HIV and AIDS: A bizarre letter

AIDS
According to WDDTY:

  • The HIV-AIDS link is controversial
  • AIDS denialists are worth listening to even if they have no subject matter expertise at all
  • AZT does not cure AIDS, because chemo
  • Mushrooms, oxygen, resonance, vitamin C and homeopathy do cure AIDS
  • AIDS tests don’t work

McTaggart thinks it’s about time she reviewed the subject again. We can hardly wait, and no doubt her advertisers are equally keen.

Here’s a letter and the WDDTY response from the December 2013 issue.

Dear WDDTY After reading your excellent November 2013 issue, I felt I must write to you all to congratulate you on your
achievements. It’s fabulous that this type of information is available in supermarkets, and essential that such a sphere of influence is maintained.

Following your brave articles on assessing true causes of cancer, which often go unreported, as well as treatments which can heal, I was wondering whether you had ever considered similar investigation into what I consider the biggest medical fraud of recent history—that of HIV/AIDS.

A dedicated reader

WDDTY replies: We covered the ‘does HIV cause AIDS’ controversy years ago, but it’s probably time for an update. Thanks for the suggestion.

What “does HIV cause AIDS” controversy? It might have been briefly controversial in the 1980s, but scientifically speaking the question is long since settled.

Let’s have a skim over the history.

October 1990 (vol 1 no. 7), Life after AIDS, a “special WDDTY issue on the cause, the treatment, the prevention and the survivors of AIDS, and what this means to all the rest of us.”

Context: By October 1990,  the human immunodeficiency virusW had been identified, AZT (zidovudineW) had been licensed for three years, C. Everett KoopW’s groundbreaking “Understanding AIDS” had been published and circulated to 107 million US households.

After the supposed link between the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the onset of AIDS was announced, public fear ran riot. Anybody could get AIDS; the only difference between being HIV positive and having AIDS, claimed the Department of Health, was time.

Promotes the “Kermani approach”:

Dr Kai Kermani, a general practitioner in Essex, began treating AIDS victims at the request of a friend of his when Kermani cured himself of advancing sight loss, of an original group of 40 HIV positive patients, 16 with full blown AIDS, nearly half are: still alive at least three years after diagnosis. In all, lie’s treated about 160 people . 

The staple of the Kermani approach is Autogenic Training, together with a wholefood diet, daily 45 minute brisk mental exercises designed to combat stress and anxiety (both present in high levels in AIDS patients) and mobilize the body to heal itself. It also helps practitioners to get in touch with repressed emotions or other problem areas. 

On AZT:

Is the approved drug the best treatment? Zidovudine, mostly known as AZT (Retrovir in Britain), is a prime example of the continuing controversy as regards treatment. It is an anti-viral drug-the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration . Burroughs Wellcome Co., the North Carolina pharmaceutical house that makes the drug, maintains that zidovudine has a positive therapeutic effect . It reported that 73 per cent of a trial group of 4,805 persons survived for 44 weeks after the start of therapy. The drug went into widespread use in March 1987.

But the drug fell into disfavour among most of the survivors we spoke with – and now gay groups like ACT-UP and Positively Healthy here – because of its toxic effects, or a tendency to become ineffective after about 12 months. (There has also been criticism of Wellcome among the medical community because the study on which approval was based was not completed according to accepted scientific protocol).

Any criticism of AZT’s development must be seen in the context of the feared epidemic of AIDS, and the fact that until then no effective treatment was available; trials were hampered by patients pooling drugs, so that two people would get a 50% dose rather than one getting 100% and the other a placebo. Probably only polio vaccine was as heavily politicised during its development.

However, the double-blind randomised controlled trials of AZT are robust evidence of effect, and that is why AZT is still in use today, as part of the highly active antiretroviral treatmentW (HAART) protocol. The trial was terminated early because the placebo arm patients were dying, and the treatment arm patients were not. This result was sufficiently unambiguous that the FDA approved the drug. In the absence of any alternative this was the only ethically supportable decision; opposition and criticism seems largely to have come from the nascent HIV-AIDS denialist movement.

WDDTY does Samuel BroderW a significant disservice in saying:

In the midst of telephone number predictions about the severity of the AIDS epidemic, and enormous political pressure from the gay and heterosexual communities to find a magic bullet, Broder dusted off AZT and commandeered it through the tangled net of regulatory bodies before emerging with approval for the drug at the relatively breakneck speed of 19 months.

