kidney failure and heart attacks as from AIDS-defining diseases.

The devastating effects of nevirapine. Nevirapine, commonly touted as a miracle drug for reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, causes liver failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rash that actually burns off layers of skin. The drug’s clinical studies in Uganda showed the opposite of reducing mother-to-child transmission and were so scandal ridden that nevirapine’s manufacturer, Boehringer-Ingelheim, withdrew its applications for nevirapine use by pregnant women in the U.S. and Canada. Because of this, nevirapine has never been approved for use among pregnant women in America, Canada, Europe or any First World nation. Several mothers died from nevirapine use in trials in the U.S. and Africa.

Death by AZT. AZT, one of the main drugs promoted by the (RED) campaign, is one of the most toxic drugs ever approved for human use. It caused tens of thousands of premature deaths among the first generation of Western HIV positives who took it in the late 1980s. AZT is
carcinogenic, mutagenic, brain damaging, and toxic to all cells in the human body, especially immune system cells. Researchers have found AZT to cause severe mitochondrial disorders, tumors, blood cancers, anemia, severe birth defects and other disorders.

The tragedy of AZT for children. A Florida study found that rapid progression to AIDS-defining diseases was “three times more likely” in AZT-treated infants than in untreated ones. Many other studies have compounded this tragic finding. In 2000, British science writer Neville Hodgkinson wrote, “An Italian study examining 200 HIV-positive children found that, at three years old, children whose mothers took AZT in pregnancy were ‘significantly more likely’ to become seriously ill than babies of untreated mothers. They also had a higher death rate.”

AZT’s admitted toxicity. The inventor of AZT, Professor Richard Beltz, has warned of AZT’s long-term toxicities. Referring to the media-besieged government of South Africa, he wrote to advocate (lawyer) and magistrate A. Brink:

“I hope you succeed in convincing your government not to make AZT available.””

Active links to some of the studies can be found at rethinkingaids.com (second link submitted above at the end of the Comment by “Another take on it”) where I have quoted from. And there is much, much more on the various dissident sites, all quoting official sources and peer-reviewed studies. Why should this not be allowed to be taken into account in the doctor’s office – by the patient him/herself?

In Africa the situation is trickier: a villager who is told by the White Authority from Abroad that she and her baby are going to die if they don’t stop breastfeeding and start nevirapine immediately is unable to assess the situation, so this is all politics. Your article is about PEPFAR. The strong men behind PEPFAR want more treatment (more pills) less of other stuff. This is where our common ground is shrinking:

““U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced legislation that would ensure the highest priority for U.S. global HIV/AIDS funding would be saving lives by providing treatment to those infected and eliminating baby AIDS by preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child.”

Id=20080312006354&newsLang=en…

And in case you want to say this does not exclude the improvements in general health the dissidents are calling for, here’s the basic idea:

“I am concerned that many health programs in Asia, Africa, and the western hemisphere will be forced to shut down or greatly reduce operations under the president’s request,” said Congresswoman Lowey.

While it increases funds for HIV/AIDS, Lowey notes that the president’s request cuts $251 million from 2008 levels for health programs she and others say complement HIV/AIDS efforts.”

http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-03-11-voa92.cfm

Are dissidents really equal to holocaust deniers for agreeing with the Congresswoman? Here’s what Tshabalala Msimang, the much maligned South African Minister of Health
has to say:

“However, South Africa’s health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who addressed the meeting yesterday, urged the EU not to focus on a single disease.

“We have many diseases in Africa that somehow never get mentioned because we have become so one-disease focused,” she said.”

http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=182523

Is Msimang’s objection really that of a murderous woman in denial?

For less technical discussions focusing on the politics of HIV/AIDS the interested reader can try:

http://newaidsreview.com/blog/index.php

Submitted by Brown on March 28, 2008 – 11:18am.
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Scott, you said: “The

Scott, you said:

“The science is clear, for people diagnosed with what science agrees is HIV, the meds extend life. Period.”

This statement, quite clearly to me at least, is obviously coming from your being well “programmed” in your beliefs, Scott. Perhaps from having so often heard the drug industries slogan of “life saving drugs”. I’m afraid that this statement is only a scientific fact in your and many other peoples imaginations only.

And here is the proof of my statement: There has been ABSOLUTELY NO placebo test of ABSOLUTELY ANY HIV DRUG, since 1987. Therefore it is absolutely NOT scientifically proven that any of the drugs have any effect at all other than the well proven toxic effects. It is nowhere in any scientific study shown that a mere sugar pill and appropriately treatment of the actual opportunistic infections would not do just as well or even better than any and all of the HAART drugs.

To be absolutely honest, there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the hiv drugs are in any way, shape, or form, extending of life, and study after study clearly shows the opposite!

Furthermore, studies have been highly corrupted by not showing who in the studies are drug addicts, not showing who were formerly dying of starvation, tb, malaria, etc, etc, etc, and also not showing WHAT ELSE they had been treated with to cure existing opportunistic infections. Therefore, every study to date has been highly corrupted, fast tracked through the FDA with most often absolutely no long term follow-up as is required by the fast track rules, as well as run and directed and paid for by the pharmacuetical company whose product was at stake.

The ACTG studies are most often done and run by individuals who are also highly invested in the drug companies.

About a year ago, I went to the local ACTG study center and asked 3 questions of the head nurse in charge of intake of “study volunteers”.

1: Does the AVRC ACTG get paid by the pharmaceutical companies on a per patient/per drug/per study basis? (the reason I asked is because many “volunteers” are in more than one study and taking more than one drug)

The answer was “YES”.

2: What is the average pharma payment per patient/per study/per drug?

The answer: “$3000 to 10,000 and UP”. (whatever in hell and up means!)

3: Does the AVRC inform any of the study volunteers of the conflict of interest?

Answer: “No they do not”.

Scott, I’m glad you think the HIV/AIDS biz, is so pure of heart and so altruistic. A bit naive of you, don’t you think? What with the now more than 110 billions of dollars that have been unsceptically and unquestionably thrown at it for the last 25 years? What with 530 of the top directors and scientists at the NIH having been found 2 years ago of taking undisclosed cash and stock from big pharma? Including 2 million to the former director of all AIDS drug clinical trials?

Just a bit naive of you and all the other wannabe do gooders, don’t you think?

Submitted by Another take on it. on March 28, 2008 – 11:14pm.
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I agree with Mr. Brown and

I agree with Mr. Brown and Mr. Swenson on the key issues of resolving the horrific consequences of abject poverty in Africa and anywhere else. I am a dissident, like Mr. Brown;
I look at the officially publish literature on the hypothetical “HIV”/AIDS link and find it sorely wanting.
Were it not for the politics and reputations as well as the cash flow, this disgusting medical miasma would have been junked years ago.

I am however, heartened to see a new group of mainstream AIDS researchers finally recognized that we need to deal with the root causes of the “AIDS epidemic” (all reformulated old diseases). Researchers like Eileen Stillwagon among others are insisting that ARVs are
worthless if we cannot ensure that all poor people
have food, clean water, stable sociopolitical economies and reliable local networks to provide all three.

The greatest demand of the majority of African HIV+ people
isn’t drugs, its food. They need food, good nutritious food.
Jeffrey Sachs visited many villages with people stated to be HIV+ and they always wanted food, not drugs, food!

The insanity of current african HIV/AIDS preventive programs has condoms and ARVs passed out like party favours while blind to the starvation and deprivation around them.

Tell me, how are these ARVs going to work with a malnourished, stressed population?

Submitted by Y’ello on March 29, 2008 – 11:48am.
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Mr. Swenson, in one

Mr. Swenson, in one sentence above, you assure us of your firm knowledge on the subject at hand:

“Being HIV positive myself, I have a firm and intimate grasp of the facts about HIV and AIDS, their causal relationship and their spread”.

Then you later admit it is not so firm:

“Brownie, my understanding of scientific theory (albeit a lay understanding)….”

I do commend you for recognising, sir, that you do not know all there is to know on the subject, as one who thinks they already know all can learn nothing new.

Fortunately, the interchange of information that has taken place here on your blog, have been copied and further immortalized at the following blog site where these issues are further analyzed:

http://www.scienceguardian.com/blog/?p=865

Perhaps you or your readers may also enjoy taking part in the discussions of the HIV/AIDS issues at that site as well.

Submitted by Another take on it on March 29, 2008 – 12:02pm.
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Classic Distortion

Another take, Nice twisting of my words. By acknowledging my status I stated that my knowledge was “firm and intimate” not that of a scientist. Never in this dialog have I claimed to be a scientist. My knowledge is like that of millions of others who are HIV positive, based on extensive reading, including the information and sites of skeptics; evaluating alternative methods; paying attention to my own body and experience. All of the research I’ve done, again, like many people diagnosed, has been about understanding how to live with HIV. What I’ve learned is simple: I can’t imagine having this disease without supports, including basic and essential nutrition, clean water, and the ability to make decisions for myself. I can’t imagine not having the support of family, community, employment. I can’t imagine not having a wide range of medical data and expertise from which to draw the best conclusions for me. In other words, I can’t imagine what people in the developing world must deal with. But I’ve seen it, so I don’t have to imagine. You can continue adding skeptics/denialist links here all you want. When your scientific research proves your points to the place it is accepted by the scientific community, we’ll welcome them. Until then, I’m going to stick with my lay understanding of the earth being round, not based on any research I’ve done, but on accepted scientific fact and my own experience of the planet. People I know in the earliest tests for ARVs, prior to compassionate access, lived well during trials and died following them, when the test drugs were removed. Those tests were blinded and placebos were part of the trail, there was no assurance that the dying people volunteering were given actual medicines. To many people that seemed cruel, as cruel as taking the meds away after the trial. People I know avoided using medications for years in part because of claims and confusion of the denialist community, carefully monitoring their numbers taking care of themselves, and still wound up in the hospital. Those who survived went on meds and are now living healthy, strong lives managing the disease mindful of side effects of any meds, particularly any as strong as these. I’m sorry that I have not double blinded my experience with HIV to your satisfaction, or that my experience doesn’t have the equivalent of a placebo for you, it being real. Your beef, to the extent you have one is not with me or the millions of people learning every day to live with this disease, and all you are doing here is proving the point of my original piece. The larger point I made, which you studiously avoid with your personal attacks and efforts to establish more links for your web site, is that your efforts are not preventing the spread of AIDS at all, are they? You bemoan efforts to get prevention methods and education to people, and wow people with your theories, but what good is any of it to a young woman in Africa who today will be exposed to what I call HIV, what you call XYZ, because she cannot negotiate a sexual relationship with her husband who has contracted the virus? What do all your papers and links and rants do for her? Will her opinion and experience be the subject of scorn for you as mine is? Do only you know the truth?

