Science Guardian

Truth, beauty and paradigm power in science and society

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News, views and reviews measured against professional literature in peer reviewed journals (adjusted for design flaws and bias), well researched books, authoritative encyclopedias (not the bowdlerized Wiki entries on controversial topics) and the investigative reporting and skeptical studies of courageous original thinkers among academics, philosophers, researchers, scholars, authors, filmmakers and journalists.

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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blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.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.
Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

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Larry Kramer corrects our lashing, wins apology

Signs he may yet acknowledge his own historic oversight

Larry Kramer has noted via Peter Duesberg that we have been unfair to him in the preceding posts A confused Larry Kramer asks Peter Duesberg to explain his own case,Larry Kramer billed $19,000 annually for drugs “I never took”.

We are alarmed to hear this, and hurry to try to make amends for the unfairness he can point out. We have no special desire to make Larry unhappy, since like many people we find his public persona charming for its warmth, openness, vulnerability, expressiveness, idealism and community spirit, not to mention his urging restraint in the baser pleasures.

Nor do we severely blame him for being misinformed and misleading others in this great issue, since virtually everyone else of influence is in the same boat. The AIDS danger is really the HIV?AIDS meme, which has now infected billions.

Why Larry is unique, so far, in this debate

The prime responsibility for the almost universal misapprehension among the political leaders of the world, that they don’t need to be aware of the Duesberg critique of HIV?AIDS because there is nothing in it, belongs to those who have forcibly peddled bad science so authoritatively for twenty years to people high and low who had no easy means of checking it.

Moreover, it is clear from Larry’s initial concerned reaction to Celia’s article in Harper’s and now his letter to that magazine, printed in copies of the May issue reaching subscribers last weekend and on the newstands now, that he is openminded to the whole idea that there may be something seriously wrong with the HIV?AIDS hypothesis, now that people he respects have raised the issue so convincingly.

We blame Larry only for a mistake which the whole world has made, which is not listening well enough to people of standing and integrity who warned him repeatedly that the science of HIV?AIDS was an empty box, and for assuming that all modern scientists and medical men and women are in some sense godlike creatures who are above error, let alone the mortal sin of sacrificing human lives to maintaining their career paradigm.

But even for his blind faith in scientists and doctors we don’t blame him overmuch, because we imagine that like everyone else whose brain is infested with the AIDS meme he must fundamentally be in terror of what is happening, and naturally cling to the only saviors he sees, that is to say, the health authorities, led by friendly, super bureaucrat and global bug buster Tony Fauci, the best dressed man at the NIH.

As Peter Doshi demonstrated in the April issue of Harpers, the art of raising money from the public by terrorizing us with new bugs such as the flu virus is considered an official strategic weapon in the government health game at the CDC and a skill worth instructing in lectures.

In a predicament where your very life is threatened by a lurking invisible microbe, as Larry has long believed, ideas rule emotions and vice versa, and in a career artist, whose stock in trade is the emotions created by ideas, this symbiosis is almost a professional qualification.

In other words, there are few people more likely to come down with the brain infection of the AIDS meme, one of the most powerfully insidious and infectious memes on the planet, than a poet and playwright.

So we actually congratulate him for showing an openminded willingness now to consider a different point of view, which is an attitude shown by no other leading figure in this arena so far. If anything does happen politically to move this mountain of a paradigm, Larry Kramer will be able to take some of the credit, it is clear.

A correction in response to Larry Kramer

He has three complaints. First, the publishing of his note was an invasion of privacy. Secondly, Tony Fauci was not the facilitator of his liver transplant. Thirdly, he never had Hepatitis C.

Our answers in short are (a) if he thought the email was private, we apologise, but the material we reproduced was only the same as he has often said in public, even as testimony to the FDA. Duesberg did not reveal the truly personal mail he sent him, in further correspondence, merely the public level intial query; (b) we certainly accept his correction that Tony Fauci was helpful in the initial treatment of his liver disease but didn’t arrange his transplant in any way, and we apologize for saying that, and have corrected it; and finally (c) we never did say that he had hepatitis C, we just mentioned it as one of the possibilities which might have caused liver damage when he said he never took drugs, which we took to mean all drugs, though he may have meant simply recreational ones. Larry Kramer does not have hepatitis C.

On the privacy issue, we did reproduce what Larry wrote to Duesberg initially only because it was purely public material that he had mentioned many other places, including testimony to the FDA. But since we feel that email privacy is an increasingly knotty issue these days, we discuss it further here, but hide the section because it is not directly relevant to the blog theme, which is the appalling neglect of the scientific literature by virtually everybody in HIV?AIDS, from scientists and doctors to reporters, activists and patients.

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Larry writes that he thought his email to Duesberg was a private exchange. This complaint is one to which we are sensitive. We don’t much like the habit people have of too freely copying our email to people we have never even met, and we were brought up on the principle that gentlemen do not read other’s private correspondence. We certainly wouldn’t normally want to make public anything written on the firm understanding of privacy. This is especially true in this case, since Larry Kramer was finally reaching out to Duesberg to learn more, and this may be one of the more important events in the history of HIV?AIDS.

In this case, however, nothing was said in the email about confidentiality, and Duesberg forwarded it to us without any proviso. As it happens we emailed him back anyway regarding the privacy issue, saying we assumed that his forwarding the email to us meant that we could quote from it, unless it mentioned something personally compromising or embarrassing.

We never got a reply, so perhaps we shouldn’t have gone ahead. But it definitely seemed a publicly quotable exchange in tone and content, and Larry Kramer’s experience in dealing with HIV positivity is an extremely important case that he has often testified on in public.

Here is what Larry said again, for reference. This is all we quoted from him:

would you explain something to me. i never used poppers. i never took drugs. i never had any chemo. i do not suffer and never have from malnutrition. i did not start taking anti-hiv drugs until 2001 when i got my liver transplant and they were required. i tested positive in 1987. you say these are the causes of hiv infection. i am hiv infected. i have and had many friends in the same boat, who simply do not fall into your criteria.

In other words, a set of facts about his own case, and that of many friends, which he asked Duesberg to explain in the light of his own view.

Most of this information appears to be wrong, however, as we discovered when checking on the Web, where it is contradicted by other things Larry has said in the past. This was the point of our post ie that Larry seemed to have an unreliable memory, and in general seemed to be too casual about the scientific and medical facts of the matter, which he was asking Duesberg to comment on, and it seemed to imply that he had left this responsibility to his doctors, mastering only the rationale of the drugs they give him.

In other words, it seemed to be another sign of how he has partly abdicated the leadership of his community in HIV?AIDS to conventional doctors and scientists, and ignored the many efforts made to warn him that their authority was questionable, and to get him to look at the other side of HIV?AIDS, talk to Duesberg and read his papers.

Later, however, we found other testimony which showed he has paid a lot of attention to the topic – everything but what Duesberg had to offer. Indeed Kramer seems to have set a very good example in thinking and checking for himself in guarding against the toxicity of drugs, even without believing they are the chief cause of HIV?AIDS among gays, as Duesberg has long insisted.

In making this point we thought it best to quote his own words, and now he asserts that they were private, though without making a big issue out of it. and without specifying what information he considered private. Well, we apologize, though in reviewing it again, we have to say that we still don’t think it deserves that status. After all, the contact was initiated by Larry, in a dispute of public concern, with a scientist who is the prime source of information on the other side of the position Larry has long taken himelf. Larry called upon Duesberg to inform him of his reasoning, and he presented him with the facts of his own case, which he has already vouchsafed, several times in public. These facts proved to conflict with his own previous statements on record.

So we don’t think it is private to the extent it deserves locking away from public inspection. In fact, the opposite. Of course what Larry is really saying is that he didn’t expect it to be reviewed publicly and critically. But this issue is a matter of life and death for many people around the world, including as it happens Larry Kramer, and it is important that it not be muddied by errors in email by between the main figures involved.

The real issue is whether Peter Duesberg breached Larry Kramer’s confidence in revealing the email query to us, and as we have noted, he didn’t. The follow up exchange which was more personal to Larry Kramer he did not forward to us. This is important, because we would not want to give the impression that any email sent to Duesberg on a private basis is liable to be exposed and critiqued in public. There is no reason to think this.

Personally we think that any correspondence in email which is not copied to other by the sender should be kept private unless the sender OKs its distribution. Anything copied to a list is not private. No one is going to write freely if every word they say is going to be going to be posted on a blog, for sure, given the illbred and irrstional responses the Web often generates.

That said, however, we recognize that the new Web world is sweeping away these niceties like beach houses in a tsunami. Recent news stories show that, for all practical purposes, it is vain to assume privacy of anything at all in email or on the Web. Even if a strong notice to that effect is posted at the top, PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL – NOT TO BE COPIED, it is bound sooner or later to leak, either through someone pressing the wrong key or because it is a matter of strong group interest. Secrets are as badly kept on the Web as in live gossip, or worse. Since Email and Web records are permanent, stored in computers all over for ever, it is folly to write anything which you wish to disown later.Larry Kramer billed $19,000 annually for drugs “I never took”

But there is something else at work in this case. We don’t think it should be overlooked that Larry is writing not to an established friend but to a man that he has helped, unwittingly or not, to torment for twenty years. Unfortunately Peter Duesberg is not someone he has supported in that scientist’s Olympic, self sacrificial effort to bring truth and light to this life and death issue. Instead, he has compounded Duesberg’s experience of professional ostracism, which, the scientist has said, has been the most painful penalty exacted for his scientific integrity in saying publicly what he reasons to be true.

Duesberg’s difficult and morally and scientifically outrageous public rejection, which has raised a huge obstacle to his own research, has been magnified by the unresponsiveness of Larry Kramer. As political leader, he could have acted earlier to change everything, simply by listening to the Duesberg side at all.

Over the years he has instead chosen to pal around with Dr Fauci and say that any questioning the science of HIV?AIDS was “beyond any intelligent comprehension”, as quoted in our last post, referring to ACT-UP San Francisco’s unusually disruptive activism in support of questioning HIV theory.

It is a tragedy of HIV?AIDS that Larry, the great questioner of officials and drug companies, did not as far as we know show any serious move in Duesberg’s direction earlier, any serious interest over two decades in attentively examining what Duesberg has said about HIV?AIDS. Instead, in odd contrast to his alertness to the possibility of HIV drugs ruining his health, we have to note his continuing neglect of truthseeking in a life or death issue, where even though his own life is at stake he has played a leading role in denying re-examination of the central premise. But we salute his reaching out now to Duesberg, and his new openmindedness about the problems with HIV?AIDS science.

Dr Fauci did not arrange for Larry to jump the liver queue

Larry primarily writes to say that we have mistakenly written that Tony Fauci helped him win a liver transplant, and this is not the case. We accept that completely. However, the rapprochement between the two is legendary in the field, an unfortunate one if it has kept Larry from evaluating what Duesberg had to say without prejudice, which seems likely.

“You have to remember that for the first six years, no one paid much attention to AIDS in Washington,” said Larry Kramer, an ACT UP co-founder and playwright, who once called Fauci a “monster” and an “incompetent idiot.”Now 20 years into the AIDS battle, Fauci has the grudging respect of Kramer and other activists, a testament to both his scientific and political skills.

Fauci was able to turn them around by seeking their input. When protesters demonstrated at his office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, in the late 1980s, he invited them up to talk. “If you got beyond the theatrics and listened to what they were saying, a lot of what they were saying made sense,” Fauci said.

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CNN 2001

A warrior in the AIDS fight never rests

(CNN) — During the early years of the AIDS scourge, activists took to the streets, protesting what they felt was the U.S. government’s inaction in the face of the deadly epidemic.

Among the targets of gay health groups and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s lead scientist in the AIDS/HIV fight. These groups frequently called Fauci and other researchers “murderers” for responding too slowly and even burned effigies of them.

“You have to remember that for the first six years, no one paid much attention to AIDS in Washington,” said Larry Kramer, an ACT UP co-founder and playwright, who once called Fauci a “monster” and an “incompetent idiot.”

Now 20 years into the AIDS battle, Fauci has the grudging respect of Kramer and other activists, a testament to both his scientific and political skills.

Fauci was able to turn them around by seeking their input. When protesters demonstrated at his office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, in the late 1980s, he invited them up to talk. “If you got beyond the theatrics and listened to what they were saying, a lot of what they were saying made sense,” Fauci said.

Still, it was difficult for his family not to take the attacks personally, admits his wife, Christine Grady. “I thought they were unfair because I knew how hard he worked and how dedicated he was,” said Grady, a former nurse and a bioethicist who also works at the NIH. “And some of the accusations were: ‘He doesn’t care about this; he’s not doing enough; he’s a killer.’ ”

Fauci’s strategy of bringing advocates into the decision-making process worked, Kramer said, and won him the support of AIDS activists. “Letting the patients in, so to speak, was one of the smartest things anyone could have done, or else there would have been revolution, havoc,” Kramer said.

Several months after Fauci first met with protesters, he unexpectedly ran into Kramer at an AIDS conference in Montreal, Canada, in 1989, and the two men began to discuss their differences. “We had a nice talk, like two old warriors,” Kramer said, laughing.

These discussions eventually led the NIH to begin a plan to speed up the introduction of new AIDS treatments. The practice, called “parallel track,” allows AIDS patients — who have exhausted all other limited treatments — unprecedented access to experimental medications not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Reflecting back on the evolution of their relationship, Kramer said, “We’ve been in this together for over 20 years, and we’ve both aged 20 years and matured and grown to respect each other’s positions a lot more, which have changed a lot.”

Preparing for the epidemic

As director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, Fauci has been at the forefront in the national effort to conquer AIDS. Under his leadership, the NIAID has grown from the sixth-largest to the third-largest NIH institute, with a $2.4 billion annual budget.

“The all-around multidimensional component of his work in the disease is not surpassed by anyone,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, another well-known AIDS researcher and co-discoverer of HIV.

Hard work, organizational skills and discipline have served Fauci well in his 33-year career. He prides himself on excellence and gives credit to the Jesuits who taught him in his youth.

“I often talk about the fact that I’ve been trained for many years by the Jesuits,” Fauci said. “And they’re very, very well-recognized for the kinds of qualities they try to impart upon the people they teach — you know, things about economy of expression, precision of thought, knowing what you’re doing, what is the question you’re asking.”

Anthony Stephen Fauci was born December 24, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in the Bensonhurt section of the borough, where his father, Stephen, was a pharmacist and his mother, Eugenia, a homemaker. As a teen, Fauci commuted to Manhattan, where he attended Regis High School, excelling academically and playing on the basketball team.

He won a full scholarship to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and majored in Greek, Latin and philosophy, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1962.

He received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in Ithaca, New York, in 1966 and then completed an internship and residency at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

In 1968, he joined the National Institutes of Health, the focal point of medical research in the United States, as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the NIAID.

His work was excellent preparation for his eventual role in the AIDS fight. He rose through the ranks, studying the effects of infectious diseases on the regulation of the human immune system. By 1980, he had become chief of the NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunoregulation, a position he still holds.

He helped pioneer therapies for formerly fatal diseases such as Wegener’s granulomatosis, which is characterized by inflammation of blood vessel walls; polyarteritis nodosa, an autoimmune illness that affects arteries; and lymphomatoid granulomatosis, which causes the deterioration of the veins and arteries.

Having ‘the absolutely perfect job’

However, Fauci found his calling in June 1981 after reading an article in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on cases of a strange infectious disease affecting gay men. The report would change his life. By the year’s end, he was turning his lab into a research center for the disease that would become known as AIDS.

“Every once in a while, one is privileged to meet somebody who you know is in the absolutely perfect job at the time for his particular skills,” said C. Everett Koop, U.S. surgeon general from 1981 to 1989.

Fauci and his colleagues were among the first to recognize that the body’s own activated immune system is the engine that drives HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

But his most notable contribution to scientific literature appeared in the journal Nature in 1993, when he reported that HIV infection is never latent in the body but always lurking in the lymph nodes.

“If you look at the lymph node of HIV-infected individuals, those people have virus that’s alive, well and replicating even during the period of what we were calling the clinically latent period,” Fauci said.

The finding was significant, Gallo said, because it meant “there’s no time to relax.”

“I think it unified thinking that therapy should be given throughout the period, even when people are feeling well,” Gallo said. “And it pointed to the lymph nodes as a terrific site of virus replication and focused some research direction toward the tissue as opposed to simply looking at the blood.”

Fauci’s contributions have helped to change the course of HIV/AIDS research. As a result, scientists no longer think in terms of eradicating the virus but instead focus on the long-term control of HIV. And research continues on a way to block transmission of the virus via a vaccine.

In addition to his research and administrative roles, the physician-scientist also displays the skills of a savvy politician. Fauci regularly testifies before Congress seeking funding for the NIAID and educating lawmakers about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“I’ve never seen a time,” said U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, “when Dr. Fauci came before a committee of Congress where he has not left the panel better informed and impressed by his credentials and his commitment to finding an end to this terrible scourge.”

Taking time out for family

A medical doctor by training, Fauci still makes rounds, seeing patients at least once a week at the NIH’s Warren Magnuson Clinical Center. He also is the main editor of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, a widely read medical textbook. And he is credited as the author, co-author or editor of more than 1,000 scientific articles.

An admitted workaholic, he arrives at the office before 7 a.m. Fauci frequently puts in an 80-hour week, including working on Saturdays. His myriad professional duties have cut in to the amount of time he spends with his family.

“I would not like to be his wife,” Kramer said, laughing. “A woman of great patience.”

Not surprisingly, he met his wife, Christine Grady, at the bedside of a patient. Able to speak Portuguese, Grady was the interpreter for an HIV patient from Brazil. She assured Fauci that the patient would follow the doctor’s strict orders to rest, but the patient actually said he was planning an outing to a Brazilian beach.

“A day or two later, Dr. Fauci came to me and said, ‘I’d like to see you in my office at the end of your shift,’ ” Grady recalled. “And I thought, ‘Oh my God, he knows what happened!’ ”

But Fauci didn’t reprimand her; instead, he asked her out on a date.

Now married for 16 years, the couple have three daughters, ranging in age from 15 to 9. Fauci picks the girls up from gymnastics in the evening when he leaves work, and the family eats dinner together at around 9:30 p.m.

“We’re ordinary people, trying to raise a family,” Fauci said, “and we happen to be caught up, both of us, professionally in one of the most historically significant epidemics in the history of mankind.”

At 60, Fauci shows no signs of slowing down.

“I think any other person might have contributed the service that he has done and then said, ‘OK, I burned out, now I’m moving on,’ ” Pelosi said. “But he seems to be growing — rather than growing tired of it.”

And his peers see a continued strong role for Fauci.

“He’s got more history yet to make, and he will,” Gallo said. “At this point in time, I certainly think he’s the greatest science administrator, combining both scientific leadership as well as science, that I have ever seen.”

But Fauci’s achievements don’t seem to faze him.

“It’s tough to get impressed with what you do,” he said, “when you’re in the middle of an engagement, a war, if you want to use that metaphor, in which this foe or enemy that you’re fighting is galloping uncontrolled throughout most of the world.”

How Tony came to Larry’s play attacking him, and how the two embraced in the lobby afterwards, makes a touching legend:

Fauci, meanwhile, has won round many of his critics in the activist community. His most complicated relationship has been with Larry Kramer, the writer who helped form protest groups ACT UP and Gay Men’s Health Crisis and who used to regularly call Fauci a “monster” and an “incompetent idiot”. In 1991 Kramer wrote a play called The Destiny of Me in which an Aids patient spends much of his time attacking his physician, a man called Anthony Della Vida – Anthony of Life. No prizes for guessing who he is based on. “The mystery isn’t why they don’t know anything, it’s why they don’t want to know anything,” the lead character shouts.Gamely, Fauci turned up to the premiere at the Lucille Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village. After the show, the two men met in the lobby and embraced. Kramer was overheard to say, “Will you still take care of me? Will you still be my doctor?” Fauci replied: “I will always take care of you Larry.”

That’s from this article, a good rundown of Tony’s comet like progress through the HIV?AIDS universe, where he was present at the creation.

(show)
(from Web page http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/ip-health/2003-May/004788.html)

[Ip-health] FT on Tony Fauci, SARS and AIDS

James Love james.love@cptech.org

Mon May 26 11:22:02 2003

This is a long and interesting article about Tony Fauci, but also about policy making in the US on AIDS, SARS and other important issues. It begins with a story about Karl Rove’s involvment in the $15 billion forAIDS. Also:

* When health secretary Tommy Thompson spoke at last summer’s UN Aids

conference in Barcelona, the stage was invaded by activists shouting the

slogan “Where is the 10 billion?” – a reference to the amount of money

experts say needs to be spent on Aids programmes in the developing world

each year. Later Fauci was called in by the White House and asked to help

come up with a programme for Aids in Africa that Bush could adopt.

* The night before the president’s State of the Union address in January,

he got a call from senior staff at White House to come and help them

prepare the text. Bush had adopted the most generous version of the plan

Fauci had proposed, which involves spending $15bn on Aids over the next

five years, including the use of generic copies of Aids drugs. The

legislation was passed last week.

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=3DFT.com/StoryFT/FullStor=

y&c=3DStoryFT&cid=3D1051390236276&p=3D1012571727132

Can this man cure Sars?

By Geoff Dyer

Published: May 22 2003 12:42 | Last Updated: May 22 2003 12:42

Tony Fauci boards the Washington metro and scans his BlackBerry for

messages. He has come from a briefing with health secretary Tommy Thompson

about the Sars virus and is rushing back to his office to discuss an Aids

vaccine project with a colleague.

On the screen, there is an e-mail from the president’s closest adviser

Karl Rove. Fauci is writing an opinion piece for a Washington newspaper on

a plan the president announced recently to spend $15bn (=A39.2bn) on

combating Aids in Africa. Fauci helped to put the plan together and Rove

has returned his draft with some comments.

A day earlier Fauci was in the front row before an invited audience in the

East Room of the White House where President George W. Bush was appealing

to Congress to pass his Aids bill, which he says could save two million

lives. “I love Tony’s commitment to humans, to what’s best for mankind,”

said the president. “I’m glad you are here, Tony.”

Dr Anthony Fauci runs the infectious diseases department at the National

Institutes of Health (NIH), a government-funded research organisation that

this year will spend a mammoth $27bn on the work it does from its 300-acre

tree-lined campus in the Washington suburb of Bethesda. The campus is so

vast it has its own metro stop.

Since the 1980s both Republican and Democrat administrations have eagerly

sought his counsel. The reason is that infectious diseases frighten us,

both privately and on a mass scale, and politicians are not good at

dealing with that fear. They tend to try to sound positive, and are then

contradicted by fast-changing circumstances. Reliable information from a

trustworthy doctor, even if it is bad news, can have a balming effect.

“I am basically just a nerd,” says Fauci.

Nerd, or family doctor to the nation, Fauci is now manning the nation’s

defences against Sars. When it comes to Iraq, the Pentagon wheels out

Tommy Franks and when the economy is looking poorly, people hang on Alan

Greenspan’s every word. When there is a new health threat, it is Fauci who

is called on. And in the post-9/11 America, where fears about new bacteria

and viruses are ever-present, this short man has taken on an ever-larger

role.

Fauci is one of those rare people who routinely works a 16-hour day. Sars

has turned that into 20. “We are in the middle of a public health crisis

here and so I tend to get pulled in lots of different directions.”

Across the world in Beijing and Hong Kong, a World Health Organisation

team is grappling to contain the Sars crisis. Led by David Heymann, the

WHO official who was also one of the scientific pioneers in the early days

of Aids, the team has found that the virus does not seem to transfer quite

as quickly as it initially seemed. Swift public health steps have also

brought the pneumonia-like infection under control in other developing

countries with large populations, such as Vietnam. But, with a mortality

rate of around 15 per cent, it is highly dangerous. And if it were to

become entrenched in a society with a weak health system, such as the

western provinces of China, it could be devastating.

Fauci says he was worried by Sars as soon as it first came to light in

March. “The thing about infectious diseases is that most of the time they

are just a blip on the radar screen.” (In 1976, for instance, when more

than 200 legionnaires fell ill in hotels across Philadelphia, it was a

horrific event – but it didn’t spread.) “Then once in a while you get one

that looks really scary,” he says.

When he first heard about Sars, some experts were saying it might be a

form of “avian” flu, a disease that killed six people in Hong Kong in 1997

but was quickly brought under control. “But the people in Hong Kong, they

are real smart, and they insisted it was not avian flu,” says Fauci. “I

thought, oh my God, this is not just a blip on the radar.”

Just how scary is it? Last year 1.12m people died of malaria, disease

older than the bible. Aids, a relative newcomer, killed 2.86m. (These are

not the sort of statistics you round up or down to the first decimal

point.) As many as 500,000 people died from influenza, which was fewer

than the 745,000 who succumbed to measles, but many more than the 21,000

victims of dengue fever.

Sars has killed nearly 700. Yet Hong Kong and other parts of China have

been gripped by something approaching panic, Toronto has been placed

off-limits in the minds of many (even though the World Health Organisation

has lifted its travel advisory on the Canadian city) and the ailing

airline industry has been dealt another blow.

Over-reaction? Not from the public health point of view. Officials live in

constant fear of a repeat of the Spanish flu, an epidemic that in 1918

killed 20m people around the world in just one season. The early reports

of Sars out of Hong Kong raised a terrifying spectacle of rapid transfer.

After one of the first recorded victims stayed at the ninth floor of the

plush Metropole Hotel, 13 other guests fell ill, perhaps from having

touched the same door handles or elevator buttons. When another person

with Sars flew from Hong Kong to Beijing, several passengers were

infected. When there is a risk that such a virus might be transferred

easily by air, health officials say tough measures are essential.

The day I met Fauci, he received an anxious call from a Washington radio

station at 6.30am. They wanted to know about the risks of bringing Sars

patients to the NIH clinical centre for examination. Some disgruntled

staff had complained to a local paper about the decision. Fauci said that

all the necessary precautions were being taken to protect staff, including

new special face masks moulded to the individual’s face.

Afterwards, he pointed out that many years ago his wife Christine Grady,

who was a nurse at the NIH, continued to work with HIV patients while she

was pregnant with their first child – even though they were not sure then

how the disease spread. “And anyway, we are the National Institutes of

Health. This is what we do.”

The NIH pours billions of dollars every year into the basic medical

research that underpins new drugs. It has sponsored the work of 80 Nobel

prize winners and a large slice of the decoding of the human genome was

conducted around the corner from Fauci’s office on the seventh floor of

Building 31.

Fauci has been running the NIH’s institute for infectious diseases and

allergies since 1984. This makes him the central figure in the search for

treatments and vaccines for Sars. Many other researchers will be involved,

of course, in both the public and private sectors. The US Army’s

infectious diseases unit is currently screening existing drugs to see if

they might work, while a number of companies are discussing vaccine ideas.

But at the centre of the process is Fauci, pulling the strings and

allocating funds.

Fauci is the complete opposite of the scientist as engaging eccentric –

with a shock of unchecked hair and new insights scribbled on bits of paper

falling out of a white lab-coat. He is short and trim and has a firm

handshake. He wears glasses that give him a scholarly look, but he is

dressed in jacket and tightly knotted tie, which makes him look like a

Washington bureaucrat, especially beside his young researchers at NIH. He

is a meticulous man who carries a comb in his back pocket and tidies his

short-cropped hair between meetings he hurries to and from.

The grandson of a Sicilian immigrant, Fauci grew up in the working-class

Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bensonhurst. The family lived above his father’s

drugstore, where he ran errands from an early age. In his teens he

commuted to a Jesuit high school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where he

was a top student and captained the basketball team. Before going to

medical school at Cornell he did a degree in Greek, Latin and philosophy

at another Catholic institution, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester,

Massachusetts.

Fauci likes to keep his 62-year-old body in shape and his head clear.