In context the implication is that this was profiteering. In reality, Broder knew what he was doing and there was a political will, a pressing medical need, and a highly co-operative patient population. AIDS patients were literally on death row, they had nothing to lose, there was no alternative with which to compare it, so of course approval was rapid. Even if the side-effects had been worse, the only alternative was death. We now know that the drug is effective at a somewhat lower dose than originally proposed, and that side effects are manageable.

On “the HIV controversy”, WDDTY merely indulges in the fallacy of false balance, on this occasion.

The chief critic of the HIV theory is the American Peter Duesberg, professor of Molecular Biology at University of California at Berkeley and member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

Duesberg was, and is, at the forefront of the then-nascent HIV AIDS denialist movement. Known as a contrarian even before AIDS, his story is the classic one of stubbornness. In science, you are allowed to be wrong, especially in the early days of a field. If, however, you continue to find reasons to believe yo are right long after it becomes plain that you’re wrong, you are most likely to be engaging in pathological scienceW. His thesis is that AIDS is caused by the use of recreational drugs and antiretroviral drugs.

HIV co-discoverer Luc-Montagnier among them – have revised their theory on HIV. Montagnier now believes that HIV needs a bacterial co-factor — called a mycoplasma – in order to be harmful and progress to AIDS. HIV by itself or some strains of HIV are not sufficient to induce AIDS. Perhaps in order to have the disease we need more than one agent, a second infection, to have the description of the cells we see in AIDS patients,” he said on a Channel 4 interview

The mycoplasma hypothesis is now considered refuted, but even at that time it was speculative. Mycoplasma infections were always more likely to be opportunistic – effects – rather than causal, because opportunistic infections were a major cause of morbidity in AIDS.

“This is the behavioural disease of all behavioural disease,” says Gordon Stewart as quoted in Jad Adams’book. He is the emeritus professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow’ who worked on a survey of behavioural factors in communicable disease for the World Health Organization. Dr Kai Kermani also believes a number of factors – drugs, antibiotics (formerly used in great quantities by gays against a myriad of venereal disease) and even sperm, a foreign protein, other bugs, like hepatitis B – act as immunosuppressants, which in turn may make HIV more virulent.

Gordon Stewart is a well-known AIDS denialist. Kermani is selling product (see above).

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March 1991 (vol 1 no. 12) quotes Martin LevW as saying:

“One need only look at the many AIDS patients being made more ill by taking AZT, with its myriad of side effects, particularly in light of the fact that the man who supposedly discovered the HIV retrovirus now believes it alone does not cause AIDS.”

This is a reference to Montagnier, who undoubtedly did discover the virus, the word “supposedly” is misleading. Lev was an “M. E.” (chronic fatigue syndromeW) activist, a community with a significant (if entirely understandable) history of accepting or rejecting data based on ideological acceptability rather than evidential quality.

May 1992 (vol 3 no. 2) discusses the work of Ronald A. Sacher (an eminent haematologist) and opines:

Because we really don’t understand what causes AIDS or whether there needs to be another co-factor to convert HIV to AIDS(as Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of the AIDS virus now maintains), we also don’t understand how long the HIV virus (if indeed that is the cause of AIDS) incubates before transforming into full-blown disease .

By May 1992, this view of the WDDTY editors already looks wilfully contrarian. Later in the same issue we get:

AIDS : POSSIBLE VACCINE LINK A strain of the polio vaccine could have been responsible for transferring the HIV virus to humans, according to a recent article in Rolling Stone, extracted in The Economist.

Rolling Stone is not, of course, PubMed indexed.

This piece does note that HIV is widest spread in Africa and outside the Western high-risk groups of intravenous drug users and the gay community.

The OPV-AIDS origin hypothesis was finally laid to rest in 2001 and is now considered refuted.

DOUBTS ABOUT AZT FOR HIV 

Several studies and reports have cast doubt on the effectiveness of AZT (zidovudine) as an anti-AIDS drug, particularly in the early stages of the disease .

This again quotes Duesberg.

September 1992 (vol 3 no. 6), a review of the Terence Higgins Trust’s book “The THT HIV/AIDS Book”:

Context: Combination therapies have recently been introduced, increasing the success rate over AZT alone.