For readers looking for more science and experience, in addition to AIDSTruth, see also

* Denialism Blog
* Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
* Debate Transcript of TAC v. denialist
* Aeitology at Science Blogs

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 30, 2008 – 7:01am.
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An independent dissenter

I agree with Y’ello. As a medical writer I wrote a lot about ARVs at the end of the 1990s when HAART drugs were proliferating. Study after study and all I could do was wonder – so their CD4 cell counts went up, and their “viral loads” dropped, but did they live any longer? Did they have a better quality of life? Despite the plethora of studies my question was never (and to this day still hasn’t been) answered.
Current disability has allowed me free reign and plenty of time to peruse the literature. When I looked at the HIV-AIDS papers I was stupefied. The evidence that HIV caused AIDS was completely absent. I actually sat in front of my computer crying. At this point I did not know of the existence of the dissidents and egotistically thought I was the only person on the planet to have figured this out. I wasn’t ‘swayed’ by anybody’s argument – I have seen the evidence (or lack of) with my own eyes.
If there is controversy (and there is plenty) I think any scientist refusing to even look at evidence refuting his/her pet HIV theory is committing intellectual dishonesty of the worst kind, because this dishonesty is causing unnecessary suffering and death. I did not enter the medical profession in order to harm people, and find the attitude of the “Establishment” inexplicable.
Since qualifying 25 years ago I have seen many erroneous theories come and go, but this one has stuck like the proverbial brown stuff on the blanket because there is so much financial, emotional and political investment. It has become a black hole of truth, honesty and integrity.
Mr Swenson you seem like an intelligent man. Please go and read the evidence for yourself – it might just save your life.

Submitted by Cathyvm on March 29, 2008 – 9:09pm.
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“When I looked at the

“When I looked at the HIV-AIDS papers I was stupefied. The evidence that HIV caused AIDS was completely absent. I actually sat in front of my computer crying.”

Pardon me for my unprofessional behavior, but if I was there in person, I would have reassured you with an embrace. You were never alone intellectually, though initially isolated from others who were questioning.

We are _not_ crazy. We are _not_ wrong to question.
We are _not_ wrong to weep either. May I weep with you?

Submitted by Y’ello on March 30, 2008 – 3:52am.
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Cathyvm

Cathyvm,

Thanks for sharing your experience. We all shed many tears for this experience. I’ve read many, many alternative theories and come to the conclusion I would rather spend the time and energy I have in this life working to prevent the spread of the disease, than arguing with elites. To Y’ello’s point, I do not think it is wrong to question, either. For years I avoided the meds, with a doctor’s supervision, only to knock on death’s door. The reason I use the terms “rant” above, is because the skeptical community seems bent on lording its theories over people’s experience. No one held a gun to my head and forced me to take meds. And yes, much more than meds are required to fight this disease, whatever you want to call it. I could read one million studies and not one of them will change the fact that today, because of the policies of the US Congress and White House, some people will not have the information or education to PREVENT themselves from being exposed. I would much rather put our collective energy into changing that fact and addressing poverty, malnutrition, clean water problems, than arguing with skeptics.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 30, 2008 – 7:28am.
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“For years I avoided the

“For years I avoided the meds, with a doctor’s supervision, only to knock on death’s door”.

Scott, thanks for sharing, but you are only giving us only a very tiny anecdotal piece of the picture of what all was going on with you and your life at the time.

And what do you mean you had “knocked on death’s door”? You did not tell us the actual illness/’es that you had contended with? And just how is it that you know that whatever actual illness you had dealt with is any kind of evidence that HIV was the cause? After all, just the stress alone of being told one is HIV positive is enough to make the strongest and healthiest of people sick. Google the words stress and thymus. Stress is well proven to cause the thymus gland, where one’s CD-4 T Cells are created by the way, to shut down. High stress can cause the thymus to shrink by 50% in 24 hours. Ongoing high levels of stress cause thymus malfunction to also be ongoing, and continuing in such a state can most definitely lead to the straw that finally breaks the camels back.

Without more forthcoming info, we don’t know if you had some fungal infections perhaps from taking too many antibiotics, KS or PCP perhaps from poppers sniffing, or if you simply were stressing out over your diagnosis, and finally got run down and came down with pneumonia or other common illnesses, just the same as many hiv negative people do. Or if you had been abusing your body with poor eating habits or even illicit drugs prior to your illness.

There can be many reasons that contribute to illness, regardless of HIV diagnosis status.

You also did not tell us what all you did, or what other changes you made at the time of regaining health besides HIV drugs. Did you reach a point of acceptance over a lost love affair? Did you make peace with yourself or your maker? Did you stop using drugs or alcohol? Such factors are very important to healing and one should not overlook them and simply ascribe all healing to be drug induced when there are usually many more factors involved.

You also did not tell us the extenuating circumstances that were underlying your life and emotional circumstances, that highly likely also led up to your actual illness, such as extremely high levels of inner emotional stress prior to your actually becoming ill, or perhaps prior medications or other drug use that may have contributed, or even the stress inducing and body weakening effects of your own prior mental expectations of eventually getting ill because you are programmed to believe that such would happen because you had earlier tested HIV poz. After all, you said you were seeing a doctor even before you got ill and before you took any meds. So, you were seeing him/her even when you were completely well. Most likely, you were also following CD counts and viral load numbers and further scaring yourself silly every time the numbers went up and down. Did you yourself, along with your doctor’s assistance, perhaps finally succeed in actually nearly scaring you to the point near death sickness?

I would only hope you could be honest, not with me, Scott, but with yourself, in addressing these very important factors that you yourself have likely been in denial of and have continued to overlook while blaming all your illness on HIV, and while contending that your wellness was the result of taking the meds. Undoubtedly finally taking the meds also certainly reduced your stress level if you had earlier been stressed out over the fear of getting sick because you were not taking them, but a simple sugar pill may have done the same.

You might or might not want to analyze this carefully, because it is highly likely that your own experiences are yet more evidence of the “power of your own mind”,as well as the “power of suggestion”, as well as the placebo effect of getting well after taking some med because you, convinced by your doctors, simply believed you would.

I don’t know what the truth is Scott, but I am also sure that you, as well as JP Moore, who’s supposed AIDStruth site you love to promote, are not necessarily the holders of all higher truths either.

Submitted by Your truth is not my truth. on March 30, 2008 – 1:48pm.
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Thanks for making my point again…

I’m not assuming my truth is your truth, but I assuming that by putting more energy toward preventing the spread of disease we would all be better off — the only point I’ve consistently tried to make through many attempts at diversion and distraction in this dialog. I offer anecdotes and speak from personal experience because I want other HIV+ people to understand that their experience with their bodies is more valuable than all the conspiracy theories and deniers. My experience also counters many of the assumptions made about me in earlier comments, and demonstrates that many doctors are not pushing drugs, but learning how to manage a complicated disease and are open to alternative methods. While I’d love to publish my entire medical and personal history here online for you to pick over, perhaps you might trust me enough to understand my truth and what I say and not suggest that just because I don’t agree with you that I’m wrong, or worse, lying. That mentality, that everyone else in the world is wrong and only you can possibly be right, is classic of conspiracy theorists and deniers of every stripe.

The stress of being told one is HIV+, a point you raised, is manageable with facts. Stress comes from people like you who are not working to save one life, or prevent the spread of any disease, but joining with the complicity of the GOP ideologues who believe abstinence-only is a solution, and the spineless Democrats who refuse to learn from public health experts on the ground in Africa working to improve all aspects of the fight against AIDS.

I offer sites like AIDSTRUTH and others listed above, so that anyone who is HIV+ and reading this has benefit of not only your links, but those of accepted science as well. I trust that when people read the facts, they will make the best decisions for themselves. I did, and I’m alive today not because of anything you promote.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 8:15am.
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Peace

Mr. Swenson,

We seem to have returned to your initial mistake, confusing HIV and AIDS. Nobody denies the reality of what you call
“AIDS”; nobody questions the very real diseases you and others may be struggling with. We question the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS.

The African woman who cannot negotiate a sexual relationship
with her husband has no way of knowing whether what knocks her down 10 years later is HIV or something else. Neither have you.

I have spent the past 8 years among supposedly high-risk people (Thai prostitutes). I’ve known dozens of them for years and I am struggling to find even anecdotal cases of “AIDS”. Is your eyewitness account worth more than mine?

I’ll tell you the difference between Africa and Thailand, my friend: the living standards are much better in Thailand, and so the prostitutes who work in the tourist areas don’t get “AIDS” unless they are heavily into drugs, which very few of them are.