Every lunchtime – work permitting – he slips into his jogging gear and

trots the half mile to the bike path on Beach Drive in Bethesda where he

runs for an hour. Not that Fauci is a lunch-time only athlete. He and

Grady have completed a number of marathons. They met at the NIH 19 years

ago, when, having lived in Brazil for two years, Grady was called in to

translate for a Brazilian Aids patient. In his serious doctor’s tone,

Fauci told the man, who had a problem with his legs, to change the

dressings every day and to keep his legs constantly up. The man replied

that he was so sick of hospital he planned to spend all day on the beach

and to dance all night. Grady assessed the situation and translated for

Fauci: “He said he will do exactly as you said.”

Even by the standards of workaholic Washington, Fauci’s schedule is

demanding. As well as his political role, he is the one of the few heads

of the NIH’s 18 institutes to run his own research lab, where he does work

on the basic functioning of the immune system and the impact HIV has on

it. I am half his age, yet by midday in his company I was tired. Zeda

Rosenberg, who worked for him at NIH for seven years, describes how at 7am

each day they would meet for two hours to go through all the relevant

academic journals to keep track of the advances in Aids research. Fauci

himself has published 1,045 scientific papers. “He is just a very

dedicated man,” says Rosenberg.

On an average day Fauci is home by nine every night to have dinner with

his three teenage daughters at their Washington house just north of

Georgetown. Then he is usually working again until at least midnight,

catching up on the latest research, writing papers or working on the

revised edition of one of the most widely used medical textbooks he wrote.

Every Saturday and some Sundays are also taken up with work. He rarely

takes holidays anyway and has not managed one since September 11, 2001. He

likes to fish and occasionally goes to the movies but looks somewhat

perplexed when asked what he does for entertainment. “There are some

people who fit work in around having fun and then there are others who

like to work and have fun only occasionally,” he says.

Now Sars could deprive him of a break this year. He is blunT about the

challenges posed by the disease. Even if it is brought swiftly under

control, it could turn out to be seasonal, like flu, with another possible

outbreak this time next year. “None of the current therapies is working

very well at the moment,” he says. “Unlike bacterial infections, there are

not many therapies for viruses. There is not one for smallpox, or for West

Nile fever. There really are only a handful that work, such as for

hepatitis and herpes.” (Viruses are pieces of genetic material that infect

a cell and direct it to produce new viruses. Some are transferred in the

air, others by blood and some by sex. But when they infect an animal or a

human who is not immune they can quickly invade the cells of their host.)

There are few “Eureka” moments in medical research, dramatic discoveries

that quickly lead to new treatments. Instead, there is the hard graft of

chipping away at complex problems from many different angles, until

solutions appear, a process that is only just beginning with Sars. In the

case of Aids, for instance, after 20 years work, there is still no

vaccine. Fauci does not think a Sars vaccine will be ready for at least

two years, but he is quietly confident about the scientific chances of

getting one. “Unlike HIV, about 85 per cent of the people who are infected

with Sars actually recover. What that means is that the human body can

respond in a way that will eradicate the virus,” he says. “In HIV, there

are no instances of people spontaneously eliminating the virus from the

body.”

When Tony Fauci began his career as a researcher in infectious diseases in

1968, many scientists considered it to be yesterday’s field, an area where

the big problems had already been solved. With the development of

antibiotics from the 1940s, diseases such as diptheria and scarlet fever

went from life-threatening afflictions to treatable infections. Jonas

Salk’s vaccine had taken the dread fear out of polio and the tuberculosis

sanitoriums were being emptied. Euphoria governed medical science.

Researchers liked to think they were on the crest of a wave sweeping away

the threat from parasites, viruses and bacteria.

In 1967, William Stewart, the US Surgeon-General, captured the mood of

inevitable scientific progress harnessed to American power, around the

time of the launch of the Apollo space missions, when he testified that it

was “time to close the book on infectious diseases”. Scientists, he

suggested, should concentrate instead on chronic diseases such as cancer.

Fauci was planning to stay at the NIH for a couple of years before

returning to New York to be a physician, but even then he thought there

were still some interesting challenges in infectious diseases. And, as he

says about Stewart’s remarks 35 years later: “He could not possibly have

been more incorrect.”

Infectious diseases are back. For a start, the drugs do not work as well

as they once did. With increased and sometimes incorrect use, resistance

to antibiotics has grown, breathing new life into some old pests. In the

late 1980s, patients turned up in New York hospitals with new strains of

tuberculosis that did not respond to drugs. These later swept through

Russia in the 1990s.

On top of that there have been new and frightening diseases. In Zaire in

the mid-1970s, a man walked in from the jungle with a severe fever that

made him vomit black blood. He died shortly after. Within days, many of

the nuns who took him in had also fallen ill with Ebola, one of the most

easily transmissible viruses.

Viruses continue to jump from one species to another, including humans,

and the new host often has little immunity. Every year brings a different

strain of influenza, many of them originating in China. In 1999 and again

last year, several people in the US died from West Nile fever, a virus

indigenous to the Middle East which is transmitted by mosquito.

Microbes (a virus is one type of microbe, bacteria and fungi are others)

love chaotic economic development. Teeming new cities with poor sanitation

that lack strong health systems, rapid migrations of populations from

country to city, changing sexual habits, the breakdown in traditional

family structures – all these provide fertile territory for the spread of

new diseases. Foreign travel exacerbates the problem, quickly transferring

a virus from a small African village to a large, western city. The

microbes that caused the 1918 Spanish flu were transported around the

world by boat. Today, they would catch a flight.

And then there is HIV/Aids. In the slightly more than 20 years since the

human immunodeficiency virus was identified, more than 20 million people

have died. By 2010, the total number of infected people is expected to

reach 105 million, most of them in poor countries. It is the biggest

public health disaster since the Black Death in the 14th century.

Bookshops are full these days of grim warnings that the advances made in

the last century were no more than a truce in the battle and that

infectious diseases will come back with a vengeance. Richard Krause, a

predecessor of Fauci at the NIH, called his 1981 book on microbes The

Restless Tide – a reflection of the tug-of-war between science and

disease, the never-ending capacity of hostile microbes to renew

themselves.

This alarming view is not universally shared. Medical science still has

its utopian streak, these days in the form of genetics. The decoding of

the human genome has raised hopes of big advances in the understanding and

treatment of diseases. Some researchers talk of an era of “personalised

medicine”, with each patient walking around with a card that shows his or

her genetic make-up so that treatments can be tailored specially. “We will

look back on 1950-2050 as the greatest period of human intellectual

endeavour since the Renaissance,” says George Poste, who used to run

research at drugs company SmithKline Beecham.

For Fauci, these advances will generate some useful tools for the study of

infectious disease. Researchers were able, for instance, to pin down the

genetic make-up of the Sars virus within weeks of its appearance. However,

genetics technologies will not alter the capacity of infections to

reinvent themselves. “It is extremely unlikely that all of a sudden we are

going to discover a completely new cancer or arthritis,” he says. “But it

is possible all of a sudden to get hit by a new microbe.” Indeed, the

events of the last few years have been a form of vindication for

infectious disease specialists such as Fauci. “We will never be free of

emerging diseases,” he says. “I am not blowing smoke. Look at what has

just happened.”

At Least Once a Week Fauci still still does roundS in the NIH Clinical

Center, its on-site research hospital, to visit Aids patients who are

usually undergoing some form of experimental treatment. The junior doctors

who guide him along the ward are a little wary, for as well as being the

head of one of the NIH’s institutes he is the author of one of their

textbooks. He fires questions at them in a friendly but brisk manner. As

he has to run off to a meeting downtown, he asks them to be brief. “You

don’t need to tell me his heart rate. I mean if he has a heart rate of

170, you should tell me, but if it is 80 you don’t need to.”

It was the HIV/Aids epidemic that changed Fauci’s life. Shortly after he

first read in 1981 about a strange disease afflicting gay men in Los

Angeles, he shut down the research he had been conducting in his lab and

devoted it entirely to Aids. His mentors told him he was risking his

career and there were few resources made available by a hostile Reagan

administration. And for several years every patient he treated died.

In the early years, most of the victims of Aids in the US were gay men,

many of whom viewed the disease as a form of persecution. Fauci soon found

himself in the middle of a fierce battle. Colleagues at the NIH attacked

him for focusing too much on Aids and predicted that other important

diseases would be neglected. The growing band of highly-educated Aids

activists were outraged, however, at what they thought was government

indifference to the epidemic. And they picked a target for their anger:

Tony Fauci. In May 1990, about 1,000 activists blockaded the NIH campus,

setting off pink smoke bombs and building a fake graveyard on the lawn.

In the ego-driven science world, Fauci has been followed by whisperings

that he is really an administrator, rather than a top-notch scientist.

“Science in a suit,” as he is sometimes described. Oft-cited research he

published in the 1990s, which showed that HIV could be found in the body’s

lymph nodes where it interferes with the immune system, has only partly

dispelled this impression. Behind the quick-fire Brooklyn banter lurks a

need for professional approval. The walls of his waiting room are covered

in honorary degrees, as are those in his office and the walls in the

meeting room next door. He has 25 in total and is due to get another three

this summer including one from Yale. Rivals mutter that he lobbies heavily

for the honours.

Despite the huge investments, an Aids vaccine is still a long way off and

some researchers doubt the current crop of candidates will work. However,

there are now 19 anti-retroviral drugs on the market, many the result of

NIH research, and in rich countries Aids is no longer a guaranteed death

sentence.

Fauci, meanwhile, has won round many of his critics in the activist

community. His most complicated relationship has been with Larry Kramer,

the writer who helped form protest groups ACT UP and Gay Men’s Health

Crisis and who used to regularly call Fauci a “monster” and an

“incompetent idiot”. In 1991 Kramer wrote a play called The Destiny of Me

in which an Aids patient spends much of his time attacking his physician,

a man called Anthony Della Vida – Anthony of Life. No prizes for guessing

who he is based on. “The mystery isn’t why they don’t know anything, it’s

why they don’t want to know anything,” the lead character shouts.

Gamely, Fauci turned up to the premiere at the Lucille Lortel Theater in

Greenwich Village. After the show, the two men met in the lobby and

embraced. Kramer was overheard to say, “Will you still take care of me?

Will you still be my doctor?” Fauci replied: “I will always take care of

you Larry.”

When health secretary Tommy Thompson spoke at last summer’s UN Aids

conference in Barcelona, the stage was invaded by activists shouting the

slogan “Where is the 10 billion?” – a reference to the amount of money

experts say needs to be spent on Aids programmes in the developing world

each year. Later Fauci was called in by the White House and asked to help

come up with a programme for Aids in Africa that Bush could adopt.

The night before the president’s State of the Union address in January, he

got a call from senior staff at White House to come and help them prepare

the text. Bush had adopted the most generous version of the plan Fauci had

proposed, which involves spending $15bn on Aids over the next five years,

including the use of generic copies of Aids drugs. The legislation was

passed last week.

The plan’s critics point out that it only covers 14 countries and most of

the money bypasses international organisations set up to deal with the

crisis – a sort of healthcare unilateralism. Some say that Fauci is not a

development expert, yet he is designing treatment plans for Aids. His

advice is sought on the risks of smallpox attack and the necessary

quarantining procedures for Sars, areas well beyond his expertise.

Donna Shalala, who was health secretary for most of the eight years of the

Clinton administration, explains why Fauci has so much influence: “He can

discuss complex issues in plain English, but he is not afraid to tell you

the truth. He does not compromise on the science.” She adds: “We learned

from the British experience with mad cow disease. You have to let credible

scientists do the talking and get the politicians out of the way. The

public trust them.”

Added to that is the phenomenon that has changed almost every aspect of

public life in America: September 11. (Fauci was in Manhattan that day and

watched the unfolding horror from a 23rd floor window.) After the attacks

and the anthrax scare that followed, vice president Dick Cheney, said to

be obsessed with the dangers of microbes, asked if he could visit Fauci’s

facilities at the NIH. He was so impressed that he arranged for Bush to

visit later. “It has been a remarkable two years,” said health secretary

Thompson at that briefing.

And Thompson should know how important Fauci is to this administration.

The health secretary was accused of bungling the initial response to the

anthrax attacks by playing down the risks. Within days new cases appeared.

Some things are better left to a doctor.

– At 62 Anthony Fauci works a 20-hour day, runs every lunch-time and

rarely takes a holiday

Geoff Dyer is the FT’s pharmaceuticals and biotechnology correspondent

As these stories make clear Larry’s warm feelings towards Tony Fauci developed far earlier than his liver transplant, and have nothing to do with the director of the NIAID department of the NIH easing his path through to obtaining a replacement of his liver, which we have no evidence for at all.

Correcting the record, Larry writes that

dr. fauci had nothing to do with my obtaining a liver transplant. i applied and qualified and was accepted into a ucsf study run by dr. michelle roland that was attempting to learn if transplants would be effective in people with hiv and/or hepB and/or hepc. i believe i was the 20th or so person to be accepted. indeed they were having trouble early on in getting qualified candidates to apply because the fear of death from the t/p was great and the early results were mixed. indeed my partner was very nervous about my entering. but since several of my ny doctors had told me that i had only six months left to live on my old liver, i figured i had nothing to lose. needless to say the success of my t/p so early on was of great value to both the study and myself.

So we apologize wholeheartedly to Larry and to Tony Fauci for ever believing otherwise. Why did we believe it? We thought we had a very good source for it – none other than Larry Kramer. We read that implication in the following words, part of the long interview Larry gave to the MIX Film festival of 2003. A second look shows that it wasn’t stated as a plain fact, and that the quote may not have meant what we reasonably took it to mean, and on the contrary, Fauci did not intervene to ensure Kramer got any priority in the line for new livers:

(November 15, 2003) LK: I don’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know how close I came to dying a couple of years ago because of the Hepatitis B in my liver. I was given six months to live. I don’t know if you remember – I looked like this. And, I had no energy. And they told me that was the end, because livers were not available. And the days were ticking away. Just prior to that, Dr. Fauci the man I had called a murderer many years before has become one of my closest friends. Talk about a moving story of irony. He saw me somewhere and he said, You look terrible. And they put me in the NIH hospital, and they discovered a lot of this shit, that had not been discovered in me before.

But then it continues,

And there was a Hepatitis B experimental drug in trial there. And so, I got what is called Adefovir, and that calmed down my liver for a while, but then it stopped calming down the liver and that’s when I only had six months to live. And I was down there one day to pick up the medicine – you had to go there once a month to get the medicine – and my doctor down there – a woman called Judy Falloon said, I think you may be eligible for a liver transplant. The minute she said that, I knew I was going to get that fucking liver. I just knew it! And she didn’t say how I could get it. She said I had to apply. They were just beginning to transplant people with HIV and Hep-B co-infecteds we were called – and there was, in fact, a NIH trial out of San Francisco, with Michelle Roland – our old ACT UP lady out there – putting it together – that wanted people like me. So, that’s how I got the liver. I didn’t get it because I was *Larry* *Kramer*. I got it because they had this trial just starting and nobody wanted to go into it.

So when Larry writes,

i hope i can have a straight-forward correction of this mistake and its unkind implications.thank you.

larry kramer

we do apologize. We were wrong in concluding that Fauci was behind the offer of a liver transplant, although that was what seemed to be implied, since he initiated his NIH care. Apparently it was only that he saw Larry looked terrible and got him into the NIH clinic.

The mistake is easy to make. In another account Larry thanked Dr Fauci for his repaired conditon but again, did not say that he had helped to arrange the transplant:

I received the liver of a 45-year-old man. Dr. Fung and his fellow surgeons say in all seriousness that we are as old as our livers, and he thinks it possible I have another 20 years of life. Indeed, I feel 45 at most.

Thank you, Drs. Fung, Fauci, Faloon, and Kottler, and thank you, Gilead, for saving my life.

(Here is the full quote – click show}.

(show)
This is the testimony of Larry Kramer to the FDA’s Antiviral Drug Advisory Committee, Aug. 6, 2002 in Bethesda, Maryland.

DR. GULICK: Thank you very much.

Next to sign up to speak is Larry Kramer.

MR. KRAMER: Good afternoon.

My name is Larry Kramer. I am a writer. I am the cofounder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the world’s first AIDS organization, and I am the founder of Act-Up, the protest group.

Needless to say, I am not accustomed to appearing on behalf of any drug company. I have paid my own expenses to appear before you today to testify in behalf of adefovir, which I consider to be a wonder drug, and which I believe helped to save my life.

I tested HIV-positive in November 1988 although I believe I was infected at least 10 years earlier. I believe my hepatitis B also goes back to the mid-to-late 1970s. In February 1994, I began low-dose AZT, not for HIV, but for my declining platelets for which it has continued to prove most useful.

In August 1995, I began taking 3TC Epivir for my hepatitis B. In August 1999, I was on vacation in London when I became very sick with a fever of 103 degrees. I immediately flew home only to discover that no reason for the illness could be found. In retrospect, I believe this is when I became resistant to 3TC. The dreadful, malign, and evil GlaxoSmithKline, which I have hated since it was the dreadful, malign and evil Burroughs Wellcome, was finally getting back at me.

I should say that over this period, a persistent cough that I had had so long I cannot pinpoint its commencing became increasingly worse, so that there were days when I could not speak a sentence without hacking. No tests or specialists could define its cause or recommend anything to suppress it. Believe me, I tried everything.

In August of 2000, Dr. Anthony Fauci saw me and told me that I looked sick and he was concerned. I weighed 135 pounds, down some 30 pounds from my normal weight. Indeed, I looked and felt like I was 100. I had no energy or appetite.

He admitted me to the hospital at NIH where two days later I received the news from Dr. Jay Hoofnagle that my liver was in very bad condition indeed. He told me, as he did Dr. Fauci, of a new experimental drug called adefovir which might be of help to me. In any event, there was nothing else to take.

On October 13th, 2000, I underwent the first of what would be five tappings of my increasing ascites. The first one relieved me of 10 liters. This is what I looked like just over a year ago.

On October 16th, 2000, I started adefovir in an NIH trial under the supervision of Dr. Judith Faloon. My hepatitis B viral load at this date was 8 billion copies per millimeter of blood.

For the next months, my liver functions indicated great trouble. More and more from my various doctors, particularly Dr. Donald Kottler of St. Luke’s and Dr. Samuel Seigal of Mt. Sinai, as well as Dr. Fauci, I was hearing the time was running out on my liver. More and more I was hearing that I had just six more months to live.

I accepted this fate and was prepared to die. Early in 2001, Dr. Faloon told me that she believed I might be eligible for a liver transplant. For the first time, transplants were being done on people coinfected with HIV and hepatitis B. Indeed, the NIH was preparing a protocol to study just these.

She gave me a list of possible transplant centers and firmly suggested I investigate them. She repeated her suggestion on my next monthly visit to NIH for my adefovir. So began the arduous, exhausting, time-consuming task of locating a transplant center that would accept me and investigating whether my insurance would pay for me.

As anyone who has had to deal with an expensive, rare, and life-threatening disease, these are no easy tasks given the state of our entrenched bureaucracies particularly when one has been told he has so little time left to accomplish all of this.

I believe this is where adefovir became particularly life saving. I was now feeling wonderful and full of the energy necessary to pitch right in and fight. So, to repeat, as my liver was evidently deteriorating quickly, my overall health was actually improving.

My taps for ascites were still needed, but my hepatitis B viral load was decreasing. I had been investigating and what I was hearing was frightening. I might die from such a transplant, too. My initial visits to Mt. Sinai, New York, where I live were not calming. Doctors were unpleasantly discouraging, and it was evident that they were uncomfortable performing surgery on people like me.

Eventually, after much precious waste of time, thankfully, they turned me down. Then, I heard about, and eventually met, Dr. John Fung, the head of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Thomas E. Starzl Transplant Institute.

For those of you who do not know this, Dr. Starzl actually invented the liver transplant, and the Starzl Institute is the parthenon of transplants. Dr. Fung was far more encouraging and supportive of my transplant, and I applied for evaluation and listing there.

Unlike Mt. Sinai and almost every other medical center I have discovered, Dr. Fung believes that the transplanting of the coinfected can no longer be considered an experimental operation.

This has now been confirmed, as you know, rightly in the New England Journal, and he is willing for the rights of the coinfected to now be treated equally. Indeed, in rapid order, I was accepted for listing by Starzl and Medicare and Empire Blue Cross approved me for a liver transplant.

As I said, the closer I was getting to my transplant, the better I was now feeling. I was gaining weight, and my energy was strong. I was feeling so good that I was wondering if I should put off the transplant perhaps indefinitely, that if I stayed on the adefovir, which was obviously why I was feeling so much better, perhaps in addition to reducing my ascites and my hefty viral load, it would also cure the cirrhosis that was causing my rampant end-stage liver disease.

Wisely, I was advised not to be so casual, that adefovir has not yet accomplished that. By the time I left the NIH adefovir trial in October 2001 to transfer to the one at UPMC, my hep-B viral load had decreased to 4,000 copies per millimeter of blood.

By the time I left the NIH one year after starting adefovir, there was no ascites in my system as per an ultrasound there. I had my liver transplant on December 21, 2001. Dr. Fung said the old one was truly on its last legs.

I was the 22nd coinfected person to receive a new liver, and at 66, the oldest person. I believe my transplant is considered to be a great success. I do know that each and every single day, I feel wonderful. My awful cough disappeared the minute I came out of the operating room. My HIV viral load and T cell count continue approximately what they had been before, almost undetectable for the first and in the 400s for the latter, although now I must take the dreaded cocktail.

But because I am HIV-positive, I require next to no anti-rejection drugs, the only benefit I have found from being HIV-positive, and there is no detectable hepatitis B in my system. No one will say that it has gone from my system completely, but no one will say it hasn’t, and I am still on my daily dose of 10 mg of adefovir.

I received the liver of a 45-year-old man. Dr. Fung and his fellow surgeons say in all seriousness that we are as old as our livers, and he thinks it possible I have another 20 years of life. Indeed, I feel 45 at most.

Thank you, Drs. Fung, Fauci, Faloon, and Kottler, and thank you, Gilead, for saving my life.

Has anyone got any questions?

Thank you.

DR. GULICK: Thank you very much.

Sorry, Larry, for any implication on our part that Fauci moved you ahead of others on the line, which we didn’t mean to imply, and which is probably what worries you. Here is the full quote for reference (click show):

(show)
(November 15, 2003 MIX Festival transcript of interview with Larry Kramer)

LK: I don’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know how close I came to dying a couple of years ago because of the Hepatitis B in my liver. I was given six months to live. I don’t know if you remember – I looked like this. And, I had no energy. And they told me that was the end, because livers were not available. And the days were ticking away. Just prior to that, Dr. Fauci the man I had called a murderer many years before has become one of my closest friends. Talk about a moving story of irony. He saw me somewhere and he said, You look terrible. And they put me in the NIH hospital, and they discovered a lot of this shit, that had not been discovered in me before. And there was a Hepatitis B experimental drug in trial there. And so, I got what is called Adefovir, and that calmed down my liver for a while, but then it stopped calming down the liver and that’s when I only had six months to live. And I was down there one day to pick up the medicine – you had to go there once a month to get the medicine – and my doctor down there – a woman called Judy Falloon said, I think you may be eligible for a liver transplant. The minute she said that, I knew I was going to get that fucking liver. I just knew it! And she didn’t say how I could get it. She said I had to apply. They were just beginning to transplant people with HIV and Hep-B co-infecteds we were called – and there was, in fact, a NIH trial out of San Francisco, with Michelle Roland – our old ACT UP lady out there – putting it together – that wanted people like me. So, that’s how I got the liver. I didn’t get it because I was *Larry* *Kramer*. I got it because they had this trial just starting and nobody wanted to go into it.

*SS:* *By the way, what year did you test positive?*

LK: That’s a long time before. I tested positive for HIV in, I can’t remember, in ’85,’86 or ’87. Somewhere in there. I can’t remember. But, I knew I had Hep-B, from the late ’70s – then I knew.

*SS:* *At that era, a lot of people were advocating for early medication* *before symptoms – how did you resist that?*

LK: Because my doctor Jeff Green said, I don’t think you need it. We had ordered Crixivan, which was the first one out, and I had the bottle in my hand. And we were going to start, and he called me up and he said, let’s wait awhile. I said, fine with me.

*SS:* *So, which HIV meds are you taking?*

LK: I took AZT when my liver started going bad, when my platelets went down. AZT, unknown to a lot of people, raises your platelets, so I took it for that. And then, I took Epivir, 3TC – whatever it’s called – for the Hep-B. And, that’s all I took for a number of years. And then since the transplant started, I’ve taken a bunch of them. I took Viracept, until I became resistant to it. I took Sustiva, which I loathed, until fortunately I became resistant to it, because it drove me nuts. And now, I’m on something which is an amazing drug, because it has absolutely no side effects – it’s like taking aspirin – it’s called Reyataz. Only now, they’ve just discovered – Steve Miles, the UCLA AIDS man has just discovered that Reyataz interacting with the other *drugs* I *take* is bad for Hepatitis-B. We know so much now, and I have so many doctors that I correspond with. I mean, talk about patient empowerment. I brought it to a new art. I have six doctors who I e-mail everything about me, and I pester them all to death, and I *take* advantage of everything that I possibly can, to get the information I need – just what we advocated everybody to do. They don’t like that I do this group e-mail. And, not one of them who answers me will copy all the others – out of courtesy. They only send it to me, and I got to send it around. Too many cooks, *Larry*!

*SS:* *Which one of these *drugs* do you feel exist as a consequence of ACT* *UP?*

LK: All of them. I have no doubt in my mind. Those fucking *drugs* are out there because of ACT UP. And that’s our greatest, greatest achievement – totally.

Finally, Larry does not have Hepatitis C, just B.

i do not have and did not have hepC. heb B and hiv are my lot. both are now undetectable and have been since the transplant.

Of course, we didn’t say he had Hepatitis C, only speculated that was one of the reasons why his liver might have declined in the absence of any drugtaking, which was his claim. As noted earlier, however, the interview and other quotes elsewhere in fact make it clear that he was taking drugs before his liver transplant, including AZT, by the mid nineties.

The fate of many may now ride on Kramer’s actions

We are still not sure why the activist playwright told Duesberg that he took no drugs, but it may have been that he meant he did not take hard drugs, or recreational ones.

The important thing is that he now shares a suspicion of the toxicity of anti-HIV drugs with Duesberg, who has argued all along that the main attack on the immune system of HIV?AIDS patients comes from alien chemicals snorted or injected. Will Kramer now take a greater interest in learning what Duesberg has to say on the cause of AIDS? Let’s hope so. The whole battle that Kramer has fought is for the patient’s right to take charge of his or her own destiny.

We hope that the signs are correct, and that this most important player finally realizes that this means above all taking charge of the facts of medicine and science behind the treatment he is offered. The challengers to this conventional treatment give twenty different reasons for concluding that HIV is not the cause of anything and that the anti-HIV medicines he is taking after his liver transplant are damaging to …. the liver.

Let’s hope he will now listen to Duesberg, as he has shown he is willing to do. This might contribute to a great turnaround in a matter which is a life and death issue for so many, not to mention vast sums of public money in an era where every dollar counts in the fight for global health.

Much hangs on what Larry Kramer does now. Will he investigate and confirm that Peter Duesberg deserves to be taken seriously, and help to win funding for the embattled scientific idealist to bring a resolution through experiments to a twenty year old dispute which never should have gone on so long, putting at risk the lives of so many, including Kramer’s own?

123 Responses to “Larry Kramer corrects our lashing, wins apology”

  1. DB Says:

    Everybody hates Larry, it seems. He seems to have made a career out of playing the victim. Too bad he’s been able to hold so many gay mens’ hands and lead them down that path as well.

    I’d be quite happy if the man could see past his victim-consciousness and understand how bankrupt the HIV=AIDS hypothesis is. It’s still not too late. It could do the whole world some good.