It is in the medical realm that Ms Tavanyard is less than definitive. In three paragraphs she dismisses the theory of Peter DuesbergW, the molecular biologist from the University of California who disputes the idea that HIV virus alone causes AIDS.

January 1993 (vol 3 no. 10), AIDS appears without HIV

The oft-derided theory that HIV is not a trigger for fullblown AIDS is enjoying a resurgence . About 30 recent cases from around the world reveal a new AIDS-like illness which has no trace of HIV.

A hastily-convened meeting by the Centers for Disease Control at Atlanta, Georgia, agreed to name the new phenomenon “CD4 T-lymphocyte depletion in persons without evident HIV infection”, or just mystery virus, for short. 

The meeting told a puzzled media that the new condition was not infectious and presented no danger to public health.

[…]

Absent was any discussion of the possibility that this new mystery AIDS–or, indeed, AIDS itself-isn’t caused by a virus at all. 

The reason the question of HIV not being a cause for AIDS was not discussed, is twofold: first, this was not about AIDS, but about a symptomatically similar disease; second, HIV causes AIDS and by this time only cranks denied it – even if they did not necessarily accept it as the sole cause, it was certainly accepted as a necessary component.

Any “resurgence” of HIV denial was purely opportunistic.

February 1993 (vol 3 no. 11) “New AIDS virus discovery”

Doctors have found a another infectious agent that assists HIV in bringing on AIDS. 

The agent, called mycoplasma penetransW, a tiny organism capable of reproducing itself, can cause debilitating disease and profoundly alter immune function.

Reports Lancet, Volume 340, Issue 8831, Pages 1312 – 1316, 28 November 1992, High frequency of antibodies to Mycoplasma penetrans in HIV-infected patients R.Y.-H. Wang PhD, M.M. Hayes MS, D.J. Wear MD, S.C. Lo MD, J.W.-K. Shih PhD, H.J. Alter MD, T. Grandinetti BS, P.F. Pierce MD

April 1993 (vol 4 no. 1): AIDS discoverer discredited

The US scientist feted as the co-discoverer of HIV-the virus associated with AIDS-has been found guilty of “scientific misconduct”. 

Robert GalloW, head of a laboratory at the US National Cancer Institute, deliberately concealed experiments which would have revealed that French scientists had discovered HIV a year earlier than he claimed to do, according to the findings of an inquiry.

WDDTY has already hitched its wagon to Montagnier’s star, this is part of that narrative. It should be viewed in the context of its concluding comment noting Montagnier’s “co-factor” hypothesis. As of 1993, the co-factor hypothesis appears to be WDDTY’s belief on AIDS.

There’s an interesting section on the controversy, in much more measured terms, in Wikipedia’s article on Gallo.

May 1993 (vol 4 no. 2) HIV and hepatitis vaccine – a reply to a letter from a reader alarmed by WDDTY’s scaremongering about HIV infection through Hepatitis B vaccination (so unlike them to print a ridiculous alarmist claim about a vaccine):

Furthermore, we don’t have conclusive proof that AIDS results from HIV-or indeed, from any communicable virus. Four teams of researchers recently published studies in the New England Journal of Medicine (20 February 1993) of patients with AIDS-like illness who did not have HIV or any other virus. Although they did not meet many of the criteria for HIV infection risk factors, two thirds of the patients in the largest study showed AIDS defining illnesses-in most cases, opportunistic infections.

In an accompanying editorial, Anthony Fauci ofthe National Institutes of Health admitted that “idiopathic CD4 T lymphocytophenia [which means unexplained immune cell depletion] does not appear to be caused by anything transmissable .” Although he meant to calm the hysteria sweeping the US about whether a new virus had appeared that could also cause AIDS, we interpret these results to mean that AIDS may not be caused by any viral agent, including HIV, and that perhaps HIV is a harmless passenger in the body of many patients with AIDS or even, as French AIDS discoverer Luc Montagnier now believes, a co-factor . In other words, getting infected with HIV alone doesn’t inexorably lead to AIDS. 

Remember, too, the recent results from a large study showing that early use of the anti-AIDS drug AZT doesn’t help those who are HIV positive.

Again the rejection of the dominant hypothesis on AIDS at the time seems to be driven by emotional commitment to Montagnier’s hypothesis and the desire to find fault with science.

