HIV-AIDS and the deadly denialists at WDDTY

Deadly denialists
We take a trip back in time to vol. 5 no. 4 (July 1994) for a look at the article titled “HIV infection: tested to death”, a veritable cornucopia of denialist dross published around ten years after AIDS was properly identified, seven years after AZT was approved, two years after combination therapies were approved – in other words, at a time when “skepticism” about the HIV-AIDS link had already crossed the line from the normal process of questioning emerging science, and into denialism.

Several well-known AIDS denialists are given a platform in this article, at least one of whom was repeatedly rejected as an expert witness in courts due to having absolutely no professional expertise in the subject.

It’s worth remembering that there is no record of WDDTY ever publishing an apology or correction for this offensive bullshit. In fact, there is reasonable evidence that they still harbour at least vestigial AIDS denialism. Indeed, the response “We covered the ‘does HIV cause AIDS’ controversy years ago, but it’s probably time for an update” is pure denialism: the HIV-AIDS link has not been remotely controversial for decades.

HIV-AIDS and the deadly denialists at WDDTY

Reblogged from Plague of Mice by the author, who has generously granted himself permission to do so

People living with AIDS, 2008
People living with AIDS, 2008

A friend sent me a copy of the latest issue of that collection of outrageous and mercenary lies legally registered under the title of What Doctors Don’t Tell You. It looks like we can expect some especially deadly fuckwittery in the near future. This somewhat transparently fake “letter” (read: an obvious plant) appears in the “Have Your Say” letters page.

Keep up the fight—and now onto AIDS

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.

Yes, WDDTY did cover what they have labelled the HIV-AIDS “controversy” years ago. I found traces of it on their webshite. And guess what? I’ve got a copy of a full article now, written by Lynne McTaggart and Jody Wells, from the July 1994 subscription-only issue. It’s a big piece, several pages long, so I won’t quote the full thing. Connoisseurs of Vicious Dumbfuckery, curb your disappointment. There’ll be plenty to appreciate. WTFometers at the ready? You’re going to need one to cut through the thick wall of lethal Stupid. And in this case, it is lethal: Jody Wells died in August 1995, of AIDS-related disease, the same illness that would also kill his fellow editors at the AIDS-denialist magazine Continuum. Untreated HIV infections will destroy your immune system and this will result in a rather unpleasant death. The good news is: there are a number of treatments available, dosage will be tailored to your individual case and the days of needing to take cocktails of drugs are well past. HIV infections can be controlled with as little as one pill a day. People with cardiac problems may well be swallowing more medication than you.

On with the fuckwittery!

HIV infection

Tested to death

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

What do we learn from this? Only that WDDTY = germ theory denialism (standard for purveyors of vitalistic bollocks such as homeopathy, or McTaggart’s own-brand version of reiki: Intention) and a refusal to envisage the notion that virtually all of the scientific community will support a theory, not because it sounds neat, but because there’s solid, peer-reviewed evidence in favour of it. I’ll break up the next sentence, as it’s full of rich organic WTF:

However, a few lone heretics(1), such as leading University of California professor of molecular biology Peter Duesberg(2) and Australian biophysicist Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos(3) have offered exhaustively referenced argument(4) that HIV infection does not lead to AIDS(5) and that the test is so inaccurate that it shouldn’t be used(6).

  1. Galileo Gambit, much beloved of the dickwits. Having a different opinion from everybody else does not make you right.
  2. Duesberg is the sort of scientist who prefers to publish books rather than do quality research. He also claims cancerous tumours are immortal, so no doubt he’s got a scheme for flogging anti-ageing elixirs at some point. Also behind the official AIDS denialism in South Africa that saw a surge in preventable infections and killed so many people. He gets his arse most thoroughly kicked here by Jon Cohen of Science.
  3. According to Wikipedia, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos has a BSc in nuclear physics and her job is to test people for sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation. She has no medical or research qualifications and is not involved with HIV or AIDS patients in any way. This is a magnificent example of the Argument from The Man Down The Pub.
  4. Also known as the Gish Gallop
  5. It won’t lead to AIDS if detected and treated in time. Otherwise this statement is false.
  6. This is still being claimed and is complete bollocks. The test is capable of detecting antibodies in the bloodstream, sometimes as early as  6 weeks after infection, with high accuracy.