  2. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Thanks for making Peter Duesberg’s perspective on the privacy of email correspondence so clear. I had been laboring under the misapprehension that he considered such exchanges private, because when I posted an email he wrote to me on The Evolutionary Middleman blog he asked for it to be removed. The deletion, and Peter Duesberg’s post requesting the email of the blog owner, are in the thread here.

    The comment that is deleted after Duesberg’s is my request to John that the comment be deleted. I did this – I realize now foolishly – out of politeness.

    Here is the original email that was deleted, the first part in quotation marks is my question:

    “I also wanted to ask if you have any information as to the fate of Raphael Lombardo. In your book “Inventing the AIDS Virus” you quote (I think in full) a letter from Mr. Lombardo dated May 30, 1995 wherein he describes how he never used any recreational drugs or alcohol and has avoided an HIV treatments and you state that the letter “proves that true science does not depend on institutional authority.” I’m wondering if you know if this is the same Raphael Lombardo who died of AIDS 6/11/1996 and is memorialized in AIDS quilt? (you can enter his name in http://www.aidsquilt.org/searchquilt.htm and see the panel) The dates and the locations seem to match, but I thought you may know for certain if they are the same person.”

    Hi Richard,

    I think you are right – the Raphael Lombardo, who wrote to me, and the one on the “quilt” are the same.

    In hindsight, I think his letter was almost too good to be true. I am afraid now, he described the man he wanted to be and his Italian family expected him to be, but not the one he really was. I think he died from Kaposi’s.

    Did you know Hugh Christie? Also a gay friend of mine from London, filmmaker and editor of the very popular British gay-interested journal, Continuum. Christie campaigned actively against the health and AIDS hazards of poppers in Continuum. Like me, he was invited by Mbeki, to discuss the causes of AIDS in Africa in 2000. And a year or two later he passed away with Kaposi’s, from long-term over-use/addiction to poppers!

    Regards,

    Peter D.

    ______________________

    The correct spelling is actually Huw Christie. Here is Duesberg’s email to me requesting that the blog post deleted:

    ——-Original Message——-

    From: Peter Duesberg

    Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:38 AM

    To: richard.jefferys

    Subject: RE: Your AIDS Hypothesis

    Richard Jefferys,

    An AIDS observer just informed me that you are posting excerpts of our correspondence on a blog without my knowledge, and that you added ad hominem attacks on me that you did not use in our correspondence.

    In view of this I am requesting that you withdraw our correspondence from this blog.

    Do you think that such deceptive maneuvers support Robert Gallo’s virus-AIDS hypothesis? Does Robert Gallo (cc’d) know about these maneuvers of yours?

    Peter Duesberg

    —————————————

    In addition to Bob Gallo, he also cc’d Celia Farber on this email. The ad hominem attack he refers to was my stating that, based on his comments about Huw Christie, I thought Mark Wainberg’s description of Duesberg as a “scientific pyschopath” was a masterpiece of understatement. For the sake of completeness, this was my response to him:

    ——-Original Message——-

    From: Richard Jefferys

    Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:52 AM

    To: ‘Peter Duesberg’

    Subject: RE: Your AIDS Hypothesis

    Sure, I’ll ask the blog owner to remove it because there’s no way to edit posts as a user. I thought your flip comment about the causes of death of a gay man were intended to provoke, and I was provoked, but perhaps your comments were intended in all somber seriousness:

    “Did you know Hugh Christie? Also a gay friend of mine from London, filmmaker and editor of the very popular British gay-interested journal, Continuum. Christie campaigned actively against the health and AIDS hazards of poppers in Continuum. Like me, he was invited by Mbeki, to discuss the causes of AIDS in Africa in 2000. And a year or two later he passed away with Kaposi’s, from long-term over-use/addiction to poppers!”

    I also thought that the repeated requests of people on the blog that I address questions to you meant that you were available for an open dialogue, I apologize if I misunderstood.

    I’ve never met Dr. Gallo in person (unless you count attending one of his annual meetings as a journalist in, I think, the year 2000) nor have we ever engaged in any direct correspondence. I cannot imagine he has the vaguest interest in my – quite possibly foolish – attempts to debate supporters of your views on the internet.

    Regards,

    Richard Jefferys

    ______________________

    Duesberg never responded to any of the scientific questions I originally asked him, the question about Raphael Lombardo was just a secondary question in an email asking if he was going to respond to my first email.

  3. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Look Richard — let’s be frank. There is “proof” that HIV meds can kill. There have been numerous deaths in clinical trials attributed to toxicities from the meds. But you’re right that there’s no proof currently that long-term use of such meds will eventually equal death — although there is some highly suggestive evidence that they might. To prove that would require funding, and NIH is not going to come forward with that funding given their current stance on HIV and AIDS. If you really want to know the answer to this question, I’d suggest lobbying the NIH to fund the necessary longitudinal studies to actually test this hypothesis. If that doesn’t happen, then there is no way to disprove the hypothesis that ARVs kill over time. That’s the bottom line.

  4. Richard Jefferys Says:

    My current understanding is that the 5,247 participants in the SMART study, who entered with an average of six years on ARVs, will continue to be followed for long term outcomes. A sign-on letter from a whole bunch of community organizations, initiated by Tom Gegeny from the Center for AIDS, was sent to NIH demanding this.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, volunteering and then working at the AIDS Treatment Data Network in New York City from 94-2000 (when in addition to local members we had a national toll-free hotline) provided me with grim and direct experience of the harm that both the illness and the drugs can do. But I also learnt that, used wisely, the drugs can be hugely beneficial and bring people back from an immunological precipice in a way that nothing previously could (and there were plenty of people back then that completely avoided mono- and dual- therapies and still got sick, including female partners of IVDUs, so these so-called dissident theories are ridiculously and insultingly incompatible with my experience of reality, hence I will never have any truck with them). People like Moises Agosto and Sean Strub have been very public and open about their experiences, and both came perilously close to dying around 95-96, and yet are healthy today. Based on my experiences pre-HAART, I can’t say I find this anything short of miraculous. Sean’s doctor was Joe Sonnabend, and there is an excellent interview with him in the Treatment Issues from last year:

    Joe Sonnabend interview

    I have to admit that I find these ideas that somehow having anything good to say about treatment makes you a cheerleader for David Ho or Bob Gallo just really useless and depressing. My focus, and that of many others, has been on pushing for progress in immune-based therapy that would reduce or eliminate reliance on potentially toxic drugs; in tandem with this, it is critical that more efforts are made to unravel the mysteries of T cell homeostasis in humans so that we can fully gasp how and why the persistent immune activation that typically accompanies HIV infection leads to severely compromised memory T cell function and, ultimately, opportunistic infections. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to ask whether these areas of research receive the attention they deserve, and I and many other people think they don’t (particularly when compared to the more lucrative virological pursuits of find-a-bug find-a-drug), but neither the efforts of Celia Farber or the bizarre theories of Peter Duesberg are any help to people trying to address these issues.

    End of rant, sorry it went on a bit longer than I intended.

    -Richard

  5. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    AIDS is a multicausal phenomenon. HIV could be involved, but it is certainly not ever the only cause – that simply is not possible based on the evidence. You may not agree with the causal mechanisms implied in Duesberg’s theory (that exposure to toxins likely impairs cellular immunity by slowly reducing the ability to produce these cells), then there are other theories that are just as compelling. We know for a fact that the genetics of the host are important. So, I’m totally in agreement with you in that we need to understand T4 Lymphocyte decline — I just think that in order to do that, we are going to have to investigate several causal mechanisms, not just HIV. That’s what we should all be agitating for. We know for a fact that chronic drug use can cause serious impairment in cellular immunity; we know this for Major Depression too. There are many, many potential routes that have T4 Lymphocyte depletion as their endpoint. It is absolutely necessary to understand all routes.

  6. Richard Jefferys Says:

    “AIDS is a multicausal phenomenon. HIV could be involved, but it is certainly not ever the only cause – that simply is not possible based on the evidence.”

    This isn’t true. In order to make this statement you’d have to completely understand CD4 T cell homeostasis in humans, and nobody does. Based on the current (and greatly improved) understanding of T cell immunology, there are a number of scenarios whereby a small virus that preferentially infects activated CD4 T cells could cause persistent immune activation, naive T cell depletion and memory T cell dysfunction (the major immunological features of HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection). I know of precisely no evidence that the use of any kind of recreational drug or toxin can impair memory T cell function sufficiently dramatically to cause opportunistic infections like CMV retinitis, MAC, cerebral toxplasmosis, etc. etc. The only drugs that can are the potent immune ablators used in transplantation (pretty much the only setting where these diseases were seen prior to the advent of HIV in humans – look at the literature prior to 1980). The fact that Duesberg refers to these as “conventional diseases” tells you everything you need to know about his theories; they are propaganda intended for a lay audience, not science.

  7. Celia Farber Says:

    I’m getting mighty sick of having to accomodate the perpetual distortions of missionary zealots like Richard Jefferys who tilt the scoreboard of DOCUMENTED history every time they fire off another ad hominem attack, written in Boyscout tones that stink of self-congratulation.

    Jefferys cites my “efforts” as being useless and not helpful. He glowingly cites Sean Strub, the NEW Joe Sonnabend, and the unchanged Robert Root Bernstein.

    As per Bob Lederer’s state of the union address in POZ, articulating the new RIGHT ON, ENLIGHTENED PERFECT POSITIONS, Strub, Sonnabend, Berkowitz and Root Bernstein have all said and are still saying that con-factor research is critical. You cannot uphold your cathedral on the ad nauseam quoted ‘role’ for HIV, even if Joe Sonnabend writes in 100 times on the blackboard and Root-Bernstein shifts his position from HIV being not proven as single cause to not being proven as single cause but maybe with a ‘role’.

    He has alway said it may play a role.

    Here is a swath of text from Lederer’s anti-denialist manifesto in POZ. I have personally reported a version of every single statement made in this text, but I of course will go to hell while Lederer will go to Activist heaven:

    If you read it carefully, you will see that the scoreboard is mixed to say the least:

    “Until the late ’90s, Sonnabend was outspoken against the notion that HIV had been proved to cause the disease. Today, he says, “The evidence now strongly supports a role for HIV,” citing particularly “the effects of potent HIV meds.”

    But he has not changed his view that developing AIDS, like other infectious diseases, requires cofactors such as other viruses and bacteria. Another prominent AIDS dissident, Robert Root-Bernstein, PhD, professor of physiology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, has shared Sonnabend’s evolution. “Both the camp that says HIV is a pussycat and the people who claim AIDS is all HIV are wrong,” says Root-Bernstein. He argues that mainstream researchers should be investigating leads on cofactors, as he has been. But, he adds, “The denialists make claims that are clearly inconsistent with existing studies. When I check the existing studies, I don’t agree with the interpretation of the data, or, worse, I can’t find the studies [at all].”

    Meanwhile, the medical establishment’s latest findings, published in The Lancet in July 2005 and based on a large observational study, found that HIV combo therapy cut the rate of full-blown AIDS and death by 86% over several years compared with those not receiving treatment. Despite this, some people with advanced disease—particularly purist followers of holistic healing—continue to risk the consequences of refusing HIV meds in late-stage illness.

    For Richard Berkowitz, a long-term survivor and an AIDS activist integral to the launch of the PWA (People With AIDS) empowerment movement, the turning point came in 1995 when, with only five CD4 cells, he “came down with rapidly proliferating Kaposi’s sarcoma. Berkowitz, who at one time insisted that HIV could not cause AIDS, says, “I was dying.” He started an HIV meds combo. “In less than two months,” he says, “all of my lesions were gone, and my CD4 counts were jumping.” The lesson: “I really needed to reexamine my beliefs.” A decade later, he remains on HIV meds, with a CD4 count of 605 and an undetectable viral load and is “feeling fine.”

    Berkowitz, activist Michael Callen and Joseph Sonnabend coined the phrase “safe sex,” wrote and published the first prevention materials and were vocal in their opposition to putting everyone with HIV on AZT.

    “The reason I’m alive and well is because I didn’t jump on the AZT bandwagon, which killed most of my friends, who started when they were only HIV positive,” Berkowitz says. Sonnabend concurs, “Sadly, the orthodox AIDS medical leadership has made mistake after mistake,” he says. “1,200 mg a day of AZT [the first approved dose in the ’80s] killed thousands,” as did so-called early intervention.

    Mr. Jeffry’s, your mascot Joe Sonnabend is saying here plainly that the two pillars of treatment orthodoxy that reigned from 1986 through the late 1990s “KILLED THOUSANDS.”

    That would be: AZT mono therapy and early intervention for the symptomless. Many of us unhelpful, murderous, irresponsible, and deluded denialists tried very hard to question both of those pillars at the time. Sean Strub has personally thanked me for this. Recently, he asked only that I cease referring to his comment to me that “…you and other AZT dissidents saved countless lives,” as something he said covertly. He wanted me to make clear that he would say it LOUD AND CLEAR to anybody, at any time, in any venue.

    That is because Sean Strub is capable of DISTINGUISHING simultaneously occurring and complex events. You are not. Lederer is not. All you can do is bully and demonize what you PERCEIVE TO BE a camp of extremists whose positions you consistently misrepresent.

    Richard Berkowitz is one of my closest friends and I have reported precisely and accurately on his treatment history and etiological perspectives over the years. Michael Callen was my ardent supporter and close friend and did more to inform my thinking than any single person. One of the last things he begged Joe Sonnabend to do was read Duesberg’s drug papers. My understanding is that Sonnabend refused. Michael was a heavy poppers user. He would have wanted me to say that, so I am saying it.

    Berkowitz is very clear, having been a sex worker for decades, about why some people get sick and other don’t. He said to me not long ago that his position has NOT changed vis a vis HIV NOT being the single cause of AIDS.

    Were he here right now he would say, in ADDITION to that HAART saved his life, that he has never, repeat never, met anybody who developed AIDS whose sole risk factor was HIV positivity. THAT would be the gold standard of proof that AIDS is caused by a single agent. This was the model AmFar et al, VERY irresponsibly, put out and which failed so abysmally it is embarassing that the organization still stands.

    As Sonnabend said: “Sadly, the orthodox AIDS medical leadership has made mistake after mistake.”

    Stop distorting. Face up to those mistakes. Stop calling those who do “denialists” when that is exactly what you yourselves are.

    When Duesberg sounded a loud and clear alarm against AZT, was he a “murderer” then? Even though he was right? Bob Lederer, who is as outrageously manipulative as you are, thinks he can make this piece of history go away by fastening the statement to Joe Sonnabend, while he has him say other things he feels to be right on. What is actually being said strikes very ominous tones for the HIV orthodoxy.

    The history is a tragic mess, littered with bones.

    That you people dare and presume to maintain your patinas and crowns of salvation is only a testament to your extraordinary powers of both self-congratulation and denial.

    This is evident by the way you attempt to transform even mass death into victory for you, guilt and condemnation for those who tried to intervene.

  8. Celia Farber Says:

    There are in fact people on opposing “sides” who have agreed to share data, perspectives, testimonies, to see how all of the clashing information might finally be reconciled into a synthesized “truth,” or set of “truths” that would have resulted, from the healthy and normal process of thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis.

    All this air-biting about who is morally repugnant is a total waste of time.

    I think it is shameful. And I use the word “shame” only about once every 7 years because it is a pompous word.

    I stand by my fury however.

  9. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    “AIDS is a multicausal phenomenon. HIV could be involved, but it is certainly not ever the only cause – that simply is not possible based on the evidence.”

    This isn’t true. In order to make this statement you’d have to completely understand CD4 T cell homeostasis in humans, and nobody does.

    Mr. Jeffreys, you make my arguement for me (thank you). I produced several examples, documented in the medical literature, where declines in cellular immunity have been found OUTSIDE of the AIDS arena, including in chronic drug use and in Major Depression. Do your homework and look up this data. You are right –we have a very poor grip on cellular immunity. But there is no possible way HIV could be the sole cause of AIDS when you have a 15 year latency period between initial infeciton and AIDS. Do we put people in test tubes in refrigerators for that 15 years? No. They go on and live their lives, and likely as not, expose themselves, for years and years, to other factors that can cause immune decline. The latency period alone means that no one can ever, ever, EVER prove that HIV=AIDS. We live too much of our lives in 15 years, Mr. Jeffreys. I feel sorry for you. Because part of me understands why you’re protesting the truth so much — cause I was there myself. But the facts are plain, and as you point out, what we don’t know dwarfs enormously what we know, and any disease that takes 15 years to kill is a disease that requires co-factors. Period.

  10. Brian Foley Says:

    Mark wrote: “…15 year latency period…15 years?…15 years…15 years…”

    Can Mark tell us why, if 15 years of latency is typical or average, the definition of “long term nonprogressor” or “long term survivor” of HIV infection is not 20 or more years of survival or nonprogression?

    Viral and Immunologic Studies in 30 Long-Term Survivors with Nonprogressive HIV-1 Infection

    “…

    On January 26, 1995 the New England Journal of Medicine published three studies of persons infected with HIV-1 for over ten years who had no significant immunologic deficiencies.[1,2,3] The term used to define this group of persons is long-term nonprogressors. This rather technical sounding term is used to differentiate this small group of persons, estimated to be about 5-8% of all persons infected with HIV, from persons who survive HIV infection for more than ten years, but have some evidence of HIV-related illness or immune surpression.[4] Overall, 50% of all persons infected with HIV develop symptoms related to HIV or immunologic surpression within 10 years.[5]

    …”

    What does Mark think of the definition of “long term survivor” in papers such as these:

    Mikhail M, Wang B, Lemey P, Beckholdt B, Vandamme AM, Gill MJ, Saksena NK.

    Full-length HIV type 1 genome analysis showing evidence for HIV type 1 transmission from a nonprogressor to two recipients who progressed to AIDS.

    AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2005 Jun;21(6):575-9.

    PMID: 15989463

    Rezza G, Fiorelli V, Dorrucci M, Ciccozzi M, Tripiciano A, Scoglio A, Collacchi B, Ruiz-Alvarez M, Giannetto C, Caputo A, Tomasoni L, Castelli F, Sciandra M, Sinicco A, Ensoli F, Butto S, Ensoli B.

    The presence of anti-Tat antibodies is predictive of long-term nonprogression to AIDS or severe immunodeficiency: findings in a cohort of HIV-1 seroconverters.

    J Infect Dis. 2005 Apr 15;191(8):1321-4. Epub 2005 Mar 14.

    PMID: 15776379

  11. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Notice that the idea of exactly what constitutes a “long term non-progressor” — well, keeps progressing, I guess you’d have to say. And of course, it’s a moving target, as people keep on living despite the dire predictions their doctors gave them 5-10-15-and-20 years ago. The “latency” period keeps getting longer, is the point. And if the latency period were 5 years — that would still be five years of what scientists call exposure to “confounding” variables — things that occur between infection and illness. Too many confounding variables in the HIV=AIDS hypothesis. HIV infection becomes almost too distal a variable to consider in making predictions about ultimate wellness and health. The longer you live the proximal variables are accrued that make the connection between the distal infection with HIV and illness occurring much later, much more obscure, indeed.

  12. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Mark, you mentioned host genetics. One of the strongest associations is the gene HLA B57 (Google HIV &HLA B57). Possession of this gene is strongly associated with long term non-progression of HIV infection. HLA B57 encodes a CD8 T cell receptor that renders CD8 T cells particular adept at responding to the HIV epitopes that the receptor binds to.

    HLA B57 is also associated with an absence of symptoms at the time of acute HIV infection. Given that the HLA B57 association is with both short term outcomes (protection against acute symptoms) and long term outcomes (progression to AIDS), does that not strongly suggest to you that both the short and long term outcomes are caused by HIV?

    Celia, I am very unsure how to respond to your tirade. I have never read a paper by Root Bernstein. Your references to scoreboards are dismally revealing, as perhaps you realized since you seem to back away from them in your follow-up post. There are a lot of attacks and accusations (Joe Sonnabend is my mascot?), but no actual references to T cell immunology, which was the subject of the posts that appear to have prompted your response. You and Duesberg both fixate on the fact that multiple opportunistic infections can occur in AIDS – as if that is somehow strange – when any immunologist will tell you that immunological memory is such that our memory T cell pools are like libraries in which are recorded the histories of our lifetime exposure to pathogens. In settings where the memory T cell pool is compromised, the infections that reactivate and cause disease will vary depending on individual history of pathogen exposure which is influenced by many things including geography. The same thing is seen in transplantation. Either you do not know this or you deliberately mislead people about it. Neither is forgivable for a supposed journalist making strident claims about the science of HIV infection. Similarly, HIV infects CD4 T cells, to understand the disease therefore requires an understanding of T cell immunology. You and Duesberg continue to claim that antibodies always protect against disease, and then complain that your views are not taken seriously. Much like Duesberg, what you are producing is not journalism, it is propaganda intended for a lay audience.

  13. Celia Farber Says:

    Dear Richard Jefferys: It was indeed a post written in anger and if by stressing that, you intend to induce shame, I reject it. You and your types have deployed almost nothing but anger and vituperative recrimination, for the past 22 years. Now you have the gall to snippily refer to my “tirade?”

    I say what I mean and I say how I feel. I explained that my anger was triggered by your continuing shaming, drubbing, sliming, and misrepresenting of the esprit, history, documented record, intentions, politics, etc of the minds you still insist on calling “denialist.” This is what I meant by the “scoreboard of history.”

    Against the establishment stand the elephantine failures of the main pillar, first of all, and that was the way in which AIDS was supposed to spread, inextricably linked to its “cause.” Let’s call that lemon the Heterosexual AIDS Explosion.

    Then there is the far darker failure of establishment’s AZT monotherapy revolution. This is what brings your work and beliefs to the level of a minor holocaust. (Man made mass death.) My post concerned the insult-to-injury element of your seizing and maintaining the moral highground despite your mind-boggling failures, your wanton destruction of human life and basic freedoms and rights.

    Don’t tell me that I am only permitted to discuss T cell dynamics, because that’s what you decreed we would be talking about. You insulted and attacked me on grounds that I have hurt, killed, injured, misled, etc the very people you believe yourself and your esteemed colleagues to have saved. I addressed that–historically. Hence the scoreboard that you now, in desperation, reduce to a tool of “propaganda.”

    You can’t seem to read.

    I have never written a word about what causes t cells decline, or why people have antibodies to HIV, in my own opinion. The Harpers article, for example, attributes all of Duesberg’s positions to Duesberg himself. I am not a scientist or a doctor.

    Please stop referring to “you and Duesberg.”

    Can’t you decipher when I am citing his work from a state in which I am channeling his virological arguments?

  14. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Richard, you must be dense. The fact that you just reported that the host’s genetics play a role means that HIV DOES NOT EQUAL AIDS alone! How can you not get that? Do you think that that’s the only genetic issue at stake? If the host’s genes are involved, then HIV is NOT the sole cause of AIDS. Get it? Jesus. At the very least, you yourself are now arguing that HIV and genetics contribute to AIDS, or, as I’ve already said, and now you’ve proven to everyone here: AIDS IS MULTICAUSAL. Really, Richard, just stop. You’re just inviting more attacks because you are so defended against seeing what is right in before your eyes.

  15. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Why are you even here, Richard? I assume that you think that all necessary answers regarding HIV and AIDS can be found at http://www.aidstruth.org — the site you assisted TAC in setting up, and also the place where you participated in what was called a “rebuttal” against Farber. So what exactly are you doing here? Your viewpoints are well known, and if you are aligned with TAC, so are your tactics. We don’t like terrorists on this site. Why are you wasting your time with us? Is it because now you’re not so sure about what you think? If that’s the case, then welcome. But if you’re here just to reiterate what that propaganda site says, then thanks but no thanks. We know where to find the propaganda.

  16. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    I’m going to guess that you’re a TAC plant, Richard. TAC has planted individuals inside of other organizations before (like NAPWA, in South Africa — just google TAC and NAPWA for more info). I suggest to everyone that it is best to no longer respond in any way to Mr. Jefferys, as his intentions here are not at all clear.

  17. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Celia Farber wrote:

    “I have never written a word about what causes t cells decline, or why people have antibodies to HIV, in my own opinion.”

    In your Harper’s article you write:

    “(With all other viral diseases, by the way, the presence of antibodies signals immunity from the disease. Why this is not the case with HIV has never been demonstrated.)”

    It is a shame that a fact checker did not ask an immunologist whether this statement is true or not, because it isn’t. Either you are not aware that it is untrue, or it is deliberately misinformation.

    Mark Biernbaum wrote:

    “The fact that you just reported that the host’s genetics play a role means that HIV DOES NOT EQUAL AIDS alone!”

    I’m sorry Mark, but this just isn’t true, it seems you are not familiar with what HLA genes are. As I said, if you Google HIV &HLA B57, there’s lots of information about it.

  18. truthseeker Says:

    The staff at NAR apologizes for marking so many comments as “especially good” ie bordered with green, but we appreciate the intelligence of the points, that they are based on facts (or what are assumed to be facts) and that there is (almost) no name calling of a personal nature. Thanks to all.

    Richard, your reposting of Duesberg’s email seems a little inappropriate, since after editing the post it now states the situation more precisely, and it is that Duesberg did not forward to us the personal side of Larry Kramer’s email, just the public level enquiry he first wrote. We leave it up, however, because it seems to us to be a classic example of finding fault where no fault is. What is it exactly about Duesberg’s email to you which you think shows “psychopathy”? He merely reported that two people professed to be aware of the dangers of drugs but took them anyway and died.

    On the science, you write “Similarly, HIV infects CD4 T cells, to understand the disease therefore requires an understanding of T cell immunology.”

    This position has been abandoned by the leaders of the field, both as a claim (HIV doesn’t infect many CD4 T cells) and as a danger (it is not considered the way in which HIV causes problems). In this they have been forced finally to acknowledge something Duesberg pointed out nearly two decades ago. Should it take that long?

    Sure, it would always be beneficial to learn more about the immune system. But it seems to us that you should take into account the possibility that huge amounts of intelligence, including your own, is being used rationalize why evidence that the theory is wrong is really evidence that the theory is right. This human flaw is a standard of brain science now. Gazzaniga and others have shown how hard the left brain works to reject data or turn it upside down to fit with preconceptions. What evidence is there that this is not happening in HIV?AIDS? We would say none so far.

    For example, that meds are or feel beneficial is not necessarily a reason to conclude that HIV is causing problems. It is not the only virus around, and these are ARVs. On the other hand meds have their own effects on the immune response, too, just as other drugs do. The immune system views alien chemicals as antigens, probably because they are taken for the toxins produced by bacteria. Whatever, the fact is that drugs burden the immune system., and if you are denying it, that seems odd.

    Perhaps you can tell us why, if Duesberg is so off the rails, he is considered such a danger to the paradigm that no one will be seen speaking to him, no one will support his research, no one wants his name on a committee? If he was a fool no one would mind, would they? Do people who have complete confidence in a scientific belief use guards to hustle a questioner out of the room, or do they answer the objections without concern, even welcome them? Is HIV supported with science or politics, reason or insults? You know the general answer to that. Doesn’t it tell you anything?

    Or maybe we should ask you a much more direct question, instead of beating around the bush talking about the poliical and social signs. Have you read carefully the 2003 Biosciences paper that Duesberg wrote, summarizing the myriad counts against HIV=AIDS? If not, isn’t this the responsible thing to do before reviewing all the evidence you have interpreted in the belief that HIV causes AIDS?

    If you have carefully read it, what particular points would you quote as incorrect? If you can’t find any, then what intellectual reason do you have for still rejecting them? No doubt you have many emotional, social and political reasons, which if you are honest with yourself you will recognize, we imagine. But do you have any intellectual ones?

    In other words, one can if one is intelligent find many reasons to support what one thinks if one remains on the Web comment, newspaper and magazine discussion level. But the only facts we can be half way sure of are those in the peer reviewed literature. That is the point of scientific literature – we get rid of anecdote and personal experience and belief and record what scientific enquiry, checked by peers, tells us (as far as their bias will allow them!)