It is depressing to see that you think well-informed critics are “lording it” while you link to the “scientific proof” that HIV causes AIDS on AIDStruth.org and similar places. We’ll meet you on any level you desire. This website, the largest dissident forum in cyberspace, has hundreds of HIV+ people as members, many of them doubters and fence sitters, but overwhelmingly against the drugs:

http://groups.msn.com/aidsmythexposed/general.msnw

After 25 years, and with thousands upon thousands of doubters and dissenters from all corners of the planet and all walks of life, is it not conceivable that we may have a point, although we cannot claim to have all the answers?

Submitted by Brown on March 30, 2008 – 4:04pm.
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I absolutely agree with

I absolutely agree with “Your Truth” above.

Scott said: “People I know in the earliest tests for ARVs, prior to compassionate access, lived well during trials and died following them, when the test drugs were removed. Those tests were blinded and placebos were part of the trail, there was no assurance that the dying people volunteering were given actual medicines.”

That is not at all true, Scott. Your saying such is evidence that you have unfortunately not actually read any of the post AZT drug studies. The only HIV drug that has used any placebos at all was the very short (4 month long) AZT trials. There is nowhere in any literature placebo trials of any other drugs. All tests after AZT were done by comparing one drug to another, such as AZT versus a protease inhibitors, or AZT versus AZT plut protease inhibitors.

As such, it is no wonder, to me at least, that your AZT dosed friends had passed away prematurely. The average person taking high dosage AZT monotherapy between 1987 and 1995 lived an average of 8 months to 1-1/2 years after taking AZT.

Furthermore, all HIV positives back then were told HIV was a death sentence with no cure. They were all living in a severe state of intensely high stress followed by apathetic hopelessness that highly influenced their immune systems in the most suppressive of ways.

No wonder at all that the death rate had skyrocketed from 87 to 95, whereinafter patients were finally told they could live longer by taking the newer drugs. When patients were finally told they could live longer, they did. The power of suggestion was certainly at work here, as is plainly evident. When patients were told they would die, they did. When they were told they could live longer, they did.

Submitted by Another take on it. on March 30, 2008 – 9:33pm.
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Navy

You might want to check your research again. Studies done by the US Navy of HIV+ people in the services during the earliest part of the pandemic (88-93) tested not AZT (why are people still arguing about AZT?) but a cocktail of drugs. The study included placebos for at least the initial stage. Compassionate access was not offered after participants left the study.

As to the power of suggestion, I’d like to suggest that we respectfully agree to disagree. I’m going to work to prevent the spread of the disease while you continue to spread misinformation.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 8:36am.
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A fantasy narrative

You bemoan efforts to get prevention methods and education to people, and wow people with your theories, but what good is any of it to a young woman in Africa who today will be exposed to what I call HIV, what you call XYZ, because she cannot negotiate a sexual relationship with her husband who has contracted the virus? What do all your papers and links and rants do for her? Will her opinion and experience be the subject of scorn for you as mine is? Do only you know the truth?

This kind of story is based on a false assumption that HIV positivity is transmitted between heterosexuals, which Nancy Padian’s study showed very conclusively (it was a large study over six years of discordant couples of which almost fifty used no precautions whatsoever) was negligible if not nil.
In other words, whether African women can rule their husbands on not is not a factor in whether they themselves test positive or not, because we can be certain in every case that it was not transmitted to her by her husband, whether he visited Nairobi prostitutes along his truck route or not.

But almost everybody is told and believes that HIV is transmitted in heterosexual sex, as if the study was the fantasy. Of course, Nancy Padian is trying to backpeddle from her fatal conclusion on AidsTruth since it is the most impolitic of findings, but it stands nonetheless.

Mr Swenson, you are an intelligent man caught in a scheme initiated by Robert Gallo with a claim in 1984 that elicited knowing guffaws from insiders who knew him and his science (afterwards shown publicly by a federal investigation to be as bad as everyone thought) and you have used your mind to rationalize it in your own case. That is why on scienceguardian.com we count it as a meme that once it infects the mind of its victims never allows itself to be uprooted.

One of the problems is that the brighter the person the better he/she is at rationalizing what continually emerges in the literature as a paradoxical and inconsistent fiction.

Your very intelligence is catching you here. All that we can do is urge you to read the other side and see how the inconsistencies vanish if the claim is denied and other causes of AIDS are accepted in their own right as sufficient and necessary.

But it is painful for all of us to read material which we initially judge as worthless because it doesn’t fit the mental frame we are already using. So you probably will continue to take the easy route and dismiss the HIV critique and rejection as dealt with and rejected by good scientists and good science.

In fact, the best science is the review and rejection of HIV in the literature which has not been properly answered and refuted. In fact, there has not been a since answer attempted in the same elite journals. All of the scientific answers damning the critique have been delivered in other journals and on non-peer reviewed Web pages at the NIH CDC etc.

Evasion and censorship and condemnation ad hominem add up to an overwhelming political case against the paradigm proponents as scientifically too vulnerable to be able to answer the critics head on.

Thus both science and politics argue that the critics are right, however unusual this may be in science. In fact it is not that unusual. Almost every Nobel winner I talk to has a horror story of his in the early days his progressive correction of the prevailing belief in his/her field was resisted mightily by those perched on the status quo.

It is standard in the academy in any field, in fact. So we can only urge you to save yourself by opening your mind to the possibility that you will find the same truth as Cathvm above.

You cannot judge by your experience in finding benefit in the drugs, for there are good reasons why they might have a temporary beneficial effect on those whose have immune systems weakened from whatever reason and are therefore infested with parasites which are cleansed by such poisons. In the end the stats show that all die, as you seem to be aware, and which is shown by the fact that half the first year AIDS deaths in the US currently are from drug symptoms (liver and kidney rot) which are not on the extensive list of AIDS symptoms at all.

All of this would be clear to you if the Times and other science writers and their coverage had not been intimidated and twisted for years by Anthony Fauci and his pr brigade at NIAID who in writing explicitly threatened investigative journalists and editors with expulsion from the NIH loop by which they live if they mentioned Peter Duesberg, the chief critic, whose scientific status was higher than any of his opponents and still is to all who value science and truth.

Submitted by Truthseeker on March 31, 2008 – 12:03am.
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You seem to be missing…

You seem to be missing my point. I’ve read your studies, I’ve avoided medications, pursued alternatives and I’ve made my decision based on personal experience and reasoned study and judgment. No one has forced any belief upon me and neither will you. You continue to attempt to distract this debate from the main point in my original post, which proves my point, that in fact conspiracy theories and deniers are a distraction to the real work at hand — PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF DISEASE.

I note in Brown’s comment above that “hundreds” of “dissenters” are on the site Brown refers to.

Doesn’t it seem strange that with millions people dealing with HIV, most with easy access to your well linked sites of dissent, that only hundreds (he later says thousands, so I’ll even grant four digits) are active on that site. You see, what I’m saying is not that we’re not aware of your point of view — but that we are. We’ve evaluated it and we’ve made a different choice. Thank you for you offers of help, but with friends like you, who needs disease?

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 8:30am.
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Nobody Is Taking Away Your Choice

We’re offering choice to others not as fortunate as yourself choice. Here’s a story Cathy has been trying to post:

819…

Mr. Swenson, I think we were all content to let the matter rest without embarrassing you any further, but your peculiar practice of inserting your answers after each post at a later date, accusing and distorting wildly, bends the rules of debate somewhat.

A few points beginning from the bottom:

1. what’s so difficult about my writing style? I said there are thousands of (active) sceptics worldwide and hundreds of HIV+ sceptics on aidsmythexposed.com alone (According to the numbers they give, there are 2500 members, but not all are HIV+)

2. You say the real work at hand is preventing disease. Of course the real work at hand is preventing disease. Does proper nutrition, sanitation, higher living standards, reductions in environmental pollution not prevent disease? I feel it’s you who is straying from the topic by constantly airing your conspiracy theories about conspiracy theorists conspiring to stop the spread of toxic drugs worldwide.

3. I appreciate that you feel more comfortable preaching, saving and damning in an anecdotal style, but the normal practice when one refers to a scientific study is to leave at least enough clues so that other debaters can look it up. If you want us to accept that the US Navy conducted placebo-controlled tests with drug-cocktails on recruits all the way back in 1988, could you at least reference the study?

I’ll betcha ya can’t… unless you have a very liberal interpretation of “placebo-controlled”, such as, “The study included placebos for at least the initial stage”. Can you define “initial stage”, Mr. Swenson?

Mr. Swenson, if the studies concluded in 1993, just around the time when the cocktails became publicly available, why on earth was “compassionate access not offered after participants left the study”? How could people not have access to something that was becoming publicly available, and what point is that supposed to prove?

Submitted by Brown on March 31, 2008 – 3:42pm.
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Not embarassed at all …

Brown, I’m not embarrassed in the slightest, not even sure why you would think so. I’m not debating you as a scientist, I’m not pretending to be something I’m not. I’m a person with HIV who has read your sites, believes like most people that I’ll stick with proven data as opposed to anonymous rhetoric and accusations, and continue to encourage people to trust their own experience with their bodies, their health care professionals, and their own research. Ultimately it is up to each individual to make their own choices and there will always be snake oil salesman parading as something they are not. What I “preach” here is for people to stay focused on the task at hand, preventing the further spread of a disease and not getting lost in the distractions that you and others make in the form of misinformation and personal attacks. My apologies that the timing and style of my posts are not more to your liking. It seems no one can get anything right but you. I will gladly make this my last reply to each of you.