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July 1993 (vol 4 no. 4)  Aids drug: no prevention

The supposedly best hope for AIDS sufferers, zidovudine (AZT), has been shown to have no effect in delaying the onset of the disease in healthy HIV-positive people and does not improve their chances of survival .

A joint study by the British Medical Research Council and the French National AIDS Research Agency (The Lancet, 3 April 1993) shows that there is no benefit in asymptomatic people taking the drug.

[…]

Writing in the BMJ (10 April 1993), Luisa Dillner describes the latest study as “an unpalatable result”, but says it will not have come as a shock to “thinking physicians”.

The joint study, nicknamed Concorde, has cast further doubt on the benefits of a drug which enjoyed an unprecedented bypassing of the ordinarily rigorous American regulatory process.

This is simply cherry-picking. There’s a fuller treatment at the NIH website, which references in particular Sande et. al., 1993, a report of a recent conference, which notes the wider results. This would have been available to WDDTY at the time, had they cared to check.

December 1993 (vol 4 no. 9) HIV: strain resistant to AZT

Having said that AZT doesn’t cure or prevent AIDS< WDDTY cover all bases by saying that a new strain is resistant to AZT anyway.

The use of zidovudine (AZT) to combat AIDS and HIV may be causing mutations of the HIV virus which are resistant to the drug.

The persistence of WDDTY’s hate campaign against AZT leads one to speculate as to whether it is a result of the drug’s roots as a proposed chemotherapeutic agent for cancer.

January 1994 (vol. 4 no. 10) “Vitamin C Beats Heart Disease” begins:

Vitamin C can reverse heart disease and is more effective against HIV than the drug AZT, delegates at a London conference on nutrition were told . […]

Presenting his research findings, Nobel Prize-winning health pioneer Professor Linus Pauling said that heart disease can be prevented and reversed by taking vitamin C and lysine supplements .

[…]

Vitamin C can also prevent the spread of HIV, said Dr Raxit Jariwalla, head of immunodeficiency research at
the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. He told the conference that it was more effective in suppressing HIV in infected cells than the drug AZT.

Linus PaulingW was the example that led to the coining of the term “the Nobel disease” for the descent into crank beliefs of those who have received the prize. He’s also an important data point in understanding the difference between science and SCAM: in science, the quality of the evidence means everything, and the eminence of its source, nothing. Pauling was a chemist, not a health pioneer.

In the same issue:

The oral contraceptive pill may increase the risk of HIV among women, according to findings by two senior doctors at Family Health International in North Carolina, USA (JAMA,17 Nov 1993) .

This is a massive red flag for the post hoc fallacy. Does the pill cause STDs, or is it more likely that sexually active women, who are more at risk of STDs, will take the pill?

February 1994 (vol 4 no. 11) Legal action over AZT

A widow is planning to sue drugs giant Wellcome, claiming that its anti-AIDS drug AZT killed her HIV positive husband.

Susan Threakall of Birmingham alleges that her husband, Bob, a haemophiliac, died after the drug destroyed his immune system. He had been prescribed AZT by his doctor in August 1989 after becoming infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated blood products, and died 18 months later.

Later in the same issue we see what appears to be the first bit of out-and-out advertorial for AIDS quackery:

While conventional medicine currently admits defeat in treating HIV infection, alternative approaches have shown some remarkable success. A range of studies suggests that Chinese and Western remedies can stave off symptoms-and possibly even “reverse” HIV infection.

Homeopathy gets a plug:

Slightly better reversal rates have been found with homeopathy. In a 1989 Indian study of asymptomatic HIV-positive patients (Br Homoeop J, Jan 1993), carried out by India’s Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, 9.3 per cent, or 12 of 129 patients, tested HIV negative after homeopathic treatment, after an average of just over seven months.

And of course Harald Gaier has to thump the tub one more time:

Many questions still exist about the quality of the ELISA assay test used to detect HIV infection . A substantial body of medical opinion believes that HIV alone isn’t the cause of AIDS but could be a co-factor or marker of immune dysfunction.

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March 1994 (vol 4 no 12.) HIV virus: missing link

American researchers are claiming that at least one strain of the HIV virus which is thought to cause AIDS-originated in some species of African monkeys . 

Their claim gives weight to the theory among some observers that AIDS may have been spread to humans by the use of infected polio vaccine which had been bred from the kidneys of monkeys (WDDTY, vol 3 no 2).