    Is it not your duty to yourself and all those threatened with AIDS to talk on this level? To go back, for example to Gallo’s original papers and see how little they have to support the HIV theory in the first place – how in fact, they show very convincingly that HIV was the worst possible candiate for causing immune dysfunction. Why was it accepted, trumpeted and funded? Because it was so powerful a proof? Have a look at it.

    You can see this paper’s weaknesses in summary in a special sidebar we added to the next post, How Gallo Proved that HIV was not the Cause of AIDS.

    Yes, you read that right.

  19. Chris Scheuermann Says:

    I appologize up front but I am not pithy. I follow this discussion with great interest. Upon my first visit to this site I had an exchange with Mr. Jeffreys. I feel compelled in as much as I am able to opine again.
    I have examined this issue of HIV/AIDS in my capacity as a lay person and a service provider for about a year now. I will freely admit to being a skeptic, because HIV=AIDS makes little sense. And, I applaud more than you know, all efforts to bring this debate to the public, which is where it desperately needs to be. I feel very strongly that one of the greatest hindrances to this debate is the psycological mayhem that it inspires. A phenomenon not unique to this issue. I understand why Mr. Jeffreys defends the way he does. He does it for the same reasons that we all might on a particular issue. He believes and defends because he must; in much the same way Mr. Kramer has reacted with such vitriol over the years. To believe otherwise, to come to the conclusion the our scientific institutions have not had anything but the best intentions in dealing with AIDS, or anything else, leaves us all with a long list of people(many friends and family, as well as strangers)gone. Perhaps when they didn’t need to be. So, the easy out, is to defend vociferously, the concept of HIV. It is an easy and insular way of blinding oneself to the corporate machinations of our institutions. Hold desperately to the theory, and you can forgive the mistakes, gross errors, the shortcommings, and overlook the decaying effects of pharmaceutical hegemony.
    Science has become a religion. But whether it is a white collar or a white coat, neither are above scrutiny and questions. Science, like God, may be truth, or the search for it, but we cannot allow that to blind us from the Inquisitions, abuses and corruption of the church. And I say that as a Catholic. We want to believe that our science is pure and that it is truth and the betterment of humanity that drives it; rather than the shareholder, or the very human need to be published, respected by peers, or worse, for love of prestige, power, and the satisfaction of ego. These are the very same things that dissappoint us so completely like when a police officer breaks the law he/she was sworn to uphold. Or the public servant who so egregiously abuses the power entrusted to them. Science as a concept is the search for truth. As a business, it is as rife with flaws, scandals and shortcommings as the rest.
    I read many of the responses to Ms. Farber’s article. Most claimed as they always do that there was overwhelming scientific consensus. One doctor even claimed that was the basis of good science. I know from reading that most on this site would consider that extremely pernicious. I am more inclined to agree with Michael Crichton who said that consensus was the last refuge of scoundrels. For it is scientific consensus that told us the earth was flat. I find that particularly amusing because “flat-earthers” I have become aware, is a popular label for HIV-dissidents. They told us the the earth was stationary and the center of the universe. They also thought treating syphillis with arsenic was a good idea. Thalidomide was also seen as a good idea and safe. Then again, doctors washing their hands was derided by the majority. But then they came to their senses and realized their were germs. Scientific consensus and the machine it has now become, also gave us the phantom swine flu epidemic of 1976. And frankly, I am still puzzled as to why we are all not dead from SARS or the Bird Flu. Perhaps one epidemic at a time.
    In closing, Mr. Jeffreys, I do not believe you are a sinister person nor do I believe you are a stupid person. I believe you are a true believer in what you are doing. And, I detect no lack of sincerity in your desire to help people. For that, simply because it is rare in the world, You have my respect for your vigor and passion. I only ask you, and all others who at times, some more than others, are so quick to moralize this issue, and cast dispersions, and engage rather sophomorically in ad hominem, before you continue to build your wonderful AIDS house with those golden bricks, take notice of its very foundation that is completly crumbling beneath it.

    Chris Scheuermann

  20. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    This is one of Richard Jeffery’s posts from another blog. I think it says all he would probably like to say. I found it very helpful in understanding what his motivations are — especially the last part:

    “Well, seems Anon V et al have recused themselves from the debate. I actually took another look at the J Biosciences paper yesterday…just bizarre. Duesberg et al start off describing the sudden appearance of AIDS and list the things that indicated it was being caused by a transmissible agent (like transfusion cases)…then say the disease was compatible with something to do with lifestyle! They refer to hemophiliacs and transfusion recipients as “minor” and “fringe” categories, which I’m sure is a great comfort to those that lost loved ones. Why not just come clean and say collateral damage? They allude to the previous rarity of opportunistic infections, but try and muddy this by calling them “conventional” diseases. They offer no explanation for the sudden explosion of CMV retinitis. They make it seem weird that different OIs occur in different people, but any disease that effects the memory T cell pool is going to lead to diseases that relate to the pathogen exposure history of the given individual (or population), there is nothing weird about this. The rebuttal of the Durban Declaration is an unfunny joke – seven bullets are turned into 17 “predictions” which just have selective, out-of-context and tiny quotes from the Durban Declaration woven into them – the “predictions” all come from the authors, not the Declaration. They cite zero (nada, zilch) evidence that drug use or malnutrition can cause the specific immunological dysregulation that is seen in HIV infection (now we have the technologies to do things like separate out naive and memory T cells, we have a much more specific idea about what is happening in HIV infection, and it bears no resemblance to the literature on the immunololgical effects of drug abuse or malnutrition). I actually think Duesberg et al should be flattered by people that accuse them of having nefarious motives; what such people are really saying is that they can’t believe Duesberg is dumb enough to believe what he’s writing.

    After reading it, it made me want to set up a special hospital for denialists where the blood supply is not screened for HIV. I know lots of people that would donate, and then if any denialist ever needed a transfusion, they could go there for it in full confidence that no harm would come to them.”
    By Richard, at 10:05 AM PST

  21. Robert Houston Says:

    It’s getting rather tedious to read the pseudo-scientific opinions of Mr. Jefferys, this disdainful functionary of the Treatment Action Group in New York. Suffice it to say that Dr. Duesberg summarized in Table 4 of his 2003 paper key claims of the HIV theory based on quotes from the entire Durban Declaration – not just its 7 bullets- and cited extensive evidence that each claim has been disproven. In this and previous papers he provided considerable documentation that drugs can cause the spectrum of immunodeficiency and other problems associated with AIDS. Malnutrition is a long established cause of immunodeficiency, acknowledged in any textbook on immunology. As early as the 1980s studies showed that the specific clinical and immune features of AIDS closely matched PCM (protein-calorie malnutrition) and trace element deficiencies such as occur in AIDS patients.

    The TAG rep would even have us believe that antibodies cannot help protect against infection. Duesberg wrote that they are typically protective, and pointed out exceptions such as herpes in his 1989 Proceedings paper. According to a recent textbook: “Antibody to antigens on the viral surface is sufficient to prevent infection by viruses that cause smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis A and B, and influenza, to name some” (G. Pier et al. Immunology, Infection, and Immunity, 2004, p. 457).

    In a review of the immunology of HIV infection,”Dr. Fauci points out that the HLA profile is just one of many “possible mechanisms of long-term nonprogression” and that “measurement of any of these parmeters in nonprogressors reveals a great deal of heterogeneity” and overlap with progressors.

  22. DB Says:

    “After reading it, it made me want to set up a special hospital for denialists where the blood supply is not screened for HIV. I know lots of people that would donate, and then if any denialist ever needed a transfusion, they could go there for it in full confidence that no harm would come to them.”

    This statement should disturb anyone that assumes Mr. Jeffreys’ heart is pure, and intentions are utterly noble. I’ve personally been on the receiving end of similar statements (not from Mr. Jeffreys though) from those I’ve been engaged with in this debate. Whether a person believes “HIV” is a deadly pathogen or not, the statement stands as a threat.

  23. Robert Houston Says:

    In winding up this thread, I’d like to bring back the delightfully iconoclastic Larry Kramer for his opinion. Mr. Kramer, what do you think of the Treatment Action Group, which was an offshoot of an organization you founded?

    Kramer: “These idiots in TAG… The research that is done today is pretty much dictated by a small handful of pea brains called the Treatment Action Group (TAG) which has a stranglehold on what is researched, what the drug companies release…and the guidelines that all of us are told to take all of this poison – more and more of it…”

    Thank you, Mr. Kramer, and all best wishes.

    (Click HERE to see his full discussion at WebMD.com.)

  24. truthseeker Says:

    Well, we recall seeing that Jeffreys post somewhere. It is clear evidence of the penalty you pay if your emotions are the basis of your perceptions, it seems to us. Emotions play into every mind, of course, and all of us start out being susceptible, since emotions are the bridge to much more physically delightful things from other people than ideas are, food, drink, love, sex, to name a few; think of being a rock star – the gates of paradise open when you sing songs people respond to en masse, even though the songs are intellectually shallow almost by definition – or a writer – very few best sellers are intellectual in their appeal, to say the least. It is inevitable that if all your friends and colleagues think X, the pressure and pleasure of thinking X are pretty much insuperable, surely, since hunting gangs must share the same tribal goals and killing strategies to turn rivalry outward and work together to kill the beast they want to eat, or which wants to eat them.

    But the search for truth demands the opposite, which is why the art of good education is a lot to do with rising above these beguiling distortions of analytical thinking, it seems to us. All these nice emotions of solidarity, loyalty, shared religion and values, liking for each other, family

    impulses, and their derivative desires for money, fame, social climbing and other keys to access, all are mirrors which distort reality, and enemies of science, whose true professional modus operandi is to free knowledge seeking from them so that perception can be accurate.

    If you are trying to assess the influence of HIV on health you don’t want any of that stuff to interfere with your research, but the way things are done nowadays they inevitably will twist a lot of scientific thinking. When the source of funds to run huge labs and expensive equipment is only the government and private companies investing shareholder and venture capital ie betting billions on your results (come back Mr Rockefeller we need you) your professional group is going to integrate with these organizations and weld opinion together. Then if it is a health alarm you want to exploit, you don’t even have prove anything rigorously to turn on the tap, just name a culprit and they shove money at you.

    There is exactly the same effect corrupting the media, especially the newspapers who just don’t have the staff budget any more, or the incentive, to investigate such matters independently. The only people who are going to go after the real story in journalism or the real result in science are the poor saps rich in or cursed with social idealism, high family status, moral sensibilities, natural love for science and/or a philosopher’s love of the truth, and a cussed independence of mind, all grave deficiencies in earning a living and keeping your wife and children, houses and bank accounts sustained and protected.

    Take away rigorous training in how good science is done and add the presence of an invisible but ticking time bomb to the lives of partygoers whose sense of reality is already distorted by paranoia and drugs and you are not going to get cold pure reason and objectivity very often. You are going to get people who rush to prove to their supposed medical their saviors their utmost loyalty and respect, which they demonstrate by feelings of antagonism to any rival and his/her ideas. Not that they have to crank this up artificially, it is built in to their emotional state.

    Thus the blindness to counterargument, the jeering, and the insults. Science becomes political, professionalized, corporate and finally religious in scientists, in doctors and health care workers, in activists and do gooders. To stop the scientific cancer you have to cut off the blood supply. You have to work out some way to fund scientists wthout tempting them to sell out. There are not a lot of good ideas how to do it, though the problem has been recognized since it started post World War II, when the NIH was born as a way to funnel public money into scientific advance to enhance public health and military power.

    The only immediate solution is for the public and the media to understand what is happening and to get some control back, by demanding that the media do a better job, and thus pressure scientific institutions to get their act together and stop acting as a backscratching club.

    Someone has to make the Richard Jefferys of the world, the key movers of the other side in HIV?AIDS, aware of what is going on without insulting their obvious intelligence and their ideals, and that is tricky when just like we do they tell themselves they know very well what is going on, and they do know a great deal of what is going on on the ground, much more than any of their armchair or lab critics. But it is their interpretation of what they see which is at issue, the HIV spectacles through which they view every event. How does one persuade them to take those spectacles off? They have been wearing them for twenty years.

    We certainly admire the polite efforts of thoughtful people such as Celia and Mark, let alone Duesberg, to enlighten them without giving up and washing their hands of the possibility, especially given the ingratitude and hostility (not in this thread) of those they try to inform. It is very hard to talk to the other side directly in this affair without sparking a flame war, much harder than writing blog posts into the void.

  25. Celia Farber Says:

    Mr. Jefferys: The section of the Harpers article that pertained to Duesberg’s case against HIV was intended to reflect the views of Duesberg himself. Gramatically, one does not bracket each reference to his arguments with the tag: “According to Duesberg.”

    As for the line about antibodies, I think it would have been preferable if we had edited the line to say that in “most” infectious diseases, antibodies signal a defeated infection. I do not, however, think that this is a major point but a rather minor one. I think the deeper point remains as stated, namely that the very premise of an AIDS vaccine, is haunted to say the least, by the fact that antibody is what is tested for in HIV “infection,” and as far as my understanding goes, there is great discord and disparity in the space between our understanding of antibodies and our understanding of “infection,” with HIV.

    This is from the webite for the multimedia project “Ending AIDS: The Search For A Vaccine:”
    (www.endingaids.org)

    “Antibodies elicited by the immune system during a natural infection with HIV do not prevent disease progression in the long term. In most viral infections for which vaccines have been developed, antibodies to the virus are effective in either preventing infection in the first place or eventually bringing it under control.

    With HIV infection, however, antibodies generated against the virus do not prevent disease progression over time.

    Rather, it is CD8 cells that are largely responsible for reducing the amount of virus in a newly infected person and keeping the virus in check for a number of years.

    Antibodies produced during the course of natural infection with HIV are largely irrelevant. Most are unable to neutralize the virus and those that are able to neutralize it are low in number, produced well after an infection has already established itself and unable to find the part of the virus to which they can bind.

    If it is not possible for a vaccine to stimulate effective antibodies to HIV, then it may not be possible to prevent people from becoming infected.

    Rather, a vaccine might allow HIV infection but prevent or delay onset of symptoms of HIV disease.”

    I seek to be educated, corrected when wrong, always advance my understanding as I go. Can somebody tell me if I have misunderstood this point, as of this writing?

    Gratefully…

  26. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Mark Biernbaum wrote:

    “This is one of Richard Jeffery’s posts from another blog. I think it says all he would probably like to say. I found it very helpful in understanding what his motivations are — especially the last part:

    “Well, seems Anon V et al have recused themselves from the debate. I actually took another look at the J Biosciences paper yesterday…just bizarre. Duesberg et al start off describing the sudden appearance of AIDS and list the things that indicated it was being caused by a transmissible agent (like transfusion cases)…then say the disease was compatible with something to do with lifestyle! They refer to hemophiliacs and transfusion recipients as “minor” and “fringe” categories, which I’m sure is a great comfort to those that lost loved ones. Why not just come clean and say collateral damage? They allude to the previous rarity of opportunistic infections, but try and muddy this by calling them “conventional” diseases. They offer no explanation for the sudden explosion of CMV retinitis. They make it seem weird that different OIs occur in different people, but any disease that effects the memory T cell pool is going to lead to diseases that relate to the pathogen exposure history of the given individual (or population), there is nothing weird about this. The rebuttal of the Durban Declaration is an unfunny joke – seven bullets are turned into 17 “predictions” which just have selective, out-of-context and tiny quotes from the Durban Declaration woven into them – the “predictions” all come from the authors, not the Declaration. They cite zero (nada, zilch) evidence that drug use or malnutrition can cause the specific immunological dysregulation that is seen in HIV infection (now we have the technologies to do things like separate out naive and memory T cells, we have a much more specific idea about what is happening in HIV infection, and it bears no resemblance to the literature on the immunololgical effects of drug abuse or malnutrition). I actually think Duesberg et al should be flattered by people that accuse them of having nefarious motives; what such people are really saying is that they can’t believe Duesberg is dumb enough to believe what he’s writing.

    After reading it, it made me want to set up a special hospital for denialists where the blood supply is not screened for HIV. I know lots of people that would donate, and then if any denialist ever needed a transfusion, they could go there for it in full confidence that no harm would come to them.”
    By Richard, at 10:05 AM PST”

    What did that last part tell you about my motivations, Mark? And what makes you think this post says all that I would like to say? I guess the points about CMV retinitis are indeed something I would like explained, from your perspective, and those of the people on this blog who have yet to produce a cite to support their assertions that drug use or malnutrution (or indeed, major depression) can impact the memory T cell pool sufficently that pathogens such as CMV escape immune surveillance and cause disease (despite the presence of CMV-specific antibodies, as it happens). Prior to 1980 the examples you’ll find in the literature are pretty much exclusively from renal transplantation, but perhaps you can find some informative exceptions. It is perhaps also relevant that, in direct contradiction to the obfuscating claims of Peter Duesberg and others, variation in opportunistic infections is also seen in the setting of renal transplantation where memory T cell immunity is severely compromised, for the reasons that I outlined in this post (individual history of exposure to pathogens). When a renal transplant patient in Northern Australia gets disseminated Strongyloides stercoralis no one claims that it can’t be due to immunosuppression because it’s a conventional disease that renal transplant patients in Glasgow aren’t at much risk for.

    As for my angry comment being a threat, that is surely ironic. I was also wondering why people that believe that HIV is harmless (several of whom were posting on that blog, although of course to include a link to the thread would have defeated your purpose) were not defending the right of gay men to give blood. It is also surely the case that, had the blood industry found the slightest plausibility in Duesberg’s theories, they would have championed them and funded his research. To the best of my knowledge, this did not occur.

    As relates to the other posts on this thread, it hardly needs to be said that there is a vast difference between writing erroneously that antibodies always protect against disease and then dissembling and admitting that in fact it is in “most” cases. The whole point to your argument is that the immunology of HIV infection is bizarre, unique and unprecedented. As soon as you acknowledge that there are indeed other viruses wherein antibodies do not protect against disease, that argument falls apart.

    And even the idea that antibodies are responsible for protection against “most” viruses is likely incorrect(with all due apologies to Dr. Pier’s textbook). I would recommend reading Dennis Burton’s 2002 article in Nature Reviews Immunology (and the cites contained therein) and Rafi Ahmed’s review in Cell earlier this year. Of course a real journalist, perhaps realizing that Peter Duesberg is not – and never has been – an immunologist, might have thought to ask one before writing an article about an immunological disease. I have probably forgotten something, but I think there was also a reference to a Tony Fauci review (date uncertain) on HLA genes, but I think a critique of the specific data on HLA B57 would have better addressed the points raised above.

  27. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    what’s your HIV status, Mr. Jefferys? Otherwise, like I said, I’m not reading your posts any longer and won’t engage with you about them. — because I’m not going to change my mind.

  28. Robert Houston Says:

    How reassuring it is to know that the director of the Vaccine Project of the Treatment Action Group thinks he knows better than the latest textbooks in immunology. Thanks for informing us that it is “likely incorrect” that antibodies can protect against viruses. This is the absurd degree of irrationality to which defence of the HIV theory must drive a true believer like Mr. Jefferys. As Duesberg predicted almost 20 years ago (Cancer Res. 1987), you will never have a useful vaccine, because HIV positives already have antibodies that are so effective that it’s difficult to find such active virus in their bodies.

    Least of all is it to be found in memory T-cells. It’s been known for over five years that in AIDS patients only one in a million memory T-cells are infected, as shown by the research of Dr. Robert Siliciano at Johns Hopkins which was widely reported (NY Times, 6/5/01, p. F9). If disruption of memory T-cells is a significant factor in AIDS then we’ll have to dispense with HIV as a rationale since it isn’t there – as pointed out by Malcolm Martin, chief of molecular microbiology at NIAID.

    Why isn’t it there? As early as 1985 the famous virologist Robin Weiss showed that the patients’ antibodies to HIV were effective in neutralizing the virus, contrary to subsequent propaganda claims of the HIV industry.

    The references requested re immunosuppressive effects of drug abuse and malnutrition are widely available, and are provided by Duesberg among others. As for the review by Fauci and colleagues of AIDS immunology, see Fundamental Immunology, W. E. Paul (Ed), 2003, pp. 1285-1318.

    Oh yes, what causes CMV retinitis? Simple answer: cytomegalovirus – not HIV!

  29. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    For everyone to see — here is information on who funds TAG, the group Richard Jefferys now represents:

    2004 conflict of interest/competing interests for Mark Harrington/Treatment Action Group (TAG)

    (While efforts have been initiated to press for greater transparency at the PHS guidelines panel and other key committees, including community and patient groups, at this time conflict of interest disclosure is not yet required of patient reps to the DHHS treatment guidelines panel. The following conflict of interest/competing interest information therefore was taken from TAG’s 2004 annual report.)

    Mark Harrington Member, DHHS treatment guidelines panel

    Executive Director and principal fundraiser,

    Treatment Action Group (TAG)

    Boehringer-Ingelheim

    General operating support $10,000-$24,999

    Bristol-Myers Squibb

    General operating support $25,000-$49,000

    Gilead

    General operating support $10,000-$24,999

    Merck

    General operating support $50,000-$99,000

    NIH Office of AIDS Research

    General operating support $50,000-$99,000

    Pfizer

    General operating support $10,000-$24,999

    Roche-Trimeris

    General operating support $50,000-$99,000

    Total for 2004: $205,000-$420-997

    Source: http://www.aidsinfonyc.org/tag/about2.html (accessed March 26, 2005)

    As you can see, Mr. Jefferys, and his comments should be considered funded, founded, and underwritten by these pharmaceutical firms. He is not to be trusted, unless of course you want to get your science from Pfizer et al.

  30. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    You make me sick in my heart, Mr. Jefferys. Do you think it’s HIV related?

  31. truthseeker Says:

    Richard, it is hard to say anything sensible in response to your position because you make assumptions that an intelligent skeptic cannot share. For example, that because there are exceptions to a general rule this provides an escape hatch for HIV ie for HIV believers to claim that it is one of the exceptions. Or that this possibility is even worth discussing.

    Certainly on general principles everyone can agree that there are exceptions to the general rule that antibodies successfully rid the body more or less entirely of an antigen. Sure Celia as she says should have used some qualifier like ‘typically’ or ‘nearly all cases’ or whatever, instead of using too much journalistic shorthand in this case, and allowing the sweeping statement to stand. This is just the price journlists pay in writing a short article on a big topic, sometimes a generalization which is too sweeping will slip through without a qualifier. But so what? This applies to all writing outside of the scientific or academic literature. But when a piece is well edited, as in this case, it shows very few such faults. That this piece only showed one example indicates how well it was expressed.

    That exceptions exist of course a priori introduces the possibility that HIV is one of these exceptions, but then you must examine the case to see if there is any indication that this might be true. Where is thst indication? There is no indication. HIV behaves in a normal, predictable, conventonal way and follows the general rule to a T. It arrives in the body through the considerable exertions of the owner of the body in unusual activities (conventional activity doesn’t transfer whatever causes HIV tests to show positive later), causes some mild symptoms while the body reacts to its presence by producing antibodies, and after a few weeks disappears as thse antibodies do their job. There is nothing bizarre about this sequence of events, it is entirely conventional.

    What is bizarre and unconventional is the fact that Robert Gallo has persuaded you and the world that this agent then causes a collapse of the immune system after a number of years – possibly twenty years! – lying dormant in almost negligible amounts in the body, and it perpetrates this without even proliferating again much in the body, since whatever comeback it makes is so limited that it is merely the result of losing immune response, not creating that deficiency. What is bizarre is that persons such as yourself will endlessly rationalize this absurd scenario for which there is really no evidence at all, starting with Robert Gallo’s demonstration of no evidence at all in his original paper (see next two posts).

    There is no limit to your credulity, it seems, and not only no limit but you will actively help Gallo Fauci et al stifle your own skepticism in their direction and turn it instead on the skeptics. This is a remarkable thing, to turn an intelligent person such as yourself into a defender of an idea which in terms of logic and evidence never leaves the starting gate.

    Of course cynics will say this reflects the source of the funding of your group, which is supported by the industry which exploits the Gallo approach, unless we are mistaken, but we wouldn’t join them. We have every faith that you advance the arguments you do, in favor of this bizarre notion, because you believe it, and as a result of this you atract the financial support of those who benefit from it, rather than vice versa, ie arguing these points so that you can then attract the funding. Why should we not think you are an honorable man of integrity in this respect? We know of no reason whatsoever to think otherwise.

    However, we plan a post on this non-scientific topic, so if you have anything to say in your defense in this regard, please do so here, so this blog does not mislead its readers when it points out that it may be hard for you maintain your independence of mind in such circumstances as you now find yourself, whether you are conscious of it or not.

  32. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Well, it is clearly easier to attack me and/or TAG (and our compromised craniums) than it is the message. Many people are CMV infected, they do not get CMV retinitis unless they are severely immunosuppressed and there is zero evidence that malnutrition or drug use can cause immunosuppression severe enough to allow CMV to become active and cause CMV disease. That, I think, is fairly straightforward. I cited the recent literature as being more accurate than a textbook, which is often the case.

    As I have written elsewhere, my position at TAG is entirely funded by the Michael Palm Foundation, if you want to know who Michael Palm was you can look it up. I am almost certainly doing his legacy a great disservice by posting on these websites, unfortunately. The history of my work and statements on a variety of issues are a matter of public record, easily accessed via Google. If you want to be able dismiss all this based on TAG’s funding sources, you are free to do so and the annual reports are all on the website. It would, perhaps, be more more compelling if you were able to read the scientific papers and offer a critique, but absent that ability I can understand that other tactics become necessary.

    Perhaps the most difficult question asked of me here is: why bother? I think of posts I have read from people recovering from cerebral toxoplasmosis and asking for help because they’ve stopped their antibiotics (and asking how common cerebral toxoplasmosis was prior to 1980). I think of a post from a man in Hawaii whose wife is on a respirator as a result of severe bacterial pneumonia, asking for help because her family has taken over her medical care and is allowing the prescription of ARVs in an attempt to save her life. I think of posts from people that have stopped their treatments, thanking people like those that post to this site for giving them the courage to do so. If every grim lesson I have learnt over the last twenty years is wrong, as you are so desperate to believe, perhaps they will be OK. But I do not believe that and so I occasionally, and quite clearly foolishly, attempt to point out that what is being peddled here and elsewhere is misinformation.

  33. DB Says:

    Many people are CMV infected, they do not get CMV retinitis unless they are severely immunosuppressed and there is zero evidence that malnutrition or drug use can cause immunosuppression severe enough to allow CMV to become active and cause CMV disease

    Are you saying there was no such disease as CMV retinitis before “AIDS”?

    From stlukeseye.com…”However, when the immune system is suppressed because of disease (HIV), organ or bone marrow transplant, or chemotherapy , the CMV virus can cause damage and disease to the eye and the rest of the body.”

    I was “watching” Derek Jarman’s “Blue” not too long ago. Visually, it consists of just a blue screen to watch. Derek Jarman narrates, for the most part, and there’s some good music in it, in my opinion. The basis of “Blue” is that Mr. Jarman was losing his sight, and could only make out shadows and the color blue. At one point in the movie, he was going over a laundry list of treatments he was taking and their side effects. I don’t remember the name of the drug(I didn’t think to write it down at the time), but a side effect was…retinal detachment! Which was one of the things he was suffering from. Watch the movie (listen, really). I was dumbfounded. Could he not put two and two together? It’s right there in the movie. Another side effect of the treatments he was receiving was…low white blood cell count. Layman or not…these things bring up a red flag for me. It’s all hidden in plain sight.