The study I referred to will just be more anecdotal information from your perspective, because I was not involved in it as a researcher, but as the supportive friend of two people in the Navy directly involved with it and receiving medications from it. I sat with them as they debated whether or not to go into the study since there was no assurance they would get the drugs. I was with them when at the conclusion of the five year study, with the drugs not yet on the market, they were told they would not continue receiving the medication as the trial completed its data and moved into the next phase. I was with one of them, when he died two years later, after each of us had attended the funeral of the other; both began steady declines at the conclusion of the trial. Again Brown, I’m sorry that I’m not able to engage you on the very high brow discussion you’d like to have about what to call a disease that continues to kill millions, or who is responsible, or which scientific researchers we should applaud and which we should decry. Mine is personal experience, with many friends and my own health. The science is not what I am arguing, there are many far more qualified than me to do that and they have bested the likes of you at every turn. The case I make is about how people will try to distract us from the far more important prevention work at hand, playing into the fear-mongering of the GOP ideologues and preventing Democrats in Congress from doing what is right by learning from the first five years of PEPFAR. Which, in terms of debating points, you and your colleagues have yet to address in all this back and forth, so bent on distracting the discussion to things only you and a few others wish to continue debating while millions more are trying to live. Since you suggested it, I’ll agree, I too am content to leave this conversation where it is.

Be the change you seek,

Scott Swenson, Editor

Submitted by Scott Swenson, RH Reality Check on March 31, 2008 – 4:44pm.
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The Navy Study

For the benefit of my private studies I would be grateful if you could post a reference to that drug trial.

Submitted by Brown on March 31, 2008 – 6:18pm\

Slate’s misguided guide

March 23rd, 2008

Editorial assistant calls on Martin Delaney for her research

Duesberg view acknowledged as “popular”, though “pernicious”

Slate now looking for new “Explainer”, but why?

We trust you didn’t miss the authoritative Slate guide to AIDS Conspiracies last Wednesday,The AIDS Conspiracy Handbook: Jeremiah Wright’s paranoia, in context by Juliet Lapidos. Juliet Lapidos is a Slate editorial assistant, who relied on Martin Delaney of Project Inform and Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona for her information.

So why is there a large notice at the top of the Column, “We’re looking for a new Explainer—click here to apply for the job.”? This seems rather unfair. Does someone at Slate know more than they are letting on, and realize they need Explainers who have some idea which sources are worth using, and therefore rate Juliet as too naive for using Martin Delaney? Surely not.

delaneymartin.jpgDelaney is a leading HIV/AIDS activist whose brain has been taken over by the Meme for a long time now, though as we recall he was a critic of AZT until he found that his office equipment could be paid for by the makers of that revolting drug.

That was the first of many payments that since have helped fuel Project Inform, his $1.5 million operation dispensing conventional HIV/AIDS wisdom in San Francisco, otherwise known as Project Deform by observers who notice the camel humps that appear on the backs of those who take the protease inhibitors in HAART, the current drug regime that Delaney promotes while assiduously maligning Peter Duesberg as homophobic, a gratuitous calumny which is not supported by any good evidence whatsoever.

Anyhow, why should editorial assistant Juliet not keep the Explainer job now she has served the prejudices of John P. Moore et al so reliably? Moore evidently counts this piece of misguided guidance as a coup for his HIV/AIDS disinformation site, AIDS Truth, where he now lists it at the top of his news items putting HIV/AIDS critics in their place.

Duesberg view most popular

Here is the paragraph that probably pleases him most:

It’s Not a Virus

Among the most popular, and pernicious, conspiracy theories is that AIDS isn’t caused by a virus at all. Peter Duesberg, a biology professor at University of California-Berkeley, has argued that drugs and promiscuity are the principal causes of the disease in the United States. He attributes AIDS in Africa to malnutrition.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has voiced support for the so-called Duesberg hypothesis, and his health minister, Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang, has recommended treating AIDS with foodstuffs, like garlic, rather than pharmaceuticals.

That “pernicious” is probably what thrilled the leading macaque researcher at Weill-Cornell most. But “popular”? Is the Duesberg rejection of HIV as the cause of AIDS popular?

Surely Delaney and Moore must be unhappy at that sign that the Duesberg inspired paradigm debunkers are getting somewhere?

Medical error of an unfortunate kind

March 21st, 2008

Sad cases of mixups in the OR

Lapses of system could be easily cured, if fallibility recognized

But why weren’t 23 years of error in HIV/AIDS prevented by peer review?

kidneywinelarger.jpgMeanwhile, back at Fox News…. a shocking piece of information we don’t necessarily need on the human fallibility of the doctor/surgeon system into which we get delivered as hapless patients: Woman Goes for Leg Operation, Gets New Anus Instead and Hospital Admits Surgeon Removed Wrong Kidney

A Minnesota surgeon has agreed to stop seeing patients after he made an “unthinkable” mistake — he removed a healthy kidney, leaving the cancerous one inside a patient, KARE 11 TV reports.

“This has been a tragic event and Park Nicollet has accepted full responsibility,” said Dr. Samuel Carlson, chief medical officer for Park Nicollet Health Services.

Carlson declined to name the surgeon who performed the procedure.

Although the surgery was performed last Tuesday, it wasn’t until the next day that pathology reports confirmed the wrong kidney had been taken from the patient, whose identity is not being revealed due to patient confidentiality…..

Bavaria – A German retiree is taking a hospital to court after she went in for a leg operation and got a new anus instead, the Daily Telegraph is reporting.

The woman woke up to find she had been mixed up with another patient suffering from incontinence who was to have surgery on her sphincter.

The clinic in Hochfranken, Bavaria, has since suspended the surgical team.

Now the woman is planning to sue the hospital. She still needs the leg operation and is searching for another hospital to do it.

(The above items are, obviously, not for sensitive souls. For those who stumbled into this story unawares and wish to recoup their good mood, here is a happier view of the doctor-patient relationship: The consulting room as it should be)

Of course, commentator Dr Manny Alvarez is correct (click Hey Doc, Watch Where You’re Cutting! A Lesson in Medical Mishaps for video) – the teams simply have to take a time out to double check they are on the right path before proceeding, every time.

Status fallibility

Then the deeper question becomes, however, why didn’t/don’t the surgeons pause to double check? After all, all present probably look back into a taxi or train to see if they left anything behind inadvertently, after a trip. Presumably they check every instrument they need is handy before proceeding. Why not check the difference between left and right, kidney wise?

The obvious (to us) answer is human grandiosity. Humans once elevated forget to check themselves for error. Given great responsibility, and the respect and obeisance that comes with it, they tend to assume they are infallible. Or at least, unconsciously act like it so that they won’t risk exposure.

Many may detect this hubris in our current President, and wish to label it the George W. Bush syndrome. But this is to assume that George was ever capable of meeting the demands and requirements of the 21st Century presidency, which is doubtful, given his record to date. Perhaps the phenomenon is more a variation on “pride cometh before a fall”, a la Eliot Spitzer, whence it becomes easier to detect and punish missteps in others than in oneself.

Probably this self protective concealment of fallibility is common to all members of a system where promotion elevates authority. We were amused by a recent example where someone we know presented a bureaucrat a masters degree certificate from a Scottish university written in Latin when she requested his high school certificate, and after a moment of uncomprehending examination, was handed it back with thanks for meeting the request.

Another possible explanation going the rounds just now is that there is a risk gene which makes leaders charge up the hill and risk failure at their dangerous profession, whether political bids for high office or practicing surgical removal of organs from patients who might well die if a mistake is made, and the same gene drives a Spitzer or a Clinton to take risks in sexual adventure. Perhaps surgeons are cavalier in the same unconsciously self destructive way about checking which kidney to remove.

Whatever the motivation for this kind of dereliction of responsibility, there is a lesson in all this for those who contemplate the topic of this blog, which are paradigms maintained beyond their shelf life.

So, calling all science believers…. please check whether the leaders of your field have recently practiced what Dr.Manny advises, and doublechecked their paradigm.

Institutional error on international scale

hanniballector1.jpgWait. Whom exactly, you might reasonably ask, do we have in mind?

Why, leaders who don’t allow double checking, but ban it, as in HIV/AIDS, where Dr Anthony Fauci et al at the NIAID, CDC and elsewhere positively refuse to allow reporting of this topic, and have evaded professional review in the literature by ignoring it, pretending it doesn’t exist, or is no longer relevant, and by banning its coverage, as we have described in this blog.

In that sorely vexed case, the build up of error to grotesque levels over 23 years will inevitably result in exactly the debacle they must have feared since 1986, when the first authoritative rejection of the storied paradigm took place, that is, the exposure of high officials and scientists in the health field as fallible human beings, or worse, and a public distrust of their authority which will severely impact health government for years, if not permanently.

After all, why, for example, would frantic parents who are convinced that vaccinations caused autism in their children despite all the scientific evidence to date to the contrary, believe them then?

Why indeed.

They certainly won’t after it has had to be publicly acknowledged that the highest institutions of the land have been led up the garden path by Robert Gallo, Anthony Fauci, David Baltimore and John P. Moore of Weill-Cornell, the latter now notorious for opining in the Op Ed pages of the New York Times last year that any review of HIV/AIDS is “Deadly Quackery”.

The narcissist’s dilemma

hanniballecterx10.jpg “Deadly Quackery”….The title of that particular piece of antiscience is striking, both in its vulgarity in the context of scientific dispute, but also in another way. It is a brilliant example of the peculiar habit of narcissists, and other individuals whose heads are inflated way past the size of the neck that supports them, to accuse others of the precise sin they are perpetrating themselves. ((Large pic – metaphorically representing the leading HIV/AIDS paradigm promoters – double click for full size only if you have broadband. – Ed.))