WDDTY must be conflicted here: either AIDS is caused by HIV, in which case they may have a humdinger of an antivaccination story, or it’s not, as Duesberg says and Montagnier partially supports.

They resolve this problem of holding two mutually incompatible ideas at once by… holding two mutually incompatible ideas at once.

May 1994 (vol 5 no. 2) Mums targeted for AIDS drug

The anti-AIDS drug AZT (Retrovir) is suddenly being pushed as a treatment for preventing HIV-positive mothers from passing on the condition to their unborn children. 

This new approach follows hard on the heels of the Concorde trials that showed the drug did not delay the onset of AIDS among HIV-positive people.

And as happened with the launch ofthe drug, the clinical trials among pregnant women have been stopped early because preliminary findings have been so positive.

WDDTY’s paranoid conspiracist mindset does not allow for the fact that the Concorde result was an outlier, that reviews of all studies found solid evidence of AZT working, and that when you have a trial that demonstrates an unambiguous result that can save lives, it is unethical to continue to wait.

In Letters:

Dear WDDTY: Your Alternatives column on the treatment of HIV/AIDS (vol 4 no 11) suggests success rates that are misleading. […] It is very important for all those in the field of disseminating information about HIV that the greatest care should be given not to exaggerate any method of treatment until there is sufficient proof that real hope for the future exists.-Dr M D Berman, Highgate, London.

This correspondent points out the misleading nature of the alternative AIDS quackery in the Feb 1994 edition (see above). WDDTY’s response? In its entirety:

Thank you for underlining our warning about our findings until medicine comes up with a more accurate AIDS test and a definitive notion of what HIV positive means.

Yes, they completely ignored the fact that they were giving out misleading quack advice.

July 1994 (vol 5 no. 4): “Tested to Death”, A special report that draws together mounting evidence that indicates HIV is not linked to AIDS.

This month, we offer a special update on AIDS. Several heretics, who believe that HIV has not been proved to cause AIDS, have been done some astonishing work in examining the gaping holes in the HIV theory and the wild inaccuracy of tests used to diagnose AIDS. 

We enlisted Jody Wells, who has been HIV positive and healthy for more than a decade, to help argue for a more open-minded view about the cause of AIDS.

This may well be the article to which McTaggart refers in the reply to the letter.

Jody Wells, founder of AIDS-denialist magazine Continuum, died on August 26, 1995, of AIDS.

Virtually all of the scientific community has taken a germ-theory view of AIDS and accepted the theory that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is capable of causing a syndrome of ever advancing immune suppression from which you will eventually die. 

However, a few lone heretics, such as leading University of California professor of molecular biology Peter Duesberg and Australian biophysicist Eleni Papadopulos- Eleopulos have offered exhaustively referenced argument that HIV infection does not lead to AIDS and that the test is so inaccurate that it shouldn’t be used. They have been vilified for their troubles, and Duesberg, named an outstanding Investigator by the American Cancer Institute, has had government funding withdrawn.

The Galileo gambit writ large. The problem is, as Bob Park notes, “It is not enough to wear the mantle of Galileo: that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right.”

It’s interesting also to see hints of germ theory denialismW in this commentary. This suggests a further avenue for research in WDDTY’s agenda – homeopathy belief and germ theory denial often go hand in hand, after all.

This issue is so relentlessly wrong that it deserves separate discussion – watch this space!

August 1994 (vol 5 no. 5) TB linked with `AIDS’ deaths

A new study of AIDS patients in Africa has thrown into further doubt the role of HIV. Tuberculosis (TB) was found to be the main cause of death in about half of all patients thought to have HIV in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, researchers have discovered.

September 1994 (vol 5 no. 6) HIV victims: 25 year remission

The nature of AIDS is being questioned yet again following a new research paper that suggests that some HIV-1 sufferers could live for another 25 years before developing any symptoms of the disease.

Whoever is questioning the role of HIV, it doesn’t appear to be the authors.

April 1995 (vol 6 no. 1) “Weak” virus found in AIDS survivors

Context: A three month investigation by Science magazine published in December 1994, established that the Duesberg hypothesis is incorrect.

The supposed link between HIV and full-blown AIDS has been further muddied by new research. It shows that around 5 percent of people infected with HIV have shown no signs of disease or any decline in their CD4 lymphocyte count in the 10 years they have been diagnosed.