  34. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Frankly, truthseeker, I don’t think Mr. Jefferys is motivated by either those that fund him (although that conflict of interest cannot be overlooked) or by a sincere belief in what he espouses. Rather, motivation is generally determined by factors and emotions we are not conscious of. For some reason, unknown to us and to him, probably, Mr. Jefferys feels the strange need to post desperate, angry messages on dissident websites. This is a strange behavior pattern, not a sign of sincere interest, truthseeker. It’s explanation has nothing to do with proper debate — it has everything to do with what has gone on and what continues to go on in the dark recesses of Mr. Jefferys brain. In other words — it’s a psychological problem, quite simply. It’s somewhat akin to the anti-semite who only finds himself attracted to Jews. You take people at face value as a rule and you defend often the honorableness of that position. Frankly, although I also apply that rule, due to my training, I find that people’s unconscious motivations often speak louder than their words.

    And finally, truthseekeer, I have discussed with you privately that I find Mr. Jefferys disturbing, yet you seem to be baiting him to continue this perverse monologue. I find that disturbing as well. This is much more than idle chit-chat or even serious “debate” to some of us. And yes, I’m pulling the HIV card here. Perhaps being honest about this disqualifies the likes of me from posting here — so be it. I don’t want to feign an intellectual interest only — this is way more than an intellectual interest to me, and to others like me who read your site. I would suggest you have a responsibility to them. Perhaps you would disagree.

  35. truthseeker Says:

    You are surely right in general if you are saying that misplaced emotions are the source of the bad ideas and poor logic which corrupt the science and medicine of HIV?AIDS, but what good does it do to discuss it or even call attention to it in specific cases? Accusing someone of poor motives will usually just result in a discussion of whether that speculation is true, a review in which the chief witness can rarely be objective.

    This site exists to seek the truth by comparing belief with the scientific literature, in order to ensure that medications for the sick are appropriate and public money is not poured down the drain or into the pockets of the exploitive and undeserving. It is not motivated by the fun of ridiculing the foolish enjoyed by the writer, although it is his only recompense.

    Speculation as to the motives of posters are the product of imagination and may be very persuasive and likely true, but the site exists to substitute evidence and good reason for imaginative beliefs and other forms of creative activity, which spring from imuplses other than the scientific and having the public interest in mind.

    So we see no reason to insult Richard Jefferys by calling his motives into question, and preventing him from raising the points he does which in his eyes justify his belief that the paradigm is viable. We appreciate the benefit of him doing so, since it shows that he is thinking about the subject at least and it provokes answers which clarify the pros and cons of the case.

    If all the comment on this site came from applauding fellow travelers it would be as spurious as most of the comment from the other side on other sites, which are quite often flames which throw no light on the subject for those who are trying to think it through. We try to fly above that level in order to get things done, since it is of the utmost importance to save many people from losing their lives or their friends, relations and lovers to a fantasy which if it is as wrong as it appears to be according to the best scientific literature is one of the most dangerous out there.

    We believe it is our duty, and yours, and the duty of every enlightened citizen of the world to keep the discussion as clear and therefore conclusive as possible if this deadly meme is not to infect the brains of every person on the planet, and therefore live beyond critique forever.

  36. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    You don’t get it, Truthseeker, and you never will. Jefferys doesn’t “enlighten,” he obfuscates — that’s the central strategy of the establishment and you’ve said so so many times. You’re allowing this obfuscation to continue because it helps the site, not because it makes for good scientific discussion. Sorry, that’s bullshit. I’m out of here for good. You forget that there are real people’s lives, like mine, at stake. I know what your motivations are too, don’t forget. Instead of defending him, you should ban him from posting. If it was really about clarity and good science, you most certainly would. You’re a fraud. I’m too real for you and for this.

  37. Chris Scheuermann Says:

    Mr. Biernbaum, and Truthseeker,

    As I stated in my last post, I firmly believe that this discussion is vital, and this site is one of many that I look upon daily for insight and information. I understand that that this is an emotional issue. that is perhaps its greatest hinderance to advance. I watch your responses back and forth and I have to say that I am dismayed, Mr. Biernbaum at your last post. I have read what you have said and firmly believe you have something of great value to contribute as does truthseeker. As to Mr. Jeffreys, I think you both are overlooking what is the main purpose of this forum. And that is simply that it exists. Indeed how necessary it is to have the freedom to discuss many other areas of science, government etc. All areas where free discussion is stifled and exacerbated by controlling interests. With all due respect to Mr. Jeffreys, let him rave on so that men should know him mad. I have watched as he continuously says the same damnable things over and over, as if repeating the latest journal entries makes it more convincing. Naive T-cells, memory reservoirs etc. It is a rather standard tactic to confuse by using “official” language. Had this blog existed ten years ago, Mr. Jeffreys I’m sure would have been quoting the latest literature showing a direct cytotoxic effect. It is hardly the point. For the time being, Mr. Jeffreys and all others who tow the dogmatic line, are completely comfortable in their position. Their funding isn’t going anywhere, and he is not the direction you should be aiming your critique at. The job, especially in this country, is to get the word out to the 300 some odd million people who haven’t a clue what is going on. Funding dollars aren’t going to move one bit, until pressure is brought to bear. And, while the American public needs to be moved out of its apathy in almost every respect, it certainly needs to in this case. Not just AIDS, but how science is conducted in this country…who gets to make the decisions and why. Who is responsible for stifling debate, and how it can be stopped. It is a rather formidable task I know. But, there will be little effective noise that interest groups can make, in any field, once we have stopped letting such organizations make the decisions for us and take back the purse strings. So, while I could say much much more, I simply implore the continued participation of everyone currently involved, and hope that more people are drawn to the debate. it is neither the job of this forum to shout at the wind, or preach to the choir. It is indeed a much more difficult task…to convince the public that they have a right to know, and to decide. At the risk of being overly cheesy…keep your eyes on the prize! Thank you.

    Chris Scheuermann

  38. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Thanks, Chris. That’s well reasoned, and kind, but I am unable to continue this. I am, I feel, like a patient watching two doctors argue about how to save me while I die. That may sound melodramatic, but that is how it feels. And that’s not good for me, or for my health. I wish you good luck in getting the word out — people will just have to do without mine. Insead, they can look to Mr. Jefferys for support and information. To everyone at TAC, TAG, and all the others — you win. I wave the white flag.

  39. Robert Houston Says:

    I hope that Dr. Biernbaum will come back to visit this site sometime. His comments have been generally superb, as was his terrific letter in Harper’s.

    The emissary from TAG may be here to harass the infidels but only reveals the deficits of his information. A case in point is his statement that there is “zero evidence” that drug abuse can result in cytomegalovirus retinitis. In actuality, there is such evidence though the NIH has blocked funding in this area. For example, see J.C. Urey, “Some ocular manifestations of systemic drug abuse,” J. Am. Optom. Assoc. 62:832-42, 1991.

    There are many pompous ignoramuses in the realm of HIV/AIDS, who serve their faith by incanting its latest buzz words.

  40. truthseeker Says:

    Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but for the sake of the site those who engage in ungentlemanly discourse will be banned, unless they show sufficient wit and mastery of the topic to entertain and inform us well enough to make up for the fault, which is difficult, and impossible if the target is the host.

    This is an unbreakable rule of the house.

  41. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Just for the sake of explanation, my original post to this thread was in response to an act of hypocrisy on the part of Peter Duesberg (in defense of someone who thinks I’m pea-brained, apparently!). I then responded to follow-up posts, perhaps unwisely. I did not set out to rile or disturb Mark Biernbaum (although I obviously do think he is misguided) and I’d argue that I managed to do a reasonable – if imperfect – job of not responding in kind to the brickbats that were lobbed my way (you must be dense, you don’t seem able to read, etc.). One thing I would not disagree with Mark about is that his health should be the priority, whatever healthcare modalities he chooses to follow. However much I disagree with Mark about his opinions and tactics, that is not the same as wishing harm on someone.

    Since I suspect that this may not be the ideal time to take issue with the J. Am. Optom. Assoc. review cited above, I will confine myself to saying that I don’t think it actually supports the claim made above (based on the abstract), but I’ll take a look at the full paper when I can get a hold of a copy (unless Robert Houston wants to post the relevant section).

  42. DB Says:

    I’m sorry to see Mark go. I think I understand his frustration.

    As a gay man who’s been on the NIH’s hitlist…also known as being in a “high-risk” group, I’ve had to fend for myself during these last twenty plus years.

    I’ve listened to the priests of this death cult (“AIDS” scientists, doctors and researchers) as they’ve tried to convince myself and other gay men to get tested and die of “AIDS”. I find their arguments to be absolutely bankrupt,and their financial motivations are obvious. Who do I listen to? The people making all the money off of illness and death? Or the people who are logically and rationally discussing the very basics of “HIV/AIDS”, whose arguments make sense with my own life-experience, and who aren’t making money from their efforts? Easy choice. That doesn’t mean I shut down and don’t listen to the AIDS industry at all. On the contrary, the more they try to scare me back into their faulty paradigm, the more convinced I am that I’ve made the right choice.

  43. HankBarnes Says:

    DB,

    You are a courageous fellow. I wish you good health. You have precisely framed the issue:

    Who do I listen to? The people making all the money off of illness and death? Or the people who are logically and rationally discussing the very basics of “HIV/AIDS”, whose arguments make sense with my own life-experience, and who aren’t making money from their efforts?

    AIDS science went bad decades ago. It takes guts to rebuff the fear-mongering, pill-pushers, the paid-activists, your well-intentioned peers and friends.

    I’ve been blogging about this a bit as of late here.

    Feel free to share some of your views. I’m pretty good about keeping it rancor free.

    Hank Barnes

  44. truthseeker Says:

    Richard, your current post is exemplary in every way of what we fervently hope will be the future of commenting on this blog, since it is perfectly civil in every respect, and shows a willingness to read opposing or updating literature recommnended by another poster.

    However we must make the point that we cannot see why you should view Duesberg as “hypocritical” now that we have made it clearer that he did not email confidential personal confidential information to us. He passed on an enquiry containing material which Larry has often disseminated in public, though more accurately for some reason.

    In the original exchange you called him ‘psychopathic’. Surely you must agree that that was inaccurate and uncalled for, if you read it over again? We don’t want to be pompous and self serving but won’t you agree that all discussion of this kind should be conducted on the shared assumption that both sides have something to contribute, and no one is trying to mislead or block information from the other side?

    Anyhow, the adjective is a priori excessive, and will only boomerang on the speaker, we believe, so you may want to modify or withdraw it. Similarly, it really is uncalled for to call Peter Duesberg’s critique of HIV “bizarre” when it was published in top journals. Also uncalled for is for anyone to insult Celia Farber’s principled and informed journalism or her motives, so we hope that no one here will ever do that.

    Ideally we would like this blog to be one place on the Web to discuss this stuff without emotional upset of this kind putting a large spanner in the works. We really don’t believe that anyone was trying to be upsetting to Mark and we feel that it is time to recognise that flaming of any kind is verboten, even defensive flaming, since it results in the discussion being derailed and people giving up on each other.

    The basic principle here is that the blankness and lack of body language involved in screen communication invites all kinds of misinterpretation of intent and attitude, usually negative. In fact, we are all liable to be a little paranoid and take offense too early in this arena.

    So everyone ought to make a special effort to be tactful, discreet and civil for the sake of continuing the constructive discussion, and to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt.

    This it seems to us is the only way to avoid the ill effects of shortcircuiting two points that are normally very far apart in social relations, talk with a stranger and chat with a friend, which is the gap which e-communications closes, often resulting in sparks which only too easily set fire to the exchange.

    For example, people write here that you will never listen to any other point of view or its supporting points, and here you are proving them wrong by asking for the full paper. Congratulations!

  45. McKiernan Says:

    McK would like to offer a suggestion to the host of NAR. The standard required of newsprint, magazine and MSM requires courtesy, proper language, gentlemanly and gentewomanly civil conduct. Professional writers seemingly have that ingrained into their writing and communication skills. And it is not unreasonable to expect the same of commenters.

    However, the internet is different. It isn’t Tiananem Square that requires suppression. It started out as a maverick information super-highway. And it is the very unfiltered noise of the internet that is its virtue. Discordant comments contribute to that process. There needs to be a recognition that open comments are part and parcel of the internet.

    So if McK reads a sentence like:

    So everyone ought to make a special effort to be tactful, discreet and civil for the sake of continuing the constructive discussion, and to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt.

    He thinks its repressive and that the host needs to chill his understanding of open forum internet communication.
    On the other hand, no one is expected to tolerate rudeness.

    So the standard that the host desires, while admirable, seems to prohibit knowledgeable commenters from free expression. Mr. Biernbaum, clearly is an example. Okay so he broke some china and irritated some people. Yet, he understands the topic. And now he’s precluded from commenting. Couldn’t you just have given him a yellow card before a total sending off.

    It didn’t seem very fair. It seems true as well that the majority of the hiv discussion formats involve commenters that have some educated knowledge in the field.

    Let them speak.

  46. truthseeker Says:

    The necessity of replying to your kindly post, McK, is exactly what one would prefer to avoid – this kind of endless to and fro provoked by people venting personal anxieties of various kinds, in various ways, sometimes hostile, sometimes pathetic, sometimes demanding, sometimes excessively complimentary, etc etc. in their comments, instead of sticking to the point.

    We are being cruel to be kind. We understand your kindness to strangers, but this site doesn’t welcome emotionalism for a good reason. There is plenty of room on the Internet for self expression and self indulgence, and those who need to take advantage of that are welcome to do it on MySpace.com or Blogspot.com.

    This site, however, is a mere news blog trying to do a particular thing, which is to set fire to that scientific Hindenberg of hot air, HIV theory. We are trying to untangle the unwarranted confusion that surrounds a perfectly simple retrovirus’s role in life.

    Self-interested executives of the Enron of science have for twenty years somehow managed to prevent Robert Gallo from gaining credit for his 1984 discovery that HIV has nil effect on the immune system, and their success has messed with the heads of half the people on the planet.

    There is no time for our discussion of that issue to get diverted into handholding of the gullible who have been so suckered by this dastardly perpetration of pusillanimous perfidy and the nightmarish unreality that it plunges them into that they can hardly comprehend simple scientific sense, and resist it with all kinds of convoluted rationalizations why the obvious might not be true.

    There are millions more people on this planet who need to be saved from being led down this garden path and somehow be alerted despite their authority induced paralysis of mind to what the printed scientific literature actually says is true.

    Sure, this leads to cognitive dissonance of a major order and all kinds of emotional frustration with themselves and others as their unconscious knowledge that it was all a crock , and their paranoia at being conned into self destruction, finds an outlet by attacking the nearest target, but that is something which has to be repressed here and channeled somewhere else.

    As far as Mark is concerned we have not said that he could not post here, only that he had broken his promise not to create a scene on this board which he gave only last week, and that he had to assure us again that he would try to keep to the topic in future if he wanted to come back, which he had already said in his farewell comment he did not.

    We didn’t even mention the fact that we find such stuff extremely discouraging because it suggests that the blog is a waste of time if people’s responses to this issue are emotional rather than reasoning. And this is not because we don’t understand and sympathize with such feelings. Beneath the surface of this issue we see a nightmare of fear and loathing which even Hunter Thompson never clued into.

    That is really why we are biased in favor of people who post without emotional prejudice in comments. Cool objectivity is something we admire. The hopes of the world rest on reason, it seems to us, and in science, that means a willingness to follow the literature as the source of enlightenment, not phone up the nearest Establishment poobah, as Laurie Garrett of the Council of Foreign Relations has explained is the correct media style.

    This site is trying to celebrate that value, which is the great principle of science, it seems to us, the principle of rising about mere subjectivity as one searches for the truth, and to some extent this seems to us a moral value equivalent to the great principle of love, that it is better to give than to receive, and that the highest plane of love is above self indulgence and self seeking, but gives and receives truth.

    This is the philosophical spirit of this blog.

    Anyone who wants to talk with Mark if he doesn’t come back here can go to Hank Barnes, where he has found a welcome, though Barnes has expressed much the same position on this kind of thing as we have: “We don’t ban people here, except for extreme, poor conduct that wrecks fruitful discussion.”

    As an example of the poor conduct we are referring to, go to AIDSMythExposed, a gay site which leads the reexamination of HIV?AIDS, where as a friend writes, “Meanwhile, Mark is busy publicly slandering you on the AIDS Myth board, aided and abetted by the board moderators: Mark Acts UP

    It is true that Mark’s posts there are partly factually incorrect, including the age of Truthseeker (70!), presumably owing to the hysterical frame of mind induced by the influences we are trying here to battle without nuch effect.

    But does anyone here really want to occupy their time with dealing with Mark’s state of mind? If so, AIDSMythExposed is freely available for that purpose.

  47. LLI Says:

    Truthseeker, I’d like to correct you: AIDS Myth Exposed is not a gay site if you meant specifically targeted to or even primarily comprised of gay people. The moderators are openly gay and bisexual, but the members run the gamut. I actually can’t think of another site dedicated to HIV/AIDS dissidence that brings together such a great amount of different groups of people. Only one of the moderators sympathized with Mark, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t speak freely about you as they would of Gallo, Dean Esmay, Duesberg, or any others. You may not agree with their opinion of you, but they have every right to have one. Gallo et al. may consider what you write to be slander as well, whether or not it’s true. Besides, isn’t it technically libel? Anyway, while I think they should be able to form an opinion of you, I don’t particularly like how Mark has come across there or how he posted some unsubstantiated claims about who you really are (the age comment).

  48. DB Says:

    There is no time for our discussion of that issue to get diverted into handholding of the gullible who have been so suckered by this dastardly perpetration of pusillanimous perfidy and the nightmarish unreality that it plunges them into that they can hardly comprehend simple scientific sense, and resist it with all kinds of convoluted rationalizations why the obvious might not be true.

    I agree. I’ve personally found this handholding to be an immense waste of time and energy. I believe this is where truthseeker is accused of homophobia. Based on this evidence, I would disagree with that accusation. I’m gay, and I’ve decided that my time and energy are better spent educating those who’ve not been infected with this psychological virus. If that makes me homophobic, so be it.

  49. Truthseeker Says:

    Well, we have taken the libery of defending ourselves on AIDSMythExposed, and record the post here for reference:

    “Our audience Dan at New AIDS Review consists of the handful of intelligent people who are still able to keep their heads on straight while all around them are losing theirs. We would prefer to keep it that way, which is why we banned the unhappy Mark Biernbaum, since every now and then, despite being treated with the utmost kindness on and off line, he goes into hysterical blame mode and scorches the host of the site, as the nearest authority, which as everyone sensible should know, is verboten, and anyway misdirected. It is rather like trying to strangle the lifeguard who is rescuing you from being swept under just a few yards from shore.

    Mark is a newbie to the idea that HIV is not the cause of HIV?AIDS, which he apparently did not appreciate until tipped off by Celia Farber’s article in the April Harper’s, even though he is proud of his scientific training in child psychology, and had twenty years to think about it. He is now apparently so overexcited by this mental breakthrough that he can’t resist biting the hand that feeds him, even though having been banned once for derailing the debate on NAR he did it again. He is a bit like the dog we had once which would accept many caresses on its tummy from its fond owner and then snarl, turn and snap at his hand.

    We are all for free debate and not banning anybody but spoilers in emotional turmoil have to be banned, because they use up too much time, as Mark is doing. This debate is too important. Someone who diverts huge amounts of attention with “Look at me” antics makes it even more difficult for people to appreciate what is happening, which is that there is really no real debate necessary, no need any longer to reassess possible justifications for HIV damaging or not, existing or not.

    There are too many fundamental giveaways why HIV=AIDS is a crock, such as AIDS is heterosexually effectively uninfectious, so the global heterosexual AIDS pandemic is impossible, the original Gallo paper showed that HIV certainly was not a candidate for causing AIDS, and Peter Duesberg has been trounced, smeared, ostracised, and otherwise blocked for saying so, over twenty years, when no confident supporters of a paradigm would be motivated to do that.

    Anyhow we object to Mark Biernbaum’s behavior even though we understand it and we posted an explanation to that effect on NAR at the end of the comment string attached to Larry Kramer Corrects Our Lashing, Wins Apology. Sorry if our description of this site is wrong. AIDSMythExposed certainly stands out as the major discussion site sorting out this ridiculous but critical situation, which threatens so many people for no good reason.

    Why he should want to “out” me is mysterious. Perhaps he is confusing all this with gay politics. In this science’s politics, the powers that be tend to block access from critics, and we would prefer not to alert the pr staff of the big institutions to whom any mention of this different point of view is anathema. It is better to be an insider and be invited and fully informed of the latest incompetence and admissions being made by HIV?AIDS figureheads, and have the opportunity to challenge them in person to justify their ideas, which they avoid otherwise. Now Mark in his angst sees fit to provoke our “outing”. although as more alert people pointed out our name was and is on every page of the site, though not prominently (the color is meant to be grey, but last night experimenting with the code sent it through permutations we still dont understand). This is a mark of his tendency to turn on the hand that feeds him, detecting homophobia and other “real motives” which we challenge anyone else to find.

    We admit we do blame the gay commuity for helping to cause this problem by blindly supporting HIV and its drugs in the first place, yes, and it is easy to understand why they did so. We will post to that effect soon if we can root out our homophobia (that is a joke, Mark) and phrase it in the suitable PC manner. We also admit believing that all should support Duesberg to the utmost, and ignore the Perth Group. He is the one that has provided the good corrective science, while they have provided one good reason why it can be ignored as wacko, even if they are right, which is about as likely as HIV causing immune dysfunction. Yes, we believe Duesberg should be sent money, since once again his funds are in jeopardy, when this very good scientist has not only sacrificed the perks of his career to tell the truth about HIV nonscience but is leading the way to putting cancer research on the path to success, instead of failure on the basis of a theory as stupid and sterile as HIV = AIDS.

  50. Robert Houston Says:

    Truthseeker’s comments on this thread have been reasonable, mature, and well-stated. (The Perth Group, however, has done some useful analyses.) Apparently, Dr. Mark Biernbaum, who made many worthwhile contributions, became upset because the host declined his request to ban Mr. Jefferys of TAG from this site. Mark may have missed the first post on this website, which states its policy that “The aim of this blog is open review” and that there will be “contributions from knowlegeable people on both sides of the debate, and all serious reader comments will be welcome.” I would further suggest that there should be no insulting remarks permitted about the King of this realm – Truthseeker, nor about Jesus Christ, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, St. Peter (Duesberg), or St Celia (Farber).

    Apart from insulting both saints, the participation of the agent provocateur from TAG has been reasonably civil and useful in stimulating discussion and exchange of views. Richard Jefferys has raised some interesting points and been responsive to criticism. As someone knowledgeable in the byzantine mythology of HIV, he has helped to apprise us of its current fashions in thinking.

    Mr. Jefferys requested additional documentation for my comment challenging his assertion that there is “zero evidence” that drug use can result in cytomegalovirus retinitis. The review I cited (1) is available at the NY Academy of Medicine and elsewhere. It shows how abuse of various drugs, such as cocaine, can damage the eyes, facilitating infections. According to Dr. Urey, “The experience of Gaustaud et al. is typical. Of the 215 drug abusers they examined over a 2-year period… ophthalmologic anomalies were seen in 87 abusers (40 percent), with the majority of those having a retinitis, primarily CMV.”

    A recent study from Johns Hopkins (2) reports that CMV retinitis occurred in patients without HIV who took immunosuppressive drugs for autoimmune disorders or chemotherapy for cancer – not just in transplant patients. Since AZT was originally developed as a chemotherapeutic agent and is immunosuppressive, causing leukopenia (see PDR), it might also be expected to promote CMV disease. Indeed, another Johns Hopkins study (3) found that just one year of treatment with AZT (zidovudine) in 1002 AIDS and ARC patients resulted in the development of CMV retinitis in 93 patients, or 9.3% (3). This contrasts with the apparent benefit of protease inhitors of HAART on CMV disease, either directly or indirectly (since they increase the bioavailability of trace elements essential to normal immune function).

    A number of studies have also shown that protein malnutrition speeds the progress of CMV disease (4), with an effect similar to immunosuppressive agents (5). Thus, HIV is quite unnecessary to explain this outcome in particular – or the immunosuppression in general – of malnourished or drug-damaged patients with AIDS.

    1. J. C. Urey, Some ocular manifestations of systemic drug abuse. J. Am. Optom. Assoc. 62:832-42, 1991.

    2. I. C. Kuo et al. Clinical characteristics and outcomes of cytomegalovirus retinitis in persons without HIV infection. Am. J. Ophthalmology 138:338-46, 2004.

    3. J.E. Gallant et al. Incidence and natural history of cytomegalovirus disease in patients with advanced HIV disease treated with zidovudine. J. Inf. Dis. 166:1223-1227, 1992.

    4. H. K. Teo et al. The effects of protein malnutrition on the pathogenesis of murine cytomegalovirus disease. In. J. Exp. Pathol. 72:67-82, 1991.

    5. P. Price et al. Modulation of immunocompetence by cyclosporin A, cyclophosphamide or protein malnutrition potentiates cytomegalovirus pneumonitis. Pathol. Res. Pract. 187:993-1000, 1991.

  51. truthseeker Says:

    Mr Houston, is that quite correct? We believe that it was because Mark diverted the topic into whether Truthseeker was insufficiently sympathetic to HIV positive gays.

    Truthseeker actually now feels bad in regard to Mark Biernbaum and quite honestly wonders what it was exactly which was so terrible about what Mark posted. Possibly we too were suffering from the distorting effect of wearing e-spectacles, which make everything written on the blank screen seem subject to a million interpretations, only one of them intended by the writer.

    So we have turned on his access again, in spite of the disgraceful insults we hear resulted on AIDSMythExposed, which seem to have been temporarily or permanently removed there. Since Mark had vowed never to post here again anyway, even before we objected to his diversion of topic, he probably won’t wish to now, but he is free to do so unless he calls into question the saintly benevolence with which we view gays and all HIV positives.

    This includes even those who resist being enlightened as to the true state of affairs in HIV?AIDS, as revealed by the scientific literature which virtually no one seems to read any more, despite the NIH giving everyone more knowledge at a touch of the keyboard than even Anthony Fauci, who is otherwise the best informed person in the field, but unfortunately doesn’t seem to use this resource much.

    Excellent work Mr Houston. You have put the discussion back on track and shown something which is key to the discussion, in response to Mr Jeffryes’ civil and enlightened enquiry as to references. That drugs (AZT) and malnutrition without HIV cause the eye problems that you discuss is a forbidding fact, which we hope all will note.

  52. DB Says:

    Since this is the comments section underneath one of the Larry Kramer articles, I’d like to share some historical observations concerning gay men and “AIDS”.

    We had a choice in 1984. We could have taken a good look at ourselves and what we were doing, or we could take the victim route. We chose the victim route.

    Before GRID turned into “AIDS”, what was happening in a small minority of the gay community seemed to be making sense. The “lifestyle factors” that were such a politically open wound at the time were nevertheless what were discussed as the possible causes for the diseases we were seeing then.

    When HIV was announced as the single cause for the expanding variety of diseases and groups of people affected, gay men chose to ignore the lifestyle factors and opt for the single microbe hypothesis. It was a political decision, not one based on sound science.

    With the acceptance of “HIV” causing “AIDS”, we brilliantly killed at least a couple of birds with one stone. First, we didn’t have to question those touchy lifestyle factors (and really learn something in the process). Second, now we were victims, which became a political tool.

    “AIDS” is the lesson we as gay men refuse to learn. And when heterosexual scientists and doctors point out the obvious flaws in the HIV=AIDS paradigm, we continue to hold our hands over our ears as we shout at them, “HOMOPHOBE”! Who are they to take away our status as victims? Who are they to get us to question the real reasons gay men continue to become ill with “AIDS”?

    “AIDS” would have never gotten off the ground without the willful compliance of gay men. And even though I’m marginally hopeful that Larry Kramer begins to question the hypothesis, he has been a key player in this horrible charade. Gay men are far from entirely responsible for this debacle, but they most certainly need to take responsibility for their place in it all.

