Christine Maggiore, HIV, and AIDS

Christine Maggiore has died at the age of 52, from pneumonia.  Why is this significant?  Because, following her diagnosis as HIV positive in 1992, she had become an outspoken critic of the scientific consensus that infection with HIV causes AIDS.

She was a highly controversial figure, mainly because she had taken the decisions not to take antiretroviral drugs during her pregnancies, not to give birth by caesarean section, and had breastfeed her two children, even though evidence suggests that all of these actions can increase the risk of transmitting HIV to the child.  Things reached a head in 2005, when Maggiore’s three year old daughter, Eliza Jane, died.  The autopsy report prepared for the coroner found that:

  • Eliza May’s lungs were infected with pneumocystis jiroveci, which causes PCP, a form of pneumonia most commonly found in people with AIDS
  • her brain showed changes that were consistent with HIV encephalitis
  • components of the HIV virus were found within her brain tissue
  • she was underweight and under height for her age (something that is consistent with a chronic illness like PCP, but not with the short-term ear infection Maggiore believed her daughter to have).

As a result of this autopsy report, the coroner concluded that Eliza Jane had died of pneumonia brought on by AIDS.  This seemingly irrefutable conclusion was vigorously challenged by Maggiore, and she commissioned an alternative report which concluded that Eliza Jane had died as a result of an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.  This report was provided by Mohammed al-Bayati, who specialises in the pathology of animal diseases, but who lacks any medical qualifications (he holds a PhD, not a medical degree). al-Bayati was also a close associate of Maggiore, and a member of the board of her organisation, Alive & Well: AIDS Alternatives.  At the time of her death, Maggiore was in the process of suing LA County on the grounds that their autopsy report had shown a lack of proper medical and scientific evidence.

It doesn’t seem that Maggiore was an uncaring (or even entirely irresponsible) parent – Eliza May was taken to see several doctors before her death, not all of whom were HIV sceptics, and Maggiore seems to have followed the advice she received for the treatment of her daughter’s illness.  Despite this, it still seems very likely to me that Maggiore bears partial responsibility for the death of her own daughter.  With the death of Maggiore herself, this means that her scepticism has now directly contributed to two deaths that were both very likely to have been avoidable.

I do have some sympathy for Maggiore’s position.  Back when she was first diagnosed, the only treatments available for HIV were drugs which had significant side-effects, and initially seemed to provide only limited benefits.  The decision not to take antiretrovirals during pregnancy is also one I can understand, to some extent.  There is as yet no evidence to show if there are long-term risks to the health of the child, although it has to be said that most HIV positive women conclude that the definite risk of HIV transmission is more significant than the potential risks of unknown drug-related complications.  What is unquestionably a tragedy, though, is that Maggiore did not update her thinking in the light of the new treatments and ever-increasing evidence that have been consistently emerging.  It’s more of a tragedy that, even after the death of a friend they believed would not die, Maggiore’s associates have vowed to continue her misguided fight.

It seems to me that there are a number of questions that HIV sceptics have to answer before they can expect to be taken seriously.  The first and most obvious of these is why Christine Maggiore died in the way she did.  Affluent, healthy women in their early 50s don’t usually die of pneumonia.  The explanations put forward by her associates – that she was made ill by an alternative ‘cleansing’ treatment, or that she had flu, or that she was affected by the cold weather – are, on their own, inadequate.  It’s very likely that a ‘cleansing’ treatment, especially if it involved fasting or purging, will have left her physically weakened.  It’s also very possible that a respiratory virus like flu was the immediate cause of her pneumonia, and cold weather may well have exacerbated her symptoms.  But there is still no getting away from the fact that a normal, healthy woman of Maggiore’s age would be expected to recover from pneumonia, and would certainly be expected to recover from flu.  One very plausible explanation for why she did not is that the functioning of her immune system was compromised, in exactly the way that would be expected in someone suffering from AIDS.  Since Maggiore’s associates have dismissed this explanation, it’s up to them to supply an adequate alternative one.

Another question that the sceptics need to answer is why, in the absence of effective treatment, those who are diagnosed with HIV will go on to develop AIDS, but those who test HIV negative will not.  A number of alternative causes for AIDS have been put forward over the years, but no-one has yet been able to adequately explain why these alternative causes affect only those who are HIV positive, and not those who are HIV negative.  This is, as it happens, another area where it would seem that the sceptics have not kept pace with medical developments.

Early tests for HIV were unreliable, and ‘false positives’ and ‘false negatives’  were both very common.  This meant that, initially, there was some genuine confusion as to whether or not all those dying of AIDS really did have HIV, and so it was perfectly reasonable to search for potential alternative causes of AIDS.  However, with the development of newer and more reliable (though still not infallible) tests, and especially with the practice of ‘longitudinal testing’, in which people are repeatedly tested for the presence of HIV antibodies in their blood, it’s now possible to say with almost complete certainty that everyone exhibiting symptoms of AIDS will also show evidence of HIV infection, and that all cases of untreated HIV infection will, after a variable period of time, lead to the development of AIDS.  Those who reject the idea that HIV causes AIDS need to supply an alternative explanation that adequately accounts for this remarkable correlation.

The sceptics also need to explain why, if HIV does not cause AIDS, antiretroviral treatments aimed at inhibiting HIV have led to such a dramatic fall in the numbers of people dying of AIDS.  If the ‘real’ causes of AIDS were being ignored by the medical establishment, as the sceptics allege, one would expect to see the number of deaths from AIDS to be unaffected by efforts to treat HIV.  Of course, one possibility is that antiretrovirals have some other, unrelated, benefit which has not been investigated by medical researchers.  If this is the case, it is unclear why Maggiore refused to take antiretrovirals herself, and campaigned against their use.  Alternatively, if HIV sceptics believe that the substantial reduction in deaths is utterly unrelated to the availability of antiretrovirals, then they need to provide a plausible alternative reason for the reduction, and also explain why the reduction suddenly kicked-in at exactly the same time as antiretrovirals were made available.

There are lots of other questions that could be asked of the sceptics – for example, why, if an infectious agent like HIV is not responsible for AIDS, did AIDS begin in discrete groups of people, then gradually diffuse into the wider population? – but those will do to be going on with, I think.

I would normally get angry at obvious denialism like Maggiore’s, but I find that very hard to do in this case.  Maggiore was clearly absolutely sincere in her beliefs – she was prepared to die rather than take the drugs that would have, most likely, saved her life – and she has paid the highest possible price for staying true to them.  This is a state of affairs that makes me sad rather than angry (although my sympathy for Maggiore stops well short of condoning her irresponsible behaviour towards her children).

There is at least something approaching a happy ending to this story.  It’s been reported that Maggiore’s husband (with whom she apparently had regular unprotected sex) and her surviving child are, thankfully, both HIV negative.  If this is true, then I’m prepared to make a prediction that, unlike their wife/mother and daughter/sister, they will not go on to die decades before they should of diseases that frequently kill AIDS patients.  I can only hope that Maggiore’s associates will eventually come to recognise this as very personal evidence for the obvious link between HIV and AIDS.

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38 Responses to Christine Maggiore, HIV, and AIDS

  1. Brian Carter says:

    Dear Aethelreadtheunread,

    I bet you haven’t even read Christine’s book, “What if Everything You Thought You Knew About HIV and AIDS Was Wrong” now in it’s forth edition. Nor the 30 other books in publication dealing with the subject. You seem to regurgitate much what everyone else is saying, AIDS – AIDS – AIDS … Christine’s death doesn’t prove that HIV exists any more than Jesus lived to arise from the grave and descend to heaven. It’s merely a belief in the virus with no proof there is one.

    Brian Carter, Co-facilitator, Alive and Well AIDS Alternatives Peer Support, Los Angeles and Assistant Manager, AIDSMythExposed.

  2. cb says:

    Interesting stuff. I have to say, i hadn’t heard of her previously nor of her position.

  3. Alex says:

    I’m less angry when individuals get involved with AIDS denialism, but that’s only compared to what happens when governments do. When the health minister of an industrially-developed country with one of the highest GDPs per capita in sub-Saharan Africa is telling its populace that you can treat AIDS with fruit and veg, that’s not irresponsible, it’s criminal. How can people believe this kind of thing? I mean, I can understand in Maggiore’s case; if I’d been diagnosed HIV+, I’d be looking for a way out of it, too, but some of what the AIDS denial movement gets up to is downright obscene.
    Rant over. Great post, as always.

  4. Skeptyk says:

    Whatever the proximate and ultimate causes of Maggiore’s death, her earnest, sincere, heartfelt, compassion-driven crusade was simply wrong, and has contributed to suffering and death.

    Christine’s good intentions neither validate nor excuse her willful ignorance and her immoral actions. One can be sincere, kind, intelligent and yet still be immoral in some of her actions. It is not moral to encourage people to ignore/reject the fruits of human knowledge in a way that will cause harm.

    I have met sweet people who encourage ex-gay “therapy”. Neither their delusion nor their niceness forgive their harmful actions. Christine may not have been legally culpable (she was not, AFAIK, a licensed health care therapist), but she was ethically and morally responsible for causing harm.

    As is Brian Carter.

  5. The death of Christine Maggiore is tragic just as her life was tragic.

    She was misled by fringe scientists Peter Duesberg and David Rasnick, quack vitamin healers like Gary Null, and other AIDS Denialists. Ultimately she promoted their pseudoscience at her own peril. Many others were harmed by her relentless promoting of false information that confused people about HIV testing and treatment.

    Christine Maggiore’s book, like nearly all books by AIDS denialists, was self-published and hinged on a corpus of pseudoscience that has become self-perpetuating. With few exceptions, denialist books that are not self-published are published by new age and fringe publishing houses.

    More importantly, there is nothing in mainstream medicine or science that supports anything the denialists are saying.

    The misinformation and disinformation of denialism is dangerous because the Internet easily allows fakes and frauds to masquerade as genuine doctors and scientists. Denialism tells people with HIV what they want to hear – that HIV does not exist, that HIV is harmless, that AIDS is caused by stress and poverty, and that taking vitamins and eating healthy will make everything ok. But it does not make everything ok. It did not for Christine Maggiore and will not for anyone else with HIV/AIDS.

    The sad story of AIDS denialism that enmeshed Christine Maggiore is told in a new book Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy (all Royalties donated to buy HIV medications in Africa) for more information visit http://denyingaids.blogspot.com/

  6. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for all the comments. Alex & Skeptyk, i’m sorry your comments didn’t appear straight away – wordpress flagged them both as potential spam, which obviously they’re not.

    Brian Carter – first of all, I’m very sorry for your loss. I know Christine Maggiore was a colleague of yours, and i imagine she was probably a friend, too. This must be a very difficult time for you, and you have my personal sympathy.

    You are quite right, i haven’t read the book you mention. As i’m not able to work, i don’t have a great deal of money to splash out on things like that.

    You are, i’m afraid, wrong when you say there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS. It is true there is, as yet, no absolute proof – no-one has so far demonstrated the precise mechanism by which HIV causes AIDS – but there is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest that the link exists nonetheless. For me, probably the most compelling evidence is the very clear statistical correlation between the availability of antiretroviral treatments for HIV and the reduction in deaths from AIDS. This has, let’s not forget, been observed around the world.

    As i said in my post, the evidence is now so compelling that it is up to those such as yourself who dispute the link between HIV and AIDS to provide adequate alternate explanations for that evidence – rhetoric and allegations of conspiracy will not be sufficient, i’m afraid.

    cb – until i read the LA Times story, the name Christine Maggiore probably wouldn’t have meant anything to me either, but i was aware of some of the controversy that had surrounded her.

    Alex – i agree with you about the dreadful consequences of denying the realities of AIDS in Africa.

    Mbeki’s position is a little more nuanced than it’s sometimes reported – he’s right, for example, to point out that poverty and starvation kill many more Africans than AIDS does, and also hastens the deaths of those who have AIDS. This doesn’t, of course, justify his defence of those who deny the scientific evidence that HIV causes AIDS, nor his tardiness in supplying antiretroviral drugs to the population of his country, but it does partially justify his attempts to re-focus the eyes of the West on the wider systemic problems that face all African nations.

    The wealth of South Africa is also something of a red herring – much of that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a white elite, or is foreign-owned, and the international community has applied significant pressure to ‘encourage’ post-apartheid governments not to nationalise or significantly redistribute it. As a country, South African is still poor, and partly dependent on foreign aid, even though it supplies most of the world’s gold and diamonds. Personally, i find that immoral, but unfortunately that’s the reality of the way the world works at the moment.

    But, all that said, i would still agree with you that Mbeki bears personal responsibility for the unneccesary deaths of tens of thousands of South Africans.

    Skeptyk – i agree with you – good, or kind, or honourable intentions are not enough, and if someone does harm they should be criticised for that, no matter how noble their motives. I would reserve my strongest criticism, though, for those who are not themselves HIV positive but still peddle the sceptic line. Maggiore, and others like her, i see as much as victims as i do villains – like Alex says, it seems likely to me that she was just looking for a way out.

    Seth Kalichman – again, i agree with you. It seems to me that there are elements of conspiracy theory to the sceptics arguments – the belief that, since mainstream science doesn’t support the sceptic hypothesis, there must be a secret conspiracy to hide the truth, and so on. Most conspiracy theories are weird, but harmless – it really doesn’t matter all that much if someone wants to believe that the moon landings were faked – but this particular one is different, because it has the potential to cost people their lives.

    I have to say, it seems to me that the sceptic cause has been dealt a fairly heavy blow by Maggiore’s death – quite apart from anything else, it makes the name of her organisation – Alive & Well – look like a particularly sick joke. I’m sure they will continue to try and sell their scepticism, but it seems likely that they will find it much harder going, for the time being at least.