Rather than admit that the link is at the very least questionable, researchers say that the participants have shown a “robust” immune response to the virus. Also, in some cases, they claim the virus itself must have been “defective”.

May 1995 (vol 6 no. 2) HIV in babies “disappears”

The idea that HIV is a virus that leads inexorably to AIDS has again been questioned following the close study of a baby born HIV-positive in a Los Angeles hospital .

Within 19 days, he was testing negative, as he did again after 51 days . Five years later, he is still negative, indicating that the virus just went away.

Having spent much of the last five years telling us that HIV tests are unreliable, and that HIV does not cause AIDS, WDDTY now apparently believes that the tests are infallible, but only when they are positive.

Those who maintain that AIDS is merely a number of old diseases brought together under one umbrella term have had their argument supported by recent research.

Scientists at the New York University Medical Centre have found that AIDS-associated Kaposi’s sarcoma has a similar DNA to the herpes virus.

This is a remarkably facile argument. It has been known almost from the outset that most of the AIDS-associated diseases are opportunistic. Kaposi’s sarcomaW (KS) was first identified by Moritz Kaposi in Vienna in 1872. The finding that it is caused by human herpes virus 8 is in fact a point in support of the scientific consensus, since it indicates that reduced immune function is likely to be a primary factor in increased prevalence of KS in AIDS patients.

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November 1995 (vol 6 no. 8) New AIDS therapy cures 95%

Breakthrough AIDS therapy has been scientifically proven to offer a full recovery for 95 per cent of all sufferers, provided they follow the course properly. 

American doctors HE Sartori and Prof Hugh Fudenberg treated 165 AIDS patients for 10 years until 1992, using an holistic course called Life Science Universal. […]

The Life Science course involves use of ozone, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, herbal preparations and psychological reconditioning.

This therapy, published in the Townsend Letters, a crank journal edited by a chelation quack, has escaped the notice of any PubMed indexed journal, but can be found on whale.to – enough said.

Is HIV, after all, the cause of AIDS? New research carried out among 6,278 hemophiliac men indicates that it is.

Of the study group, 1,227 became infected with HIV through transfusion. The death rate in the HIV group was 10 times worse,

Yes, in the world of WDDTY a 1995 paper once again proving that HIV causes AIDS, a fact known to medical science for a decade is a new and controversial finding.

The pro-HIV lobby leapt on the findings, and claimed that, at last, they had clear evidence to refute the work of mavericks such as Peter Duesberg, who have claimed that HIV is a harmless passenger virus.

The Duesberg camp maintains that the study is flawed, and does not indicate the actual cause of death, the drugs
the sufferers were on, such as AZT, and does not examine the survivors from the HIV positive group.

Wait, the pro-HIV lobby? That would be pretty much everybody, then.

March 1996 (vol 6 no. 12) AIDS maverick sticks to guns

Context: SaquinavirW, the first protease inhibitor, was licensed in December 2005, paving the way for highly active antiretroviral therapyW (HAART).

Prof Peter Duesberg, the maverick professor who has claimed HIV does not lead to AIDS, is sticking to his guns in the face of evidence that seems to knock down his thesis .

What WDDTY meant to say was “yet more evidence that knocks down his ever-shifting thesis”.

For several years after this, WDDTY seem to have dropped their obsession. Without ever acknowledging the years of misinformation, they appeared to quietly accept the HIV-AIDS link, restricting themselves to sniping at inaccurate tests, the commitment to lifetime therapy, and the failure of medical science to find a cure. Oh, and hysterical outrage at the idea of widespread neonatal testing.

Recruitment for the “lactation police” has yet to commence, though I am sure there would be no shortage of eager applicants.

In September 1999 (vol 10 no. 6) there was another dig at AZT (note the scare quotesW):

Neither AZT nor protease inhibitors have ever been tested in a doubleblind trial in children, as it is now considered unethical to “deprive” an HIV positive child of drugs.

In America, in one case, an HIV-positive mother fought and lost the right to breastfeed her child. Indeed, a guard was placed in her hospital room to make sure she didn’t violate the ruling. After mother and child returned home, a social worker visited every week to ensure she wasn’t breastfeeding and was giving her child AZT. There is every likelihood that legions of “lactation police” could be set loose in Britain and other countries that begin universal testing.

