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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
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Holbrooke tells Rose we need universal AIDS testing -but do we?

To test or not to test, that is the question

The handsome man with the steady gaze of a rich and educated patrician on Rose on Tuesday night (Nov 22) was impressive, He sounded thoughtful and well briefed as he assured Rose that US soldiers were in greater danger now in Iraq than they were when he was fighting in Vietnam. “Obviously, knowing what we know now, the war should never have been attempted,” he said.

This was Richard Holbrooke, speaking with the authority of a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, and clearly a man who thinks through any issue he is interested in.

Until, that is, he reached the topic that seems to kill that critical impulse stone dead across the entire stratum of power and influence, even in those like Holbrooke in whom thoughtfulness is a habit, who are high in business and politics and take part in trying to find a solution to AIDS.

To be precise, just as we were wondering if he would make a good US president Holbrooke informed the earnestly sycophantic Charlie Rose that as President of the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, it was “almost a personal obsession now for me to promote AIDS testing. Since the virus doesn’t have any effect for seven years, 95% of the world who are positive don’t know they have it. We need more than an ABC of prevention, we need ABCT – abstinence, be faithful, condoms and testing,”

In other words, Holbrooke’s vision of the problem of AIDS follows the standard line all the way. So does Bill Clinton’s, of course, and so does economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia Earth Institute, both men who have played a strong part in opening the tap of international assistance in this cause. None of these politically sophisticated people, who can easily afford to ask their staff to look into the matter, have done so, it is clear. Scientists get a free pass, it appears, even when there have been complaints about their activities and questions raised about the validity of their science for two decades in an issue which has been on the front pages for the entire time.

In all Holbrooke says, there is not the slightest hint of any such doubt has ever existed in his mind. India now has most HIV positives, he says, and HIV is spreading to Russia. He is worried that with bird flu the priority, AIDS will take a back seat and run rampant. Evidently, he is as likely to lend an ear to the AIDS expose as George W. Bush.

Universal testing looms

In urging universal AIDS testing Holbrooke has fastened on one of the most twisted aspects of AIDS ideology, one where common sense is corrupted by politics which ignores mainstream research, let alone the review papers which reject HIV as the cause of anything.

For twenty years part of the schizophrenia of HIV=AIDS-think has been the banning of comprehensive AIDS testing as an invasion of privacy which may lead to prejudice and unfair treatment. At the same time, the result of a test is counted as the key to care and medication, and the failure to test is imagined to be the cause of the spread of AIDS by people who have no idea they are “HIV positive”.

The mental contortions needed to accomodate these inconsistent ideas are fairly demanding, but apparently not beyond the abilities of millions. Unless of course they don’t bother to think about it at all, which is more likely.

The scientific review literature of HIV?AIDS denies that a positive AIDS test has any significance for health whatsoever, of course, and even the mainstream paradigm literature has now repeatedly shown that heterosexual spread of AIDS is ruled out because the rate of transference of “HIV positivity” is too low, or even non existent.

This delicate balance of opposing ideas may collapse soon given the introduction of a home AIDS test some time in the next year. Such easy and rapid testing will confirm many new “HIV positives” throughout the nation and the world, without affecting the “spread” of AIDS in the slightest among heterosexuals. All it will do is foster all the distortions of social behavior that follow on acceptance of this doubtful paradigm, which ruins so many lives.

Perhaps the most egregious of these are the prosecutions for attempted murder that are being mounted lately especially in Canada against individuals who are HIV-positive and have sex with others without telling them.

Here are three from the last week:

Johnson Aziga is shown in this undated file handout photo.

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Nov. 15 2005 8:00 AM ET

An HIV-positive man from Hamilton, Ont. will stand trial on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women who were allegedly his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 49, is accused of having unprotected sex with at least 13 women without disclosing his health status.

Ontario Court Judge Norman Bennett has ruled there’s enough evidence to make Aziga stand trial on murder charges. Aziga has been remanded in custody until a trial date is set on Dec. 16.

Aziga worked as a staff analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

The two women he is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died in December 2003, and the other died in May, 2004.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of 11 other women who were allegedly his sexual partners. Those women are alleged to be aggravated sexual assault victims since they say they didn’t know they were having unprotected sex with someone who was HIV-positive.