  7. This is a great post, thanks for making it.

  8. Brian Carter says:

    aethelreadtheunread,

    Ever think you might have been manipulated by everything you hear (since you dont read the things you need to before commenting on them) backed up and instilled in you mind’s psyche by the repeated mantras, such as “HIV the virus that causes AIDS” for 25 years now? There’s no conspiracy theory, we’ve simply been lead down the wrong path. When one can actually think for him or herself outside that scary little box society has painted, where HIV always equals AIDS, AIDS equals death, poisons can prolong your life and your doctor knows best, then one can truly find, understand and comprehend wtf is going on, i.e., the other side of AIDS. Whereas I and countless others find that there are huge inconsistencies, anomalies, abnormalities, circular reasoning, self fulfilling prophecies, just to name a few, all held up by this dogmatic approach that says’ how dare one consider even questioning it. It’s really quite bizarre. But one must step outside their comfort zone or rather that little box, because when you do, there presents itself, alternatives and answers to why hasn’t AIDS mainstream been able to (as you’ve stated) demonstrate the precise mechanism by which HIV causes AIDS and other questions. This realm is far too wide and deep for just any fellow laymen to get into, let alone look at objectively, therefore defaulting to just the sound bites that have been so prevalently handed to us lock-stock-and-barrel, over and over and over. In any case, the vast astounding evidence you claim may itself be true, but does not warrant the conclusion whatsoever, purely anecdotal evidence. Strange is it that people still can believe with such religulous fervor in this money sucking dead and dying, go-no-where crap shoot we’ve come to know as “HIV/AIDS”.

  9. Richard says:

    Here are the FACTS regarding Christine’s passing as well as her daughter’s:

    1. Christine’s daughter did not die from PCP pneumonia. Disregarding the second coroner’s report that also found no evidence of PCP, three pediatricians examined Christine’s daughter prior to her death and found no evidence for it either. This is why Christine was not charged. It should also be noted that the first coroner (Ribe) who said her daughter died of PCP flip-flopped his testimony 4 months after discovering Christine was HIV+. Let’s also be cognizant of the fact that he was under investigation for submitting possibly flawed and fraudulent reports in another separate and unrelated case.
    http://www.lacitybeat.com/cms/story/detail/?id=3887&IssueNum=157

    2. Christine died at age 52 of pneumonia. Well, Bernie Mac died at age 50 of pneumonia as well.

    PCP pneumonia (which is almost exclusively associated with HIV+ individuals), is also found in HIV-negative persons as well, including those without any apparent immunosuppression: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2622877
    http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/eccmid17/abstract.asp?id=58076

    The point is both HIV+ and HIV- people both die from pneumonia.

    3. Did it ever occur to anyone that Christine had a thyroid condition PRIOR to ever testing HIV-positive, and that people with thyroid conditions may be more susceptible to things like pneumonia? In addition, did anyone take into account that if someone has thyroid-related Graves disease, that they can test positive or indeterminate on HIV tests – and the disease itself can mimic AIDS like conditions?
    http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Doi=67477
    http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/full/131/4/1248
    http://www.managingdesire.org/hivtaccu.pdf

    4. People see Christine’s death as an “I told you so” because she didn’t follow the establishment’s rules. However, it’s BECAUSE she didn’t listen to the establishment that she lived 16 years from her positive diagnosis in 1992. Had she followed the establishment’s AZT regimen, she would have died within a year just like everyone in her support group who was on AZT.

    5. It amazes me that the CDC, NIH, and AIDS establishment consistently ignore the fact that their own research undeniably proves someone can test HIV+ even though they are not infected with HIV.

    There are currently over 60 different conditions that can cause a person to test HIV+ that have nothing to do with HIV, including pregnancy, flu, hemophilia, vaccinations, etc. Those are the conditions we actually KNOW about. How many other conditions exist in which we label someone HIV+ who is not, yet when they die we say it’s because of HIV/AIDS?
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00019855.htm
    http://www.managingdesire.org/hivtaccu.pdf

    There’s more to the story here people. Don’t believe everything you read or hear. I used to believe everything they told us about HIV/AIDS. Not anymore.

    After having a false positive result and going through that traumatic experience, it was Christine’s website and her courage to speak up that gave me hope. Christine led me to question the establishment. Thank God for her, because if it wasn’t for Christine I would probably be taking toxic anti-viral medications even though I’m HIV-negative. Christine made me a much more critical thinker and my life is better because of it.

  10. Photonaut says:

    cb Says:
    January 2, 2009 at 10:38 pm
    Interesting stuff. I have to say, i hadn’t heard of her previously nor of her position.

    —–This is the interesting this indeed: because whatever it is said she died of, Christine Maggiore’s death is further bringing awareness that there is a controversy surrounding “HIV” into the public domain. For the entire history of “Aids” alternative viewpoints have been brutally censored. As awareness increases, & with the free availability of information alongside the disinformation on the internet, the balances will tip. Like the Catholic Church, which once held absolute hegemony over the “hearts, minds & souls of men”, the lies & abuses of the Aids Orthodoxy will eventually undermine it from within, & it will be relegated it to its rightful place as on the junkheap of scientific history.

  11. Timmy A says:

    I think you’ll find it’s ‘ascend’ to heaven, Brian.

  12. Alex says:

    *grabs popcorn, prepares to watch fireworks*

  13. Andrew Maniotis says:

    Dear Aethelreadtheunread and others,

    I’ve known Christine for many years and helped her foundation. What is painfully sad and hurtful is that these discussions on so many blogs are proliferating like rabbits, with a degree of insensitivity that can only be exceeded by ignorance, as demonstrated by “Dr. Kalickman” and others.

    I must, however, congratulate you, Aethelreadtheunread. Your statements and position is far more open-minded than most, and also, far more considered than any promoters of AIDS than I have read in the past week or so.

    Just for the record, I was asked to analyze the Eliza Jane case along with Dr. Al-Biati-a definitive expert both in immune toxicity and AIDS (look at his publications about the thymus for example on Medline), and to resolve this difficult circumstance when Eliza was killed in 36 hours following her first dose of amoxicillin. I had many of the senior pathology staff in my Pathology department (I have since moved to bioengineering after 8 years in Path myself) at UIC, the largest teaching hospital in the Nation, review the evidence. And before I wrote my synopsis of the case, I obtained emergency room records of Eliza Jane’s T-cell count upon admission to the hospital by the paramedics, so issues of sample switching or replacement by those AIDS shills who have the most to lose if the truth ever came to light, wouldn’t be at issue.

    The following is what I wrote, and I don’t see any reason to change these facts now that my dear friend, perhaps one of the most articulate and courageous human beings I have ever known, has been killed I feel, because of the kind of sustained inhuman stress she and her family endured following her daughter’s death, which is something no family ever should have to endure.

    COMMENTARY ON THE DEATH OF ELIZA JANE SCOVILL: IS AN AMOXICILLIN ADVERSE REATION THE 47TH AIDS-DEFINING INDICATOR DISEASE?

    ABSTRACT:
    Eliza Jane Scovill was a 3 1/2 year-old child who died in a hospital emergency room 36 hours after imbibing amoxicillin. She had never been exposed to amoxicillin or any other beta-lactams before. An autopsy was performed and “no cause of death” was found by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office where her case had been referred. Approximately one week after the autopsy, the coroner’s office learned of her parents’ unorthodox views on HIV and AIDS and the testing history of the mother (inconclusive, positive, inconclusive, positive, negative, positive, and positive). Rather than ordering a second analysis, another medical examiner (James K. Ribe-currently under investigation for “fixing” at least several other path reports) not originally assigned to the case, was “brought in to help resolve the case,” and revised autopsy findings were released claiming Eliza Jane died of Pneumocystis pneumonia and “HIV encephalopathy.” Eliza Jane’s symptoms during her crisis period, the similarities of these symptoms to adverse reactions on amoxicillin package inserts, and descriptions of delayed reactions in the medical literature, do not support an “AIDS” diagnosis. The fact that she had 10,800 lymphocytes/µl at the time of her death as measured by the hospital indicates that she had more than the normal numbers of lymphocytes (at least twice normal and 10 times the number expected in an “AIDS” patient according to the WHO), casting unequivocal doubt on any diagnosis of Pneumocystis pneumonia, or any AIDS-indicator disease, or in fact, any disease indisputably associated with immune suppression.

    Below are a few excerpts from this report that I hope can help you understand the magnitude of this Salem witch hunt, and extreme violation of human rights in the case of the Maggiore/Scovill family.

    With profound sadness,

    Andrew

    Andrew Maniotis, Ph.D.
    Visiting Associate Professor of Bioengineering,
    212 SEO, MC 063
    University of Illinois at Chicago,
    Chicago, IL 60607
    Email: amanioti@uic.edu
    Cell: 773-960-9084

    [edited by Aethelread to remove an extremely lengthy (9,333 word) general statement about the death of Eliza Jane Scovill, and the ‘case’ for doubting the association of HIV and AIDS. Andrew Maniotis – if you wish to comment again including a link to the report you attempted to post to my blog, i will be happy to allow this to appear. Equally, you are welcome to comment again, engaging specifically with the points that have been raised in my post, and the remainder of the discussion. Your report has only been deleted because of its excessive length, and because it did not represent a valid attempt to engage with this discussion, but was instead an attempt to overwhelm the discussion with a large amount of largely irrelevant verbiage.]

  14. Zoe says:

    In terms of the lady Christina I neither know nor care what I think, but am dropping by to say ‘hi’ in any case. Back from Buddhist retreat now. A most productive and useful ten days. Met Mr Right. In my dreams.

  15. Alex says:

    OK, I guess I’ll light the blue touch paper. So, apparently there is a grand conspiracy to misinform the public that HIV causes AIDS and AZT helps fight it, all propagated by a brutal, extreme wing of the scientific community. Fine, I’ll go along with that. Apparently, these conspirators also prevent any mention of AIDS-denialism, in a manner akin to the Spanish Inquisition (their chief weapon is surprise. And fear. Surprise, fear, and a fanatical devotion to the scientific method…).
    I’d like to think I’m fairly adept with razors by this point, so I’d quite like to experiment here with Occam’s. From a purely statistical viewpoint, which is more likely – a massive conspiracy amongst immunologists, doctors, virologists and social workers, which has managed (despite its size) to remain undiscovered, and forcefully silences all its opponents, except for the ones who comment on blogs, or instead the possibility that the AIDS-denial movement might be (whisper it) wrong?
    Thing is, the scientific method does not work the way you think it does. Hence why you don’t hear many people supporting Lamarckian evolution, or the Sun revolving around the Earth. If a better-supported theory comes along, it displaces the one before it. If there were to be published a study in the relevant scientific literature, peer-reviewed, that offered concrete evidence and replicable results that demonstrated that there was a cause for AIDS that wasn’t HIV, I doubt you’d find much opposition to it. But there won’t be.
    What you will do instead is complain about all the forces of heaven and earth being arrayed against you, and some people will be idiotic enough to believe it. AIDS-denial preys on people at their most vulnerable, and the fact of the matter is that you have blood on your hands.
    Summer Glau

  16. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the extra comments.

    I’m afraid i’ve been a little lax in my moderating responsibilities (yesterday was a day away from the computer for me), which means that the comments from Richard (6th Jan at 0745) and Andrew Maniotis (6th Jan at 1431) did not appear until approximately 1320 on 7th Jan. For those of you who are reading the comments thread after this time, please bear in mind that comments up to and including the one by Alex at 0537 on Jan 7th were written with no knowledge of what Richard and Andrew Maniotis had said.

    Please also note that I have edited Andrew Maniotis’ comment, as explained in the bold text appearing below his comment.

  17. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Brian Carter – you dont read the things you need to before commenting on them

    I should say that i take offence at this. I don’t generally comment at all on things I haven’t read; when i do so, i always make it clear that I am speaking from a position of ignorance. You are presumably referring to the fact that I haven’t read Chritine Maggiore’s book, but if you pay attention to what i’ve written, you will find that i haven’t said anything at all about what may or may not be contained within it. All my comments have related to information that’s freely available in the public domain, which i have read and (to the best of my ability) understood.

    Elsewhere, you say there is no conspiracy theory, but if there is no conspiracy to ‘silence’ the ‘alternative approach’ to AIDS you advocate, then why do so few scientists and doctors accept it? Could it be because they take a balanced, rational, evidence-based approach, and there simply is no evidence to support your ‘dead and dying, go-no-where crap shoot’?

    that scary little box society has painted, where HIV always equals AIDS, AIDS equals death, poisons can prolong your life and your doctor knows best

    Thanks to the efforts of doctors and scientists, HIV doesn’t always equal AIDS, and AIDS doesn’t always equal death. This is yet another example of you apparently failing to keep up with the scientific case. In the past, when there was no effective treatment, HIV did equal AIDS, and AIDS did equal death. With antiretrovirals, that’s no longer the case, and you won’t find any member of the ‘AIDS mainstream’ saying that it is. What does it say about you, that you’re still arguing with what everyone else was saying 20 years ago, not what they’re saying today?

    In my last reply to you, I ended by saying that, if you wanted to win the argument you needed to provide evidence, not rhetoric. I can’t help but notice that, once again, you’ve done the opposite. This is becoming a habit: in fact, i might almost come to believe that you don’t actually have any evidence.

    Richard – I’m sorry to hear about your experience with a false positive result in an HIV test. It must have been incredibly traumatic for you, and, needless to say, I’m really glad to know that you’re healthy.

    I’m not sure where you live, so obviously i can’t comment on the situation you encountered there, but i can say that, in the UK, you would never have been treated with antiretrovirals on the basis of a single positive result. After your initial positive result, you would have been told about the possibility of a false positive, and that the test would need to be repeated. Tests are always repeated after a period of time, and, moreover, blood samples are tested using more than one test method. You would also have been questioned closely as to your medical history, precisely in order to establish whether you fall into one of the groups of people who might experience a false positive result.