October 2000 (vol 11 no. 7) is a paean to oxygen therapies, a form of quackery described thus:

At a time when orthodox medical research has begun to admit that it is losing the war against cancer, it is bizarre that a simple treatment used successfully by doctors a round the world to treat cancer as well as heart disease and HIV/AIDS is virtually ignored, particularly when it has been shown to be effective .

So by this time AIDS has taken its place in the pantheon of dread diseases that They don’t want to cure because They make too much money from drugs to try things that are proven to be effective, provided you uncritically accept the claims of people who make money selling them and ignore the lack of credible evidence.

In 1991, Dr Michael Carpendale and his colleagues at the Veterans Administration Hospital in San Francisco showed that HIV could be 99 per cent inactivated using only 0.5 mcg/ mL of human blood, and completely inactivated by concentrations of 4 mcg/mL of human blood, neither of which were harmful to healthy cells (Antiviral Res, 1991; 16: 281–92).

Thus, WDDTY sets off down the usual path of failing to appreciate that in vitro studies are a very long way from proof of clinically useful effect in vivo.

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February 2003 (vol 13 no. 11) The steroid connection

Context: By 2003 the idea that HIV causes AIDS is not even remotely controversial. The mutation of HIV from the related simian immunodeficiency virus has been established; the strain of SIV has been identified and the claim that oral polio vaccine had caused the species crossing (the OPV AIDS hypothesisW) had been refuted by genetic testing.

This is typically credulous article promotes Mohammed Al-BayatiW, the toxicologist who later came to prominence by concluding that Eliza Jane ScovilleW had died of an amoxycillin reaction rather than AIDS-related pneumonia, without looking at the pathology slides. His company, Toxi-Health International, is primarily engaged in supporting claims of environmental, medical or vaccine damage for the purposes of litigation (i.e. he’s a quack ambulance-chaser). He is an AIDS denialist.

Dr Peter Duesberg, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, was one of the first to challenge the AIDS-virus hypothesis. Instead, he put forward the alternative theory that AIDS is brought on by the longterm consumption of recreational drugs and/or AZT (zidovudine) itself, a drug that is prescribed to prevent or treat AIDS. 

Dr Al-Bayati’s work carries Duesberg ’s theory further with the shocking suggestion that prescription drugs, particularly steroids, may be the major cause of AIDS.

Yes, that’s shocking alright. Shockingly irresponsible.

This is another article that deserves its own treatment; it dredges the literature for findings that support the anti-HIV, anti-AZT agenda, including studies from 1985 (virtually pre-history in terms of AIDS research), systematically bigging up Duesberg, who by this time was completely discredited and had gone from being a maverick, through wilful contrarianism and into full-on denial.

This issue also contains some mindfulness woo, which would appeal to McTaggart but has no obvious basis in reality. But the most striking things are (a) the promotion of an outright profiteering charlatan and (b) the resurrection of the Duesberg idiocy last mentioned in WDDTY in March 1996, not long after his claims were authoritatively refuted.

November 2003 (vol 14 no. 8) HIV Test: Too inaccurate for comfort

The HIV test for detecting AIDS is surrounded by controversy. Leaving aside the arguments about the supposed link between HIV and AIDS—still hotly debated in medical circles—the test itself is inaccurate and inconsistent.

If anybody can find any evidence of genuine debate in the academic journals about the HIV-AIDS link by the close of 2003, please let us know.

Three scientists, including Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, an arch critic of the HIV/AIDS link, have scrutinised both tests, and concluded that neither is standardised, which means that laboratories may interpret the results differently. The test is also not reproducible, and crossreacts with other, non-HIV, proteins (BioTech, 1993; 6: 696–7)

It is not clear on what basis Eleni Papadopulos-EleopulosW criticises the HIV-AIDS consensus. She is a physicist, not a life scientist, she has been rejected as an expert witness by courts, and has never been involved with HIV or AIDS research at her institution. The claims she promotes had already been refuted at the time of writing of the article. She is a member of The Perth GroupW, an AIDS denialist group in Australia who were described in the trial of Andre Chad ParenzeeW as ” group as ””a very considerable embarrassment” to Australian science’.

The Perth Group also influenced Thabo MbekiW so may justly be considered to have directly contributed to many thousands of unnecessary deaths. Her views on HIV and AIDS have been described as “insane”, “outrageous” and “dangerous”. Interestingly, Papadopulos-Eleopulos rejects the work of Montagnier. WDDTY seem not to mind.