  53. Truthseeker Says:

    That’s right DB, wisdom we recognize. The gay community was reportedly led by a few people who mapped that pr approach on purpose. Result was that the gay community became the facilitators of their own Holocaust, which they now deny. In their anxiety to shift the responsibility to a virus which threatened the general public, and thus gain proper support and funding instead of getting “blamed” for a risky lifestyle, which went so wild on enabling drugs and geometrically multiplied sex that it broke age old boundaries of prudence and immune system protection, they did themselves in by not only cooperating with their murderers, but actually magnifying their political power and freedom from examination.

    The only puzzle is why such an intelligent bunch at high risk of self destruction didn’t realize what they were doing after losing countless loved ones. Is science really such an authoritative source of information even in the age of the Web? Seems there must be something more to account for the self deception apparent here. Bodily death was preceded by brain death.

    This should be a major post. No doubt it will be violently attacked as homophobic. But someone has to say it loud and clear.

  54. SA Says:

    I think it’s unkind to cast dispersions on the dead. Both “truthseeker” and DB oversimplify the situation with drugs and sex abuse in the gay community. It’s not homophobia, it’s simply a lack of complete understanding concerning what are very complex issues. Don’t devote a post to this — the issues that DB brings up, and his view of them, are not new. This is a long-standing and very complex topic for the gay community. I think it would be unwise to post on something you do not have anywhere near a complete understanding of — how could you? You’re not gay, after all. This is an issue to be debated and understood best from within the gay community, Truthseeker. Don’t go there.

  55. LLI Says:

    Yes, DB and truthseeker, gay men should take an honest look at what was going on in the EARLY years of AIDS, but to lay the blame entirely on drugs and promiscuous sex now would be inaccurate. When those first gay men died, what really started to plague other gay men was fear. I know scientists don’t like to give much credit to the influence of the mind on the body, but the distress had to take a toll on gay men that didn’t even use drugs (or used them infrequently) or hadn’t had innumerable sex partners. Plus, when TESTING and anti-HIV MEDS were introduced that complicates the picture even further. Testing had to generate even more fear as it still does today with straight people as well as gays. And, of course, we could go on and on about the meds and the meds that are prescribed on top of those meds. I’m just saying, if you don’t want to offend too many gay people, then make sure to admit there are other things to think about in this matter. The early days of the ‘epidemic’ aren’t necessarily the same as right now.

  56. DB Says:

    Yes, DB and truthseeker, gay men should take an honest look at what was going on in the EARLY years of AIDS, but to lay the blame entirely on drugs and promiscuous sex now would be inaccurate.

    LLI, I’m in agreement with you. I realize how this thing has changed throughout the years.

    I’m talking primarily about the early years. But the truth remains that for more than twenty years, we’ve had the ability to question all of this from a simple, logical perspective. We’ve also had people sounding the alarm since the early days…and we’ve refused to listen.

    We need to take responsibility and learn from this.

  57. HankBarnes Says:

    Both “truthseeker” and DB oversimplify the situation with drugs and sex abuse in the gay community

    Perhaps, SA, but you oversimplify as well.

    AIDS has not spread thru the heterosexual community. We know this from the Padian Paper.

    But, AIDS has not spread thru the gay community either! Look at the numbers from San Francisco — they are minimal, too.

    The more accurate statement would be that AIDS hit a small segment of the male homosexual population — the young, “fast-lane” types. It is critical to note that this is NOT representative of the entire gay community, but rather a small fraction!

    AIDS has nothing to do with sexual orientation. That the first batch of cases involved “Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” threw even allegedly scientifically-minded people off-base. Thank those idiots at the NY Times for that.

    Look at this quote from the NY Times:

    “Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to nonhomosexuals from contagion. “The best evidence against contagion,” he said, “is that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community or in women.”

    That should have been a huge red flag! That the afflicted were male homosexuals was an unfortunate red herring — the issue was not sexual orientation per se, but rather what these guys were doing distinct from what straight men, conservative older gay men, straight women, and lesbians were doing.

    If anyone (of any sexual orientation) abuse their bodies with excessive partying, excessive drugs, excessive medication, lack of sleep, lack of rest, lack of balance in their lives — I suspect their immune systems will become dysfunctional.

    The quicker we divorce AIDS from sex (of any kind, straight or gay), the quicker we will solve the problem, and potentially cure it.

    Dr. Henry Bauer at Virginia Tech, has a good macro-look at the issue, as well.

    Hank Barnes

    p.s. FWIW, I have respect for both Truthseeker and Mark Biernbaum, who are both trying valiantly thru different means to grapple with this complex, emotionally-charged issue. I do hope they can patch up differences, because I do think they both have critical voices to add to this debate.

  58. SA Says:

    Everyone is missing the point. We are all thinking about AIDS, so we are all thinking about drugs/sex as a “cause,” but drug abuse and sexually maladaptive behaviors are also the “effects” of earlier causes, such as child abuse, parental psychopathology, parental discord and divorce, mental illness, etc., etc. No one has any right to blame anyone for those behaviors — now or in the past — without knowing that person’s individual history and walking in that person’s shoes. There is an enormous amout of research linking these early childhood events to later drug abuse, mental illness, and sexual acting-out. Unless you want to get into all of that, I’d suggest rethinking this strand of accusatory talk. Or being a lot more generous towards individuals who find themselves in those places. Only LLI has gotten this point thus far. This is why you don’t want to touch this with a 10-foot pole, Truthseeker.

  59. DB Says:

    SA,
    you’re missing the point. And here it is: We need to take responsibility and learn from this.

    There it is, plain and simple.

    If we need to “understand” “AIDS” by examining the life history of every single gay man that has ever abused drugs and indulged in hyper-promiscuous behavior, then you will have served the purpose of gay men NOT taking responsibility and NOT learning from this. Maybe you’re confusing “responsibility” with “blame” and this causes you to be overly sensitive.

    This hypersensitivity gay men posess in response to taking responsibility is at the crux of our choosing to believe a virus was/is causing all sorts of mayhem, rather than having the will to reflect on the real causes of what was ailing some of us (in 1984), and what ails some of us now. So instead of looking at things like the effects of meth, poppers, cocaine and alcohol and “AIDS drugs” on health right now, perhaps you’d like to sit every gay man down for a chat and question them about their life history and what keeps them from being super, upstanding, non-drug abusing citizens, which is of course what they would obviously be if it weren’t for some distressing factors in their childhood…which sounds like politically correct thinking that discounts such simple ideas like: maybe some people just like taking buckets of drugs and having gobs of sex.

    You confuse the idea of oversimplification with my just wanting to examine one small slice of “AIDS” history. Asking gay men to understand the early days and take responsibility for it is not the same as trying to explain “all of AIDS” within this limited context.

  60. HankBarnes Says:

    Response to SA:

    We are all thinking about AIDS, so we are all thinking about drugs/sex as a “cause,”

    True.

    but drug abuse and sexually maladaptive behaviors are also the “effects” of earlier causes, such as child abuse, parental psychopathology, parental discord and divorce, mental illness, etc., etc.

    That’s probably true, too. But that is a much bigger question than AIDS. Way too big for this thread, probably too big for a blog.

    No one has any right to blame anyone for those behaviors — now or in the past — without knowing that person’s individual history and walking in that person’s shoes.

    I fully agree. But, as for me, I’m not assigning blame to anyone. I’m just trying figure out what caused AIDS, and how to cure it. I am deliberately avoiding “moralizing,” because it is counterproductive and often misses the target.

    There is an enormous amout of research linking these early childhood events to later drug abuse, mental illness, and sexual acting-out.

    Totally reasonable, totally plausible.

    Unless you want to get into all of that, I’d suggest rethinking this strand of accusatory talk.

    I’d prefer not to get into all of that, and, to the extent some have strayed, accusatory talk should be avoided as well. But, I don’t think it’s necessary to conflate the issue of underlying causes , with a civilized informative discussion here about AIDS.

    I cannot speak for Truthseeker or anyone else. I have nothing but sympathy for those you describe above, SA, but I do think that bigger issue can be divorced from the topic of AIDS, and whether drugs and/or sex has anything to do with it.

    Hank B

  61. SA Says:

    If we can stick to whether drugs/sex has anything to do with it, without characterizing those who died early in the epidemic as “fast laners” or “partiers,” then that would be good for me. My point is that no one here can say what those men’s situations were, and no one should accuse them of bad behavior, or the community at large of bad behavior. I don’t think accusations are producctive at this point. Especially those dipped generously in moral judgement, like DBs. Let’s leave the quesiton of “lifestyle” out of it and stick to the issues — like how drug use degrades the immune system. This site is supposed to be focused on the science, not the psycho-social politics of the issue.

  62. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Robert Houston wrote:

    According to Dr. Urey, “The experience of Gaustaud et al. is typical. Of the 215 drug abusers they examined over a 2-year period… ophthalmologic anomalies were seen in 87 abusers (40 percent), with the majority of those having a retinitis, primarily CMV.”

    – how many of these cases occurred in the absence of HIV infection? My guess is…none, but correct me if I’m wrong. You didn’t perhaps snip the part of the quote where it discussed this?

    You also wrote:

    A number of studies have also shown that protein malnutrition speeds the progress of CMV disease (4), with an effect similar to immunosuppressive agents (5). Thus, HIV is quite unnecessary to explain this outcome in particular – or the immunosuppression in general – of malnourished or drug-damaged patients with AIDS.

    – Both of these studies involve exacerbation of murine CMV in mice, were you able to find any cases in the literature involving malnourished humans developing active CMV disease?

    Cancer chemotherapy and immunosuppression for certain autoimmmune diseases are indeed the two other settings in addition to transplantation where active CMV disease can occur. Although you suggest that AZT is a chemotherapy and therefore causes sufficiently severe immunosuppression to facilitate the development of active CMV disease, how would that explain the explosion in incidence of CMV retinitis 1980-1987? Or the plummeting CMV incidence as a result of HAART, of which AZT is a common ingredient (not always with protease inhibitors, either)?

  63. DB Says:

    SA,

    how about this? No terms such as drug abuse , promiscuity , fast lane , partier , OK?

    Here’s the watered-down, moral-free version–in 1984, we had a choice. We had the choice between believing a retrovirus was causing illnesses amongst a very small minority of gay men at that time, or to look into toxic factors that were being discussed as potential causes for those illnesses.

    Was it science, politics or religion?

    And this would be for another forum…how did that decision affect gay men, gay culture, and of course “AIDS”?

  64. DB Says:

    how would that explain the explosion in incidence of CMV retinitis 1980-1987?

    Just curious. Can you show us proof of this explosion ? Are there charts/graphs/data from before 1980 that could be compared with the data from the time frame you mention, and up to the present?

    Or the plummeting CMV incidence as a result of HAART

    Do you have evidence for this claim? Are we only talking about CMV retinitis amongst the “HIV-positive”? Or are we talking about CMV retinitis in general?

    Both of these studies involve exacerbation of murine CMV in mice, were you able to find any cases in the literature involving malnourished humans developing active CMV disease?

    I’d be interested in seeing this as well.

  65. HankBarnes Says:

    Permit me to elaborate on one crucial point above:

    In 1981, the NY Times runs with this scoop:

    “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 homosexuals”

    But, it is a misleading headline, that should read:

    “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 homosexual men”

    Is this a mere quibble or is this significant?

    I say significant. I repeat the quote from the article:

    “Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to nonhomosexuals from contagion. “The best evidence against contagion,” he said, “is that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community or in women.”

    Well, Dr. Curran, you are strongly implying that: anal sex=>[unknown microbe]=> AIDS.

    Is this good science or scape-goating?

    If I were more astute in 1981, I would have asked Dr. Curran: (1) Which segment of the homosexual community are you discussing and (2)Why are no cases reported outside of it?

    Well, at the time, tragically, most Americans probably picked up Curran’s crude signal and replied in kind:(1) all gay men (untrue) and (2)because nobody else has anal sex like these folks (also untrue).

    Hence, the stigma and scare-mongering (and bad science) was born.

    But this conclusion has been subsequently proven false. We know (now) that the 41 cases was only a small segment of the homosexual community, ie, the young-party crowd (for lack of a better term). Lesbians were unaffected. Older conservative homosexuals were unaffected. Straights were unaffected. Yet, all 3 of these groups were having sex too, some anal sex — and not getting the disease.

    Do the math: The country is 300 million people, let us assume 6% is gay

    Totals:

    1. Straight men: 141 Mill
    2. Straight women: 141 Mill
    3. Gay men: 9 Mill
    4. Gay women: 9 Mill

    If anal intercourse were the implied sine qua non of the AIDS epidemic at ground zero in 1981, then group (2) should have been hit hardest, since, likely, even a small percentage of heterosexual women who engage in anal sex, dwarf by a factor of 15, the number of gay men in group (3).

    For example, in Padian, 38% of heterosexual women were having anal sex with their HIV+ male partners. (See, Padian, Table 3, page 355.)

    In other words, if anal sex is the mechanism by which the disease is spread, a small segment of heterosexual women in America oughta be hit hardest by AIDS.

    They are not.

    To me, this negates conclusively the purported link between anal sex and AIDS, which sent so many people on wild goose chases over the past 25 years.

    This also negates any unique connection between sexual orientation and AIDS. Simply put, AIDS is neither a straight or gay disease, as sex of any sort has nothing to do with it.

    This is also confirmed by a recent prison study of HIV transmission which found only 88 seroconversions of 45,000 inmates over 17 years.

    If you wade thru all this data, with a clear head and open mind, without moralizing, I really think it is reasonable to conclude that immune dysfunction is a multi-factored condition relating to excessive partying, excessive drugs, excessive medication, lack of sleep, lack of rest, lack of balance in one’s life. That is the only distinguishing factor which separates the initial 41 “rare cases of cancer” from the rest of the groups, gay or straight.

    And the persisent focus on a new “virus”, condoms and toxic prescription drugs has greatly distorted this medical picture.

    Hank Barnes

  66. Richard Jefferys Says:

    A search of PubMed for “CMV retinitis” with an ending year of 1981 gives a total of five results. A paper from 1977 provides some numbers:

    Am J Med. 1977 Oct;63(4):574-84.

    Cytomegalovirus retinitis in adults. A manifestation of disseminated viral infection.

    Murray HW, Knox DL, Green WR, Susel RM.

    Retinitis caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is unusual in adults. Sixteen of the 17 cases reported have occurred in immunologically compromised patients, most frequently renal transplant recipients. CMV retinitis is associated with a distinctive ophthalmoscopic appearance and, in the majority of cases, was the first clinical manifestation of systemic viral infection. Severe and permanent visual deficits are characteristic. Since retinitis is a reliable sign of disseminated disease and ophthalmoscopic examination a rapid method of establishing its presence, recognition of this manifestation should allow earlier diagnosis of serious CMV infection.

    – so there may be one case here unrelated to typical immunological compromise, out of the 17 that had been reported at the time.

    The same PubMed search 1981-1987 brings up 27 results. Here’s an example:

    Ophthalmology. 1987 Apr;94(4):425-34.

    Cytomegalovirus retinitis and response to therapy with ganciclovir.

    Henderly DE, Freeman WR, Causey DM, Rao NA.

    A 15-month prospective study of 109 patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or AIDS-related complex (ARC) was conducted. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis developed in 18 of these patients; they were treated with ganciclovir. Five other patients with CMV retinitis who were not part of the prospective study were also treated with ganciclovir.

    – So there are 18 cases in just this one study. Ten years previously, there were 17 in all the literature. If you total up all the cases reported in these post-1981 studies, I think it would qualify as an explosion.

    In terms of pre- and post-HAART:

    Infection. 2005 Oct;33(5-6):345-9.

    Incidence and prognosis of CMV disease in HIV-infected patients before and after introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy.

    Salzberger B, Hartmann P, Hanses F, Uyanik B, Cornely OA, Wohrmann A, Fatkenheuer G.

    Klinik und Poliklinik I fur Innere Medizin, Universitatsklinikum Regensburg, 93042 Regensburg, Germany.

    BACKGROUND: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has improved the prognosis of HIV-infected patients. We studied the changes in the incidence and prognosis of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease preceding and during the first few years of HAART in a clinic cohort. PATIENTS AND METHODS: All patients with CMV disease diagnosed between 1993 and 1999 from a clinic cohort in Cologne, Germany, were included. The patients were followed until death or until December 31, 2001. The time period from 1993-1996 was classified as pre-HAART, the period from 1997-1999 as the HAART era. Survival was analyzed with a Cox-proportional hazard model. RESULTS: From a total of 1,279 HIV-infected patients, 127 patients with CMV disease were enrolled. The incidence of CMV disease declined rapidly and significantly from 7.34 cases per 100 patient years (py) in the pre-HAART era to 0.75 cases per 100 py in the HAART era. The median survival time in the pre-HAART era was 9.5 months; the median survival was not yet reached at 4 years of follow-up in the HAART era. The only risk factors influencing survival were CD4-cell count and antiretroviral therapy before and after diagnosis of CMV disease. Treatment naive patients had a better prognosis than pretreated patients and patients treated with triple combination therapy survived longer than patients with other treatment modalities. CONCLUSION: A rapid decline in the incidence of new CMV manifestations and a better prognosis of patients with CMV disease, especially if they were treatment naive and treated with triple combination therapy, were observed in the HAART era.

    – I’m not sure what you mean by: “Are we only talking about CMV retinitis amongst the “HIV-positive”? Or are we talking about CMV retinitis in general?” Because CMV retinitis only occurs in the absence of HIV infection in transplantation, and (as Robert Houston pointed out) less frequently in other settings involving either immunosuppression in the treatment of autoimmune disease or as a result of cancer chemotherapies. I think there may also be a risk of CMV retinitis in rare inherited immunodeficiency diseases like severe combined immunodeficiency. Hopefully the incidence in these settings has declined too, but since it was vanishingly small to begin with, any such decline would not have contributed much to the decline that has occurred as a result of improved HIV treatment. Another way of looking at this would be to look at the utilization of the anti-CMV drugs ganciclovir and foscarnet through large healthcare payors like Medicaid.

  67. DB Says:

    Sixteen of the 17 cases reported have occurred in immunologically compromised patients, most frequently renal transplant recipients.

    Where does this total come from? New York City? Alabama? United States? Worldwide?

    So there are 18 cases in just this one study. Ten years previously, there were 17 in all the literature. If you total up all the cases reported in these post-1981 studies, I think it would qualify as an explosion.

    So, then are those 17 cases pre-1981 worldwide or US? I just want to understand where these numbers are coming from. I couldn’t find a nice little graph at the CDC that would help me, unfortunately.

    I’m really curious about this particular illness. As I mentioned above, I watched Derek Jarman’s “Blue”, and although he didn’t mention CMV retinitis by name, he said that his retinas were detaching, and the thing that really caught my attention was when he was rattling off all of the side affects of the different treatments he was on at certain point in the movie…and one of those side affects was retinal detachment. I’ll have to rent the movie again and listen for that part.

  68. McKiernan Says:

    Mr. Barnes,

    Your speculations are absolutely bewildering. Your words:

    In 1981, the NY Times runs with this scoop:

    “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 homosexuals”

    But, it is a misleading headline, that should read:

    “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 homosexual men”

    Is this a mere quibble or is this significant?

    I say significant. I repeat the quote from the article:

    “Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to nonhomosexuals from contagion. “The best evidence against contagion,” he said, “is that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community or in women.”

    Well, Dr. Curran, you are strongly implying that: anal sex=>[unknown microbe]=> AIDS.

    Is this good science or scape-goating?

    Now if one reads the first sentence in NYT link it says:

    “Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer.”

    The report indicates the only disease processes under consideration are Kaposi’s Sarcoma and PCP. That Dr. Curran is speaking to anything other than cancer is neither implicit nor tacit.

    One can confirm these findings by reading the MMWR for
    July 4, 1981 and August 28, 1981.

    If one starts out with a bad premise, how can anyone expect the rest of the wild speculations be valid ? The crucial point seems non-existent in this case.

  69. Richard Jefferys Says:

    The text of Blue is onlne here

    Part of the very long list of DHPG (ganciclovir) side effects Derek reads includes this:

    “Retinal detachments have been observed in patients both before and after initiation of therapy.”

    Retinal detachment occurs in about 18% of cases of CMV retinitis (hence before and after therapy). Ganciclovir is not prescribed unless CMV retinitis is already damaging the retina and causing loss of vision. None of the anti-CMV drugs (ganciclovir, foscarnet, cidofovir) are any picnic, to say the least (they make AZT look like aspirin), they were all used to try and delay loss of sight (I think ganciclovir was the first to become available, in the mid to late 80s). As a last ditch, sometimes they were injected directly into the eye. As horrific as this is, it might give some sense of why people who lived through the years when diseases like this were common get really incredibly angry when someone like Peter Duesberg or Celia Farber suggests that HAART is somehow a worse option than a disease like CMV retinitis (or that HAART causes CMV retinitis; according to Farber/Harper’s, Duesberg thinks 75% of AIDS cases in the west can be attributed to HAART – how can that possibly be consistent with the drop in incidence of CMV retinitis?). Risk of CMV increases when the peripheral blood CD4 T cell count drops below 100, with most cases occuring at a CD4 count less than 50.

    I haven’t accessed the full text of that 1977 paper, I’d imagine that they are primarily talking about the United States but PubMed also includes journals from around the world and like I said I only got five papers referring to CMV retinitis anytime prior to 1981.

  70. DB Says:

    Richard,

    thanks for the text of Blue, I wouldn’t have thought to look for that online.

    I haven’t accessed the full text of that 1977 paper, I’d imagine that they are primarily talking about the United States but PubMed also includes journals from around the world and like I said I only got five papers referring to CMV retinitis anytime prior to 1981.

    So, unfortunately, we don’t have any evidence yet of your assertion that there was an explosion of CMV retinitis between ’80 and ’87. Just because you can’t find much in your PubMed search before ’80, doesn’t automatically mean that it doesn’t exist.

  71. truthseeker Says:

    Thanks, Hank. So gay sex has nothing to do with the spread of AIDS as defined by HIV positivity, as indicated by the prison study. Good point. So all sex is ruled out as an HIV facilitator. That doesn’t rule out facilitating AIDS, of course, if there are other biological agents involved in gay mega-sex, as Root Bernstein liked to theorize, if I recall correctly. But since gay sex has been going for some time in world history, it seems fairly unlikely as a new danger – the usual suspects have been around for a long time, and haven’t caused AIDS ie gross immune deficiency.

    With any sex ruled out as a path for infection by HIV, and no other reason to suspect sex is infectious, unless you identify another agent suddenly born into the world, we are left with no infectious HIV AIDS. The immune collapse that is AIDS must therefore be caused in otherwise healthy US gays by drugs for entertainment or drugs for medication, plus nutritional exhaustion. Entertainment drugs of a powerful new designer type might have brought on immune dysfunction in the first place, with nitrites causing KS. Then AZT did its dirty work, followed by cutting the dose and switching to HAART, where antiretrovirals have a mixed effect, partly beneficial by knocking out infestations and changing nutritional factors for the better, but bringing on liver damage and death in the end.

    Instead of this sane picture, the gay community grabbed onto the HIV political advantage, which resulted in severe cost to their health ie tens of thousands of deaths, which continue. Can they be “blamed” for this? For not listening to warnings, and for attacking the messengers, the answer is yes, up to a point. But past that point, in the state of fear and panic, public hostility, and little understanding of the science which took them way past that point, obviously not, as human beings, in the first few years.

    But for twenty years, not to listen? That has to be excused not by politics, and not by being emotionally understanding of the background factors which make people what they are, but by the new neuroscience, we believe, the new understanding of the brain which shows how it behaves against our best interests by actively resisting changing an embedded meme.

    That’s the reason to post all this stuff about how the gays have been shopped by the scientists, it seems to me. Not for blaming them, but for explaining how such a vast confidence trick can be accomplished, even in the face of death all around telling us that something is very wrong.

    Is there any reason not to post in this vein? It applies to all human beings, not just gays.

  72. SA Says:

    I agree with your assessment on how folks have been duped by psychological factors, Truthseeker, and I think it would be okay to post on this — as it certainly hasn’t just been gays — witness the CNN special this weekend with Bill Clinton. The one thing I would advise is a certain level of sensitivity. We know that there are HIV+ people who are just finding out about all of this — and we know that making that kind of realization can be very painful for some. If you want to ensure that an HIV+ audience stays with you, a little sensitivity to what it might feel like to realize that you’ve been duped and poisoned for years might be in order.

  73. DB Says:

    I’m going to take a few risks here. First, appearing insensitive. Second, maybe getting banned. Third, getting too far away from the purpose of this website.

    I would hope that gay men take responsibility for our part in this so we can learn, grow and be stronger for it. I lose hope for these goals very quickly when I read SA’s posts.

    I fear that should the HIV=AIDS house of cards finally collapse, that gay men will collectively continue their propensity to feel sorry for themselves. We’ll conveniently take ourselves out of the picture and say it was just some mad scientists that pulled the wool over our eyes. We have absolutely nothing at all to do with any of this. Once again, we can claim ultimate victimhood, and can continue feeling sorry for ourselves for the hand we were dealt in life.

    And so the cycle continues…could these collective feelings of victimization lead to the maladaptive behaviors SA mentions? I think this is prime time to learn and get out of this vicious cycle.

  74. HankBarnes Says:

    SA,

    The one thing I would advise is a certain level of sensitivity. We know that there are HIV+ people who are just finding out about all of this — and we know that making that kind of realization can be very painful for some

    I fully agree. We must be extremely sensitive to those who have been most affected by this disease.

    Truthseeker,

    So all sex is ruled out as an HIV facilitator. That doesn’t rule out facilitating AIDS, of course, if there are other biological agents involved in gay mega-sex, as Root Bernstein liked to theorize, if I recall correctly.

    That’s right. It’s not sex per se , it’s not gay sex per se — it’s frenetic promiscuity (either gay or straight) that exposes a person to many unhealthy known germs (syphillis, gonorhea), that over-burden a person’s immune system.

    It’s also the faddish popularity of amyl nitrites, which are definitely unhealthy and likely immunosuppressant. Again, this is true for whoever (gay or straight) inhales amyl nitrites.

    The stoic New England Journal almost had it right in 1981:

    Perhaps one or more of these recreational drugs is an immunosupressive agent. The leading candidates are the nitrites, which are now commonly inhaled to intensify orgasm. Users of amyl nitrite are more likely than nonusers to have had hundreds of sexual partners and to contract venereal diseases. Preliminary data indicate that this liberated subgroup may be at highest risk for immunosuppression. (Durack, NEJM, 305:1465-1467 (1981).

    Truthseeker wrote:

    But since gay sex has been going for some time in world history, it seems fairly unlikely as a new danger – the usual suspects have been around for a long time, and haven’t caused AIDS ie gross immune deficiency

    I think this is also right. Gay sex is old, not new. What changed in the late 70’s? Well, the frenetic promsicuity and use of amyl nitrites certainly was new (for a small segment of the gay population.)

    True, in 1970’s there was frenetic promsicuity in the straight world (the college campuses, the hippie communes), so I could be wrong about this.

    But once AIDS is divorced from sex (gay or straight), then both the underlying cause and the potential resolution of this terrible disease become much more clear.

    Hank Barnes

  75. SA Says:

    How wonderful for you, DB, that you have made all the right choices in life. I salute your intelligence, bravado, — why, everything about you. Your posts are filled with anger at your fellow gay men — why is that? Hardly seems appropriate considering you are not HIV+ and never went through what the men we are talking about went trough. Certainly you are not therefore angry for the reasons you’ve listed. It’s personal with you — that much is clear.

    Science without compassion is like Nazi experimentation during the Second World War. If you want to start a national campaign blaming gay men for their role in this — be my guest. You’ll have good company in Andrew Sullivan, for example. DBs behavior is what is referred to as “internalized homophobia.” But in this case, DB has found a good anonymous forum to externalize his hatred for gay men.