    In the light of this, it’s not clear to me how you can argue that the ‘AIDS establishment’ ignores the fact that HIV tests are unreliable. They don’t (you’ll notice that I, too, acknowledged the falibility of HIV tests in my last comment), and go to great pains to make every possible allowance for false positive results in clinical practice.

    Don’t believe everything you read or hear.

    Thank you, i won’t. I’ll continue to accept as true those things for which there is evidence, and dismiss as untrue those things for which there is no evidence. That means that I accept that HIV causes AIDS, and that treatment with antiretrovirals stops people dying of AIDS. Of course, if the evidence changes, i’ll change my mind – but, once again, there will need to be evidence, not rhetoric.

    Photonaut – your reference to the catholic church is misguided, i’m afraid. What undermined the catholic church’s position on matters of science was the proliferation of evidence that proved them wrong. The church tried to deny the evidence, and came up with all sorts of bizarre and outlandish alternative theories to account for it (e.g., dinosaur fossils were put there by the devil), but ultimately the evidence won out. There’s a very similar situation in operation with regards to HIV/ AIDS, but it’s not the mainstream who are denying the evidence, it’s you. When combination therapy with a mix of antiretroviral drugs became available, people stopped dying of AIDS. The same thing has been demonstrated again, and again, and again, in every corner of the globe, and with people who’s lifestyle experience of stress, pollutants etc couldn’t vary more widely. The evidence is overwhelming, but still you try to ignore it, in favour of your belief that all those scientists are wrong. The parallels with the catholic church are striking.

    Andrew Maniotis – pending the outcome of the court case, it would be wrong of me to comment on the specifics of the autopsies carried out on Maggiore’s daughter. The court will, i’m sure, examine all the evidence, and come to a determination as to whether you are right or wrong.

    Even if it transpires that you are wholly correct, and that the coroner’s verdict was an entire work of fiction, all this would prove is that one little girl did not die of AIDS. It won’t change the fact that, in countries where antiretrovirals are not available, HIV positive people continue to die of AIDS in huge numbers, and in countries where antiretrovirals are available, they don’t. The decline in deaths from AIDS was staggering. It was like someone flicked a switch in 1997, at exactly the same moment that better antiretroviral treatments became available. Why did that happen? If it’s not the antiretrovirals that stopped the deaths, then what did?

    As to your suggestion that Christine Maggiore’s death was caused by stress, i’ll ask you this one question, which, as someone who feels qualified to produce autopsy reports, you’ll doubtless be able to answer: how many cases can you name where a healthy person in their early fifties died of pneumonia as a result of stress, and no other cause? I’ll be honest here, my money’s on you not being able to name one, but i’ll keep an open mind pending your reply.

    Zoe – welcome back!

    Alex – couldn’t have put it better myself. (Not least because i hadn’t even heard of Lamarckian evolution until i went for a quick scout around Wikipedia…) ;o)

  18. Andrew Maniotis says:

    Dear Aethelreadtheunread,

    As I tell many students, sometimes the accurate sequential history of a problem is needed in order to understand a complex subject (e.g. tissue engineering which I teach, or immunology, or pathology).

    Below I have attached a highly abbreviated version of the second chapter of my new book, that shows a brief trunkated chronologic history of the AIDS era. Note the last entry, which advances the hypothesis that “HIV” is an endogenous retroid that perfectly replaces the “HIV=AIDS=Death” catechism, but also be aware that I have included 17 other equally valid hypotheses that haven’t been funded or even published because of the AIDS/Military censorship of the past 25 years regarding this issue. I would be happy to supply the complete studies for any and all of these entries, but to save your blog-space, please specify which ones, or else I’ll send you the entire chapter which is some 100+ pages complete with refs.

    Cheers,

    andy

    [Edited by Aethelread to remove an 89 entry list (running to a total of 3,147 words) of points, none of which (including the ‘last entry’ referred to above) relate in any significant way to any of the central issues raised by any other participant in this discussion. The ‘last entry’ discusses the origination of HIV, and the possible causes of false positive HIV test results, and, like the rest of the list, does not actually address a central issue. The means by which HIV came into existence does not affect one way or the other its relationship to AIDS. Equally, the existence of false positive results is not in question, and the fact that certain circumstances may result in a false positive result is not evidence that all positive results are false.

    Once again: you are welcome to comment again posting a link to the material i have deleted, and i will be happy to allow it to appear. Equally, you are welcome to comment again engaging specifically with the issues currently under discussion. The bulk of your post has been deleted because it does not represent a genuine attempt to engage in discussion, and is instead an attempt to overwhelm the discussion with largely irrelevant and potentially misleading material.]

  19. Andrew Maniotis says:

    Dear Aethelreadtheunread,

    Mine was not an attempt to overwhelm as you say…just to point out a historical series that I believe has everything to do with the imagined link between “HIV’s” molecular signature and the 48-AIDS indicator illnesses. Please forgive that I have an overwhelming amount of data. Perhaps you have an email account whereby I could send you these longer treatments, and you can decide for yourself what you’d like to see posted?

    In response to your last criticism, I’ll keep this as brief as possible. As you appear to be a good editor, let me here just post what was published by The Promoters of AIDS in 2006 in direct response to your question and criticism of not being responsive to the discussion:

    In 2006, a nationwide team of AIDS researchers led by doctors Benigno
    Rodriguez and Michael Lederman of Case Western Reserve University in
    Cleveland disputed the value of viral load tests-a standard used since
    1996 to assess health, predict progression to disease, and grant approval
    to new AIDS drugs after their study of 2,800 HIV positives concluded that
    viral load measures failed in more than 90% of cases to predict or explain
    immune status (1):

    “Viral load is only able to predict progression to disease in 4% to 6% of
    HIV-positives studied, challenging much of the basis for current AIDS
    science and treatment policy.”

    This means that in 94% to 96% of drug-naive subjects, a viral load test is not predictive of when they will exhibit any of the 48 AIDS-defining illnesses. In terms of causality, this is like saying that you see 4-6 birds/year fly into airplane engines and 94 or 96 which don’t, and conclude that flying causes birds to die.

    For those who like to think about “HIV=AIDS” cause and effect in a homophobic rather than only in a racist context, or who like to put the cart before the horse as it were, how do you justify or think about the fact that only a year after Dr. Robert Gallo and Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announced before the world that “HIV” was “the probable cause” of AIDS, they published the following statement in Nature regarding Kaposi’s sarcoma, one of the first two AIDS-indicator diseases?

    “The association of Kaposi’s sarcoma with AIDS deserves special mention. This otherwise extremely rare malignancy occurs predominantly in a restricted group, that is, the homosexuals, and can occur in the absence of any T-cell defect in the patients” (2).

    1. Rodriquez B, Sethi AK, Cheruvu VK, et al. Predictive value of plasma
    HIV RNA level on rate of CD4 T-cell decline in untreated HIV infection.
    JAMA 296(12):1498-506, 2006.

    2. Flosie Wong-Staal & Robert C. Gallo. Nature Vol 317, 3 Oct 1985.

  20. Huckleberry says:

    Dear Unread,

    I see you have taken the position that,

    “pending the outcome of the court case, it would be wrong of me to comment on the specifics of the autopsies carried out on Maggiore’s daughter”.

    However, it does not appear that you have deleted the passages in your blog concerning all the things it would be wrong of you comment on.

    I have also noticed you and your regulars are very eager to teach people about scientific method and burden of proof. In that case I do believe I’m your Huckleberry.

    You seem to have alighted on the correlation between HIV and AIDS as well as the correlation between a new kind of AIDS drugs and drop in AIDS mortality as your main proofs of HIV=AIDS.

    True, in the beginning you also demanded that rethinkers explain what Christine Maggiore and her daughter died of, but then you said that even if they didn’t die of AIDS, that would not be disproof of HIV=AIDS.

    You and your masterful regulars will of course know that there is no point in engaging on ssues which cannot falsify the theory in question. Likewise, you will also know that one cannot prove a negative, so most of what you have been rambling about here is irrelevant to your request for DISproof of HIV=AIDS theory. Yes?

    I trust I am not going to fast for you and your well-informed readers, because now we’ve arrived at the crux. An easy yes or no question to get you started:

    Does correlation offer definitive proof of biological function?

    Personally I would say that argument from correlation correponds to what lawyers would call “circumstantial evidence”. Do you agree that correlation between HIV and AIDS, or correlation between certain kinds of drugs and AIDS/death is circumstantial evidence?

    I guess what I am getting at is, are you and your scientifically very literate readers certain that these correlations are the very best arguments for HIV=AIDS?

    Once you’ve confirmed, we can continue and everybody can stay on point, as you keep requesting. Who knows, once we start benefitting from a bit of structure in this debate, maybe you’ll even begin to see relevance where you didn’t find it earlier, hidden in Dr. Maniotis’ verbiage.

    Remember, in Science all things are possible.

  21. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments. I am going to take the unusual step of replying to each comment separately. There is likely to be a delay between each of my replies, as i will post each comment as i complete it. Please bear with me – i promise to reply to all three of you in due course.

    First up, Andrew Maniotis.

    Congratulations on your new-found brevity. When you manage it, your comments don’t automatically run foul of WordPress’ default spam filter. I apply very few restrictions to what appears in the comments sections of my blog posts. In fact, you’re the only person i’ve ever edited, which says, i would suggest, more about you than it does about me.

    Moving on to specifics:

    The ‘historical series’ you attempted to post included a number of early hypotheses and suggested explanations surrounding HIV/AIDS. It did not contain information showing when, how, and why those suggestions and hypothses were over-turned within the publications of the ‘AIDS mainstream’. The net effect of your posting was, therefore, to create the false impression that AIDS science is bad science, and that the scientific establishment has not engaged in rigorous interrogation of the standard HIV/AIDS model. Both these impressions are extremely misleading, and that is why i took the decision not to allow your propaganda to appear on my blog.

    I describe it as propaganda because in many cases it was designed to appear like a scientifc paper whilst not, in fact, being one. For example, you routinely placed citations after controversial assertions, when the cited papers in fact contained evidence for the contrary viewpoint to the one you were expressing. (Needless to say, you did not include evidence for your dissenting opinion within the main body of your comment either.) This was a strategy designed to confuse and mislead those who were unable or disinclined to look up the papers you referenced, and to encourage them to believe you had evidence on your side when you did not, in fact, have any.

    Please forgive that I have an overwhelming amount of data.

    You do not have an overwhelming amount of data, or at least, if you do, you have not so far attempted to post it to this blog. What you have so far attempted to submit to this blog is an exceptional amount of verbiage, much of it formatted to give the erroneous impression that it is scientifically rigorous when it isn’t, but none of it relevant (except in the most tangential sense) to the discussion taking place. It is, as i have suggested before, an attempt to overwhelm the discussion, not a genuine attempt to engage with it.

    Perhaps you have an email account whereby I could send you these longer treatments, and you can decide for yourself what you’d like to see posted?

    My email address is not hard to find. However, i should warn you that i am unlikely to do you the favour of combing through the enormous welter of information you may submit in order to find the material which is most likely to favour your profoundly misguided viepoint (assuming, of course, that any such material exists in the first place – which i very much doubt).

    As a scientist, you will be aware of the need to marshall and present your evidence in such a way that it’s relevance to your hypotheses and conclusions is readily apparent. You will no doubt be aware of the even greater need to do this when writing for a mainstream audience, as you are doing in this case. I suggest that you undertake this activity for yourself, if you want it done at all.

    Please also be aware that my (now thrice-repeated) offer to allow you to post a link to an alternative location at which you include any and all material you wish to still applies. Those members of my readership who are interested in what you have to say will doubless follow the link, although you may find not many are interested, given the woeful job you have so far made of presenting your case.

    the imagined link between “HIV’s” molecular signature and the 48-AIDS indicator illnesses

    There is no such link, certainly. No-one – as in literally no-one – claims that there is. HIV does not directly cause any symptomatic disease. What infection with HIV does lead to is a syndrome, known as Acquired Immune Defficiency Syndrome (or AIDS for short). It is so named because the characteristic feature of the syndrome is a weakening of the normal immune response, to the extent that any one (or several) of a number of opportunistic infections may take hold. Some of these infections – such as, for example, PCP, which has been mentioned earlier in this discussion – are exceptionally rare amongst the general population, and these are known as AIDS-indicator diseases, since the presence of one of these diseases may indicate the sufferer also has AIDS.

    Please note the use of the word may in that sentence.

    Someone suffering from an AIDS-indicator disease may not have AIDS. Equally, someone suffering from AIDS may not have a single AIDS-indicator disease, and may, in fact, die from any infection whatsoever, including, potentially, an infection that would kill someone with a normal immune response.

    This is an example of the sort of thing you have attempted throughout the material i have deleted previously. You either have a profound lack of understanding of the nature of HIV and AIDS, or alternatively, you do understand those things, and are deliberately presenting a misleading case. If you are guilty of the former, then you are clearly not qualified to comment on any aspect of the scientific case, not even with the status of ‘interested amateur’. Alternatively, if you are deliberately presenting a case you know to be misleading, then i would suggest that this is profoundly unethical behaviour. Given your highlighting of your academic status – is there anyone reading this who doesn’t know that you are (or claim to be – i haven’t personally verified your status) a visiting associate professor at the University of Illinois, albeit in an unrelated field? – it seems to me much more likely that you are disingenuous rather than stupid.

    This is, i think, further demonstrated by your next point. You quote a study examining the link between HIV viral load (viral load is a measure of the amount of virus found within a specific volume of infected blood) and the presence of HIV-indicator disease. I have no reason to believe this was not a reputable study. But allow me to draw your attention to what you say about it:

    This means that in 94% to 96% of drug-naive subjects, a viral load test is not predictive of when they will exhibit any of the 48 AIDS-defining illnesses. In terms of causality, this is like saying that you see 4-6 birds/year fly into airplane engines and 94 or 96 which don’t, and conclude that flying causes birds to die.