For there is no better phrase than that title to describe what is actually going on in that field, once the appalling lack of evidence for HIV as the cause of AIDS is recognized, and notice taken of the mountain of evidence in the scientific and medical literature that all of HIV/AIDS is merely AIDS from other causes, relabeled with the all purpose, money raising label “HIV/AIDS”.

We are addressing newcomers to that arena here, of course, who don’t know yet that this blog is devoted to telling them about this particular outrage to decency and common sense, and similar examples of other questionable superstitions in science and medicine, past and present, though HIV/AIDS is undoubtedly the grandest and most astonishng contemporary example we know of.

For what is “Deadly Quackery”, if not claiming that AIDS everywhere is caused by and only by HIV, and denying that the thousands of articles on HIV in journals now raise a huge number of unanswerable questions, and refusing to allow reporters to pursue the many critiques rejecting HIV as the cause of AIDS in journals of the highest order, not to mention more than thirty books, and refusing to respond to reporters asking for comment on those articles and books, and determinedly blocking demands for a national review of the paradigm as “dangerous”, and refusing to support funding for experiments and studies to double check the basic assumption, while adding another $50 billion to the vast public expenditures on AIDS so far, which now amount to more than one per cent of the national budget, and supporting and encouraging the delivery of plane loads of very detrimental drugs to millions of Africans either healthy or suffering from some other cause, having decimated the ranks of some of the most talented Americans with those very same drugs, on the same specious basis, a rationalization of contrary evidence and a belief system immune to reason?

We suggest that it may be perfectly reasonably and aptly said that the behavior of these men, and all their fellow travelers in science and the media who are in a position to know better, is …..Deadly Quackery.

The solution to the AIDS dispute

hanniballecterfullsizestanding.jpgAnd what, you may wonder, would Dr Manning advise to cure science of such monumental errors in the future?

Why, surely the same thing as he advises to avoid patients waking up to find that the surgeon took out the wrong kidney, and similar avoidable mishaps:

In one word: Review.

Precisely what this blog has been urging for three years now, a national review by an independent committee, perhaps in Congress, of the true political and scientific reality of HIV/AIDS research.

Perhaps someone should call the professionally cheerful Doctor Manning and ask him what he thinks of a group of scientists and bureaucrats that have resisted review for twenty three years of a mistake that has cost the public purse billions of dollars by imposing sanctions on inquiring reporters, fund starvation on distinguished researchers, attacked university critics behind their back with phone calls and letters suggesting tenure be withheld, and offered only insults and smears to critics in the media, not least in the New York Times, supposedly the paper of record but assiduously avoiding ?

All this despite copious amounts of unanswered critical review rejecting the HIV paradigm in the highest journals.

Millions of wrong kidneys

In other words, in this case we need not so much scientific review, which has already been undertaken in science journals and which has repeatedly rejected the paradigm without effective and valid counterargument of equal standing and with no evidence at all offered to the contrary, but which has been assiduously overlooked and ignored.

What is needed is political review.

After all, what we are talking about here is not the wrong kidney taken out here, or the wrong sphincter replaced there.

We are talking about the equivalent of millions upon millions of kidneys removed with no medical justification, some of them from the finest representatives of US culture, especially in the creative arts.

In a way, one might view the entire leadership of the HIV/AIDS scientific and bureaucratic community as so many Hannibal Lecters, eating the kidneys of millions of Americans and Africans and washing them down with expensive Chianti.

At some point, we confidently expect, they will have to apologize for leading the world over a cliff: Methodist Hospital apologizes for “tragic event”

The surgery was performed last Tuesday, but it wasn’t until the next day that a pathologist noticed the kidney taken from the patient was healthy.

The doctor who removed the kidney – a veteran surgeon – has voluntary stopped seeing patients. Carlson says the mistake may have originated at a Park Nicollet clinic. “It does appear that it was during that paperwork process of office documentation that this mistake, this error, occurred in what location the lesion was.”

So called wrong-site surgeries do happen – 24 were reported to the Minnesota Department of Health last year – but removal of the wrong organ is rare.

In the four-and-a-half years that state as been assembling data, “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a wrong organ removal,” said Diane Rydrych, assistant director of the state’s division of health policy.

Ryrdrych says most hospitals have safety measures in place to prevent wrong-site surgery, including marking body parts to be operated on in advance of surgery and requiring a “time out” in the operating room to give surgical staff a chance to double check documentation and voice any concerns.

“I would say that these events are always preventable or almost always preventable” said Rydrych.

But in the case of a top level national science policy mistake in which NIAID and the CDC and Nature and Science and the National Academy and the New York Times have all joined in to prevent adequate news coverage and truly independent scientific review of a scientific boondoggle which at some point has undoubtedly become clear to all informed participants who still bother to think for themselves, who will arrest the Lecters?

Or as Juvenal asks Socrates, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who arrests the guards?

generaljack1.jpg

Socrates’ answer was that “the guardians will guard themselves, for we will tell them the honorable lie, that they are superior to those they serve and it is their responsibility to protect their inferiors. We will teach them that power is distasteful and they should rule according to what is right, and not because they like its privileges.” ((Pic of General Jack is fairly large.- Ed.))

Possibly someone should send a copy of The Republic to Anthony Fauci with the appropriate page marked. Or to John P. Moore, who after all has written several papers agreeing with the key points made by the critics of his favorite paradigm.

Perhaps then one of these fine gentlemen will break ranks and finally confess all, turning snitch on the others in the cause of public decency, personal honor and saving lives, not to mention truth itself.

—–PostScript: Reviewing this post we feel we have to apologize again to all those who are aware of the situation and find it depressing to review again in these rather lurid terms even for the benefit of others who are unaware of it.

Here for them to recover their usual optimism (an optimistic outlook saves 30 to 50% of heart attacks, science has now established) is a remarkable video of how uniquely resilient the poorest residents of Bangkok are to the disruptions perpetrated upon them by government officials remote from their daily lives.

In this case, it involves a train, but in the case of the massive export of the HIV/AIDS meme to that innocent country, we trust this little vignette is symbolic of an equally skillful evasion of that inappropriate disruption of their daily lives:

Bangkok train

Setback for dissent

March 19th, 2008

Obama speech statesmanlike, but one response warns of blow to AIDS dissenters

Washington Post columnist highlights Wright’s AIDS paranoia

Bitter irony is that it is metaphorically valid, if correct science is established

obamaspeaks.jpgSupporters of Barack Obama’s inclusive politics are proud of his superb speech yesterday (the video at this link is well worth playing) dealing with the latest embarrassment laid to his door by the Clinton campaign, the sermons of his pastor and family friend Jeremiah Wright which included references to the “US of KKK” and similar.

The speech was compared by commentators tonight to Martin Luther King’s transcendent speeches on the same vexed topic of race in America, and Obama was praised for his leadership stance in maintaining that the anger of blacks and poor whites must be addressed if America is to go forward on this issue and heal the divide which still festers in the body politic.

As a Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, points out, however, some will continue to want Obama to condemn what Wright has said in more decisive terms.

Paranoia over HIV/AIDS

Those who follow the scientific debate over the real cause of AIDS will be dismayed by the particular point that Gerson fastens on, namely, what to him appears to be the unreasonable paranoia of the pastor in regard to AIDS, which according to remarks three years ago he believes to be a plot by the US government to commit genocide against black Americans.

In a 2003 sermon, Wright claimed, “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.”

This accusation does not make Wright, as Obama would have it, an “occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy.” It makes Wright a dangerous man. He has casually accused America of one of the most monstrous crimes in history, perpetrated by a conspiracy of medical Mengeles. If Wright believes what he said, he should urge the overthrow of the U.S. government, which he views as guilty of unspeakable evil. If I believed Wright were correct, I would join him in that cause.

But Wright’s accusation is batty, reflecting a sputtering, incoherent hatred for America. And his pastoral teaching may put lives at risk because the virus that causes AIDS spreads more readily in an atmosphere of denial, quack science and conspiracy theories.

Obama’s speech implied that these toxic views are somehow parallel to the stereotyping of black men by Obama’s grandmother, which Obama said made him “cringe” — both are the foibles of family. But while Grandma may have had some issues to work through, Wright is accusing the American government of trying to kill every member of a race. There is a difference.

The bitter irony of course is that to a large extent Wright’s uninformed hysteria is close to the actual truth, though along somewhat different lines than he imagines.

Truth in fantasy

jeremiahwright.jpgHIV may not have been invented to perpetrate black genocide, but the history of the science and politics of the epidemic, and the clear indication in the literature of the field that Robert Gallo’s original claim that HIV was the cause of AIDS was bogus science to begin with and has not added a jot of justification since, has brought us to a point where the firebrand reverend’s delusion in a bitter irony may be a fairly good description of what is now going on.

This fact, however, is not something that the scientific critics of HIV/AIDS can hope to bring to public attention with any hope of being believed. For now the idea that HIV/AIDS is an unjust iatrogenic attack on blacks everywhere is going to be confused with the most primitive conspiracy theory of Jeremiah Wright, which has become fairly widespread in the black community, we have found.

Thus the true outrage will be conveniently concealed in the confusion of false claims from two directions at once – one from NIAID that HIV/AIDS is an infectious agent epidemic which is more prevalent in the black community than in the white neighborhoods, and should be dealt with by universal testing of blacks, accompanied by dangerous medication wherever indicated, and second, that it is all a plot by the government to kill blacks with HIV – and the promoters of false science such as Anthony Fauci of NIAID and John P. Moore of Weill-Cornell can be more certain than ever that the critics of HIV/AIDS ideology will be even more unlikely than before to gain any kind of hearing from the media or the public.