    This is your issue, DB. Resolve it on your own. I don’t think this site is about blame, I think it’s about truth, science, and compassion. Haven’t you personally had enough of blame? The “risk” you’re taking is in scaring away other HIV+ men just emerging from the brainwashing, that yes, they were somehow complicit in. Is that what you want? If so, I’d suggest you don’t want an end to the AIDS crisis at all, you just want a forum to take out your personal aggressions (the source of which only you know) on other gay men.

  76. DB Says:

    SA,

    here’s my mantra. We need to take responsibility and learn from this.

    I’m also saying…I would hope that gay men take responsibility for our part in this so we can learn, grow and be stronger for it.

    It’s certainly your choice to view these statements and my desire to see the gay community be emotionally, physically and spiritually stronger and more empowered as homophobic. I’m actually sorry that that is your perception. We’ve got a golden opportunity for growth. I fear that we’ll not take hold of that opportunity.

    You shouldn’t worry about my views. I’m fairly confident that we won’t do any serious self-reflection in the ways I’ve described. So, take ease.

  77. SA Says:

    DB, I like your mantra. It’s your approach that troubles me. Can you take responsibility for others? Of course not. Everyone has to come through this awakening themselves and make the realizations and changes and take responsibility in their own way. We’ve had a golden opportunity for growth, according to your previous posts, for 20 years, and wow if you aren’t pissed that not everyone one of us has grown as well as you have.

    And you end your last post by telling us, pessimistically, that “we won’t do any serious self-reflection,” again subtley demeaning your fellow gay men. Maybe you won’t do any serious self-reflection, maybe you don’t feel you need to do any more serious self-reflection, but again, if you read what it is you’ve writen about gay men on this website DB, you’ll see it’s pretty pessimistic if not downright nasty.

    So how about you “take ease” and ease up a bit on the rest of your community. If I was a newbie, and you were the “dissident” representative, I’d run “straight” back to the meds and docs. You seem to indicate you’re expert at self-analysis — but your words betray something different indeed. Like I said before, you’re words indicate that you’re mad at gay men and outraged at the gay community. Go figure that out (maybe try some self-reflection), get rid of it (it doesn’t really help anyone), and come back without the pessimism and the condecension– cause we certainly don’t need that on top of everything else those of us who are HIV+ are already dealing with. You seem like a smart guy. Smart, but burnt out and mad. Dangerous combo. It means hopeless, ultimately. And that we definitely don’t need, and frankly, neither do you.

  78. HankBarnes Says:

    DB &SA,

    I don’t mean to intrude into your dialogue, but you both have outstanding and perceptive comments. I hope you can bridge the gap, so to speak, so that we can continue the analysis of:

    1. Whether HIV is the sole cause of T4-cell depletion; and

    2. Whether the prescription drugs such as AZT help or hurt people

    These 2 questions have not been addressed in a civil and informative manner in nearly 2 decades, and I think you both have huge amounts of personal experience and medical observations to help answer these.

    Again, I am not taking sides, because, obviously, the issue cuts to the bone on many levels. But, from my perspective, it is premature to attach moral blame on actions or groups, before we’ve actually figured out what happened in the 1980’s.

    My working hypothesis is that linking AIDS with sex was a disasterous mistake. Once you remove the stigma from AIDS, and examine it as you would, say, tuberculosis, a better, more clearer, more thorough explanation emerges.

    Of course, this is only my opinion, and I could be wrong, but I salute you both and Truthseeker for hosting this informative, civil discussion.

    Hank Barnes

  79. SA Says:

    I’d love to return to to a discussion of T4 cells and the ARVs. I’m game for dropping this if DB is.

  80. DB Says:

    I’m game,too.

    I’d hope that you’d realize that despite the way I may be presenting my “message”, that I’d much rather be united than divided. Dan

  81. HankBarnes Says:

    Group hug!!

    Seriously, though, I appreciate your efforts to reach common ground.

    Let me throw this out:

    I submit that AIDS has nothing to do with sex or sexual orientation. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but 25 years after the fact, I think this was a terrible mistake. I think particularly the Padian Report, detailed above, demonstrates a lack of assocation between AIDS and sexual transmission.

    Question: What evidence would falsify the hypothesis that HIV is transmitted by sex?

    Hank Barnes

  82. Glider Says:

    Thanks Hank for bringing SA (welcome back) and DB back together. I enjoy reading, and identify with, both their perspectives.

    Glider

  83. McKiernan Says:

    “That’s right. It’s not sex per se, it’s not gay sex per se — it’s frenetic promiscuity (either gay or straight) that exposes a person to many unhealthy known germs (syphillis, gonorhea), that over-burden a person’s immune system. ”

    And Thanks Hank for bringing back frenetic promiscuity, syphilis and gonorrhea. [note correct spelling]. Next week, we’ll talk about a life time of bismuth to cut down on immune deficiency.

  84. SA Says:

    There’s always an interaction between the organism (via genotype/phenotype) and the antigen. We can modify Hank’s “frenetic promiscuity,” I think, to include the fact that it is highly likely that some people’s genetic make-ups make them 1) more susceptible to infections and/or 2) less able to fight infections. So if you think about it that way — this crazy idea that one needs hundreds of contacts — Hank’s frenetic promiscuity — may not be the whole story. For some, with an unlucky genotype, this frenetic promiscuity might not look all that frenetic or all that promiscuous at all. I think it is well known that individuals do vary in their susceptibility to different sexually transmitted diseases. So — interaction between the organisms and the antigens (genes and those nasty infections) should definitely be considered.

  85. HankBarnes Says:

    Let’s not get bogged down on terminology: frenetic promiscuity just means having sex with a lot of different people.

    The upside: it might be fun.
    The downside: you get exposed to many more non-controversial germs, like syph, gon, herpes, hpv, which probably contribute to an overburdened immune system.

    If one uses amyl nitrites to the mix, well, that’s kinda the tipping point, because those are dangerous drugs in and of themselves.

    Hank

  86. McKiernan Says:

    Hank,

    Can you tell us about the young children that succumb to AIDS that aren’t quite into poppers and frenetic anything ?

    I ask the question with no animosity. It’s just that I just watched CNN with the Bill Clinton Global AIDS Initative in which he says that 1400 children per day die of AIDS. Even his semi-holiness Richard Gere showed up.

  87. HankBarnes Says:

    McK,

    It’s just that I just watched CNN with the Bill Clinton Global AIDS Initative in which he says that 1400 children per day die of AIDS

    No wonder why you’re lost:)

    Again, let’s go back to the first article (that I’m aware of), that described a new medical phenomenom later described as AIDS. (You don’t seem to grasp this — there was, obviously, a lag time between: observing people with battered immune systems and coining the term “AIDS” to describe them.)

    Rare Cancer seen in 41 Homosexuals.

    How many were women? None
    How many were children? None
    How many were straight? None

    Remarkably, there’s no indication that any of these 41 knew each other or had relations which other.

    This should have set off a red flag — that it wasn’t an infectious disease spread randomly.

    Anyway.

    Let’s take a quick test, which bears on your original question:

    Please estimate for us the number of children under 13 in the US diagnosed with AIDS since the “epidemic” began in 1981?

    Well, here is the answer. That’s _____ cases over 23 years in a country of 300 million people.

    That ain’t much. I submit that that is mere background level, perhaps within the normal incidence of AIDS-defining diseases (pneumonia, tuberculosis, dementia, lymphoma, etc), that kids ordinarily get.

    You are dancing on the margins, instead of tackling the primary issue.

    Hank

  88. McKiernan Says:

    No wonder why you’re lost:)

    I merely watched the program, didn’t say I believe it all. But Clinton, CNN, the black Church in New York and all the important attendees sure seemed on the same page looking for mega-bucks and lots of medicine for global distribution.

    What I’m doing is reviewing the MMWR’s from the early years.

    Here’s a brief list:

    HIV Sept 1982 593 cases AIDS

    HIV DEC 17 1982 4 children

    HIV DEC 19 1982 hemophilia cases

    HIV Jan 1983 AIDs Prison Inmates

    HIV Jan 6 1983 Female Sexual Partners of Males with AIDS

    HIV June 24 1983 1,641 cases AIDS 7 % women

    HIV Jan 6 1984 3000 AIDS cases + an additional 42 Pediatric cases

  89. Robert Houston Says:

    If most of the world is on the same page regarding the profitable industry of HIV/AIDS, they need to get past their mono-focus and look at the rest of the book. A recent textbook in immunology, for example, states that “secondary [i.e. acquired] immunodeficiencies are usually due to malnutrition, malignancy, taking of cytotoxic drugs, or chronic disease” (1). HIV isn’t even in the top four.

    Toxic drugs and malnutrition are also part of the lifestyle of the two major AIDS groups in America and Europe: drug addicts and drug-abusing gay men. These groups are also prodigious collectors of germs and consequently show signs of exposure to most of the known viruses around, including HIV. Thus, in a study of eye problems such as CMV retinitis in drug addicts (2), which I cited in this thread early on 4/27, most of the addicts had signs of HIV/AIDS. We need to ask whether CMV retinitis also occurs in HIV positives without the concurrence of drugs or malnutrition: can HIV do it alone? Apparently not, but the condition certainly occurs in HIV-negatives given immunosuppressive drugs. Among these immunosuppressive agents are corticosteroids, such as are used in transplants (e.g., prednisone); these have been in widespread use as anti-inflammatory agents in the gay community and may be a major factor in AIDS and CMV disease. For more on this, see the valuable paper by Dr. M. Al-Bayati at Virusmyth.net (click HERE to see it).

    Richard Jefferys, a leader of the Treatment Action Group, asked several more questions about my previous comment, which disputed his assertion that there is “zero evidence” that drugs or malnutrition could result in cytomegalovirus disease, such as is seen in AIDS. I had noted that AZT was immunosuppressive (according to the PDR, it causes neutropenia and pancytopenia) and thus might faciitate CMV disease. [Ed. note: In other words, AZT suppresses the production of all types of blood cells. Neutropenia is an abnormal drop in the levels of neutrophils, phagocytic leukocytes which (along with monocytes and macrophages) destroy alien microorganisms, and which are usually the most plentiful type of white blood cells; pancytopenia is an abnormal reduction in all blood cells – white cells, red cells, and platelets.] He pointed to the use of AZT in HAART, but the dosage is much lower in HAART than in the original AZT monotherapy, and protease inhibitors in HAART may offset it and even act directly on CMV as an antiviral agent or indirectly, since they increase levels of immune-supportive trace elements. Prior to AZT approval in 1987, AIDS patients were treated with various immunosuppressive agents, including experimental drugs, and chemotherapy for KS – in addition to the many suspect drugs and corticosteroids in their lifestyle.

    A report on the occurrence of cytomegalovirus colitis after combination chemotherapy concluded that “the most probable cause” of the “CMV colitis is the impaired immunity during a phase of neutropenia after the chemotherapy” (3). The PDR warns in a bold letters about the danger of neutropenia from AZT; this suggests that the use of AZT could also result in CMV disease. The researchers also note that “CMV colitis…has also been reported in less immunosuppressed patients (elderly, malnourished…) and even in non-immunosuppressed patients” (3).

    Mr. Jefferys also asked, in view of my citation of animal studies (4, 5) showing that CMV disease is exacerbated by protein malnutrition, whether there were studies showing this in humans. Indeed there are. For example, half of the malnourished children in a study in Nigeria exhibited severe CMV-induced gum disease versus none among well-nourished children. All the children were HIV-negative. The researchers concluded, “HCMV [human cytomegalovirus] and possibly other herpesviruses contribute to the onset and/or progression of acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis in malnourished Nigerian children” (6).

    Cortisol, an endogenous corticosteroid, increases in the serum during malnutrition; this may contribute to immunosuppression (see the Al-Bayati paper above for references). It also rises during stress and depression and may explain why these states are associated with more rapid progression to AIDS (7).

    Read beyond the HIV page, everyone. There’s more to the causal basis of immunodeficiency than just a wimpy little virus that sits and does nothing for 10 years.

    1. G. Pier et al. Immunology, Infection, and Immunity, 2004, p. 23.

    2. J. Urey, Some ocular manifestations of systemic drug abuse. J. Am. Optom. Assoc. 62:832-42, 1991.

    3. J. Van den Brande et al. Cytomegalovirus colitis after administration of…chemotherapy for…cancer. Ann. Oncol. 10:1369-72, 1999.

    4. H. Teo et al. The effects of protein malnutrition on the pathogenesis of murine cytomegalovirus disease. In. J. Exp. Pathol. 72:67-82, 1991.

    5. P. Price et al. Modulation of immunocompetence by cyclosporin A, cyclophosphamide or protein malnutrition potentiates cytomegalovirus pneumonitis. Pathol. Res. Pract. 187:993-1000, 1991.

    6. A. Contreras, et al. Human Herpesviriae in acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis in children in Nigeria. Oral Microbiol Immunol 12:259-265, 1997.

    7, J. Leserman et al. Progression to AIDS, a clinical AIDS condition, and mortality: psychosocial and physiological predictors. Psychol. Med. 32:1059-73, 2002.

  90. HankBarnes Says:

    Mr. Houston,

    Your post above is a tour de force. Excellent, scholarly analysis.

    I had noted that AZT was immunosuppressive (according to the PDR, it causes neutropenia and even pancytopenia ) and thus might facilitate CMV disease.

    True, but even worse. From the first paper on AZT, pg 193:

    Anemia, leukopenia, and neutropenia were the major hematologic abnomalities attributed to AZT and these were found in a majority of subjects receiving the drug.

    . (Richman et al., NEJM, 317: 192- 197 (1987).

    Bottom line: HIV purports to kill one type of white blood cell (T4-cell), while AZT kills all types of white blood cells. It’s like treating a headache with Tylenol, where the side-effect of the drug just happens to be “throbbing pain in the cerebral cortex.”

    There’s more to the causal basis of immunodeficiency than just a wimpy little virus that sits and does nothing for 10 years.

    The more I look into this, the more I think this is correct.

    Hank Barnes

  91. McKiernan Says:

    A recent textbook in immunology, for example, states that “secondary [i.e. acquired] immunodeficiencies are usually due to malnutrition, malignancy, taking of cytotoxic drugs, or chronic disease” HIV isn’t even in the top four.

    For the sake of clarity, secondary immunodeficiencies include those not in the primary or congenital deficiency category. Immunology is a rather large field. And according to the text:

    Underwood: Chapter 7: Immunology and Immunopathology

    Secondary deficiencies are due to causes such as malnutrition, immunosuppressive drugs, AIDS, etc.

    Textbooks distinguish between various immunedeficiency states however acquired and A_I_D_S, a distinct HIV related process.

    However one wishes it to go away, AIDS remains a distinct disease. .

  92. HankBarnes Says:

    However one wishes it to go away, AIDS remains a distinct disease.

    What’s distinct about it, McKiernan (in your own words)?

    Hank B

  93. McKiernan Says:

    Hank,

    Start with the LA County coroners report on Eliza Jane.

  94. HankBarnes Says:

    McK,

    I’m starting with you. You seem to kibbitz a lot, but dodge all substantive issues and cite papers you don’t understand.

    Mr. Houston made an argument. He supported it with facts, citations to the literature, citations to treatises.

    And, your argument is…………..?

    Hank B.

  95. truthseeker Says:

    Many thanks to DB and RA for abandoning their minor scuffle over whether DB was sufficiently sensitive to the predicament of the misinformed and mismedicated in this field. Always appreciate posters not second guessing the emotions of others on this blog (eg “angry”), since no one seems to be good at it, including us.

    Start with the LA County coroners report on Eliza Jane.

    We beg to correct your impression of this document as a good guide to the nature of AIDS. With respect, the cause of death of Eliza Jane was immediately obvious through the wrong end of a telescope at 2000 paces, it seems to us (see earlier post on Christine Maggiore, A lay dissenter’s travails and courage – Christine Maggiore), and this particular document stands as one more piece of evidence of how the experts to whom we assign judgement may be hugely inadequate to the task and possibly biased.

    At least read the critique of the coroner’s report on the Justice for EJ site by Dr. Al-Bayati, to see if what we say has merit.

    The entire case is a miserable example of ignorance empowered and the threat to the peace of mind of the unfortunate mother, Christine Maggiore, apparently continues with variously legally empowered busybodies still intent on punishing Maggiuore for flouting conventional wisdom if they possibly can.

    The zeal with which the ignorant try to legally prosecute heretics on the supposition that conventional scientific or medical wisdom is by definition correct is astounding, given the amount of times the modern era has exposed the court system as seriously defective in its judgements, using PCR (nearly 200 times so far – that’s the number of inmates that have won release with DNA evidence).

  96. McKiernan Says:

    Hank,

    I already answered your question. Will you answer mine.

    Did you read the LA Coroners report ?

    The child (tragically) succumbed to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. On examination of sections of brain and lung tissues hiv (p24) was found imbedded in the tissues. PCP histologic findings were found in brain and lung tissues.

    Cause of death was:

    Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia due to or as a consequence of:

    Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

    That is what is distinct about it.

    Its AIDS. In a child.

  97. McKiernan Says:

    The Al-Bayati revisionist reconstruction of the Scovill autopsy on a finding of anaphylactic shock due to amoxicillin allergy is without merit unless NAR can demonstrate a refutation of the histopathological findings of PCP.

  98. HankBarnes Says:

    McKiernan,

    You haven’t answered squat. You haven’t offered squat. You seem obsessed with the Maggiore case, and your efforts to derail the conversation from AIDS, THE ISSUE, to the tragic loss of the child is noted.

    I’m not interested in talking about Maggiore child, others may be.

    Hank B

  99. McKiernan Says:

    Thanks, Hank,

    I mention the LA coroners report twice and now I am obsessed with the case. You asked and I answered your question twice about what was distinctive about AIDS.

    Fortunately, commenters cannot de-select answers they don’t like. So they revert to de-construction or literally discounting others replies. Squatters rights, I presume.

    It was my impression that NAR is about truthseeking wherever the truth so leads.

    That the LA coroners report isn’t substantive to an AIDS discussion is mind-boggling. Then, again, some websites are not known for their academic freedom.

    And, I promise not to use the term histopathological findings any more. One just might find something out.

  100. LLI Says:

    As far as I know, P24 is not specific to “HIV” and to call this marker an actual virus is misleading to those who don’t know this fact. ALSO, as far as I know, pneumocystis carnii reside inside everyone so to say that it was simply detected is insufficient. The coroner had been investigated in the past for fraud (like a scientist I won’t mention) and changed his story after he found out about Christine’s viewpoints. If pneumocystis carnii pneumonia was so detectable, why wasn’t this part of the thrust of his initial report? Sounds like a guy I would trust. And by the way, no antibody test was performed. Eliza’s brother is negative. I wonder if they’d find PCP and P24 if they poked and prodded him. Probably not unless they’re looking for them, but that’s just my revisionistic, speculative opinion.

    Immune deficiency in children can be explained without recreational drugs or promiscuous sex. How many of the kids are NOT on some antiviral medication(s) and possibly others medications as well? That’s sounds like drug use to me. Not to mention some pediatric AIDS patients had a drug-abusing mother, and you know, these kids have been told they have a LIFELONG, FATAL illness from authority figures they trust. That couldn’t have any impact on the minds and health of these children, could it?

  101. truthseeker Says:

    “The Al-Bayati revisionist reconstruction of the Scovill autopsy on a finding of anaphylactic shock due to amoxicillin allergy is without merit unless NAR can demonstrate a refutation of the histopathological findings of PCP.

    The child (tragically) succumbed to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. On examination of sections of brain and lung tissues hiv (p24) was found imbedded in the tissues. PCP histologic findings were found in brain and lung tissues.”

    Apparently not. There was no meaningful evidence of pneumonia in the lungs ie no PCP above the residual amount found in anybody’s lungs.

    It seems that you may not be reading the coroner’s report and the rebuttal. The former does not make much sense and is flawed in its conclusion. Even HIV in the brain does not cause sudden death with all the symptoms of allergic shock. If you think so, you are contradicting the mainstream theory itself, not to mention common sense. You may have to ask yourself why you wish to do so. We wouldn’t do that ourselves, since questioning the motives, even the unconscious ones, of respected posters to this site is verboten.

    As explained in the site we referred you to, justiceforej.com, “Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati is a respected pathologist (PhD) and a dual board certified toxicologist with over twenty-five years experience and over forty articles published in the scientific and medical literature. He was asked to review the Los Angeles Coroner’s report on Eliza Jane Scovill’s death which had concluded that Eliza Jane died of AIDS-related pneumonia.

    Granted he had been or was associated with the mother before, but the statements he makes publicly have not been challenged, as far as we know, and they accord with the facts, common sense and obvious conclusion.

    “Dr. Al-Bayati performed differential diagnosis utilizing the autopsy data, Eliza Jane’s medical records and the pertinent published medical literature. Dr. Al-Bayati concludes that “Eliza Jane’s death was not caused by Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia or any type of pneumonia. Her lungs did not show an inflammatory response to medically justify a diagnosis of pneumonia of any kind. Eliza Jane’s death resulted from acute allergic reaction to amoxicillin [a form of penicillin] which caused severe hypotension, shock, and cardiac arrest.””

    There is also the issue of whether Ribe is competent. The report took four months, and the delay was apparently after he was tipped off as to the one time HIV + status of the mother years ago.

    The delay suggests political moves of some kind. Dare we suggest “covering his ass”?

    “…James K. Ribe, MD and Senior Deputy Medical Examiner for Los Angeles County signed the autopsy report concluding “Cause of death is Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia due to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome”.

    “Many questions have been raised about the reliability of Ribe’s conclusions. California lawyer Lewis Owen Amack has prepared a report which cites numerous examples of Ribe’s questionable activities in “Testimonial Flip Flops: A report on Los Angeles County Coroner Dr. James K. Ribe”.”

    There was no HIV test included with the report, by the way.

    “The autopsy report on Eliza Jane Scovill prepared by the coroner mentions, but does not include results from an HIV test. Attorneys for the Maggiore-Scovill family have requested specific information on this test as well as any other HIV-related lab tests that may have been conducted post-mortem, and are still awaiting a response from the coroner’s office.

    Readers may wish to note that Maggiore’s husband and partner of nine years, and their son age eight, both tested HIV negative multiple times in September and October of this year.”

    The guy is of very questionable competence apart from suspect motives (according to this and other comment):

    “Closer to home, the LA County Coroner’s office was involved with the case of a grandmother accused of shaking a baby to death, and subsequently sent to prison, but later released when an appeal overturned the conviction. The appeal’s court judged noted that there was no motivation for the grandmother, no prior history of abuse and, most troubling of all “absence of the usual indicators of violent shaking such as bruises on the body, fractured arms or ribs, or retinal bleeding.” This did not stop the prosecution ‘experts’ from testifying that abuse occurred. From the appeal transcript (PDF file): “The prosecution’s expert testimony, absolutely critical to its case, concluded that the cause of death was tearing or shearing of the brain stem when there was no physical evidence of such tearing or shearing, and no other evidence supporting death by violent shaking.” Somewhat ironically, they also stated “Absence of evidence cannot constitute proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    Al-Bayati was backed by a fellow of some reputation:

    “One expert to comment is Dr. Harold E. Buttram, MD, FAAEM (Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine). He reviewed Al-Bayati’s report and wrote this letter in response:

    “October 30th 2005

    “For the past several years I have had the privilege of becoming familiar with the work of Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati through mutually shared cases involving alleged parental child abuse in the form of shaken baby syndrome (SBS). In these cases, each of us wrote medical reports defending parents whom we believed were falsely accused.

    “Regarding my own background, in the past six years I have written approximately 80 medical reports in defense of parents whom I believed to have been falsely accused of violent physical child abuse, largely involving charges of SBS. With few exceptions in these cases, I have observed a troubling pattern of abandonment of the usual thoroughness one finds in medical centers once suspicions of SBS were raised. In most cases that I have reviewed, in my opinion, there have been varying degrees of negligence in working through differential diagnoses, sometimes missing the most obvious of alternate non-traumatic causes.

    “In the present case of the autopsy report on Eliza Jane Scovill, in my opinion, there is a similar pattern; that is, diagnostic assumptions have been made based on superficial evaluation with little if any attempt to investigate other possible causes of the child’s three-week illness culminating in death.

    “Regarding Dr. Al-Bayati, I consider him to be a master craftsman in a broad field of medical expertise. His workups are exhaustive and meticulous, yet plainly written so as to be accessible to reasonably educated non-medical people. He makes no statements or claims that he does not document in the medical literature.

    “In the case of Eliza Jane Scovill, I first reviewed the autopsy report, which did in fact give rise to personal concerns and doubts. However, after going through Dr. Al-Bayati’s report point-by-point, he put all doubts to rest. There is no question in my mind that his report accurately describes the true causes in the death of Eliza Jane Scovill.

    “Harold E Buttram, MD, FAAEM

    “Quakertown, PA, USA.”

    Frankly, we don’t find it easy to take your point seriously and have to say it is important to consider the evidence and not be biased toward the statements of officials, probably incompetent or worse, that contradict the obvious.

    In particular, the grand issue of HIV?AIDS has to be addressed with reference to the respectable literature in science and medicine and not the non-peer reviewed work of a minor functionary, or even the statements of high up officials and scientists, if they conflict with common sense.

  102. McKiernan Says:

    “The Al-Bayati revisionist reconstruction of the Scovill autopsy on a finding of anaphylactic shock due to amoxicillin allergy is without merit unless NAR can demonstrate a refutation of the histopathological findings of PCP.

    The child (tragically) succumbed to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. On examination of sections of brain and lung tissues hiv (p24) was found imbedded in the tissues. PCP histologic findings were found in brain and lung tissues.”

    “Apparently not. There was no meaningful evidence of pneumonia in the lungs ie no PCP above the residual amount found in anybody’s lungs.”

    Okay, I choose to disagree. The child did not have the mainstream symptoms of allergic shock. There was no rash, no angioneurotic edema, no swelling of lips, eyes or ankles and the child never had a history of ever receiving amoxicillin or penicillin. Allergy doesn’t happen unless there is a prior exposure.

    Secondly, this case clearly is a primary example of AIDS as under discussion. And by the way, the childs lungs weighed twice their normal weight.

    I apologize for the following but it does rebut most of Al-Bayati’s proposed autopsy in words better expressed than by myself.

    Dr. Al-Bayati concedes that P. carinii, an AIDS-defining organism, was present in Eliza Jane’s lungs but tries to wave this finding away by pointing out that there was not a “pneumonia” because no inflammation was observed, citing a definition in a pathology textbook (a technique not unlike arguing about technical words using dictionary definitions). He repeats this again and again ad nauseam. He also states that P. carinii is ubiquitous, only causing disease in immunosuppressed patients. There are couple of problems with these arguments. First, immunosuppressed AIDS patients tend not to be able to mount a very effective inflammatory response to infection. Indeed, it has been noted that, in HIV infection, PCP pneumonia provokes fewer inflammatory cells and that PCP is worse in patients immunosuppressed by other causes as their immune system recovers and starts attacking the organism, causing inflammation. (That’s one reason why the chest X-ray findings and physical exam findings can be so variable.) The one argument Dr. Al-Bayati makes in this context that isn’t totally off the wall is that PCP can occur due to immunosuppression from other causes, and he cites several references that show that PCP can occur in people without HIV if they are immunosuppressed for other reasons. Of course, this line of argument totally begs the question of what the cause of this Eliza Jane’s profound immunosuppression was in the first place if it wasn’t HIV infection. Second, as Dr. McBride pointed out, for P. carinii to be detected in routine tissue samples at autopsy, there have to be a lot of organisms there. In immunocompetent individuals, there simply aren’t enough bugs to show up on silver stain. Given that the HIV protein detected in the brain implicates an obvious cause for the immunosuppression that led to the presence of so much P. carinii in Eliza Jane’s lungs, it’s hard not to conclude that Eliza Jane had AIDS-associated PCP. Dr. Al-Bayati clearly realized that he had to try to throw doubt on that finding.