    You begin entirely correctly – an HIV viral load is not predictive of when a ‘drug-naive subject’ (i.e. a person not taking antiretrovirals) will develop an AIDS-defining illness. The word i highlighted there – when – is crucial. It means that the amount of HIV present in someone’s blood does not enable a straightforward prediction of when someone will get sick, but is an indication that at some point they will get sick. To borrow your analogy, only 4 – 6 birds may die in a year, but all the birds will die eventually, and so it makes sense for them to take action that will reduce the likelihood of their dying. In the hypothetical example of the birds, that action would be to avoid flying near aeroplanes; amongst people with HIV, the appropriate course of action is to take anti-retrovirals.

    Once again, this is typical of your methods. You quote evidence from the study which actually confirms the ‘untreated HIV = AIDS’ hypothesis, but attempt to ‘spin’ it in such a way that a comparitively minor point (the significance of viral load data in predicting disease timescales) seems to take on a greater significance than it in fact has.

    how do you justify or think about the fact that only a year after Dr. Robert Gallo and Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announced before the world that “HIV” was “the probable cause” of AIDS, they published the following statement in Nature regarding Kaposi’s sarcoma, one of the first two AIDS-indicator diseases?

    “The association of Kaposi’s sarcoma with AIDS deserves special mention. This otherwise extremely rare malignancy occurs predominantly in a restricted group, that is, the homosexuals, and can occur in the absence of any T-cell defect in the patients”

    I ‘justify’ it like this.

    Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) was a relatively rare disease, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s was found to be increasingly common amongst gay men in urban centres in the US. This, of course, coincided with the time that deaths from immune deficiency were also becoming increasingly common amongst this group. Initial data suggested that the link was absolute – i.e., everyone who was found to have AIDS was also found to have KS. It was widely believed that KS was an integral part of AIDS, and there was significant early optimism that investigation of KS would lead to a cure for AIDS.

    It gradually emerged, however, that the link was not absolute, and that while KS was prevalent among gay men with AIDS, it was less prevalent among others with AIDS (IV drug users, heterosexual prostitutes etc). At the same time it was found that some gay men who had KS did not seem to have compromised immune function.

    This emerging data was publically announced, in the 1985 paper you quote from. Please note that your own comment confirms that this finding was reported in Nature, a high profile ‘journal of record’. This is, of course, typical of the way science operates – data that undermines a previous hypothesis is prominently and publically announced. You will note, of course, that this radically contradicts what many AIDS sceptics (including Brian Carter above) say about the way the mainstream scientific community has viciously supressed anything that contradicts widely accepted theories.

    To return to the story of KS, the new data lead to speculation that, rather than forming an inevitable part of AIDS, or simply being an opportunistic infection encountered in the wider environment, KS was in fact a separate sexually transmitted disease. (See, for example, Beral and others, ‘Kaposi’s sarcoma among persons with AIDS: a sexually transmitted infection?’ printed in The Lancet in January 1990. The Lancet is, like Nature, a high-profile journal of record) This hypothesis seemed to account both for why gay men who did not have AIDS had KS, and why straight people who did have AIDS did not have KS: both HIV and KS were present within the gay population, but only HIV within the other high risk populations.

    In due course, and following further dilligent research, it was announced that this speculation had been correct, and that KS was caused by a virus – Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8, also known as Kaposi’s sacrcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). This announcement was made in the form of a paper by Chang and others, ‘Identification of herpesvirus-like DNA sequences in AIDS-associated Kaposi’s Sarcoma’, published in the December 1994 issue of Science. Like the journals in which the previous two papers had been published, Science is also a high profile journal of record.

    To summarise: as a separate infection transmitted in the same way as HIV (i.e. unprotected sexual activity, especially unprotected anal penetration), KS initially appeared central to the diagnosis and treatment of AIDS. This presumption of centrality was later overturned as part of normal scientific process, and it emerged that KS was simply one amongst a number of charcateristic opportunistic infections. As with every other AIDS-indicator disease, the presence of KS does not mean that an individual has AIDS, neither does its absence mean that the person does not have AIDS.

    This fully ‘justifies’ the statement you quote, which was published specifically in order to encourage the research which flowed from it. In other words, the establishment have not been ‘caught out’ in a lie. Instead you have quoted selectively from a particular entry in a series of papers in a way that is intended to mislead the general reader. As with the other tactics you employ, this is highly disingenuous.

    As a final point, you will note that in the course of this comment i have specifically engaged with the issues you raise. I have indicated where i disagree (which is pretty much everywhere), and have presented evidence to justify my opinion. I would be grateful, if you choose to contribute again to this thread, if you would have the courtesy to structure your own contribution in the same way. Quite apart from anything else, submitting endless screeds of ill-argued and poorly referenced material does you no favours. It encourages the speculation (now pretty much a certainty) that you do not present your evidence in a clear and concise way because, if you did, it would be found to be non-existent, or irrelevant, or insufficient to support the claims you base upon it.

  22. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Pole to Polar – I’m glad you find it fascinating. :o)

  23. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Huckleberry.

    Thank you for your comment.

    I do believe I’m your Huckleberry.

    You are, of course, welcome to call yourself whatever you want. I would suggest, however, that it is unlikely we will have a substantial, life-changing and potentially homoerotic relationship. You’re just an anonymous commenter on a blog after all…

    However, it does not appear that you have deleted the passages in your blog concerning all the things it would be wrong of you comment on.

    It is wrong to comment on matters that are sub judice, because doing so could prejudice the outcome of a hearing, and can, in some circumstances, lead to charges of contempt of court. I’m not a lawyer, and have no detailed knowledge of precisely what issues the court case is intended to examine. I am only aware (from the LA Times story i reference above) that it relates in some way to the issue of the disputed autopsy report, and the coroner’s decision that was based upon it. In order to avoid any possibility of prejudicing the hearing, i opted not to comment directly on the specific claims that were made about the autopsy report.

    Except in a legal context such as this, however, i don’t believe that there is any subject under the sun that it would be ‘wrong’ of me to comment on. I believe in freedom of speech, which to my mind means that i have the right to comment on everything (assuming i avoid libel and slander, etc). It seems to me a bit rich that i am being criticised both for being part of an all-powerful hegemony that supresses debate, and at the same time for daring to express an opinion at all. I detect the whiff of double standards here.

    (To answer in advance an accusation i expect may be levelled at me, it is true that i have edited a number of Andrew Maniotis’ comments. I do not consider this to be an abbrogation of his right to free speech because: (a) he is at perfect liberty to create his own blog and say whatever he wants there without any inteference from me; and (b) i have repeatedly offered to allow him to post a link to such a site on my blog. All i have attempted to prevent is him making direct use of my blog to spread material which i consider to be dangerous as well as scientifically dubious.)

    You and your masterful regulars will of course know that there is no point in engaging on ssues which cannot falsify the theory in question.

    This is precisely the point i have been trying to make in my replies to Andrew Maniotis. You make it more succinctly than i have managed. Well done.

    Likewise, you will also know that one cannot prove a negative, so most of what you have been rambling about here is irrelevant to your request for DISproof of HIV=AIDS theory. Yes?

    No. I have not asked for disproof of the HIV=AIDS theory. I have repeatedly asked the question: ‘If HIV does not cause AIDS, why does treatment with drugs designed to inhibit HIV prevent AIDS?’ This is not asking for proof of a negative. It is asking for postitive proof of the alternative mechanism which explains the association between antiretroviral treatment and the reduction in deaths from AIDS. At no point have i insisted that such proof be absolute – any suggested explanation that doesn’t fall apart under the weight of its own internal inconsistencies would be a start.

    If you will permit me to use your own – clearly infallible – logic against you: HIV sceptics repeatedly say ‘HIV doesn’t cause AIDS’. When they advance evidence in support of this assertion (as several of them have done above), are they not attempting to prove a negative? And are they therefore doomed to fail? Have you mentioned this to any HIV sceptics you may know?

    I trust I am not going to fast for you and your well-informed readers

    Not at all. Although your use of the wrong spelling of the word ‘too’ did temporarily throw me off the scent.

    Does correlation offer definitive proof of biological function?

    Unequivocally, no. It’s an axiom of all scientific research, is it not, that ‘Correlation Does Not Equal Causation’.

    Personally I would say that argument from correlation correponds to what lawyers would call “circumstantial evidence”. Do you agree that correlation between HIV and AIDS, or correlation between certain kinds of drugs and AIDS/death is circumstantial evidence?

    No, not really. Circumstantial evidence (and please do bear in mind, O Huckleberry The Infinitely Wise, that i’m no more of a lawyer than i am a scientist – which of those lofty creatures are you, i wonder?) tends to be of the form ‘Several witnesses confirmed that the defendant was absent from his usual workstation at the time the victim, with whom the defendant had been seen arguing earlier, was pushed into the large vat of boiling acid.’ The evidence in support of the hypothesis (and please note i have always accepted that it is a hypothesis rather than a statement of fact) that antiretrovirals, by inhibiting HIV, limit and defer the onset of AIDS, isn’t like that.

    You see, the hypothesis was proved with an experiment. (You know – an experiment. They’re those things scientists do instead of posting snarky and sarcastic comments on blogs.) I guess if it was written up in the way schoolkids write up experiments it would have looked something like this:

    It was suggested that HIV causes AIDS. In order to prove or disprove the hypothesis, compounds that inhibit HIV were developed, and tested (following initial safety tests) on human subjects. There were three possible outcomes to the experiment. Firstly, the use of anti-HIV compounds (also known as antiretrovirals) might have had no effect on deaths from AIDS. Alternatively, the use of antiretrovirals might have increased the number of deaths from AIDS. Finally, the use of antiretrovirals might have decreased the number of deaths from AIDS.

    If the first outcome were observed, this would mean that the hypothesis had been disproved. If the second outcome were observed, this would mean that the hypothesis had been disproved, and would also function as evidence for an alternative hypothesis – one sometimes suggested by HIV sceptics – that it is antiretrovirals themselves that cause AIDS. Finally, if the third outcome were observed, this would mean that that the hypothesis had been proved.

    Well, the experiment was carried out, and the data came back. And do you know what the data showed? Can you guess? Yes, that’s right, it showed that use of antiretrovirals reduced the number of deaths from AIDS, and that consequently the hypothesis was proved.

    Of course, a proven hypothesis is still, first and foremost, a hypothesis. There may be other factors that the experiment did not take into account. Perhaps, for example, the reduction in deaths was completely unrelated to the experiment – although in this case the control group in the experiment who were not treated with antiretrovirals would have demonstrated the same improvement, and they didn’t. Equally, the beneficial action of antiretrovirals might have nothing to do with their anti-HIV properties (this is a possibility i acknowledged away back in my original post). In this case, while the hypothesis (untreated HIV=AIDS) would be false, the action based upon it (prescribing antiretrovirals to people who are HIV positive) would still be the right one. I mean by that, of the two options – giving antiretrovirals, not giving antiretrovirals – giving them would be the one most likely to preserve life. And i’m sure that’s the outcome we all want. Isn’t it?

    are you and your scientifically very literate readers certain that these correlations are the very best arguments for HIV=AIDS?

    I notice from your choice of words – ‘the very best arguments’ (my emphasis) – that you have implicitly acknowledged that the correlations do, in fact, represent an argument in favour of the hypothesis that untreated HIV = AIDS. Isn’t it gratifying that we’re ‘on the same page’, so to speak.

    To answer your question (on behalf of myself – i can’t speak for my readers, how ever scientifically literate they are):

    No, a statistical correlation is emphatically not the very best evidence for anything. I would suggest that, in this case, the ‘very best’ evidence would be direct proof of the precise mechanism by which HIV causes AIDS. (The lack of such evidence is something else i have previously acknowledged – i seem to have a strange habit of owning up to the limitations of the data i present, don’t i? It’s worth noting the sceptics who’ve commented so far don’t show any signs of such a habit, but it’s still me you’ve decided to lambast for my, as you see it, ‘overconfidence’. Strange, that.)

    But, at the moment, a statistical correlation is all we have. It’s actually not unheard of for medical interventions to be based on less than absolute proof. For example, for a very long time no-one had any idea why general anaesthetics prevented the experiencing of pain (as opposed to inducing unconsciousness – the two things are different – but, of course, Huckleberry-the-ever-wise, you already knew that). As i understand it (though, unlike you, i do not claim encyclopeadic knowledge, so i may of course be wrong), there are now some working hypotheses, but still nothing approaching concrete or absolute proof.

    Now, doctors, as opposed to random internet commenters, decided that, even without absolute proof, it was worthwhile pressing ahead with anaesthetics because the clear evidence – you know, the lack of screaming, and so on – of the statistical correlation between the use of anaesthetics and lack of pain meant that it would be unethical to wait for absolute proof. This is somewhat simillar to the situation with HIV/AIDS and antiretrovirals (actually, the evidence for antiretrovirals is, if anything, slightly stronger than the evidence for anaesthetics, but never mind).

    So, here’s the thing. You have a medical intervention that’s been proven to work. It has been proven to work in many, many individual case studies. It’s also been proven to work at the level of statistical analysis of whole populations. There is, however, no absolute proof to explain precisely why or how it works. So do you withold the intervention until you have absolute proof? Or do you press ahead on the basis of the statistical correlation?

    The overwhelming majority of the medical profession will always go for the second of the two options. In the case of HIV/AIDS it seems that you would plump for the first. So would you also do that in the case of anaesthetics – in other words, if you required surgery would you opt for drinking a bottle of whisky and having a leather strap to chew on, or would you ask for an anaesthetic? And if your answer is to go for the anaesthetic, on what basis – scientific or logical – do you justify coming to a different conclusion than you do with respect to HIV/AIDS and antiretrovirals?