Legal experts say this court’s decision is unprecedented in Canada……

CTV.ca

HIV-positive man to stand trial on murder charges

Johnson Aziga is shown in this undated file handout photo.

CTV.ca News Staff

Updated: Tue. Nov. 15 2005 8:00 AM ET

An HIV-positive man from Hamilton, Ont. will stand trial on first degree murder charges in connection with the deaths of two women who were allegedly his sexual partners.

Johnson Aziga, 49, is accused of having unprotected sex with at least 13 women without disclosing his health status.

Ontario Court Judge Norman Bennett has ruled there’s enough evidence to make Aziga stand trial on murder charges. Aziga has been remanded in custody until a trial date is set on Dec. 16.

Aziga worked as a staff analyst with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1996.

The two women he is accused of killing were from Toronto. One died in December 2003, and the other died in May, 2004.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of 11 other women who were allegedly his sexual partners. Those women are alleged to be aggravated sexual assault victims since they say they didn’t know they were having unprotected sex with someone who was HIV-positive.

Legal experts say this court’s decision is unprecedented in Canada.

“It’s certainly the first case of its kind in Canada,” legal analyst Steven Skurka told Canada AM. “There have been a few cases of criminal negligence but none where the allegation was that a man used his body as a weapon to kill other women.”

Skurka adds that consent plays no part in this case, since the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that one does not consent to putting oneself at risk of HIV infection when one consents to sex.

“Let me explain it to you this way: If someone walked into a restaurant and ordered a meal, and the chef deliberately poisoned the meal, you could hardly say, ‘Well, you agreed to eat the food, didn’t you?’ It’s no different with the women in this case.”

Skurka admits that with the two key witnesses – the victims – deceased, prosecutors will have some difficulty proving their case.

“It’s going to be tremendously difficult. But there are three ways that it can be proven, in my view,” he says.

“First of all, there’s the pattern of conduct. Let’s remember there were two women here alleged to have been murdered — not just one — and there may be other cases that the prosecution will rely on. The second feature is what statements he’s given; has he given statements to other people about his conduct or to the police? And finally, what was his knowledge, what did he know about the transmission of the disease?”

The Hamilton case comes on the heels of a high-profile case involving a professional football player.

Trevis Smith is a linebacker with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He is HIV-positive, and in October was charged with aggravated sexual assault in Surrey, British Columbia.

Smith was freed on $10,000 bail last week. He heads back to a Surrey court on Wednesday to enter a plea. His lawyer has said it will be not guilty.

© Copyright 2002-2006 Bell Globemedia Inc.

HIV-positive Ga. man sentenced on consensual sex charges

Judge rejects Fulton prosecutor’s request for 10 years in prison

By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN | Nov 22, 5:54 PM

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday rejected a prosecutor’s request to send an HIV-positive Georgia man to jail for 10 years for failing to disclose his infection before engaging in consensual sex in separate relationships with two men….

HIV-positive Ga. man sentenced on consensual sex charges

Judge rejects Fulton prosecutor’s request for 10 years in prison

By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN | Nov 22, 5:54 PM

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday rejected a prosecutor’s request to send an HIV-positive Georgia man to jail for 10 years for failing to disclose his infection before engaging in consensual sex in separate relationships with two men.

Instead, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger sentenced Gary Wayne Carriker, to 10 years, with only two to serve in prison, followed by eight years of probation.

A Fulton County judge on Tuesday sentenced Gary Wayne Carriker to serve two years in prison for not disclosing that he is HIV-positive before engaging in sexual activity.

Carriker, 26, must also receive counseling and, during his first two years of probation, abide by a 10 p.m. curfew and complete 500 hours of community service with an AIDS group, Goger ruled.

“I think the judge was fair, I think the judge was thoughtful and I think he exemplified the highest standard of judicial restraint,” Clay Collins, Carriker’s attorney, said after the hearing.

Carriker, handcuffed and wearing a red jail jumpsuit, spoke briefly during the Nov. 22 hearing, acknowledging that he understood the charges against him and was pleading guilty voluntarily to two felony counts of reckless conduct.

Carriker did not disclose his HIV status before he engaged in consensual oral and anal sex with Jordan Myers between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2004, according to his May 10 indictment in Fulton Superior Court. He also did not disclose his status before he engaged in consensual oral sex with Don McDaniel between Jan. 8 and Jan. 25, 2005, according to the indictment.