By October 2005, HIV exists again, but only because antiviral drugs are causing resistance:

The consequence of over-prescribing is a resistance to drugs. It has already happened to antibiotics, and now the same thing is being seen with the antiviral drugs. As a result, diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B are more difficult to manage. 

New research, which tracked 4500 HIV patients, found that 10 per cent were resistant to an antiviral within two years, and nearly a third were resistant after six years’ usage. One in 25 HIV patients has built up resistance to every type of antiviral.

October 2006 (vol 17 no. 7) AIDS: assessing the ‘cures

Back to familiar territory: AZT is demonised, its heritage as a proposed cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agent is mentioned (Aside: why do quacks so obsessively use the word cytotoxic? It’s not as if they are obsessed with vague unspecified toxins or anything). Ancient studies from the early days of AIDS are paraded as proof that subsequent science is wrong, the Concorde study gets another outing and so on.

The side effects of antiretrovirals are described in great detail. The side effects of AIDS are not, for some unaccountable reason. The principle side effect of AIDS is a lingering, unpleasant, undignified death. Perhaps this explains why people with AIDS continue to take the drugs despite their acknowledged downsides.

But it’s not all gloom:

Surviving without drugs

AIDS researcher Peter Duesberg and his colleagues cited 11 published scientific papers documenting HIV positive individuals who survived for more than 10 years without antiviral therapy (J Biosci, 2003; 28: 383–412). There are also many corroborating anecdotes, including reports of individuals who came off anti-HIV drugs because they had become very sick and went on to survive many years afterwards.

A WDDTY AIDS story would never be properly complete without Duesberg, would it?

Natural herbs for AIDS

These traditional medicines are prescribed at Ngwelezane Hospital, South Africa, for these symptoms. Three out of four HIV/AIDS patients in Africa rely on some form of traditional medicine for their treatment

Oh yes, we know all about that. In 2006, 390,000 people died of AIDS in South Africa, up from 210,000 in 2001. As the influence of Mbeki has declined, this has begun to drop slowly.

In May 2007 (vol 18 no. 2) HIV/AIDS are once again linked, but mushrooms can cure it (an idea repeated in November 2012).<!––nextpage––>

In July 2007 (vol 18 no. 4) a letter is published:

There is a very effective treatment for HIV/AIDS based on resonance. We have used the treatment in Africa since 2002 and, provided that people get proper nutrition and have safe sex, AIDS patients become symptom-free following the treatment. 

You can read more at www.ARHF.nl, the website of the Amma Resonance Healing Foundation.—D r Harry van der Zee, The Netherlands

This seems to be a variant on bioresonance therapyW, a form of implausible pseudoscientific nonsense.

February 2013 (vol 23 no. 11) Vitamin C and the incurables

This is the issue that Lynne McTaggart denies claimed vitamin C cures AIDS.

HIV and AIDS

After Klenner, US internist Robert Cathcart, US biochemist Irwin Stone and Nobel-prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling all pioneered the use of vitamin C against infectious disease. 

Cathcart, originally an orthopaedic surgeon, began experimenting with vitamin C after reading Pauling’s assertion that the vitamin could stop a cold from progressing. […]

In a letter to the editor of The Lancet, he wrote that his regime of giving oral doses of vitamin C close to “bowel tolerance” (see box, page 60) had “slowed, stopped or sometimes reversed for several years” the depletion of an HIV patient’s CD4+ T cells.

Technically, they did not say vitamin C cures AIDS. What they did was to repeat, entirely uncritically, the words of a man who did. Which is completely different. As McTaggart says:

“The fact that it has been so ignored—and even ridiculed—by mainstream medicine is no accident. If a cheap and simple nutrient were to be seriously considered as the modern alternative to conventional treatment and vaccinations, it would virtually eliminate the whole of pharmaceutical medicine.”

Just as well it hasn’t been ignored then, it’s just a shame it doesn’t work as well as the vitamin quacks wishful thinking says it does.

You may enjoy:

What Doctors Don't Tell You
Why don’t doctors tell you that the HIV-AIDS hypothesis is controversial and antiretrovirals don’t work?

Because, as Prof. Andrew Grulich succinctly put it: that is insane, comprehensively disproved, outrageous and dangerous.

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2 thoughts on “HIV and AIDS: A bizarre letter”

  1. Pingback: Daily Overload – News in short (30-11-2013) « The Skeptical Bear

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