Critics struck dumb

Once again, the resolution of a paradigm dispute which according to reason and evidence should have been over in a year or less has been extended by the cloud of political confusion, prejudice and ignorance which has obscured the obvious truth for 23 years now, and prevented thousands of often professionally qualified, cogent critics from debunking it even with numerous extensive and conclusive journal articles, media reports and over thirty well argued and increasingly well informed and persuasive books.

Instead, anyone mentioning these plain facts in polite company is liable to be counted the village fool.

Here is the full item in the Washington Post today (Wednesday March 19):

A Speech That Fell Short:

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; A15

Barack Obama has run a campaign based on a simple premise: that words of unity and hope matter to America. Now he has been forced by his charismatic, angry pastor to argue that words of hatred and division don’t really matter as much as we thought.

Obama’s speech in Philadelphia yesterday made this argument as well as it could be made. He condemned the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s views in strong language — and embraced Wright as a wayward member of the family. He made Wright and his congregation a symbol of both the nobility and “shocking ignorance” of the African American experience — and presented himself as a leader who transcends that conflicted legacy. The speech recognized the historical reasons for black anger — and argued that the best response to those grievances is the adoption of Obama’s own social and economic agenda.

It was one of the finest political performances under pressure since John F. Kennedy at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960. It also fell short in significant ways.

The problem with Obama’s argument is that Wright is not a symbol of the strengths and weaknesses of African Americans. He is a political extremist, holding views that are shocking to many Americans who wonder how any presidential candidate could be so closely associated with an adviser who refers to the “U.S. of KKK-A” and urges God to “damn” our country.

Obama’s excellent and important speech on race in America did little to address his strange tolerance for the anti-Americanism of his spiritual mentor.

Take an issue that Obama did not specifically confront yesterday. In a 2003 sermon, Wright claimed, “The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.”

This accusation does not make Wright, as Obama would have it, an “occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy.” It makes Wright a dangerous man. He has casually accused America of one of the most monstrous crimes in history, perpetrated by a conspiracy of medical Mengeles. If Wright believes what he said, he should urge the overthrow of the U.S. government, which he views as guilty of unspeakable evil. If I believed Wright were correct, I would join him in that cause.

But Wright’s accusation is batty, reflecting a sputtering, incoherent hatred for America. And his pastoral teaching may put lives at risk because the virus that causes AIDS spreads more readily in an atmosphere of denial, quack science and conspiracy theories.

Obama’s speech implied that these toxic views are somehow parallel to the stereotyping of black men by Obama’s grandmother, which Obama said made him “cringe” — both are the foibles of family. But while Grandma may have had some issues to work through, Wright is accusing the American government of trying to kill every member of a race. There is a difference.

Yet didn’t George Bush and other Republican politicians accept the support of Jerry Falwell, who spouted hate of his own? Yes, but they didn’t financially support his ministry and sit directly under his teaching for decades.

The better analogy is this: What if a Republican presidential candidate spent years in the pew of a theonomist church — a fanatical fragment of Protestantism that teaches the modern political validity of ancient Hebrew law? What if the church’s pastor attacked the U.S. government as illegitimate and accepted the stoning of homosexuals and recalcitrant children as appropriate legal penalties (which some theonomists see as biblical requirements)? Surely we would conclude, at the very least, that the candidate attending this church lacked judgment and that his donations were subsidizing hatred. And we would be right.

In Philadelphia, Obama attempted to explain Wright’s anger as typical of the civil rights generation, with its “memories of humiliation and doubt and fear.” But Wright has the opposite problem: He ignored the message of Martin Luther King Jr. and introduced a new generation to the politics of hatred.

King drew a different lesson from the oppression he experienced: “I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate myself; hate is too great a burden to bear. I’ve seen it on the faces of too many sheriffs of the South. . . . Hate distorts the personality. . . . The man who hates can’t think straight; the man who hates can’t reason right; the man who hates can’t see right; the man who hates can’t walk right.”

Barack Obama is not a man who hates — but he chose to walk with a man who does.

michaelgerson@cfr.org

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

How to be skeptical – Dawkins

March 16th, 2008

Leading global Skeptic, Richard Dawkins, speaks in New York with cartoons

Makes fun of religious fanatics, suggests better way for humanity

His advice on how to educate without offense

Last evening, the line to hear Richard Dawkins at the Ethical Culture Society on Central Park West stretched for a city block, and the event ended up standing room only for the author of The God Delusion, now out in paperback after sales of 1.5 million to date.

The Oxford professor and leader of the insurgent atheist movement in the US and elsewhere quietly wowed the audience with clever jokes and cartoons at the expense of the faithful, who were probably not present in large numbers. But he emphasized that frontal attack was probably not the best way to go in deconstructing mindless religious dogma.

In fact Dawkins had some suggestions to make which skeptics of other unexamined faiths could benefit from, perhaps. Readers of this blog will know who we mean.

Dawkins emerged from backstage after being introduced by Derek C. Araujo, the Harvard graduate and new director of the Center for Free Inquiry, who are co-sponsors of the US tour for Dawkins and his new paperback edition of The God Delusion.

Times’ biased view

March 9th, 2008

Times prints one-sided story on South Africa yet again

Lack of professional ‘objectivity’ in AIDS has created scandalously biased narrative

Stain on public record – and Times’ own record

southafricabbaytreated.jpgA report today by Celia Dugger from South Africa, Rift Over AIDS Treatment Lingers in South Africa repeats every misleading assumption in South African AIDS as if it is gospel, and once again blindly insults president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister as if they were in the service of ignorance and nonscience, and they were the betrayers of good scientific principles, rather than the activists and insufficiently researched Times reporters such as Ms Dugger.

Dr. Pfaff knew that giving H.I.V.-positive women and their newborns two anti-AIDS drugs instead of one would reduce the odds that mothers would pass the virus to their babies. For months, he and doctors from other hospitals pleaded with provincial health authorities for permission to use the approach, in a province where a staggering 4 in 10 pregnant women were infected.

“We cannot sit in silence any longer,” they wrote last May.

But South Africa had not yet adopted the two-drug strategy, as recommended by the World Health Organization, and the doctors’ request was rebuffed.

So, Dr. Pfaff made his choice. He raised the money on his own….

Dr. Pfaff’s case has stirred a furious reaction from rural doctors and advocates on AIDS issues, raising questions not only about a doctor’s duties in the public health system, but also about why it took so long for South Africa, a country with more H.I.V.-positive people than any other in the world, to act.

The evidence that two drugs together — AZT plus nevirapine — work better than one has been accumulating since a clinical trial in Thailand was published in 2004 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Even here in South Africa, the approach has worked. The Western Cape Province has deeply reduced mother-to-baby H.I.V. infection rates since 2004 — to less than 5 percent from 22 percent — by using both drugs….

For years, the country’s political leaders have faced harsh international criticism for their resistance to providing antiretroviral medicines. Only after a 2002 court order did the government begin providing nevirapine to prevent women from infecting their babies.

In years past, President Thabo Mbeki defended the country’s consultation of dissident scientists who denied that H.I.V. causes AIDS, while Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has promoted indigenous remedies, including diets of garlic, beetroot and African potatoes.

Rural doctors in this district say babies were needlessly infected as a result of the government’s slow pace.

“You can’t uninfect them once they’re infected, can you?” said Dr. Victor Fredlund, who has been at the hospital in Mseleni for 27 years.

Unprofessional for twenty three years

The scientific principles we have in mind involve double checking the possibly self serving claims of mainstream scientists and their officials and health workers against the scientific literature, and taking into account the reasoning, evidence and credentials of their critics based on that literature.

When the Times editors realize how hopelessly naive they are and derelict in their professional duty to print this kind of stuff for twenty years, will they feel shame and embarrassment?

Never too late to mend its ways

It seems a great pity that such a fine institution should harbor an enormous flaw in its bosom which will one day result in a very great blow to its image, just when its competitive position is threatened by the ever improving technical standards of the Internet.

This vulnerability is especially dangerous when its last remaining big competitive advantage is the knowledge of its staff of the history and details of great topics such as AIDS, and the depth of their coverage.

Perhaps their Public Editor might respond to news of this historic stumble by the Times so that the paper has a chance to ease out of its position of helping to enforce censorship and ignorance of the scientific dispute in this arena before it is too late.

Instead of allowing this scientific farce to proceed for years with its full support including the mandatory mantra “HIV the virus that causes AIDS” so often that apparently it no longer needs inclusion, even by Ms Dugger in her Mbeki bashing article, the Times could have made a historic contribution in publicizing the problem with the paradigm and ensuring that independent review was not quashed by Dr Anthony Fauci and his cohorts as effectively as Putin deals with Gary Kasparov in the new Russia.

But presumably Larry Altman the medical correspondent at the Times who trained at the CDC is in thrall to Fauci’s edict years ago never to mention Peter Duesberg, and constantly advises his editors that they should pay no attention to the dispute, except to publish scurrilous counterattacks such as the Op Ed piece by Cornell’s John P. Moore a year ago, and articles of this kind informed only by the irrational and inconsistent reigning wisdom on AIDS and Africa.

What we really need to know

If the Times had been more competent over the years in dealing with the science of AIDS and the peer validated dispute over the unlikely and unproven theory that it is caused by an infectious virus, a notion which just happened to be capable of shooting Robert Gallo into a high trajectory in his otherwise uncertain career, not to mention lifted Anthony Fauci to unprecedented and till then unlikely prominence in the view from the White House, then perhaps we would be more informed now as to how two dangerous and sometimes lethal AIDS drugs can manage to prevent mother-to-infant transfer of positive antibody test results and why this double dose of poison should be given to bouncing black babies otherwise in the pink of health.