The plea was non-negotiated, meaning prosecutors and Carriker’s attorneys had not agreed to a sentence prior to the hearing.

After questioning Carriker on the charges, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, a Fulton County senior assistant district attorney, asked Goger to sentence him to 10 years in prison for each charge, to serve concurrently.

In her arguments to the judge, Dunikoski acknowledged that Carriker’s victims were present in court and disagreed with her sentencing recommendation. But Dunikoski said Carriker should serve the full 10 years in jail to help protect the public by preventing him from engaging in similar behavior after his release.

On Nov. 7, a Fayette County judge sentenced Carriker to 10 years, with two to serve in jail, for a similar charge of reckless conduct for not disclosing his HIV status to another man, John Withrow, during a consensual sexual relationship between Dec. 10, 2003, and April 30, 2004. A civil lawsuit filed by Withrow against Carriker remains pending.

HIV-Positive Woman Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault

By Philip White

(EUNN) London – A Canadian woman has plead guilty to charges of having unprotected sex with several soldiers at a central Ontario military base knowing she had tested positive for HIV, a virus known to cause AIDS. Jennifer Murphy, 31, plead guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault….

(show)

November 26, 2005

HIV-Positive Woman Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Assault

By Philip White

(EUNN) London – A Canadian woman has plead guilty to charges of having unprotected sex with several soldiers at a central Ontario military base knowing she had tested positive for HIV, a virus known to cause AIDS. Jennifer Murphy, 31, plead guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault.

Murphy is scheduled for sentencing on December 2, Barrie Court officials said.

The Canadian woman was charged March 2 following allegations that she had engaged in unprotected sex with a soldier at CFB Borden near Barrie without informing him she had the virus that causes AIDS.

The Defence Department sent a notice to Forces personnel across the country warning them to seek medical advice if they had sex with Murphy.

The Canadian woman had returned to the area to visit friends she had made while she and her husband, a mechanic in the armed forces, were stationed at Barrie last year.

Murphy had been dubbed the “Soldier Stalker” following rumors of her being sighted walking around in a pink G-string and combat boots between military barracks there.

Here is another story, this one of a man who ran amok with a revolver apparently trying to get shot dead by the police in New York City today after a positive HIV test:

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Suicide try by HIV guy

‘I wanted to get killed by cop’

By MICHAEL WHITE, JESS WISLOSKI

and ROBERT F. MOORE

DAILY NEWS WRITERS

A man who had just learned he was HIV-positive pointed a loaded gun at cops outside a Brooklyn police station yesterday, setting off a wild chase that ended with police firing five shots.

“I wanted to get killed by a cop today,” the suspect told officers as they put him into a holding cell, according to a law enforcement source.

The man with a death wish, Shalton Walters, 22, was charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon, cops said.

No one was hurt in the bizarre drama that began just before 8 a.m. outside the 69th Precinct stationhouse on Foster Ave. in Canarsie.

“They’re all a little shaken up,” said an officer who works with the cops involved.

The three minutes of madness erupted as three uniformed patrol officers were leaving the front door of the police station. An armed Walters allegedly approached the officers and “got into a combat stance,” a police official said.

Standing less than 20 feet from the cops, Walters tried to fire his .45-caliber handgun and then darted down Rockaway Parkway, cops said. He cut through a parking lot behind the stationhouse and on E. 98th St. ran into a plainclothes officer who had just completed his shift.

The gunman stepped back, got into a combat stance again and pointed the gun at that cop, officials said. The officer yelled for him to stop but didn’t pull his weapon, and the suspect then ran toward Farragut Road without firing, cops said. At Farragut and Rockaway Parkway, he was met by four on-duty cops in two marked squad cars, as other officers poured out of the stationhouse.

Three cops fired a total of five shots at Walters after he had pointed the gun at them, too. He was not hit, and police were finally able to wrestle him to the ground.

A police source said Walters’ gun was a “piece of crap” and may have been inoperable. The source said Walters’ boldness faded quickly once the cops started firing.

“When you hear a bullet whiz by your ear, you start to think maybe this isn’t a good idea,” said a cop scouring the crime scene.

One bullet shattered a glass door at Grocery Inc., which is across Rockaway from the shooting. “The bullet almost went right into my head,” said Abdul Fattah, 27, a clerk at the convenience store. “I was scared. I just hit the floor right away.”

