(Also posted at Plague of Mice)
The recent article in The Times that caused the Blessed McTaggart to bust a blood vessel and scream CONSPIRACY!!!!! included a quote from the editor of Beyond Positive, a magazine for HIV+ people, condemning the misleading claims in an article entitled “Vitamin C fights it all, from measles to AIDS”.
Yeah. I’ll let that sink in, shall I? McTaggart’s rag promotes quackery for AIDS. The old wives’ tale that Vitamin C helps the immune system fight off infections was debunked a number of years ago. That doesn’t excuse you from eating your greens, but even if it had turned out to be effective in boosting defences against the common cold, it’s far from clear how Vitamin C could ever have been of use in revving up the immune system when the immune system is being directly targeted by an infection. It would be like trying to jump-start a car while somebody else takes a chainsaw to the wheels.
It would seem that the McTaggart/WDDTY grasp of AIDS is itself deficient. So what exactly is the WDDTY view of HIV/AIDS? I did a little research on the WDDTY website. These are the articles that I found. It’s not pretty. To start with: it seems AIDS isn’t caused by HIV, but by steroids. The story – and I use the word advisedly – appeared in the Feb 2003 issue.
There appears to be no evidence, however flimsy, cited to support this amazing claim, starting with how brief recourse to a drug from the huge family grouped under the name of ‘steroids’ could cause a chronic, incurable condition.
People with dodgy blood pressure are advised to look away now. This is the sort of thing that makes those of us trying to defuse the fear and misinformation about HIV and its treatment very angry indeed:
Several years ago, protease inhibitors were the Great White Hope of AIDS therapy. These drugs work by inhibiting the enzyme protease, which is crucial to HIV’s ability to reproduce. Medical authorities and newspapers in the UK and US were quick to proclaim that these new drugs were saving lives. Nevertheless, the New York Times recently admitted that, in over 50 per cent of those taking these drugs, the virus is ‘breaking through’ after six months – in other words, the drugs are failing to do their job.
This is bullshit in the sky with diamonds. The drugs currently available cannot cure HIV, but they can prevent it degenerating into full-blown AIDS and enable you to live a normal life over a normal lifespan. That doesn’t sound like “failing to do their job” to me. It seems that the writer – presumably McTaggart – hasn’t a clue about how HIV infection is treated and is clearly aiming to scare people away from taking lifesaving medication by strongly implying that it doesn’t work. This is all the more irresponsible of a so-called health magazine in the case of an infection that almost certainly will kill you very unpleasantly if left untreated. Current scientific findings suggest that it is better to get people onto a course of treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. Encouraging people not to seek treatment is little short of criminal.
There is no date on the article, but it seems likely that it is from 1997 or 1998, as that is when HIV-resistant strains to the few drugs then available were detected. There is no excuse whatsoever for maintaining the article on the site and allowing readers to assume it refers to the current situation.
In case you thought the Dumbfuck couldn’t get any worse:
* AIDS in haemophiliacs is clearly related to the use of corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents used to prevent the development of antibodies to factors VIII and IX, and to treat chronic illnesses…
That bit refers to the contaminated blood scandals in the early 1990s, but for WDDTY the regular blood transfusions received by haemophiliacs can’t possibly be the source of HIV infection. There’s also a claim that many haemophiliacs who develop AIDS are HIV-negative, but again it’s based on a paper published in 1992, i.e. from over 20 years ago when HIV detection tests were nothing like as effective are they are today.
* AIDS in people receiving blood and/or tissue is related to the use of glucocorticoids to prevent the adverse reactions caused by transfusion and tissue rejection. Again, it is standard treatment to give such patients steroids
Another bald statement with no evidence whatsoever. Another pile of steaming brainshit. While I’m no medic, some brief research totally failed to turn up systematic use of glucocorticoids during blood transfusion. The first line of defence appears to be antihistamines if the patient starts to show any signs of a reaction. There is of course a common denominator for haemophiliacs and blood transfusees, but clearly McTaggart couldn’t join up the dots even if there were only two on the page.
* AIDS in infants and children is probably a result…
And the rest disappears coyly behind the paywall, but you can guess the general tone. It can’t possibly be HIV transmission via the placenta or during birth (about half a litre of maternal blood is lost during labour), and the “probably” will then be taken as a stone cold certainty because AIDS is not in any way at all related to HIV infection, no way José.