6 WTF points, not bad for a single sentence. Now you know why I’m not going to reproduce the entire insanely long, insanely stupid article here.

Co-discoverer of HIV Robert Gallo and others have based their theory of the HIV-AIDS link on purely circumstantial evidence: that HIV seems to be present in all patients who have AIDS.

For someone who writes screeds of self-glorifying and mendacious bullshit, it’s impressive how McTaggart is all “LOL tl;dr” when it comes to looking up facts. For Barré-Sinoussi and Montaignier to earn their Nobel Prize, they identified “virus production in lymphocytes from patients with enlarged lymph nodes in early stages of acquired immunodeficiency, and in blood from patients with late stage disease. They characterized this retrovirus as the first known human lentivirus based on its morphological, biochemical and immunological properties. HIV impaired the immune system because of massive virus replication and cell damage to lymphocytes. The discovery was one prerequisite for the current understanding of the biology of the disease and its antiretroviral treatment”. Gallo showed that this virus was indeed causing AIDS, not merely associated with it.

Nevertheless, as long ago as 1989, Luc Montagnier, the French co-discoverer of HIV, admitted: “HIV is not capable of causing the destruction to the immune system which is seen in people with AIDS.”

Really? Not only can I not find that quote on any website worthy of even the slightest confidence, but neither Argument from Authority nor Argument from Antiquity have any validity in science. If Montaignier really said that, he was wrong, as science has very thoroughly shown.

There’s a fair amount of Gish-like bandying of figures in the article. I’m not going to look them up, partly because it would take far too much time but mostly because McTaggart has been exposed so often as citing fake or misleading statistics that it is safe to assume any she produces are wrong. One splodge of “reasoning” leads to this conclusion:

“HIV could never kill enough T -cells to cause immunodeficiency,” writes Duesberg

Which would be all very nice, except that it very demonstrably does kill enough T-cells to cause immunodeficiency. This is the logic that proved bumblebees can’t fly. More gems – ah yes, WDDTY is a UK-oriented rag but McTaggart remains determinedly US-oriented:

since 1985, when HIV was first detected, the number of Americans infected has remained at a constant one million

Nope, it currently stands at an estimated 1.4 million. In 1985, people were dying. They’re less likely to die now, at least if they live in a country that provides affordable healthcare. Transmission is less likely to occur nowadays with modern ARVs keeping viral loads low and the availability of cheap, reliable condoms that don’t set your sensitive parts on fire.

And never in the history of man has infectious disease discriminated against most members of the population, as this one supposedly has, preferring only homosexual men, drug users, hemophiliacs (sic), and Africans.

Bollocks. Complete and utter homophobic, racist, misogynistic bollocks. Here are the estimated new infections in the US for 2010. MSM includes bisexuals. Don’t ask me where trans people are classified in there; despite being a very high risk group, trans folk are usually mixed into cis-oriented categories at the stats compilers’ whim, so there is no way of knowing where they are. Nor, apparently, the white heterosexual men – a very strange omission on this graph.

CDC: Estimated New HIV Infections in the United States, 2010, for the Most Affected Subpopulations

The thing to remember about “new” infections as opposed to “detected” is that, due to the stigma suffered by HIV+ people, especially those from cultural groups that are strongly misogynistic or homophobic, a significant minority of people who have put themselves at risk don’t get tested, either because they’re in denial or because they’re afraid of rejection if the test comes up positive. Sadly, this means they are often only diagnosed when they have progressed to the point of developing AIDS and the opportunistic diseases associated with immunodeficiency have begun to appear. The prognosis for late detection is poor; I’m told average life expectancy at this point is 6 months. Yes, bigotry kills.