A police source said cops suspect Walters, a janitor at Natural Furniture Liquidators on Atlantic Ave. who was staying with friends in Queens, has been treated for a mental illness. They were investigating his medical history last night.

With Alison Gendar

Originally published on November 27, 2005

Media reporting and comment on the prospect of an easy home HIV test reveals how the acceptance of the doubtful HIV=AIDS premise leads to an ever larger structure of fantasy supported by perfectly good reasoning without anyone questioning the premise. Somehow the fact that reasoning itself is valid seems to validate the premise, however absurd the fantasy that results.

One example of this is “Test Adds New Twist to the Dating Game” from Washington by Gardiner Harris in the New York Times Style section today (p 16 Sun Nov 27).

perhaps soon to fade from the popular imagination will be scenes like the one from “Sex and the City” in which the sexually ravenous Samantha is asked by a prospective partner to get tested for H.I.V. (She becomes so nervous, she passes out at the clinic.)

Ms. Friedman said she expected the tests to be taken by people who routinely get anxious, often for very little reason, about their partners or their past. She has clients who take at-home pregnancy tests repeatedly and then, for good measure, go to a doctor for another test, she said.

(show)

The New York Times

November 27, 2005

Test Adds New Twist to the Dating Game

By GARDINER HARRIS

WASHINGTON

THE two young single women, attractive and confident, were sitting at the bar of a popular Washington after-hours spot when they were asked how a relatively quick do-it-yourself H.I.V. test might affect their dating life.

One of them, Julie Powers, 23, laughed. “I would definitely make someone take it,” she said, “hopefully before the sex.” And she would not be embarrassed, she said, to insist that a man submit to the test.

“I really think we’ve got what they want,” she explained. “And if they want it, they can have it on our terms.”

Her friend, Victoria Maulhardt, 25, nodded and added, “Especially if you’re getting serious with someone.”

Their comments were not idle speculation: a rapid at-home H.I.V. test could be available on pharmacy shelves within the next year or so. Encouraged by a federal drug advisory committee earlier this month, OraSure Technologies in Bethlehem, Pa., is expected to apply to the Food and Drug Administration soon for permission to start selling its H.I.V. test over the counter. Now it’s available only in clinics.

Taking the test involves a simple swab of the gums. Results appear within 20 minutes.

And if the results are negative, certain inhibitions may disappear.

“I think there would be a lot more unprotected sex if there was a 20-minute test that people could take,” said Michael Mathews, 40. Mr. Mathews was sitting in another Washington nightspot, this one with frosted windows and a clientele that was almost uniformly male.

“We’re all sick of hearing about condoms and prevention and safe sex,” Mr. Mathews said. If a test could allow gay men to skip such prevention efforts, many would, he said.

Ken Deckinger, co-founder and chief executive of the dating service HurryDate, said that an easily available AIDS test could quickly reassure a dater of a prospective partner’s health, allowing a couple to jump into bed faster than they might have before.

The test, he wrote in an e-mail exchange, will “speed up the natural relationship evolution process.”

“This, of course, will most likely lead to more casual encounters,” he wrote.

Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in private practice in St. Louis, said she could envision daters “bonding over this and saying, ‘Let’s take this test together,’ ” and then, safely reassured, going from there.

The test is part of a growing stable of medical products that people can use at home to address their sexual behavior; self-administered pregnancy tests and the morning-after pill are others.

The H.I.V. test also addresses an issue that more and more singles face: knowing next to nothing about their next date. The popularity of Internet dating and group set-ups has led more and more singles to participate in blind dates, no references included.

But while technology has helped foster the trend, it is also helping singles cope with it. Google can provide screenfuls of information about a prospective match. Other Web sites offer criminal background checks and lists of real estate holdings. So perhaps it’s no surprise that coming soon to a CVS near you is a quick way to tell if a would-be Mr. or Ms. Right has an infection that could kill.

And perhaps soon to fade from the popular imagination will be scenes like the one from “Sex and the City” in which the sexually ravenous Samantha is asked by a prospective partner to get tested for H.I.V. (She becomes so nervous, she passes out at the clinic.)

Ms. Friedman said she expected the tests to be taken by people who routinely get anxious, often for very little reason, about their partners or their past. She has clients who take at-home pregnancy tests repeatedly and then, for good measure, go to a doctor for another test, she said.