Are you, like me, wondering where all the people infected via sex or sharing syringes got to?
And once, again, McTaggart takes us back to the Godawful Age of unreliable testing and no treatment for AIDS:
In the 1990s, a 60-year-old man who consulted him appeared to have developed all the hallmarks of a patient with AIDS. Yet, three tests performed at different clinics confirmed that he was not infected with HIV…
A single anecdote about a flight engineer, FFS. That means he had a job which allowed him to discover new places, make lots of new friends and shag them senseless. Without a condom. The anecdote does not prove McTaggart’s hypothesis about steroids causing AIDS, either. Quite the reverse: it seems to be what would be expected if you gave a course of immunosuppressants to somebody with a virus piggybacking on his immune system.
This should be good. Bet you a tenner McTaggart doesn’t understand what “opportunistic infection” means.
AIDS is usually characterized by a number of “opportunistic” diseases, which can become active in a body whose immune system has been severely compromised.
No, she doesn’t.
These include Pheumocystic carinii pneumonia (PCP) and candidiasis, both fungal parasites present in all humans, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus and herpes virus disease. In addition, AIDS patients can suffer from other illnesses not caused by immune deficiency, including lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma (two forms of cancer), dementia or wasting disease.
Wrong. Kaposi’s sarcoma is caused by a widespread form of herpes which, like PCP, can only kick in when the immune system is weakened. That’s why they’re both considered an “AIDS-defining illness” – if you develop it and you’re HIV+, you’re considered to have full-blown AIDS. This shows you how clued-in McTaggart is on medical stuff: the list seems to have been copied and pasted from another site, without any effort to understand what it means. “Wasting disease”? That’s the homeopath bubbling to the surface like methane in a swamp: vaguely defined “diseases” which either aren’t, or are merely symptoms of something else. Syndrome isn’t the same as disease, doughball.
If AIDS were caused by a virus, it has a strange proclivity for giving certain groups certain types of diseases. For instance, Duesberg points out:American homosexuals have Kaposi’s sarcoma 20 times more often than all other American AIDS patients.
Peter Duesberg, whom she cites approvingly on several occasions, is an HIV denialist who claims AIDS is caused by malnutrition, anti-HIV drugs, and poppers. If there is a difference in the incidence of Kaposi’s among Americans and Africans with AIDS – it’s a big ‘if’, given Duesberg’s way with facts – then it might easily be ascribable to exposure to the herpes virus that causes Kaposi’s.
Last piece of evidence coming up. If you still had any doubts as to whether WDDTY (and therefore McTaggart) is 100% AIDS denialist, prepare to have them blown to smithereens.
In the world of medicine, the old conundrum which comes first, the chicken or the egg? has transformed into: which comes first, the disease or the medication? This is most apparent in AIDS diagnosis where the confusion concerns what HIV actually causes and whether the diseases considered to be part of the syndrome come before or as a result of the medication prescribed.
Can anybody at all explain to me how this can not be construed as an all-out attack on lifesaving HIV medication? Can anybody at all explain to me how McTaggart justifies casting doubt on the clearly-established fact that HIV infection, if left untreated, will progress to AIDS, which is invariably fatal?
The drugs used to treat people who are HIV positive are probably some of the most toxic in use. They include DNA chainterminator drugs, originally designed for cancer chemotherapy, such as AZT, ddl, ddC, an untold number of broad spectrum antibiotics such as Septrin, and numerous anti fungals like fluconazole and ketoconazole.
So, WDDTY perpetuates the myth that AZT etc – old drugs largely superseded by a wider range of better-tolerated and more effective treatments – is still the main drug being used to treat HIV infection. No distinction is made between the drugs used for treatment of the chronic HIV infection and those used to treat acute, opportunistic ones; HIV is a virus, so why in the name of sweet loving fuck would anybody use antibiotics or antifungals to treat it?
The reasoning behind this onslaught of toxic treatment is the much held but completely unproven belief that HIV and HIV alone is the primary cause of AIDS
Completely unproven? COMPLETELY UNPROVEN? Look, I know the Admin (PBUH) has Views about using this term, but to come out with a demonstrably and dangerously false assertion like that, I reckon you’re either suffering from severe pragmatophobia or you’re a damned liar.
The category links are to every damn issue of WDDTY I could find that carries misinformation, scaremongering or outright denialism on the subject. So, almost certainly not exhaustive.
Because it’s not even vaguely true.