But apparently Harpers magazine is the only liberal paper willing to cover this tormented topic in the entire United States of America. In its March 2006 issue, readers will find the definitive piece by Celia Farber, Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science, which is as true in every particular as it was when first throughly researched and printed.

And even that valiant periodical has backed off, it seems, bloodied and bowed by the ignorant politics of AIDS, a scene for which the New York Times has to take much of the blame, given its twenty three years of misleading the public on HIV/AIDS.

Of which disgraceful record this latest incompetent piece by Celia Dugger and her editors is but the latest gratuitous example.

Here is the full story:Rift Over AIDS Treatment Lingers in South Africa
or click this:

The New York Times
March 9, 2008
Rift Over AIDS Treatment Lingers in South Africa
By CELIA W. DUGGER

KWANGWANASE, South Africa — Colin Pfaff, a slight doctor imbued with Christian zeal, had reached a moral crossroads.

Dr. Pfaff knew that giving H.I.V.-positive women and their newborns two anti-AIDS drugs instead of one would reduce the odds that mothers would pass the virus to their babies. For months, he and doctors from other hospitals pleaded with provincial health authorities for permission to use the approach, in a province where a staggering 4 in 10 pregnant women were infected.

“We cannot sit in silence any longer,” they wrote last May.

But South Africa had not yet adopted the two-drug strategy, as recommended by the World Health Organization, and the doctors’ request was rebuffed.

So, Dr. Pfaff made his choice. He raised the money on his own.

Then a week after the national health department said in January that it would begin requiring the use of both drugs, health authorities here in KwaZulu-Natal Province charged Dr. Pfaff with misconduct for raising money from a British charity and carrying out the very same preventive treatment “without permission.”

Dr. Pfaff’s case has stirred a furious reaction from rural doctors and advocates on AIDS issues, raising questions not only about a doctor’s duties in the public health system, but also about why it took so long for South Africa, a country with more H.I.V.-positive people than any other in the world, to act.

The evidence that two drugs together — AZT plus nevirapine — work better than one has been accumulating since a clinical trial in Thailand was published in 2004 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Even here in South Africa, the approach has worked. The Western Cape Province has deeply reduced mother-to-baby H.I.V. infection rates since 2004 — to less than 5 percent from 22 percent — by using both drugs.

AIDS advocates are celebrating the government’s new policy. Still, they contend that South Africa, the region’s economic powerhouse, should have put it into practice long ago, but lacked the political will.

Sibani Mngadi, a spokesman for South Africa’s Health Department, disagreed, saying the government took the time needed to review the data and consult various players after the W.H.O. issued its recommendation in 2006. “There were a number of issues to be debated,” he said.

For years, the country’s political leaders have faced harsh international criticism for their resistance to providing antiretroviral medicines. Only after a 2002 court order did the government begin providing nevirapine to prevent women from infecting their babies.

In years past, President Thabo Mbeki defended the country’s consultation of dissident scientists who denied that H.I.V. causes AIDS, while Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has promoted indigenous remedies, including diets of garlic, beetroot and African potatoes.

Rural doctors in this district say babies were needlessly infected as a result of the government’s slow pace.

“You can’t uninfect them once they’re infected, can you?” said Dr. Victor Fredlund, who has been at the hospital in Mseleni for 27 years.

In this remote, northeastern corner of the country, with its heart-stoppingly big skies and lush coast, doctors see grieving mothers carry babies with AIDS — feverish, vomiting and miserable — back to the hospitals where they were born.

In the doctors’ letter to the provincial authorities in May, Dr. Pfaff, acting medical manager at Manguzi Hospital here, said they thought it was unethical to withhold a treatment used so successfully elsewhere. “We know better options are available and that we have the capacity to deliver them,” he wrote.

In an e-mail message, Dr. Sandile Buthelezi, a provincial health official, acknowledged that the mother-to-baby transmission rate in KwaZulu-Natal, where only nevirapine was used, was 23 percent, while it was less than 5 percent in the Western Cape.

But he also wrote that nevirapine was still the nationally approved regimen and that the cost of adding AZT was not yet factored into the budget. “I am wary of us undermining national just because of what other provinces are doing,” he wrote.

After Dr. Pfaff was charged with misconduct for using the two-drug regimen at Manguzi, advocacy groups took up his cause, as did the political opposition, which seemed only to further rile provincial officials.

“We will not allow anyone to pull vulturistic theatrics to mystify this matter for their own political gain,” the provincial health department said in a Feb. 11 press release.

Peggy Nkonyeni, the African National Congress politician who is the health minister here, visited Manguzi Hospital after the charges were filed. Her spokesman, Desmond Motha, said she told the staff that antiretroviral medicines were not a cure for AIDS, “that the medicine they receive is indeed toxic and that’s why people need to be counseled.”

The Treatment Action Campaign, the country’s most influential AIDS advocacy group, met last month with Mrs. Nkonyeni. Its spokesman, Nathan Geffen, said they were horrified to notice that the minister’s desk had on it only a notepad and a book, “End Aids! Break the Chains of Pharmaceutical Colonialism,” by Dr. Matthias Rath, whose ideas have been denounced by many medical groups and experts.

On his Web site, Dr. Rath contends that antiretroviral drugs attack and destroy the immune system and accuses multinational companies of using poor countries as a marketplace for their “toxic and often deadly drugs.”

Mrs. Nkonyeni’s spokesman said a member of the Treatment Action Campaign disrespectfully told his boss “she should put the book in the dust bin.”

“It’s her right to read the book,” Mr. Motha said angrily

As protests mounted, the Pfaff case became an embarrassment to the governing A.N.C., which in December ousted Mr. Mbeki as its president. The party’s new leaders seem to be seeking to reduce the acrimony between the party and AIDS advocacy groups. It has already reached out to the treatment campaign.

“That’s a huge move forward,” said Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, who was fired by Mr. Mbeki in August as deputy health minister but was often credited with pushing for scientifically based action against AIDS.

Mr. Geffen said that he hoped that the Pfaff case was “the last kick of a dying horse” and that the A.N.C.’s new leaders would take a fresh approach to AIDS.

So it was perhaps not surprising that days after meeting with members of the treatment campaign, the provincial health department confirmed that Mrs. Nkonyeni had decided to withdraw the misconduct charges against Dr. Pfaff.

Her spokesman, Mr. Motha, said Mrs. Nkonyeni managed a program to provide drugs to people with AIDS and would carry out the new guidelines to give both nevirapine and AZT to pregnant women.

Those new rules will be important to Phiwili Ntuli, who is now five months pregnant and working in a sweltering phone shop for $80 a month to support her 19-month-old, H.I.V.-positive son, Mpumelele.

Ms. Ntuli was given nevirapine only when she went into labor in Manguzi Hospital in July 2006. The drug did not work.

Her affectionate son, who is still unable to stand or walk on his own, endured months of sickness before he began taking antiretroviral medicines he will probably need for the rest of his life.

Ms. Ntuli said she was never told that a second drug might have prevented her son’s infection. “Using just one drug makes them guilty,” she said of South Africa’s leaders. “They’re not thinking of the people.”

Establishment warming skeptic dies

March 6th, 2008

Frederick Seitz departs, leaving puzzle

Was he bought and paid for, or example for skeptics everywhere?

Saint or stain, how can outsiders decide?

A fascinating obituary today in the Times presents a conundrum to all impartial observers of the global warming debate. Frederick Seitz was a fully paid up member of the science establishment, a bemedalled general of its politics by virtue of his presidency of the National Academy of Science for seven years in the sixties, presidency of Rockefeller University, National Medal of Science and other salutes to his brilliance and integrity.

Now he has died at 96, after becoming a leader of the global warming skeptics with a manifesto in 1998 which urged Clinton not to sign up for the Kyoto Treaty, and rated global warming as a benefit which would make crops grow faster.

Did he lose his marbles in his old age, or was he the child of the oil and/or tobacco industry, whose views were biased by drawing on these suspect sources of finance for his research?

The response to his views was a special counter-treatise by the National Academy and Frank Press is quoted with the usual defense of the mainstream when their view is deconstructed and rejected: “He was not a specialist in the field”.

In the wake of the rather large conference in Manhattan this week, which collected hundred of climate skeptics together (the ad for the conference claimed there were over 19,000 signed up under its auspices), those members of the public who are also “not in the field” would surely like some guidance as to who was and is right in this matter.

But how to get it? This is the zillion dollar question for all as the globe hurtles towards its destiny, which Al Gore suggests is Manhattan largely under water before the century is out.

We will address this problem as best we can, with the full authority of our independence of mind as well as our superb sources, by expanding this post when we have time ie later today.

Anyone who wants to chime in, however, please do so. All we will say upfront is that we hope that Al Gore and the other Nobel prize winners are right, and that global warming is man made.

Because if it is not, and all these different contrarians are right, then we will lack the weapons to reverse the phenomenon, and half the globe will be turned into Bangladesh or worse.

For if we didn’t cause warming, we can’t cure it by reversing our efforts to pollute the only nest in the universe we have to live in.

All we can do is build our brownstones on stilts, and other palliative measures, which given the vast size of the global climate system, promises to be not much use overall.

The New York Times
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March 6, 2008
Frederick Seitz, Physicist Who Led Skeptics of Global Warming, Dies at 96
By DENNIS HEVESI

Frederick Seitz, a renowned physicist who led both the National Academy of Sciences and Rockefeller University and became a prominent skeptic on the issue of global warming, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 96 and lived in Key West, Fla.