    And if in fact Al-Bayait is so convinced of acute allergy why is he talking about:

    “The first one is erythrocytic aplastic crisis due to infection with parvovirus B19 (PVB19, the virus mentioned above), of course.

    (And)

    PVB19 is a parvovirus that is fairly common and can cause upper respiratory infections, erythema infectiosum, arthritis and arthralgias, and transient aplastic crisis. Dr. Al-Bayati makes much of the ability of this virus to cause anemia by transiently suppressing the progenitor cells that develop into red blood cells and blames infection with this virus for Eliza Jane’s profound anemia.”

    See same link. And its only part of the answers.

    Serious rebuttals to Al-Bayati have been made, which he has not answered. Harold Buttram, I’d suggest hasn’t established any worthy respect regarding his opinions.

    The notion that clinical findings need to be subservient to respectable peer-reviewed findings selectively quoted by a one-sided interest group is disrespectful to the truth and to finding the truth.

    “Frankly, we don’t find it easy to take your point seriously “.

    That isn’t surprising to one entrenched in their views.

    A person once said,

    “The point that conflicts with your comfort zone is the point within which the wisdom of the truth must be examined”.

    For Mr. Barnes, that is his stepping off point. If you recall he said,

    “I’m not interested in talking about Maggiore child, others may be.”

    So McKiernan must be getting somewhere because the replies are getting longer and longer.

    And again: Mr. Orac:

    “And that’s where his strangest argument of all comes in.

    There’s a saying in medicine that, when you hear hoofbeats you don’t look for zebras. (A zebra is medical slang for a rare or highly unlikely diagnosis.) Yes, occasionally it you will find a zebra, but the vast majority of the time you will not. Consequently, when one hears hoofbeats from a tragic case of a dead child of an HIV-positive mother who was found to have profound anemia, PCP, and encephalitic lesions with HIV proteins detected in them, by far the most likely diagnosis is AIDS. Indeed, in the differential diagnosis, the first ten diagnoses in the differential would be AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, and then–very far down the line in probabilities–everything else. Given this, it’s not surprising that, in his rebuttal, Dr. Al-Bayati hears not one, but at least two zebras approaching.”

    Hopefully this meets Mr. Barnes criteria about what is perhaps minimally distinctive about AIDS.

    I appreciate your permitting me to comment, Truthseeker.

  103. Celia Farber Says:

    I have to agree with McKiernan that the little girl, EJ, did not appear to have the mainstream symptoms of fatal allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Peter Duesberg, actually, was the first to inform me that “allergic” reactions to antibiotics involve swelling and so he was uncertain on that point. He never takes easy routes and neither should any of us. My conversation with Duesberg about it stopped short when we both simply felt words sounded cold and at least for my part I can say that I feel queasy talking about this as a kind of…dialectic about the HIV war.

    I think this is about our humanity, first.

    I believe that EJ’s parents both want the true answer. The real answer. The truth.

    But we will never get it if the atmosphere is one of war and winning. Not with indignation, accusations of murder, denials of this that or the other. The spirit of liberty is the spirit that is never too sure that it is right. (Learned Hand)

    Truthseeker–try to set up parameters by which we can agree on what an AIDS death is and is not.

    Make each side be utterly fair. Can we do that? Don’t let EITHER side move the goalposts.

    My first question to the orthodoxy:

    Does a child have to “have” HIV (test positive) to have died of AIDS?

    Or is it enough that the mother tested positive?

    IF EJ WAS tested, and the test was negative (I have no idea and neither do any of us)…then did she still die of AIDS? This is a question strictly for those who are certain EJ died of AIDS, caused by HIV. Does it have to be present to cause disease?

    Why do you all gathered here think the coroner did not mention an HIV test? I am very confused on this point. Stuck.

    Any ideas? I speak of a blood test–her blood having been tested. Does anybody have ANY information on that and if not, any ideas about what it means or does not mean if EJ WAS tested and tested negative, or wasn’t tested (what would that mean)or tested positive but they excluded it from the report (why?)

    Ground rules are in order before we proceed.

    Bob Lederer’s take on it in POZ was preposterous. Very cheap, like something out of former GDR, making the coroner look virtuous for protecting the girl’s “privacy”…despite showing her brain tissue on ABC Primetime.

  104. Celia Farber Says:

    Here is Lederer’s masterful handling of the matter, from his article “Dead Certain,” (nice!) in POZ:

    “Several months after Eliza Jane died, James K. Ribe, MD, senior deputy medical examiner at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, pronounced that her death had been caused by Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), one of the most common—and fatal—opportunistic infections associated with HIV, and her death was declared to be AIDS-related. Slides of cells from Eliza Jane’s lung showed large colonies of Pneumocystis carinii. The autopsy report also described the presence of HIV core proteins in the brain and confirmed a diagnosis of HIV
    encephalitis. Because of an ongoing criminal investigation into Eliza Jane’s death, the coroner’s office would not confirm to POZ whether it had actually tested her blood for HIV infection or HIV antibodies.”

    What kind of fools does he take his readers for?

    Can anybody even begin to unravel the journalistic logic in that last sentence?

    Because of an ongoing criminal investigation, every tissue and organ of the girl can be displayed on national television…but…sorry folks, not the HIV test result. Not even to the parents.

    Am I alone in feeling this is madness?

  105. Dan Says:

    “AIDS” constantly defies logic, in my opinion…so why should the case of EJ be any different?

    How on earth can ANYONE come to a conclusion that a child died of “AIDS” without testing her blood for “HIV”? That really isn’t a question. Without an “HIV” test and therefore without “HIV”, how can there be “AIDS”? Is this the new standard in “AIDS” diagnosis…guilt by association?

  106. McKiernan Says:

    Celia,

    How so very, very kind and thoughtful of you. I have not made complimentary statements to you in the past. Although I once did answer Mr. Barnes that your Harper’s article was excellent after he had challenged me that I had (previously) said nothing.

    I certainly cannot answer whether an hiv blood test was done. On the other hand, serologic testing is not the only criteria accepted in a diagnosis in hiv. The autopsy report says, that p24 was found in the tissues. HIV is tested by blood, serologically. The findings of the autopsy were intra-cellular and histological. That is a valid diagnosis.

    Criminal investigation most certainly is not warranted in this so very tragic death. But I confirm you are right,

    “I think this is about our humanity, first .”

    That’s why this child is important and distinctive and unique.

    I think society will have failed her to not know the authentic answers to the important questions and not pre-programmed by old peer-reviewed papers lying in the dust of someones office.

    McKiernan, for one, shares the madness.

  107. Robert Houston Says:

    This is such a ghoulish red herring, apparently intended to divert attention from any substantive issues or evidence re HIV?AIDS.

    Consult the PDR for amoxicillin. The symptoms the girl had, – vomiting in hours of taking the drug, and turning white – are described as serious adverse effects of the drug.

    Unlike pediatric AIDS cases, this girl had no prior history of infections. What she did have, however, was a dosage 50% higher than recommended to treat a routine eqr infection.

    So pick on her bones, you vultures.

    Is there no level so low that you’ll stoop to attack any dissent from your worthless paradigm?

  108. truthseeker Says:

    “Frankly, we don’t find it easy to take your point seriously “.

    “That isn’t surprising to one entrenched in their views.”

    McK, we believe you must mean “in” rather than “to”, and we hope this is not a Freudian slip 🙂

    We find it hard to take your detailed analysis seriously since it contradicts the basic observation that there was nothing seriously ailing about the poor child until the sudden onset of a very rapid decline and death in the immediate aftermath of a larger than normal dose of a drug with known adverse effects of this kind.

    AIDS does not kill people in 24 hours, whatever it is supposedly caused by. Smart people apply Occam’s razor here.

    Therefore this focus on other details to escape the brunt of the evidence is precisely what Houston describes it as, a red herring, and an unjust and unwarranted disturbance of what should be a private healing process for the mother of this child, who has suffered a tragedy which is the price paid for using what is usually a helpful drug but which every informed pediatrician knows risks this kind of disaster in a small number of cases, a number which must surely rise when the dosage is larger than called for.

    McK, we all have to face up to the fact that before we analyze events of this kind, we must get rid of preconceptions or biases. You obviously see this applies to those debating with you. You have a duty to consider if it applies to you. We all do. And in this case, we have a double duty to be something other than looking for justification of a preconceived notion, not only because Christine Maggiore deserves immense sympathy for the loss of her child, and not to be the object of witch hunting to establish a case precedent to further empower a failed paradigm, but also because the HIV?AIDS paradigm is now exposed by so many intelligent critics as questionable, or to put it frankly, as ill founded as this blog has tirelessly pointed out.

    Perhaps you think that Houston’s complaint is excessive, but we as gentlemen also feel the obligation to defend this poor woman in the same way. We have every confidence that a gentleman who is, after all, as informed about the case as you are – apologies for imagining that you were not – will come to the same conclusion eventually.

  109. Celia Farber Says:

    There is another way that EJ could have died from the antibiotic but not as an “allergic” reaction.

    I was only saying that the “allergic” part seemed not quite right. I have been researching other scenarios. It’s too early to start talking about it. But I know what I would like to find out and think there is a way the pieces can all fit together.

    I know that Christine, in fact, welcomes us all to talk about this if it moves the final truth closer. She wants to know what really happened to EJ.

  110. Celia Farber Says:

    It’s hard to find a way to talk about this without over-stepping one’s license and authority, which is nil. By that I mean, none of us are pathologists, emergency room physicians, etc.

    It would be far better if we consulted people outside our own heads, no? Truthseeker–it seems many feel that Ribe’s report was very troubling and extremely biased and that Al Bayati’s grew in response TO IT. Is it possible the answer to Eliza Jane’s death lies beyond the horizon of both reports?

    If so, there are experts to be consulted. I intend absolutely no diminishment of either Ribe or Al Bayati here. But what I am proposing is that different observations might be made if the data is removed from the hotzone of the HIV cause war, now with EJ’s autopsy report as a kind of terrible bridge between two worlds.

  111. truthseeker Says:

    The laudable desire not to jump to conclusions, to admit that one is not an expert, and to consult with the experts, is that your new journalistic approach, Celia? At this stage that strikes us as strange, given the fact that this whole HIV?AIDS mess has resulted from precisely that modest approach, since it was thoroughly taken advantage of by the heroes of HIV?AIDS.

    As far as EJ is concerned, all we can do is respond to the evidence available to us, in a spirit of double checking what the experts say in a situation where there are many signs that politics has taken over a routine autopsy.

    What the evidence says is that the poor child’s health was normal until administered too much of a drug with known small risk of adverse reactions, that such adverse reactions then most unfortunately materialized. Perhaps you know more.

    But in the absence of any other significant information, the fact that the HIV meme has gone global and infested the minds of otherwise good men and women so that they “know” that the interpretation has to be that somehow HIV?AIDS suddenly caused the child’s death, contrary to its normal supposed workings, does not mean that we have to change this analysis.

    Which experts are you suggesting be consulted further, and why? Do you know something we do not? We note that the more people look into this, the shoddier the work of the first proposed expert, the coroner, appears to be. For example, there were no controls for the positive staining of the brain tissue, which anyway is not diagnostic of the presence of HIV. Moreover, the HIV test that was carried out (acccording to a box checked on the report) was obviously negative, since given the attitude of the coroner if it was positive it would have been trumpeted to the skies.

    This kind of indication of incompetence and worse has been collected by Marcus Cohen, the New York columnist for the Townsend Report, in a column to be published in the next issue. Among other things the column suggests the wisdom of Maggiore in refusing the usual HIV?AIDS prescribed interventions during her pregnancy, when she tested positive for HIV. She avoided intravenous AZT infusion during labor and six weeks of AZT after delivery for the baby, which grew up perfectly healthy by all accounts thereafter, until the disastrous dosage of amoxicillin.

    Maggiore based her rejection of the standard treatment on her own reading of the scientific literature. This is the source that should be consulted when “experts” offer their “expertise” in ways which conflict with reason and common sense, since it is after all the source of their own knowledge, or should be.

    One thing that Maggiore complains about is that she always asks her critics for references which might change her conclusions, but even the experts quoted in the media seem unable to provide them, Cohen notes. Maggiore phoned or wrote to them to ask politely for the references for their hostile opinions, only to be told she had “a screw loose”, or get no reply at all.

  112. HankBarnes Says:

    Among other things the column suggests the wisdom of Maggiore in refusing the usual HIV?AIDS prescribed interventions during her pregnancy, when she tested positive for HIV. She avoided intravenous AZT infusion during labor and six weeks of AZT after delivery for the baby

    Giving pregnant women AZT to allegedy prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV to the baby is a real bad idea.

    AZT has been given to pregnant mice to determine the effects. (Olivero, Journal of NCI, (1997) 89: 1602-1603.)

    The results?

    At 1 year of age, the offspring of AZT-treated mice exhibited statistically-significant, dose-dependent increases in tumor multiplicity in the lungs, liver, and female reproductive organs. (Olivero, page 1602).

    Translation:

    We gave pregnant mice AZT and their baby mice got cancer.

    So, in addition to its multitude of other problems, AZT is a carcinogen in animals.

    Hank B.

  113. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    I’m just popping back in to say that I must retire from this debate permanently. Richard Jefferys has slandered me on line, and now I must keep quiet while my attorney files a case against him. I would encourage other gay, HIV+ men to continue to express their views — the dissident movement is going no where without our participation. Just be careful to dispel the stereotypes often held by some of the straight bloggers.

  114. LLI Says:

    Mark, I’d like to thank you for so bravely expressing your doubts publicly and subjecting yourself to the slings and arrows, but, to be perfectly honest, you haven’t been in this debate long. There have been gay men, HIV+ and -, who have spoken up for a long time and even lost their lives in order to alert people about what’s going on. I mean no offense to you, but I hope you understand that some people have lost friends and been personally attacked for over a decade. You are ready to drop out of this, and, believe me, I understand. But try to remember that you are just one in a long line of people who have been and are being shunned and slandered. I know, you are working on a lawsuit now, but if it’s not Jeffreys it’s going to be someone else.

    And Mr. Jeffreys, could you please just get over yourself for a minute to realize for ONCE that people are debating this because they think something’s wrong and it’s important to talk about, even if you don’t agree? That you can slander someone so ruthlessly…well, you just better hope that you’re right and that HIV and AIDS science doesn’t have a complete turn around before the end of your lifetime. Oh wait, that’s right, we’re just a Duesbergian right-wing conspiracy to make sure that sick people don’t get life-saving treatment and that gay men lose all political power because we have doo-doo in our souls.

  115. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    Hi LLI, and thank you.

    You make some great points here. I know I am following in the footsteps of a great many gay men who have been fighting this — some, like David Pasquerelli, who lost their lives in this fight. I am indebted to every one of them– we all are.

    And I know you’re right — if it’s not Jefferys, it will be someone else. But in the past weeks, not only has Jefferys revealed my business, insisted that I was fired from my academic post when I actually resigned, but John P. Moore has also slandered my brother (accusing him of making a threatening phone call). My brother is an emergency room physician who has nothing to do with these debates. They are coming after me AND after my family, and I can’t sit idly by and let them attack my family as well. If they want to try to ruin my business and my career, that’s one thing. But to attack my family is another thing entirely — especially my brother, who saves lives every day.

    Sometimes, it’s important to take a stand. Folks like Jefferys have been doing this for years, I know. Someone has to fight back, and not just on line either. Don’t expect you won’t hear from me again, however. I’m not dropping out of the debate, just off of the blogs for now. Thanks again for your support and kind words.

  116. Celia Farber Says:

    This is a very important conversation. The entire system by which rational discourse has been strangled here, has been the character assassination, the “rubbishing” of the counter-revolutionaries.

    This is well known to students of totalitarian cultures.

    I suggest a special thread, or wall, right here on NAR, that allows people to put their stories up. What has been done to innocent people is so shocking, and it goes on each day, still, all around us. It has become not only acceptable to tarnish, slander, in effect “murder” HIV dissenters, but moreover, it is seen as heroic.

    There was a museum I cherished on the western border between what used to be east and west Berlin, simply called the Wall Museum. Escape stories in all forms were collected there. When the wall came down, the little museum was removed as fast as all other remnants of that ghastly place, GDR.

    I am greatly concerned with the erasure of history.

    Can we make electronic museums? This is not a “debate.” The time for that is long past. The only thing left to do is allow people a forum to tell their stories.

    “History” and “Truth,” what are they? Human stories.

    When “history” can see and hear again, the stories can get told.

  117. DB Says:

    I suggest a special thread, or wall, right here on NAR, that allows people to put their stories up. What has been done to innocent people is so shocking, and it goes on each day, still, all around us. It has become not only acceptable to tarnish, slander, in effect “murder” HIV dissenters, but moreover, it is seen as heroic.

    Brilliant idea! Whether here or somewhere else.

  118. Richard Jefferys Says:

    Can I include these?

    “All you can do is bully and demonize what you PERCEIVE TO BE a camp of extremists whose positions you consistently misrepresent.”

    “Bob Lederer, who is as outrageously manipulative as you are”

    “Mr. Jeffreys. I feel sorry for you.”

    “You can’t seem to read.”

    “Richard, you must be dense.”

    “I’m going to guess that you’re a TAC plant, Richard.”

    “You make me sick in my heart, Mr. Jefferys.”

    “it has everything to do with what has gone on and what continues to go on in the dark recesses of Mr. Jefferys brain. In other words — it’s a psychological problem, quite simply. It’s somewhat akin to the anti-semite who only finds himself attracted to Jews.”

    “TAC by the way is a terrorist organization”

    “Mr. Jefferys has been deployed by TAC (in particular, by John P. Moore) to assassinate the character of scientists and others who question the HIV=AIDS paradigm. He has done this to me, to Dr. Rebecca Culshaw, and here now to Hank Barnes.”

    “Richard Jefferys. You are indeed a TAC plant.”

    “Now you are guilty of defamation”

    “Richard Jefferys has slandered me on line”

    – Slander, by the way, is speech. Libel/defamation is a demonstrably false and injurious statement, presented as fact. There are several examples of the latter in the above quotes.

  119. Mark Biernbaum Says:

    What is your obsession with me, Richard? Honestly, it’s bordering on scary.

  120. McKiernan Says:

    Is it okay to suggest that it would improve discussion if personal attacks by contrarians resolved their disputes off line ?

    Actually some readers are genuinely interested in the science as well as the clinical histories and dramas as hiv plays out its role in human society.

    More importantly, debate ought take second place to these kind of actual and real scary reports.

    CDC Wants Routine AIDS Virus Testing

  121. Gene Semon Says:

    Part one of In response to Richard Jefferery’s post of 4/20, 1:19 PM and in the spirit of playing nice, here are excerpts from 2 references for his perusal. Even though I have strong reservations regarding the construct HIV disease, these papers mark progress in the right direction. They can be a step towards the synthesis proposed by Celia Farber.

    Reference (1) responds to “( I)t is critical that more efforts are made to unravel the mysteries of T cell homeostasis in humans so that we can fully grasp how and why the persistent immune activation that typically accompanies HIV infection leads to severely compromised memory T cell function and, ultimately, opportunistic infections. ”

    Of interest to all of us, of course, are the author’s conclusions re Ho and Wei. I have taken the liberty of inserting numbers, for clarity, in the penultimate paragraph which reveals a scoreboard: denialists 2, aidschurch 1.

    EXCERPTS:

    “The dynamic basis for T-cell depletion in late-stage HIV-1 disease remains controversial. Using a new, non-radioactive, endogenous labeling technique1, we report direct measurements of circulating T-cell kinetics in normal and in HIV-1-infected humans.”

    “These direct measurements indicate that CD4+ T-cell lymphopenia is due to both a shortened survival time and a failure to increase the production of circulating CD4+ T cells. Our results focus attention on T-cell production systems in the pathogenesis of HIV-1 disease and the response to antiretroviral therapy.”

    “A defining feature of late-stage HIV-1 disease is CD4+ T lymphopenia, but the primary cause of falling T-cell levels remains unclear. Some studies using indirect techniques…have indicated that T-cell proliferation is increased after HIV-1 or SIV infection, whereas other studies…have suggested that CD4+ T-cell turnover is not increased. Each of these indirect methods has substantial and well-known limitations.”

    “The measurement of blood CD4 accumulation rates after antiretroviral therapy assumes that suppression of viral replication reduces destruction of CD4+ T cells to zero and does not affect production rates…Indeed, there is experimental support for the conclusion that T lymphopenia is due to either accelerated CD4+ T-cell destruction or decreased CD4+ T-cell production or both. Because the methods used have generally relied on static measurements, the dynamic balance of this input–output equation has resisted characterization.”

    “Because the circulating T-cell pool was sampled in this study, but T-cell division occurs predominantly in tissues, a definitive biological interpretation of the kinetic results cannot be made at present. Some models, however, can be excluded. The increase in fractional replacement rate and absolute production rate of blood T cells in the HAART group could be explained by (i)prevention of HIV-mediated killing of dividing T cells in tissues, allowing entry into the circulating pool; (ii)reduced adherence of dividing T cells to lymphoid tissues, allowing redistribution of these dividing cells into the circulating pool; or (iii)disinhibition of T-cell proliferation in tissues, allowing greater release of dividing cells into the circulating pool. All of these would result in increased appearance of dividing T cells in the bloodstream; distinguishing between them will require measurement of lymphoid tissue T-cell kinetics and comparison to blood T-cell kinetics.

    “The results are not consistent with other possibilities including prolonged survival of circulating T cells due to cessation of HIV-mediated killing (because the half-life of circulating T cells was shorter, not longer in the HAART Group); redistribution of all cells, non-dividing and dividing alike, from tissue to the circulating pool, due to reduced adherence in tissues (because the fraction of newly divided cells, not just the absolute number, increased in the circulation); and simple escape of T cells from HIV-mediated killing in or adherence to tissues, with subsequent normal survival in blood (because the half-life of the T cells in blood was shorter on HAART). Moreover, the idea that kinetics of circulating T cells after HAART reflect kinetics before HAART (refs. 5–7) is also incompatible with our results.”

    “Although we cannot identify the reason for the failure to increase CD4+ T-cell production (for example, impaired proliferation compared with in situ killing), our results are inconsistent with a highly accelerated destruction of circulating CD4+T cells that overcomes a higher than normal total production rate (‘open drain/open tap’ model, refs. 5,6) or with isolated failure of tissue CD4 production systems (with normal survival of circulating T cells). Thus, identifying the scenarios that are compatible or incompatible with our kinetic results substantially narrows the focus of future investigations.”

    (1)HELLERSTEIN, HANLEY et al. Directly measured kinetics of circulating T lymphocytes in normal and HIV-1-infected humans. NATURE MEDICINE, VOLUME 5, NUMBER 1, JANUARY 1999. 83-89. http://www.kinemed.comwp-content/uploads/nar/Directly_Measured_Kinetics.pdf

    5. Ho, D. et al. Rapid turnover of plasma virions and CD4 lymphocytes in HIV-1 infection. Nature 373, 123–126 (1995).
    6. Wei, X. et al. Viral dynamics in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Nature 373, 117–20 (1995).
    7. Wain-Hobson, S. Virological mayhem. Nature 373, 102 (1995).

    End of Part One

  122. Gene Semon Says:

    Part Two of In response to Richard Jefferey’s post of 4/20, 1:19 PM.

    In Part One, the first part of the deductive chain: HIV causes CD4 depletion in-turn causing OI is weakened, i.e. casts doubts on HAART works, therefore HIV causes AIDS.

    Reference (2) responds to “My focus, and that of many others, has been on pushing for progress in immune-based therapy that would reduce or eliminate reliance on potentially toxic drugs…”.

    It opens the discussion to the wider world of oxidosis (too many pro-oxidants/dysoxygenation (deranged cellular oxygen dysfunction), i.e. loss of reducing power (electron donators) and T-cell production as covered in Part One.

    EXCERPTS:

    “Glutathione (GSH), a cysteine-containing tripeptide, is essential for the viability and function of virtually all cells. In vitro studies showing that low GSH levels both promote HIV expression and impair T cell function suggested a link between GSH depletion and HIV disease progression. Clinical studies presented here directly demonstrate that low GSH levels predict poor survival in otherwise indistinguishable HIV-infected subjects. Specifically, we show that GSH deficiency in CD4 T cells from such subjects is associated with markedly decreased survival 2-3 years after baseline data collection (Kaplan-Meier and logistic regression analyses, P < 0.0001 for both analyses). This finding, supported by evidence demonstrating that oral administration of the GSH prodrug N-acetylcysteine replenishes GSH in these subjects and suggesting that N-acetylcysteine administration can improve their survival, establishes GSH deficiency as a key determinant of survival in HIV disease. Further, it argues strongly that the unnecessary or excessive use of acetaminophen, alcohol, or other drugs known to deplete GSH should be avoided by HIV-infected individuals.”

    “Glutathione (GSH), like nitric oxide (NO), is a small, ubiquitous molecule that plays key regulatory roles in metabolic and cell-cycle-related functions…(It)is found in millimolar concentrations in all animal cells, also provides the principal intracellular defense against oxidative stress and participates in detoxification of many molecules. GSH depletion, caused for example by acetaminophen overdose, results in hepatic and renal failure and ultimately in death.”

    “Findings presented here link GSH deficiency to impaired survival of HIV-infected subjects and suggest a potential intervention to relieve this impairment…In addition, we have presented preliminary evidence suggesting that oral administration of NAC (N-acetylcysteine), which supplies the cysteine required to replenish GSH, may be associated with improved survival of subjects with very low GSH levels.”

    “Multiple mechanisms may contribute to systemic GSH deficiency in HIV disease, including excessive production of inflammatory cytokines and excessive use of GSH-depleting drugs. In addition, the HIV infection may itself play a key role through the production and release of HIV-TAT (trans-acting transcriptional activator), since TAT blocks transcription of manganese superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that helps prevent OXIDATIVE STRESS, and markedly decreases the activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, a key enzyme in pathways that maintain GSH in its reduced state.” (Emphasis Added)

    Here, it is worth noting that the “role” of “HIV infection”, i.e. cellular transcription of TAT, has nothing to do with “HIV replication”, which directs our attention to the “multiple mechanisms” causing reduced glutathione depletion. Additionally, the “reduced state” is the energy store required for the essential antioxidation process that maintains the redox balance.

    “The preliminary evidence of improved survival associated with oral NAC administration that we report here is consistent both with GSH deficiency being an important determinant of survival in AIDS and with GSH restoration potentially being beneficial. If these findings are confirmed in prospective long-term trials, they will provide the foundation for the use of NAC as an inexpensive, nontoxic adjunct therapy for HIV/AIDS, potentially valuable even in remote locations where only minimal medical supervision is available.”

    I am eagerly awaiting for TAC advocacy of prospective long-term trials and an NAC roll-out in Africa.

    “At a more immediate level, the demonstration here that prognosis worsens as GSH levels decrease suggests that certain precautions be taken to minimize GSH deficiency in HIV-infected individuals. In general, it may be prudent for these individuals to avoid excessive exposure to UV irradiation and UNNECESSARY USE OF DRUGS that can deplete GSHe.g., alcohol and prescription or over-the-counter formulations containing acetaminophen.” (Emphasis Added)

    This paper suggests an energy deficiency, accelerated aging model of AIDS which can account for the processes described in Part One, especially in AIDS risk groups.

    A rough sketch, (sighting shots): damage to lymph nodes, liver and mitochondria plus methemoglobulinemia in the blood result in loss of cellular energy, decreasing T-cell production plus loss of “innate immunity” (inducible defenses possesed by cells). Results: activation of post-death program – normally harmless eukaryotes eat tissues, clog respiratory tract, etc.

  123. Gene Semon Says:

    OOPS, forgot reference:

    (2)Herzenberg et al, (1997) PNAS, V94, 1967

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