    Finally, as well as turning your attention to the questions i’ve raised, please do be sure to point out to me precisely where in this comment (or, for that matter, my earlier reply to Andrew Maniotis) i’ve misunderstood or misinterpreted science. It will be a positive pleasure to be corrected by one so eminent as yourself…

  24. Andrew Maniotis says:

    Dear Aethelreadtheunread,

    A few observations about your lengthy long-winded, and highly erroneous explanation of Kaposi’s and other statements could be made (that was described in a famous book by Robert Gallo -Virus Hunters after he came to our lab to finally find that “HIV” and Kaposi’s didn’t have anything to do with each other a few years before), but again, I’m not trying to overwhelm you as I believe the information itself does so transparently enough the more you write.

    Let me simply ask you, regarding your reasons for starting this “blog:”

    Do you believe AIDS to be a disease of too many or too few T-cells? I’m not talking here about CD4 cells and CD8 cells, but all T-cells and anergy, if you know what that is.

    Remember now:

    ,” It should be emphasized that the accuracy of total lymphocyte counts in predicting death due to “AIDS-associated indicator diseases” is considered equal or even superior to measuring the CD4/CD8 ratio as predictive of AIDS-related death in children, if not more so. In a recent study of 3917 children, it was reported that (1):

    “For children older than 2 years, the 12-month risk of death and AIDS increased sharply at values less than 1500-2000 cells per microliter, with little trend at higher values.” (Eliza Jane’s count at the time of her death was 10,800 cells/microliter).

    “Mortality risk was substantially higher at thresholds of total lymphocyte count recommended by WHO than at corresponding thresholds of CD4-cell percentage. When the markers were compared at the threshold values at which mortality risks were about equal, total lymphocyte count was as effective as CD4-cell percentage for identifying children before death…”

    To continue to malign Christine, Eliza Jane, and their family for having too many T-cells is the worst kind of gross violation of human rights that can possibly be perpetrated in this world. But I suppose like all junk science, if you want to say somebody died of 10,800 T-cells as measured by the hospital admission folks is an AIDS death, and that Kaposi’s is the first two AIDS defining illness in persons with normal T-cell counts, then people can also be back at Salem, and be infected with “Spirits” as well.

    RE: You said:
    “Initial data suggested that the link was absolute – i.e., everyone who was found to have AIDS was also found to have KS. It was widely believed that KS was an integral part of AIDS, and there was significant early optimism that investigation of KS would lead to a cure for AIDS.”

    You really should get ahold of a book on the history of AIDS and quit propagating these distortions of fact. I’m sure you’ll edit all of this to make me “responsive” but your memory is either faulty, or you are deliberately trying to lie. The reason I say this is because of 3 inconvenient pieces of history:

    History Piece 1.
    1. CYTOMEGALOVIRUS (A HERPESVIRUS) FOUND IN 100%.

    “Although the 5 patients didn’t know or ever have contact with one another, Gottlieb et al. concluded:

    …all of the above observations suggest the possibility of a cellular-immune dysfunction related to a common exposure that predisposes individuals to opportunistic infections, such as pneumocystosis and candidiasis. Although the role of CMV infection in the pathogenesis of pneumocystosis remains unknown, the possibility of P. carinii infection must be carefully considered in a differential diagnosis for previously healthy homosexual males with dyspnea and pneumonia.”

    “In December of that same year, another study published by Dr. Gottlieb and his collaborators concluded that CMV was important in the pathogenesis of the syndrome they had described:

    Four previously healthy homosexual men contracted Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, extensive mucosal candidiasis, and multiple viral infections. In three of the patients these infections followed prolonged fevers of unknown origin. In all four cytomegalovirus was recovered from secretions. Kaposi’s sarcoma developed in one patient eight months after he presented with esophageal candidiasis. All patients were anergic and lymphopenic; they had no lymphocyte proliferative responses to soluble antigens, and their responses to phytohemagglutinin were markedly reduced. Monoclonal-antibody analysis of peripheral-blood T-cell subpopulations revealed virtual elimination of the Leu-3 / helper/inducer subset, an increased percentage of the Leu-2 + suppressor/cytoxic subset, and an increased percentage of cells bearing the thymocyte-associated antigen T10. The inversion of the T helper to suppressor/cytotoxic ratio suggested that cytomegalovirus infection was an important factor in the pathogenesis of the immunodeficient state. A high level of exposure of male homosexuals to cytomegalovirus-infected secretions may account for the occurrence of this immune deficiency [Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and mucosal candidiasis in previously healthy homosexual men: evidence of a new acquired cellular immunodeficiency. MS Gottlieb, R Schroff, HM Schanker, JD Weisman, PT Fan, RA Wolf, and A Saxon NEJM Volume 305:1425-1431, December 10, Number 24, 1981].”

    Michael Gottlieb recounted his 1981 New England Journal of Medicine discoveries in a July 26, 1993 issue of Current Contents:

    “Because cytomegalovirus (CMV) was cultured from multiple sites, I proposed that it might be causal. This proved to be an error. CMV had been reactivated because of immune deficiency. However, I also suggested that a previously unrecognized toxin, microbe, or virus might be the culprit. ”

    “The release of my MMWR article set off an explosion of interest. People began reporting cases of AIDS from New York, San Francisco, and many other cities. Publication of the NEJM report on December 10, 1981, changed my life, it was one of the most heavily quoted publications in the medical literature during the first several years of the epidemic. ”

    “Since I described those early cases, I have been continuously involved with clinical research on AIDS and with the care of people in various stages of HIV infection. I authored 50 papers, mostly on clinical aspects of HIV disease, including several other first reports of phenomena associated with AIDS.2.3 I became active in AIDS causes and was willing to speak candidly with reporters at a time when there were few “experts” on the disease. Despite my record of productivity in clinical research and community service, in 1987 I was denied tenure at UCLA.”

    Gottlieb’s early observations were rapidly confirmed by observations of other clinicians, who also reported patients that presented with anergy and shortage of lymphocytes (anergic is an inability to produce an immune response to immune stimulants). For example, in December of 1981:

    “All patients were anergic and lymphopenic; they had no lymphocyte proliferative responses to soluble antigens, and their responses to phytohemagglutinin were markedly reduced.”

    Other clinicians reported in the NEMJ a similar puzzling cohort whose humoral immunity was “intact,” but believed that cellular immunity was compromised:

    Eleven cases of community-acquired Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia occurred between 1979 and 1981 and prompted clinical and immunologic evaluation of the patients. Young men who were drug abusers (seven patients), homosexuals (six), or both (two) presented with pneumonia. Immunologic testing revealed that absolute lymphocyte counts, T-cell counts, and lymphocyte proliferation were depressed, and that humoral immunity was intact. Of the 11 patients, one was found to have Kaposi’s sarcoma, and another had angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy. Eight patients died. In the remaining three, no diagnosis of an immunosuppressive disease was established, despite persistence of immune defects. These cases of pneumocystosis suggest the importance of cell-mediated immune function in the defense against P. carinii. The occurrence of this infection among drug abusers and homosexuals indicates that these groups may be at high risk for this infection [H Masur et al. An outbreak of community-acquired Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia: initial manifestation of cellular immune dysfunction, NEMJ Volume 305:1431-1438, December 10, Number 24, 1981].

    History Piece 2.
    SYPHILIS AND AIDS: COULTER’S HIDDEN LINK, AND LUC MONTAGNIER’S “PATIENT ONE” HAD MANY DISEASES, BUT NOT AIDS:

    The Pasteur Institute’s Patient One didn’t have AIDS. Patient One had sought medical consultation for swollen lymph nodes, muscle weakness without fever or weight loss, and for at least two episodes of gonorrhea, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes viruses I and II.

    The year before, he was treated for syphilis, which for decades, has been known as “the great imitator:”

    “The patient will complain of rashes, fever, itching, sore throat, headache, malaise, vertigo, sweating, insomnia, nausea, prostration, weight loss, loss of hair, or aching in the bones and joints. Some have hypertension, kidney disease, swollen liver, or swollen spleen; others have a subacute meningitis with cranial nerve involvement. This stage of syphilis is often confused with such conditions as infectious mononucleosis, iritis, neuroretinitis, lichen planus, cancer, nephritis, dementia, lymphomas, psoriasis and other skin eruptions, and even drug reaction. For this reason secondary syphilis is called the great imitator [2].

    The Treponema pallidum acts specifically against the thymus gland. The thymus dependent parts of the lymphatic system deteriorate, and there is consequent decrease in the numbers of T-lymphocytes. The T-helper cells are particularly affected by this: there is a decline in their number and the ratio with the T-suppressor cells is reversed. Consequently, a long-term effect of syphilis is loss of, or decline in, the system of immunity, and lowering of the individuals capacity to defend himself against other infectious conditions [2].

    Although syphilis and AIDS have almost completely overlapping symptoms, AIDS was considered a distinct disease entity regardless of the fact that in both syphilis and AIDS:

    “The T-helper cells are particularly affected by this: there is a decline in their number and the ratio with the T-suppressor cells is reversed [2], and

    …the various manifestations of AIDS were unified by a biologic marker: a decrease in the levels of a specific subgroup of T cells that harbored the CD4 surface antigen [2].”

    The Pasteur Institute’s Patient One had also tested positive for antibodies to three different viruses: cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus, and Herpes [3]. Because of these symptoms, “Patient One” was diagnosed with pre-AIDS or ARC, and not what would be described later as full-blown AIDS. The 1983 Barre-Sinoussi et al. paper describing the characterization of “Patient One’s” sera included biochemical data, in vitro culturing data using stimulated primary lymphocytes exposed to Patient One’s serum, electron microscopy of cultures exhibiting the molecular marker(s) of “HIV,” and serology derived from “Patient One.” The characterization of the sera from this ARC patient (AIDS-related complex) was principally carried out using PHA and IL-2-stimulated primary lymphocyte cultures to which fresh, “uninfected” lymphocytes were serially added. This strategy was employed in order to propagate the production of a possible lymphocyte-tropic virus that may be present. What wasn’t know at the time is that the source of donated lymphocytes also had virus-like particles.

    History piece 3:
    GALLO’S “36% CAUSALITY:” “HIV” CAUSES AIDS!

    An articulate analysis of these and other criticisms have been recently presented in retrospect by The New AIDS Review (http://www.newaidsreview.org/blog/index.phphas), especially the data presented in Gallo May 4th Science paper (Science May 4 2004, Frequent detection and isolation of cytopathic retrovirsuses (HTLV-III) from patients with AIDS and at risk for AIDS…”) about which the Gonda letter preceded:

    Gallo didn’t find HIV in 48 out of samples from 48 AIDS patients, as he keeps implying. He found whatever he took as the signature or signal for it in 26 out of 72 samples of AIDS patients, which is rather different 36%. The rest of the 48 came from pre-AIDS patients (who may have had nothing but a cold) and three mothers (who were perfectly well) and 1 clinically well gay man out of 22 (who later developed AIDS). 119 in total from which 48 scored positive.

    Robert Gallo’s claim that HIV is the cause of AIDS was first put forward on the basis of four papers he published in Science; May 4 1984 issue. (Popovic M, Sarngadharan MG, Read E, et al. Detection, Isolation, and Continuous Production of Cytopathic Retroviruses (HTLV-III) from Patients with AIDS and Pre-AIDS. Science 1984;224:497-500.; Gallo RC, Salahuddin SZ, Popovic M, et al. Frequent Detection and Isolation of Cytopathic Retroviruses (HTLV-III) from Patients with AIDS and at Risk for AIDS. Science 1984;224:500-502; Schupbach J, Popovic M, Gilden RV, et al. Serological analysis of a Subgroup of Human T-Lymphotrophic Retroviruses (HTLV-III) Associated with AIDS. Science 1984;224:503-505; Sarngadharan MG, Popovic M,Bruch L, et al. Antibodies Reactive to Human T-Lymphotrophic Retroviruses (HTLV-III) in the Serum of Patients with AIDS. Science 1984:224:506-508).

    A press conference at the time, arranged and conducted by Margaret Heckler, then Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Reagan administration, claimed that his work in the soon-to-be-published papers had shown that HIV was the “probable” cause of AIDS.

    The New York Times (EIS-Epidemiology Intelligence Service trainee) Lawrence K. Altman) reported the news of the claim but his article contained six or seven caveats to the effect that the claim might not bear out.

    When the papers were published for all to see, it turned out to be insufficient to demonstrate the claim. Gallo had found the virus in too few of the AIDS patients with actual AIDS symptoms – only 26 out of 72, or 36% – to substantiate his claim. He was unable to demonstrate the presence of the virus in two thirds – 64 per cent – of the AIDS patients sampled.

    Here are the figures as shown in Table 1 of the paper “Frequent Detection and Isolation of Cytopathic Retroviruses (HTLV-III) from Patients with AIDS and Risk for AIDS”, Robert C. Gallo, Syed Z. Salahuddin, Mikulas Popovic, et al, Science, May 4, 1984: 224:500-502:

    Group Diagnosed: Number positive for HTLV-III/Number tested/Percent positive

    Pre-AIDS: 18/ 21 85.7%
    Clinically normal mothers of juvenile AIDS patients: 3/47 5.0%
    Juvenile AIDS: 3/ 8 37.5%
    Adult AIDS with Kaposi’s sarcoma: 13/ 43 30.2%
    Adult AIDS with opportunistic infections: 10/ 21 47.6%
    Clinically normal homosexual donors: 1/ 22 4.5%
    Clinically normal heterosexual donors: 0/115 0%

    Or as noted in the article:

    As summarized in Table 1, we found HTLV-III in 18 of 21 samples from patients with pre-AIDS, from three of four clinically normal mothers of juvenile AIDS patients, 13 of 43 adult AIDS patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma, and 10 of 21 adult AIDS patients with opportunistic infections.