The death was confirmed by his son, Joachim.

Dr. Seitz was president of the National Academy of Sciences from 1962 to 1969 and president of Rockefeller University, one of the nation’s leading research institutions, from 1968 to 1978. In 1973, President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the modern quantum theory of the solid state of matter.

During World War II, Dr. Seitz, as a member of the National Defense Research Committee, was involved in research on ballistics and armor penetration, on the development of radar components and on the development of the atomic bomb. After the war, he directed the atomic energy training program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and later served as science adviser to NATO.

“He was a pioneer in the field of condensed-matter physics, expanding the understanding of the physical and chemical properties of materials,” Frank Press, a successor to Dr. Seitz as president of the National Academy of Sciences, said Tuesday.

Dr. Press said Dr. Seitz’s 1940 textbook, “The Modern Theory of Solids,” was a “very important contribution” to the growth of solid-state physics — the determination of the atomic properties of matter. “Transistors,” Dr. Press said, “are an example of one of the discoveries of modern solid-state physics.”

While a graduate student at Princeton in the 1930s, Dr. Seitz and his teacher Eugene P. Wigner developed the Wigner-Seitz method for calculating the cohesive energy of a metal. It was the first such calculation, based on the known properties of the atoms involved.

In the 1990s, as consensus about global warming was building, Dr. Seitz’s contrarian views became a spark for debate.

When, in 1998, Dr. Seitz issued a statement and circulated a petition attacking the scientific conclusions underlying international efforts to control emissions of industrial-waste gases, the National Academy of Sciences took the extraordinary step of refuting the position of one its former presidents. The petition called for the United States to reject the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty, negotiated by more than 150 countries, imposing limits on emissions of gases like carbon dioxide.

Dr. Seitz’s petition was accompanied by an article concluding that emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, posed no climatic threat. Instead, the article said, the emissions amounted to “a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution” by stimulating atmospheric carbon dioxide and increasing plant growth.

Dr. Press, who was also President Jimmy Carter’s science adviser, said that while he and Dr. Seitz were good friends, Dr. Seitz “was not a specialist in this field.”

“Most top scientists in the field disagreed with him, I among them,” Dr. Press said. Asked if Dr. Seitz’s beliefs had shifted in recent years, Dr. Press said they had not.

From 1978 to 1988, Dr. Seitz was a member of the medical research committee of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. His work for the company was the subject of a 2006 article in Vanity Fair magazine that criticized what it called an “overlap” between scientists who deny climate change and “tobacco executives who denied the dangers of smoking.”

The article, by Mark Hertsgaard, said that Dr. Seitz had helped R. J. Reynolds “give away $45 million to fund medical research in the 1970s and 1980s,” studies that “avoided the central health issue” of smoking and “served the tobacco industry’s purposes.”

Dr. Seitz called the charges “ridiculous, completely wrong.” In an article for the technology journal TCSDaily, he wrote, “The money was all spent on basic science, medical science,” citing in particular research on mad cow disease and tuberculosis and for the work of the Nobel Prize winner Stanley B. Prusiner, the discoverer of prion, an agent that causes brain and neural infections.

Born in San Francisco on July 4, 1911, Dr. Seitz was a son of Frederick and Emily Hofman Seitz, the owners of a local bakery.

Besides his son, of Palo Alto, Calif., Dr. Seitz is survived by three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His wife of more than 50 years, the former Elizabeth Marshall, died in 1992.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Stanford in 1932, Dr. Seitz earned a Ph.D. in physics at Princeton in 1934. Before being named president of Rockefeller University, in Manhattan, Dr. Seitz had served on the faculties of the University of Rochester, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Illinois and the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University).

In his time as president of Rockefeller, the university started research programs in reproductive biology, cell biology, molecular biology and the neurosciences. It also began a joint M.D.-Ph.D. program with Cornell University Medical College and established the 1,000-acre Center for Field Research in Ethology and Ecology in Millbrook, N.Y., where behavioral and biological scientists study natural phenomena related to animal behavior and environmental biology.

In the early years of the cold war, Dr. Seitz warned of the Soviet Union’s rapid development of nuclear weapons. In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan appointed Dr. Seitz to a 15-member advisory committee of scientists and engineers to study technical issues facing the new administration. The panel urged Reagan to strengthen programs in military, industrial and space technology as a means of reasserting American strategic and economic supremacy.

Besides the National Medal of Science, Dr. Seitz received many other honors, including the United States Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Distinguished Public Service Award; and the Compton Award, the highest honor of the American Institute of Physics.

Assessing Frederick Seitz at 87

So what can we make of this item, and the career of Fred Seitz? Obviously a very good scientist who made substantial breakthroughs in understanding solid state physics, which helped develop transistors and thus the whole apparatus of modern global communications before microchips. This led to public recognition of his talent and reliability as a distinguished scientist of incontrovertible achievement and a number of awards and high positions.

All this didn’t seem to count for as much as it should have when he issued a proclamation in his later years (he must have been 87 in 1998) that objected to the Kyoto Treaty and global warming alarm on scientific grounds, because he “wasn’t in the field.” However, it counted for enough in that the National Academy took pains to “refute” his stand, though we are not told how or why it amounted to refutation rather than counterargument.

Presumably the feeling was that since Dr Seitz was in his late eighties he must have lost some of his powers but since outsiders might not appreciate how weak his arguments were it was necessary for the mainstream to point out how wrong he was with the full authority of the National Academy of Scientists he once headed.

Let us hope for the sake of the dignity and authority of the National Academy that the counter arguments amounted to more than “Most top scientists in the field disagreed with him, Frank Press among them”.

Unfortunately, this is inevitably the plane on which most media coverage is forced to operate, and most members of the public, politicians and other outsiders also have to join them in having to assess arguments in climate science according to the credentials of proponents, rather than examine the data and the arguments themselves, for lack of time and expertise to do so.

Is there anything wrong with this situation? On the surface one would think not, since one would assume that the generals of science know what they are doing, and are not liars or biased, especially in such an important study of such great import to the future welfare of all mankind.

Unfortunately, however, once one examines the issue more closely one finds reason to worry. Anyone familiar with the scene in HIV/AIDS, such as the faithful readers of this humble blog, know very well that there is at least one vast example in science of the mainstream being plainly wrong in the conventional wisdom it purveys, and the number of reasons why this can be so.

In fact, they are we hope very aware by now that this is par for the course in science, since almost by definition the paradigms replaced by progress in science are strenuously defended until the last possible minute by the generals who live by them and off them.

They are also defended by the vast crowd of journeymen scientists in the field, media reporters and supportive laymen who may not understand their leaders or the critics’ points or why they are supposedly right or wrong, but operate on the general principle that mainstream beliefs are thoroughly vetted and valid and anyone who questions them is out of step with science, religion and moral values and probably mentally unbalanced.

This defense is invariably bolstered by noticing that the critics’ are funded by suspect organizations with devious motives, such the petroleum industry, or tobacco, who are known to be evil in their intent to muddy the waters and resist government regulation of the pollution and poison they perpetrate. The fact that the mainstream is funded by government agencies which dispense millions if not billions along lines that meet the agenda of bureaucrats and officials with ulterior motives of the job seeking kind is somehow overlooked.

Thus in the item above we are told that Dr Seitz in his senior years did research funded by R.J. Reynolds which was called into question by Mark Hertsgaard, a Vanity Fair contributor who pointed to the overlap between scientists who deny climate change and “tobacco executives who denied the dangers of smoking”.

The Queen of England is afraid. International C.E.O.’s are nervous. And the scientific establishment is loud and clear. If global warming isn’t halted, devastating sea-level rises will be inevitable by 2100. So how did this virtual certainty get labeled a “liberal hoax” in the U.S.? Try the same tactics Big Tobacco used to deny the dangers of smoking.

We take this to suggest that tobacco funding is motivated by a wish to show that there is scientific doubt which is valid in another field, implying that it could be valid in smoking as well. This seems plausible. Peter Duesberg in AIDS was funded by tobacco for a time, presumably for the same reason, since he showed that doubt was valid in HIV/AIDS.

Dr Seitz replied that the research money he was given by R. J. Reynolds went to mad cow disease and tuberculosis and helped Stanley Prusiner win a Nobel for prions, “an agent that causes brain and neural infections”. As it happens the irony is that many continue to doubt the validity of that discovery.

All in all, the reader in search of answers other than knee jerk Al Gore-ism is left wondering what Dr Seitz argued against the idea of man made global warming, apart from pointing out that carbon dioxide makes plants grow faster.

One source might be SEPP, Fred Singer’s Science and Environmental Policy Project, of which Seitz was the Chair.

Skeptics meet on global warming

Luckily, there is now an enormous amount suddenly made available on this topic from the Heartland Institute conference on global warming here in Manhattan earlier this week. We will deal with it in our next post, since the whole event was a classic of how mainstream and anti-mainstream prejudice can divert attention from the nub of the issue, which is what do the data tell us, and what do we not yet know from the data?

In particular, the credentials and motivation of the sponsor, the libertarian Heartland Institute, were called into question, for reasons which are obvious from one glance at their website. However, they strenuously defend themselves against charges that they are unduly influenced by the secret corporate donors (both Exxon and Philip Morris in the past) who provide 25% of their funding, with only 5% from “energy-producing companies”, and counted attendees from Harvard and the London School of Economics among the 500 they claimed attended the event, with a hundred speakers.

With coverage from the Times and others beating up on them and the yahoo flavor of their website, they do not make a very good impression, but let’s see.


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