Members of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee suggested in a meeting this month that the people most likely to take the test are college students recovering from an uncharacteristically wild night. But the test is no hangover cure.

An H.I.V. infection will take anywhere from two weeks to three months to become detectable, so the test can offer no assurances about a partner’s most recent sexual history – or fidelity.

Still, Arthur Aron, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said surreptitious testing of bodily fluids was bound to happen once the test becomes widely available.

“In the context of jealousy, people do amazing things,” Professor Aron said.

Ms. Maulhardt, on the other hand, nursing a drink at the Washington bar, dismissed the idea. “I wouldn’t want to do it behind someone’s back,” she said.

Besides giving daters more chances to have quickie sex and then be horrible to each other, a rapid at-home H.I.V. test could of course help stem a stubbornly high rate of H.I.V. infections in the United States, particularly among blacks, homosexuals and drug users. More than a million people here have been infected with H.I.V., almost two-thirds through male-to-male sex. The rate of infection among blacks is more than eight times that of whites.

Last year 38,685 more Americans were found to be infected with H.I.V., and studies have shown that 40 to 45 percent of new cases develop into AIDS within a year of diagnosis. AIDS takes nearly a decade to develop after an H.I.V. infection, so the seemingly rapid onset of AIDS in these cases means that many Americans – at least 250,000, studies estimate – carry the virus for years without knowing it, perhaps infecting others.

That is why many public health officials are so eager to put OraSure’s test on pharmacy shelves. Getting that quarter-million people to shed their ignorance and get screened could be the key to reducing the epidemic’s toll in the United States. But persuading some daters to make use of the test may still be difficult.

“I could not envision saying, ‘Gee, this has been really great, but before we go any further, here’s a box for you with a little bow on it?’ ” said Amy Drummond, a single woman from Alexandria, Va. “No.”

Matthew Montroi, a 23-year-old single from Washington, said he could imagine a woman asking him to take the test as they became more intimate and moved from using condoms to using birth control pills.

“But I’d probably never ask her to take one unless we were sitting at dinner and she just happened to mention that she’d had 50 partners before,” Mr. Montroi said. “I’d probably leave at that point anyway.”

Then he paused.

“Well,” he said, “if she was really hot, I might stay and ask her to take the test.”

* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

Evidently we are in for a reprise of the complications of romantic love in the late eighties and nineties, when those who fell for a partner of the opposite sex found themselves in love with someone they also had to suspect of murdering them with sex. Until, that is, the suspect partner took an HIV test, and even then, they couldn’t be sure because the test supposedly did not show HIV antibodies until months after exposure.

Now the test will be a simple swab of the gums and be available in 20 minutes, But we are told that “an HIV infection will still take anywhere from two weeks to three months to become detectable”, so the problem of too recent exposure is not solved. Nonetheless, the article predicts that mutual swabbing between interested parties will provide enough reassurance to permit instant gratification for many.

All these inconsistent behaviors result from the collision of two powerful emotions, longing for love and the fear of death, in people under the sway of a paradigm that the most tested scientific literature has reviewed and rejected.

Anyone who accepts this scientific literature and its conclusions can only marvel at the way intelligent people can adapt to a false belief even though it leads to the most obnoxious results in the part of life many of them value the most, the search for love.

Official blinkers

Meanwhile officials also fail to imagine alternatives, as if they were also wearing blinkers. From the same article, we have these paragraphs:

Last year 38,685 more Americans were found to be infected with H.I.V., and studies have shown that 40 to 45 percent of new cases develop into AIDS within a year of diagnosis. AIDS takes nearly a decade to develop after an H.I.V. infection, so the seemingly rapid onset of AIDS in these cases means that many Americans – at least 250,000, studies estimate – carry the virus for years without knowing it, perhaps infecting others.

That is why many public health officials are so eager to put OraSure’s test on pharmacy shelves. Getting that quarter-million people to shed their ignorance and get screened could be the key to reducing the epidemic’s toll in the United States. But persuading some daters to make use of the test may still be difficult.

For whatever reason, it doesn’t occur to these officials that a good reason for the sudden decline of those detected as HIV-positive only within the last year might be the news itself, and any of the severe medications which might be applied. Not to mention that any one of the thirty or so “AIDS symptoms” to appear for some conventional reason will be interpreted as “AIDS”.

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