    This result partly veiled the stark failure of the sampling to identify persuasively HIV as a cause of AIDS. For the sum total of AIDS patients with symptoms of AIDS – the groups in bold in the table above – was that in ONLY 26 (3 +13 +10) out of 72 (8 + 43 + 21) cases was the Gallo lab able to show HTLV-III virus detected and isolated.

    26 of 72, or 36%, was insufficient to demonstrate that HIV was the plausible cause of the AIDS symptoms or their underlying immune deficiency. If anything, the testing demonstrated that HTL-III was certainly not a plausible cause of AIDS.

    References

    1. HIV Paediatric Prognostic Markers Collaborative Study. Use of total lymphocyte count for informing when to start antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected children: a meta-analysis of longitudinal data. Lancet. Nov 26;366(9500):1868-74, 2005.

    2. Coulter HL. AIDS and Syphilis-The Hidden Link, North Atlantic Books,
    Berkeley, CA, pps. 20, 21,1987.

    3. Barre-Sinoussi, F,J.C. Chermann J.C., Rey F., Nugeyre MT., Chamaret, S., Gruest J., Dauguet C., Axler-Blin C., Vezinet-Brn F., Rouzioux, C., Rozenbaum R., & Montagnier L. Isolation of a T-lymphotropic retrovirus from a patient at risk for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Science 230: 868-871, 1983.

  25. Huckleberry says:

    Dear Unread,

    I must admit (see I can own up as well!) that I haven’t read through your voluminous answer close enough to see if you you have written “too” with one o somewhere, but close enough to note that youagree,

    1. Correlation is the second-rate evidence.

    2. The best kind of evidence is missing in this case.

    Therefore you do wish to present second-rate evidence as your best evidence.

    I am so glad we got that out of the way. Unfortunately you still labour under misconceptions reagarding the burden proof and the concept of disproof. To disprove something, one most definitely does not have to prove something else. This is what you are asking here:

    “I have not asked for disproof of the HIV=AIDS theory. I have repeatedly asked the question: ‘If HIV does not cause AIDS, why does treatment with drugs designed to inhibit HIV prevent AIDS?’ This is not asking for proof of a negative. It is asking for positive proof of the alternative mechanism” (Unread)

    Positive proof of an alternative would be nice to have, but an accused murderer can easily go free without a substitute being found. You know very well that I or Dr. Maniotis are not in charge of the NIH, so we have not been able to design and carry out dozens of studies to present positive evidence of what the various AIDS drugs do an don’t do to the lucky guinea pigs. But at least you have defined the question upon which everything hinges for you, so let’s go.

    First of all, I don’t know that drugs designed to inhibit HIV prevents AIDS, are you sure you do?

    Secondly, “AIDS” is defined as HIV + an indicator disease, typically an opportunistic infection. . . except when it is defined as HIV + CD4 count < 200 in otherwise healthy individuals. . . except when AIDS is diagnosed as a clinical syndrome in resource poor settings. . . except when the cause of death was not AIDS strictly speaking, but “AIDS-related”, which could be anything from heart attack to ingrown toe nails.

    Moving on to the HIV test, sometimes one test algorithm is used sometimes another. . . sometimes there are various confirmatory tests, sometimes there is only one, sometimes none. . . sometimes one band on the Western blot is enough, sometimes two or three are needed etc.

    Sometimes one demographic with certain characteristics and certain indicator diseases is studied, sometimes another. Sometimes demographics are changing simply because of the varying criteria for an AIDS diagnosis or an HIV positive tests result.

    All of this and more we are required to take into consideration once you start supplying a little hard evidence for all your free-wheeling claims up there. This is because you and your regulars are now going to teach the denialists what real solid science is.

    But returning to an alternative mechanism of action for the drugs, why would I need an alternative mechanism? AIDS is on one definition HIV + opportunistic disease. Maybe the AIDS drugs work well against some of the opportunistic diseases. Do I really need HIV as well? What would Occam say?

    Or maybe the battery of supplementary/complementary drugs have improved over the last 25 years. Remember when you begin citing trials to make sure other therapies have been controlled for.

    which explains the association between antiretroviral treatment and the reduction in deaths from AIDS. At no point have i insisted that such proof be absolute – any suggested explanation that doesn’t fall apart under the weight of its own internal inconsistencies would be a start.

    If you will permit me to use your own – clearly infallible – logic against you: HIV sceptics repeatedly say ‘HIV doesn’t cause AIDS’. When they advance evidence in support of this assertion (as several of them have done above), are they not attempting to prove a negative? And are they therefore doomed to fail? Have you mentioned this to any HIV sceptics you may know?

  26. Huckleberry says:

    Sorry, the last two paragraphs seem to be quotes from Unreead that have sneaked in. I copied some of his post so I didn’t have to scroll back up to to check as I was answering. Apparently I didn’t manage to delete all of it again. I would not consider it censorship if those paragraphs were deleted, as well as this Comment.

    BTW, Unread, don’t knock anonymous erotic relationships. Have you never been to the park?

  27. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Response to Andrew Maniotis:

    And here we go again.

    Engaging in a debate means paying attention to what the other party (or parties) say, and pointing out where and why you believe them to be wrong. Most debaters find that they are most able to persuade others of the validity of their case when they advance evidence in support of their point of view.

    Please note the words i’ve emphasised in that last sentence. Not any old evidence you can find, from any point in history, that makes some passing reference to some of the terms under discussion, but evidence which directly supports your point of view

    You have (in your, you will notice, completely unedited comment) stated that my account of the discovery of the exact relationship between KS, HIV and AIDS is wrong, but advanced no evidence whatsoever in support of your statement. If i’m wrong, then prove me wrong – if i’m as transparently wrong as you claim then it should be simplicity itself to demonstrate it. If you can’t prove me wrong, admit it. Claiming, as you have done, that you could prove me wrong if you wanted to, but, actually, you’re not going to bother, is an incredibly immature tactic, and, frankly, i don’t believe you when you say it. I think you would like nothing better than to rub my nose in evidence that proved me wrong, and the only reason you haven’t is because you can’t.

    The other thing you have done (and this is, as i’ve demonstrated before, a characteristic technique of yours) is attempt to shift the debate, and to copy and paste large amounts of material which either don’t relate at all to anything anyone has claimed at any point in this discussion, or alternatively relate only tangentially. Are you aware how badly this is damaging your case? What most people will do is take note of the that you have not effectively answered any point made against you. As the number of such points increases and increases, they will gradually reach the conclusion that you are not able to answer those points either because you are a poor advocate for your cause, or because the cause itself is unable to answer them.

    In that light, and so that you can hopefully begin to understand why so few people take you seriously, i provide the following list of points i raised in my last comment which you have not answered:

    1 – that you have attempted to create a deliberately false and misleading impression that the scientific establishment has not engaged in rigorous examination of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis, when it in fact has;

    2 – that much of the ‘data’ you submit is in fact propaganda, in the sense that it is formatted to appear scientifically rigorous, and hence to imply that the claims you make are evidence-based, when it is not, and hence they are not;

    3 – that you do not have any actual, real data in support of any of your claims;

    4 – that you are unable, or unwilling, to present your ‘evidence’ in a clear way that would enable people to assess its validity, and relevance to your hypotheses and conclusions;

    5 – that you are, furthermore, unwilling to provide a link to all your ‘data’;

    6 – that you have disingenuosly characterised your opponents as claiming a direct link between the molecular structure of HIV and various ‘AIDS-indicator’ diseases, even though they make no such claim;

    7 – that infection with HIV leads to AIDS;

    8 – that the presence or absence of an AIDS-indicator disease neither confirms nor denies that a person has AIDS, and that the special status you impute to the absence of these diseases is therefore wrong;

    9 – that a study you chose to quote from demonstrates a link between HIV viral load and AIDS, and only the timescales involved are in question;

    10 – that you therefore deliberately misrepresented a study you had directly quoted from;

    11 – that the ‘AIDS establishment’ made a full and frank disclosure of evidence that undermined the previous presumption that KS formed an intergral part of AIDS;

    12 – that this full disclosure radically contradicts the deliberately false case made by many HIV sceptics that all dissenting opinions and contradictory evidence are viciously supressed.

    Should I assume that you have conceded that all of these points are true? If so, then this debate is over – you have already conceded that HIV causes AIDS (see point 7). Alternatively, if i should not assume you have conceded, then it’s very simple – produce the evidence that contradicts these points.

    To state it more directly: either put up, or shut up.

    Now, moving on – briefly – to what you say in your most recent comment.

    Do you believe AIDS to be a disease of too many or too few T-cells?

    I don’t consider AIDS to be a disease at all. I consider it to be (and here, please note, i am quoting from my previous reply to you) ‘ a syndrome […] the characteristic feature of the syndrome is a weakening of the normal immune response, to the extent that any one (or several) of a number of opportunistic infections may take hold.’

    Is that clear this time round? I do hope so.

    To continue to malign Christine, Eliza Jane, and their family for having too many T-cells is the worst kind of gross violation of human rights that can possibly be perpetrated in this world.

    Who, exactly, is maligning them in this way? Certainly I am not.

    As to your claim that it’s ‘the worst kind of gross violation of human rights’ – really? I mean, you seriously believe that? You think that the systematic starvation, rape, torture, and murder of whole populations is a picnic in the woods compared to some questions (apparently) being raised about the composition of someone’s blood?

    Well, all i can say is you have a seriously warped world view.

    then people can also be back at Salem, and be infected with “Spirits” as well.

    Now you’re just getting hysterical. Are you really this incapable of reasoned debate? What kind of a scientist are you?

    Re your History piece 1:

    the study you are quoting dates from 1981. In the early years of the AIDS ‘epidemic’, a number of possible candidates for the causative factor of AIDS were put forward: the virus mentioned was one such candidate. It has since been discredited (which is why you had to go back 28 years to find a paper that mentions it).

    Please also note that the paper hypothesises: that immune deficiency is acquired; that there is a viral cause of the immune deficiency. You will note all of this is consistent with HIV being the cause of AIDS, especially when the virus mentioned is understood as an opportunistic infection, facillitated by the reduced immune function that characterises AIDS.

    In other words, this is yet another example of a piece of ‘evidence’ you’ve presented that doesn’t actually support your case.

    History Piece 2:

    So the hypothesised ‘Patient One’ may not have had AIDS? Big deal. As far as i was concerned, it always did seem improbable that material from the first patient would be found to be conveniently sitting in a tissue bank. But do bear in mind that, even if this individual was not ‘Patient One’, that doesn’t mean that no-one was ‘Patient One’.

    In other words, this is yet another example of a piece of ‘evidence’ you’ve presented that is largely irrelevant to your case (except insofaras it contradicts it).

    History Piece 3:

    So HIV tests are somewhat unreliable, and both false positive and false negative results sometimes occur? This is not in question, and has been dealt with earlier in this discussion. To re-iterate: evidence that some HIV test results are false does not constitute evidence that all HIV test results are false.

    In other words, this is yet another example of a piece of ‘evidence’ you’ve presented that is irrelevant to your case.

    Do, please, feel free to comment again – but please be aware that i shall include an updated list of the points you have failed to answer in each of my subsequent replies. I would suggest this will fairly rapidly make it difficult for you to claim that you have overwhelming evidence on your side. (Unless, of course, you provide relevant data, and so actually answer any one (or all of) the points. I won’t be holding my breath.)

  28. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Reply to Huckleberry:

    First of all, an apology. It was childish of me to highlight a simple typographical error you had made. My own comments and posts are full of simillar (and worse) errors, and it was very kind of you not to descend to my level and point them out. I am afraid i allowed my annoyance at your sarcastic and ‘superior’ tone to get the better of me. I shall do my best not to indulge in a repeat performance; perhaps, in return, you could ditch the patronising and supercillious approach?

    Secondly, i’m going to apply the same standards to you that i am doing with Andrew Maniotis. Therefore, this is a list of the points i made in my last reply to you that you have not challenged, and therefore presumably concede to be true:

    1 – that you accept that i have not asked for proof of a negative;

    2 – that you therefore accept that i have only asked HIV sceptics to produce that which it is reasonable to ask them to produce;

    3 – that, not only are you unable to produce any evidence in support of the sceptic case, but you are unable even to suggest an ‘explanation that doesn’t fall apart under the weight of its own internal inconsistencies’;

    4 – that your description of a hypothesis tested in accordance with standard scientific principles as ‘circumstantial evidence’ was misleading;

    5 – that you accept that the hypothesis ‘HIV causes AIDS’ has been proven by the ability of antiretrovirals to limit and delay the onset of AIDS (within the limitations of the experiment as set out in my last comment addressed to you);

    6 – that, even if HIV does not cause AIDS, the use of antiretroviral drugs is justified by the evidence, from individual case studies and wider statistical analysis, that use of antiretrovirals is associated with a dramatic decrease in the numbers of deaths from AIDS;

    7 – that you concede that the analogy between the use of general anaesthetics to prevent the experiencing of pain, and the use of antiretrovirals to limit and delay the onset of AIDS, is a fair and valid one;

    8 – that you are unable to conceive of any grounds – logical or scientific – on which you would advise someome undergoing an operation not to use an anaesthetic, or someone who is HIV positive not to use antiretrovirals.

    It pleases me that we’re so much in agreement. Of course, if you don’t agree, then it’s very simple – produce the evidence that undermines the points i have made.

    Moving on to what you say in your most recent comment.

    Therefore you do wish to present second-rate evidence as your best evidence.

    Ah, i see you are going to be one of those debators (like Andrew Maniotis) who attempts to score points by misrepresenting what their opponents have said. What i actually wrote was this: ‘But, at the moment, a statistical correlation is all we have.’