1 in 4 new infections is via heterosexual sex; women are more at risk than men. There are various reasons for this, but one recurring problem for all vulnerable groups is that it is not always easy to require your partner to use a condom. See also: bigotry, misogyny…

Skipping more abused statistics, produced by some idiot with a Greek name who doesn’t know WTF she’s gibbering about (see also: Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos), I spy a passage that tells us something new about McTaggart and Wells, and it is not in their favour:

This finding would seem to support the argument that elements in the modern homosexual lifestyle, independent of HIV infection, are responsible for immune suppression

OK, so: first and foremost the term “homosexual lifestyle” is only ever heard in the mouths of dyed-in-the-wool homophobes and experiment has shown that they are incapable of actually telling you what they mean by it. A modicum of research will show that gay men don’t do anything straight men don’t do; in fact, they do one thing less. Not engaging in vaginal intercourse doesn’t suppress your immune system. This is presumably Wells denying his own HIV status – at a time when he was just over a year from death and had doubtless already developed full-blown AIDS – by taking refuge in blatant self-hating homophobia, abetted and encouraged by McTaggart. Lastly, the study they refer to doesn’t make that finding at all. But you knew that.

low-risk groups such as the wives of hemophiliacs (sic)

I wouldn’t call what was then a 19% infection rate a “low risk”. Quite the reverse.

age-related opportunistic infections such as pneumonia

*headdesk* Age-related? WHAT THE EVER-LOVIN’ FUCK? You can get pneumonia at any age. Among other things it’s a complication of colds and, notoriously, the flu. It’s also one of the opportunistic infections associated with AIDS. Freddie Mercury died of it, for example. So did Jody Wells, at age 48.

The proof of HIV as the causation of AIDS entirely hinges on the idea that detection of an antibody response to the virus is proof of its actual presence.

I don’t know where to start with that Stupid. They’re trying to discredit HIV detection tests in this bit, but they keep obsessing over their cherished belief that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Hence the brain-dead statement above.

The HIV tests are themselves known to be highly erratic and unreliable

Even in 1994, this was wrong. Wells’ denialism is taking the bit in its teeth here; it’s a clear case of “I can’t be HIV+, therefore the test is unreliable”. Remember, this fuckwitted attitude killed him. McTaggart, in encouraging and reinforcing this denial, is in my view an accessory to any death that occurs as a result of anyone reading her writings on the subject and consequently rejecting HIV tests, safe sex or treatment.

So, what other total howlers have this desperately unfunny comedy duo produced for us? Dipping into the article:

African AIDS doesn’t occur among homosexuals, drug users or hemophiliacs (sic)

Yeeees. Maybe we should add “racism” to the list of sins against humanity.

CD4 counts are practically meaningless as a measure of disease progression

Another blatant lie. Once again, rampant denialism from a dangerous, dying idiot.

Once an otherwise healthy patient has tested HIV positive, has a low CD4 count and is exhibiting stress-related problems, virtually all doctors working in the field reach for the prescription pad and offer prophylaxis.

I do not think ‘prophylaxis’ means what they think it means. There’s a lot of ranting about AZT that’s it’s pointless to delve into, AZT having been superseded long ago by more effective and better-tolerated drugs. I will, however, observe that medical science is increasingly of the opinion that treatment should be commenced as soon as possible after diagnosis as HIV+, rather than waiting for CD4 counts to fall below a specified level. Part of the reason is patient psychology, but there is also the very real problem that untreated HIV has been found to cause irreparable damage to the bodies of even asymptomatic patients, long before CD4 cell counts hit the floor.

And last, but not least:

The final symptoms of end-stage B12 deficiency are identical to the final stages of terminal AIDS.

You just knew they had to weasel supplements in somehow, didn’t you? That statement is so moronic, I don’t know where to start with it.

A few statistics, to finish up:

  • Approximately 35 million worldwide are living with HIV
  • 1.6 million people died of AIDS-related infections in 2012 alone
  • Worldwide, less than 1/3 of all people who are HIV+ has access to ARV treatment
  • HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 36 million lives so far.

Sources: WHO and Inter-LGBT

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