    You will notice the two statements are not the same. My statement implies an acknowledgement that the current state of knowledge is less than ideal, but that, in the context of a medical intervention intended (and proven) to save lives, it would be inappropriate to wait for absolute proof. Your statement implies that i have dismissed the nature of the evidence altogether, and am acting in the (unjustified, and unjustifiable) belief that we already have the ‘best evidence’.

    I trust my position is now clear, and you will not further attempt to misrepresent me on the matter.

    Unfortunately you still labour under misconceptions reagarding the burden proof and the concept of disproof. To disprove something, one most definitely does not have to prove something else.

    Oh dear. You’ve failed to detect irony. Given your obvious familliarity with sarcasm, i had presumed you would be able to recognise it. My apologies.

    In your original comment, you alleged that i was asking for proof of a negative. I demonstrated that i was not. In an attempt to demonstrate the suspect nature of the ‘logic’ you had employed, i turned the argument back on you, and made the opposite case. I was aware at the time i did so that the case was not valid, and thought i had signalled my ironic intent by placing in parenthesis the statement that your logic was ‘clearly infallible’, and by ending with a series of questions that i had hoped would be obviously facetious (‘Have you mentioned this to any HIV sceptics you may know?’ etc).

    Given the remorseless and exhaustive way in which you have demolished the basis of your own assertion that i was asking for proof of a negative, i guess it’s safe for me to assume that you will not be coming back with a defence for the first and second entries in my list of uncontested points above.

    You know very well that I or Dr. Maniotis are not in charge of the NIH, so we have not been able to design and carry out dozens of studies to present positive evidence of what the various AIDS drugs do an don’t do to the lucky guinea pigs.

    You have provided me with absolutely no biographical information about yourself. I have literally no idea who you are – for all i know you could be in charge of the NIH (whoever they are…).

    In any case, this is precisely why i have not insisted on you producing absolute proof. I have instead said that ‘any suggested explanation that doesn’t fall apart under the weight of it’s own internal inconsistencies would be a start’ (the quote comes from my earlier response to you). I have also based the largest part of my discussion with you on the clear statistical correlation between the use of antiretroviral drugs and the reduction in deaths from AIDS. You do not need access to research budgets or large university departments to produce a ‘suggested explanation’ as to why the correlation is false, just the ability to analyse the data.

    Let me add – if you or any other sceptic actually was able to raise any legitimate, fundamental, questions, you would not have significant difficulty in obtaining research funding to investigate those questions. This is what science lives and breathes after all – the continuous evaluation and re-evaluation of hypotheses in the light of new or emerging theories or data. No 20th century scientific figure was regarded with greater awe and reverence than Einstein, but his repeated and emphatic denials of Qunatum Theory (‘God does not play dice!’, and all that) couldn’t stop the new theory from emerging and, in part, displacing his own. The inability of HIV sceptics to achieve the same is evidence of the demonstrable weaknesses and inconsistencies of their theories, not proof that the scientific establishment is institutionally opposed to examining its beliefs.

    I don’t know that drugs designed to inhibit HIV prevents AIDS, are you sure you do?

    Once again, you are attempting to put words in my mouth. All i have ever claimed is that drugs designed to inhibit HIV limit and defer the onset of AIDS.

    Forgive me for repeating myself here, but i want to be absolutely clear you’ve got the point: i’m not sure that antiretrovirals absolutely prevent AIDS, and i’ve never claimed that they do.

    “AIDS” is defined as etc etc

    I’ve repeated my definition of AIDS several times in the context of replying to Andrew Maniotis, but here it is again, just for you: AIDS is a syndrome; ‘the characteristic feature of the syndrome is a weakening of the immune response, to the extent that any one (or several) of a number of opportunistic infections may take hold.’

    Can you point out how or why you believe this to be an inaccurate, misleading, or imprecise definition? (Please do bear in mind that the concepts ‘definition’ and ‘diagnostic criteria’ are separate.)

    Moving on to the HIV test

    Again, i have repeatedly made my position on this clear in comments addressed to Andrew Maniotis, but here it is again: HIV tests are somewhat unreliable, with both false positive and false negative results being encountered. I have never denied this; the ‘AIDS mainstream’ has never denied this. Evidence that some HIV test results are false is not evidence that all HIV test results are false.

    All of this and more we are required to take into consideration once you start supplying a little hard evidence for all your free-wheeling claims up there.

    No. Some of ‘All of this’ is simply irrelevant to the discussion, as i’ve demonstrated above. Elsewhere, i think you will find that i have already acknowledged the limitations of the data, and have been very careful only to assert what can be asserted on the basis of it (please do correct me if i’m wrong – but please do bear in mind that statements containing the words ‘i think’, ‘i believe’, ‘it seems to me’ etc are expressions of opinion, not assertions of fact).

    Maybe the AIDS drugs work well against some of the opportunistic diseases.

    First of all, i note that you have implicitly conceded that people with AIDS are in need of additonal assistance in fighting off opportunistic infections – that is, infections which usually only appear in those with compromised immune function. Can i take it, therefore, that you do not wish to deny the fact that people with AIDS are suffering from compromised immune function? If so, you are distancing yourself from some (but not all) HIV sceptics.

    Secondly, it would need to be all of the opportunistic diseases, wouldn’t it? Otherwise the data would very clearly be showing, for example, that no-one dies of PCP anymore – they die of viral pneumonia (or any other infectious disease) instead. The data does not show a reduction in certain causes of death; it shows a reduction in the numbers of deaths from all infectious diseases.

    It seems to me that there can only really be two plausible explanations for why antiretrovirals reduce deaths from all infectious diseases. One is that they operate in such a way as to support normal immune functioning. The other is that they directly treat all infectious diseases (whether bacterial, viral, protozoal, fungal etc) across the board.

    If the first situation applies, then this is simply a re-statement of the ‘treatment with antiretrovirals substantially reduces deaths from AIDS’ hypothesis.

    If the second situation applies – why, these drugs are a panacea! The long-sought for goal of the erradication of all infectious disease has been achieved! Every disease known to man – Ebola, antibiotic resistant infections, the common cold – have all been cured! (Please note: this paragraph is intended to be understood ironically.)

    Except… the pharmaceutical companies don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to begin trials for these drugs against the full range of diseases in people with normal immune response. Why would that be? Think of the literally trillions of extra dollars they could make from selling these drugs to the entire population, as opposed to just those parts of it that are HIV positive. Why ever would they be refusing to do that? Unless…unless… antiretrovirals don’t actually treat all infectious diseases, but instead support normal immune functioning.

    maybe the battery of supplementary/complementary drugs have improved over the last 25 years.

    Do you have any evidence that it has? Can you name new compounds that have emerged in the last 25 years? Can you guarantee that they’ve been available to everyone who’s been receiving antiretrovirals? Everyone in the whole world? Even the people who live at the end of 200 mile long dirt tracks in Africa?

    You see, with antiretrovirals, i can confidently answer ‘yes’ to all those questions. Can you say the same about ‘alternative’ therapies? Really, can you? Can you prove it?

    What would Occam say?

    Who knows?

    But let’s look at the situation here. On the one hand, we have the highly complex and self-contradictory theories of HIV sceptics (that there’s no such thing as AIDS; or that there is, but it isn’t caused by HIV; or that HIV does cause AIDS, but antiretrovirals don’t improve immune response, they just treat every type of infectious disease, but no-one’s thought to offer these wonder drugs to the general population; or that the improvement in survival rates is down to ‘alternative treatments’ that haven’t been used by everyone who’s survived). On the other we have the simple, evidence-based theories, hypotheses and treatments supported by almost everyone with any real knowledge of the field.

    I really don’t think you can pretend that the application of Occam’s Razor would benefit your side of the argument, can you?

  29. Huckleberry says:

    Dear Unread,

    I am quite certain I commit more typos than you or anyone else here. I am a sloppy typist and don’t always proofread as you can see.

    Of course we agree that AIDS is supposed to be be characterized by a compromised immune system. However, as you know, your immune system can be completely wrecked, but if you don’t test HIV positive as well, you don’t have AIDS regardless. Conversely, you can have the most perfect lymphocyte count in the world, and the most perfect record of health, but if you test HIV positive your death is almost certain to be classified as AIDS. The coroner in the EJ Scovill case for instance did not consider her death an AIDS death until he was informed of her mother’s HIV test history. As mysterious as the circumstances may appear, nobody would suspect AIDS in Christine Maggiore’s case either, had she not tested positive test once. Thus AIDS is, in our part of the world at least, a function of the HIV tests. My and every other dissident’s issue is with the HIV (test) part of the equation.

    We are all waiting for you to produce the studies that back up your claims about how well the ARVs are working. Just stating a point over and over is not an argument.

    The median age of death of an HIV positive is in America around 45 years.

    You seem to be making much of the idea that the drug companies could market the AIDS drugs as a panacea if they had been shown to work against some or all infectious diseases. This to you is proof that ARVs are “HIV specific”. TB is perhaps the single bigggest AIDS killer worldwide; if you are so sure, perhaps you could throw in a couple of studies where the efficacy of ARVs has been tested on TB patients that didn’t test HIV positive as well.

    You’ve got AIDStruth luminaries like the illustrious Dr. Seth Kalichman lurking here, trying to make hay and a buck on Christine Maggiore’s death. Perhaps they could lend a hand?

  30. Huckleberry says:

    Ah, I beg your pardon! This was actually your argument:

    “the pharmaceutical companies don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to begin trials for these drugs against the full range of diseases in people with normal immune response. Why would that be? Think of the literally trillions of extra dollars they could make from selling these drugs to the entire population, as opposed to just those parts of it that are HIV positive. Why ever would they be refusing to do that? Unless…unless… antiretrovirals don’t actually treat all infectious diseases, but instead support normal immune functioning.” (Unread)

    My dear Unread, how could the drug companies know exactly what the ARVs do and don’t do if they refuse to test them?

  31. Brian Carter says:

    Dear A_Read

    Let me chime in here and bring to your attention something worth reading, because all I see you doing here is just towing the standard party lines.

    HIV treatment response and prognosis in Europe and North America in the first decade of highly active antiretroviral therapy: a collaborative analysis. Published 7 August 2006 in Lancet, 368(9534): 451-8.

    INTERPRETATION: Virological response after starting HAART improved over calendar years, but such improvement has not translated into a decrease in mortality.

    Let me repeat: HAS NOT TRANSLATED INTO A DECREASE IN MORTALITY.

    So what espouse so dearly is that Anti-HIV meds save lives? May I suggest you remove you AIDS rose colored glasses just long enough to think clearly?

  32. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Reply to Huckleberry.

    First of all, (and as promised) allow me to post the updated list of points to which you have not produced an evidence-based challenge, and which you therefore, presumably, accept as true (I should warn you, it’s almost trippled in length – clearly you agreed with almost all of what i said in my last comment):

    1 – that you accept that i have not asked for proof of a negative;

    2 – that you therefore accept that i have only asked HIV sceptics to produce that which it is reasonable to ask them to produce;

    3 – that, not only are you unable to produce any evidence in support of the sceptic case, but you are unable even to suggest an ‘explanation that doesn’t fall apart under the weight of its own internal inconsistencies’;

    4 – that your description of a hypothesis tested in accordance with standard scientific principles as ‘circumstantial evidence’ was misleading;

    5 – that you accept that the hypothesis ‘HIV causes AIDS’ has been proven by the ability of antiretrovirals to limit and delay the onset of AIDS (within the limitations of the experiment as set out in my comment posted at 2033 on January 9th 2009);

    6 – that, even if HIV does not cause AIDS, the use of antiretroviral drugs is justified by the evidence, from individual case studies and wider statistical analysis, that use of antiretrovirals is associated with a dramatic decrease in the numbers of deaths from AIDS;

    7 – that you concede that the analogy between the use of general anaesthetics to prevent the experiencing of pain, and the use of antiretrovirals to limit and delay the onset of AIDS, is a fair and valid one;

    8 – that you are unable to conceive of any grounds – logical or scientific – on which you would advise someome undergoing an operation not to use an anaesthetic, or someone who is HIV positive not to use antiretrovirals;

    9 – that you deliberately misrepresent what your opponents say in a misguided attempt to score points in a debate;

    10 – that you accept that you have, in part, demolished your own arguments, owing to your inability to understand the concept ‘irony’;

    11 – that you have therefore demonstrated that you have brought forward arguments that you had not first attempted to the best of your ability to verify as true;

    12 – that you accept that if you or any other sceptic had been able ‘to raise any legitimate, fundamental, questions, you would not have significant difficulty in obtaining research funding’;

    13 – that the inability of sceptics to secure such funding ‘is evidence of the demonstrable weaknesses and inconsistencies of their theories’;

    14 – that you deliberately attempted to muddy the waters of the debate by querying the merits of various definitions of the term AIDS (none of which had been previously advanced by me) when you were in full agreement with my previously-posted definition;

    15 – that you accept that ‘Evidence that some HIV test results are false is not evidence that all HIV test results are false’;

    16 – that therefore all subsequent attempts to question all HIV test data on the basis that some is false will be evidence of confusion, stupidity, or bad faith on your part;

    17 – that, by engaging directly with the question of how antiretrovirals prevent deaths, you have acknowledged that they do prevent deaths;

    18 – that, further to point 8 above, this provides additional evidence of the fact that you believe doctors are correct to prescribe antiretrovirals both to those who are already sick, and, as prophylaxis, to those they believe may in due course become sick;

    19 – that this means that your beliefs are more closely associated with those of the ‘AIDS mainstream’ than they are those of the HIV sceptics;

    20 – that you are entirely unable to offer any evidence – even anecdotal, non-scientific evidence – in support of your claim that improvements in HIV/AIDS survival rates are the result of improvements in alternative ‘therapies’;

    21 – that this proposition therefore represented another deliberately deceptive attempt to muddy the waters of the debate;

    22 – that you accept that – temporarily setting aside the question of which theories have the most scientific evidence to support them – the application of simple principles of logic argues against the likelihood of HIV sceptic theories being correct.

    It pleases me that we’re so much in agreement. Of course, if you don’t agree, then it’s very simple – produce the evidence that undermines the points i have made.

    Moving on to what you said in your most recent comments:

    your immune system can be completely wrecked, but if you don’t test HIV positive as well, you don’t have AIDS regardless.

    Immune dysfunction can result from a number of causes. Please identify where i have ever denied this.

    Conversely, you can have the most perfect lymphocyte count in the world, and the most perfect record of health, but if you test HIV positive your death is almost certain to be classified as AIDS.

    No death is ever ‘classified as AIDS’. Deaths may be classified as AIDS-related. Death certificates may make reference to AIDS as a proximate cause of death, but only if AIDS was a proximate cause of death. Someone who is HIV positive but dies wholly as a result of causes unrelated to infectious disease would not be classified as dying from AIDS.

    The coroner in the EJ Scovill case for instance did not consider her death an AIDS death until he was informed of her mother’s HIV test history.

    This has been alleged, certainly. But the coroner’s decision was based upon an autopsy report which stated, among other things, that EJ Scovill’s lungs were infected with PCP (an AIDS-indicator disease), her brain showed evidence of HIV ecephalitis, and that elements of the HIV virus were found within her brain. This autopsy report has subsequently been disputed. The whole matter is, as i understand it, sub judice, and i will therefore not be commenting further (how ever much i might like to), pending the outcome of the court case. I will, however, make this one stipulation: in the same way that i cannot state that there were several indicators that EJ Scovill may have had AIDS, you cannot claim that these indicators did not exist. The matter must, of neccesity, be left open.

    As mysterious as the circumstances may appear, nobody would suspect AIDS in Christine Maggiore’s case either, had she not tested positive test once.

    Once again, deliberately misleading.

    First of all, Christine Maggiore tested positive several times, and more frequently positive than either negative or indeterminate. This is the point of ‘longitudinal testing’ (see above) – it means it is possible to look at an average result, and not merely one, potentially anomolous, result.

    Secondly, had a random 52 year old woman presented at hospital with advanced pneumonia, the medics on duty would have immediately considered the possibility of immune dysfunction – because it’s so unusual for someone of that age to die of this disease (unless they have been sleeping rough etc). One possible cause of that immune dysfunction would be HIV/AIDS, and blood tests would have been carried out to determine whether or not the lady was HIV positive. It’s true to say that AIDS would not have been confirmed in the absence of an HIV positive result, but it very definitely would have been suspected by those treating her.

    As for the implication – that medics and others made unwarranted assumptions on the basis of HIV test results – medics take into account clinical history all the time when making decisions. Someone who has a history of periodic unconsciousness as a result of a heart arrythmia will be treated for a heart arrythmia until such time as it can be determined whether or not they are arrythmic. Conversely, someone with a history of periodic unconsciousness as a result of excessive consumption of narcotics will be treated for a narcotics overdose until such time as it can be confirmed whether or not thay have overdosed. There’s nothing especially sinister or underhand in the way medics assume someone who is HIV positive may be experiencing HIV-related problems.

    My and every other dissident’s issue is with the HIV (test) part of the equation.

    Firstly – not true. Many, many, many sceptics allege there is no such thing as AIDS (merely a collection of unrelated diseases and conditions that have been incorrectly ‘lumped together’). Other sceptics accept that AIDS exists, but dispute that HIV is the cause. If you accept that AIDS exists, and that HIV causes AIDS, but that some people are inappropriately treated on the basis of incorrect HIV test results, then this puts you very much on the fringes of the sceptic ‘movement’. Your statement is patently false, and moreover, you know it is. Once again, you are being deliberately misleading.

    Secondly – please refer to point 15 above and then answer the question: are you suffering from confusion, displaying stupidity, or exhibiting bad faith? Alternatively bring forward the evidence that all HIV test data is false.

    We are all waiting for you to produce the studies that back up your claims about how well the ARVs are working.

    I have never claimed the existence of such studies, and you know perfectly well that I haven’t. Yet again, you’re being deliberately misleading.

    I have based my case on the basis of individual case studies, and statistical correlation. If you want evidence of the statistical correlation (which represents an essential part of the context for this debate, and of which i refuse to believe you are unaware) i suggest you google for historical AIDS mortality rates, or something along those lines. I think you’ll find the extremely sharp reduction in deaths (in the west) begins in about 1997. Please feel free to come back and comment again once you’ve bothered to do your homework.

    The median age of death of an HIV positive is in America around 45 years.

    I presume you mean an HIV positive person – it might be a nice idea to try and avoid de-humanising people. And do you have a point to make? Or have you just started inserting random statistics in the hopes that i’ll say “Oh, no, not a statistic!” and vanish in a puff of smoke?

    Remember, i have never claimed that antiretrovirals prevent deaths from AIDS, merely that they limit and delay the onset of AIDS. Therefore, if people who are HIV positive die earlier than people who don’t (and i haven’t verified your statistic since you don’t provide a source – did you maybe just pluck it out of the air?), that in no way contradicts anything i’ve said. I also note that your statistic is for HIV positive people, not people with AIDS, so we have no data for what these people died of – AIDS? Traffic accidents? Boredom from reading one of my interminable replies?

    The key factor is not at what age people die, but how long they survive after they become infected with HIV. Remember the late 80s and early 90s? When hundreds of thousands of people were dying in their 20s and 30s? Remember how that all stopped when the modern antiretrovirals became available, to the extent that, in London, whole hospitals that had been set aside to care for people dying of AIDS were no longer needed? It was such a great thing when that happened, wasn’t it?

    I wonder: why do you want to turn the clock back to those dark days?

    My dear Unread, how could the drug companies know exactly what the ARVs do and don’t do if they refuse to test them?

    My dear Huckleberry, why would the drug companies refuse to test the ARVs, if there was such obvious scope for fame and fortune, both for the companies and the individual researchers? Are we back to conspiracy theories again?

    Hmmm, all in all, this debate’s not going all that well for you, is it? Have you ever heard the expression, ‘When you’re in a hole – stop digging’? It would appear Andrew Maniotis at least has the sense to do that.

  33. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Brian Carter – welcome back, and thanks for commenting.

    (By the way, do please feel free to point out any errors in everything i’ve said while you’ve been gone. Or should i assume that, like Andrew Maniotis and Huckleberry, you actually agree with everything i’ve said? Oh, yes – the same requirement to produce evidence will apply to you too.)

    all I see you doing here is just towing the standard party lines.

    No, just thinking for myself. I know people like you only approve of people thinking for themselves if they end up agreeing with you, but i’m afraid i can’t help the fact that i’m too intelligent to be suckered-in by rumour, rhetoric, conspiracy theory, and groundless supposition.

    Now, as to this ‘evidence’ you bring forward.

    Well, i’m sorry to say, like every other sceptic who’s commented on this thread, you’ve either misunderstood or deliberately misreprsented the study you quote.

    You see, this study didn’t look at patients who were receiving HAART (High Activity Anti-Retroviral Therapy) versus patients who weren’t, and find that there was no difference in mortality between people who were taking the antiretrovirals, and people who weren’t. If it had of done, that would of course have sent shockwaves reverberating around the world – it would have been very strong evidence that antiretrovirals didn’t work.

    But, as i suspect you know, what the study actually did was compare the mortality rates of people who started HAART in 1995-96 to those who started it in 2002-03. And what it found was that, over the period as a whole, there was no reduction in mortality rates. This was despite the fact, as they mention in their discussion (which you conveniently chose not to quote), that there has been a noted increase in the incidence of treatment resistant forms of HIV over the period, and a substantial change in the diseased populations, away from the ‘simple’ cases of HIV typically encountered amongst gay men in Europe and America in the 90s, and towards the far more complex problems encountered amongst immigrants from, among other places, sub-Saharan Africa.

    In other words, the most negative accurate interpretation of the data is this: whether patients began taking them in 1995 or 2003, antiretrovirals still, on average, prolonged life expectancy. It won’t take a genius to realise that this is, in fact, an argument in favour of taking antiretrovirals. So, congratulations: you join Andrew Maniotis in the group of sceptics who have submitted evidence that actually undermines their case.

    There was an interesting anomaly – HAART seemed to become better at initially supressing HIV viral load, but this didn’t lead to a reduction in mortality rates. Why might that be? Well, let’s look at what the authors of the study you quoted had to say, shall we? You know, in the bits of the study you didn’t bother quoting from.

    ‘The discrepancy […] might be related to the change in the demographic characteristics of study participants, with an increasing number of patients from areas with a high incidence of tuberculosis.’ (Lancet, Vol. 368, issue 9534 (5 August 2006), p.454.)

    ‘These patients […] had lower CD4 cell counts at presentation’ (pp. 454-5)

    Finally, the authors note that:

    ‘The decline of CD4 cell count when starting HAART in recent years must also be of concern. Patients starting treatment with CD4 count less than 200 cells per microlitre are at higher risk of disease progression and death in the long term compared with those with higher baseline CD4 cell counts. Early diagnosis and treatment is therefore of great importance to prevent clinical progression.’ (pp. 455-6.)

    To summarise, therefore, this study was not based on like-for-like data. By 2003, patients beginning antiretroviral treatment were, on average, sicker, were starting their treatment later, and began with more severely compromised immune function. All of these factors are known to worsen prognosis. This is, therefore, the likely explanation why, although HAART remains effective in reducing viral load, mortality rates as a whole have not decreased.

    Do bear in mind that the authors also speculate that diagnosis of HIV has become more accurate over the period, and that in 1995 deaths from AIDS may have actually been greater than the data shows, because it was more common for an HIV diagnosis to be missed. If this were the case, it would, of course, mean that there may in fact have been a reduction in the actual (as opposed to measured) mortality rate (p. 455.).

    Do also bear in mind that this study looked at all deaths across the board. It did not examine whether or not those who died suffered an AIDS-related death. A commentary in the same issue of Lancet (Gregory J Dore & David A Cooper, ‘HAART’s first decade: success brings further challenges’, pp. 427-8) notes that:

    ‘Findings from the randomised SMART study showed […] a large contribution of non-AIDS events to overall mortality’ (p. 428).

    In other words, there is evidence to suggest that the increase in mortality among people with HIV may not be related to AIDS. This would provide further evidence as to why the improvement in reducing viral load is not reflected in a decrease in overall mortality.

    I trust you are able to appreciate that this comprehensively answers the questions you ask in your comment. If you need a more detailed analysis of why you are wrong, do please let me know, and i will do my best to oblige (although i fear i may struggle to put things any more simply).

    May I suggest you remove you AIDS rose colored glasses just long enough to think clearly?

    And may I suggest that, as i’ve just demonstrated, it’s not me who’s failing to accurately assess the evidence, it’s you.

    Can i also ask, have you ever heard the expression, ‘there’s none so blind as those that refuse to see’? And have you ever realised how completely it describes you?

  34. Brian Carter says:

    And I like you am an independent thinker. You know studies say what they say. Your spin happens to come from you standing amoung the high and mighty AIDS pundits, apologists and defenders, totally and unequivocally brainwashed. I’ve read it all before and your long winded blah blah blah is utterly boring.

  35. Huckleberry says:

    Dear Unread,

    Your main argument now has two components:

    1. Quote – I have based my case on the basis of [undisclosed] individual case studies, and statistical correlation. – Unquote.

    The statistical correlation mentioned was the sharp decline in AIDS mortality in 1997 [following the 1996 redefinition of AIDS to include asymptomatic people with a low CD4 count]. This is the sum total of your evidence based on correlation.

    2. Quote – We are all waiting for you to produce the studies that back up your claims about how well the ARVs are working – Unquote (Me)

    Quote – I have never claimed the existence of such studies, and you know perfectly well that I haven’t Unquote (You)

    Dear Unread, I declare you the victor. I am utterly defeated and have nothing more to say on the matter lest I should dig myself further into the ground.

    Your secondary argument:

    “My dear Huckleberry, why would the drug companies refuse to test the ARVs, if there was such obvious scope for fame and fortune, both for the companies and the individual researchers? Are we back to conspiracy theories again?” (You)

    My dear EverMoreUnread, are you now saying dissidents are accusing drug makers of a conspiray to NOT make money? Although I commend your for a very well thought out reply, it’s quite the contrary. In fact I agree with you; they are not testing the ARVs in such a way as to challenge the viral hypothesis of AIDS because there is more money to be made by keeping the status quo. You may call it a conspiracy if you wish. I call it a sensible, forward-looking if somewhat conservative business model.

    Having reached perfect agreement between Unread and myself, apart from the definition of “conspiracy”, let me turn to Alex up there. How about it Alex, have you finished the popcorn yet? You had something to say about conspiracies and scientific method didn’t you? We’re all ears, my friend.

  36. Huckleberry says:

    Correction:

    The redefinition of “AIDS” to include asymptomatic individuals with a low CD4 count (and an HIV positive test) happened in 1993 – which is also where the sharp decline in AIDS mortality began.

    The decline in the category AIDS Case Fatality actually began around 1986, about one year before AZT came on the market.

    1996-97 marks the time when the toxic AZT treaments were phased out in favour of slightly gentler drugs. AZT is still given but not in the high doses previously used in the late 80s and early 90s.

  37. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Brian Carter – I’m afraid your reply is a little incoherent, and rather garbled, which makes it rather difficult to understand what you are trying to say – i assume you replied in a hurry and without the luxury of being able to proofread what you had written.

    One phrase did leap out at me, however:

    I’ve read it all before and your long winded blah blah blah is utterly boring.

    I’m inclined to agree with you. You (and every other sceptic who has contributed to this debate) have failed to advance any evidence whatsoever in support of your cause. You (and every other sceptic who has contributed to this debate) has singularly failed to engage with the debate in a meaningful way. Instead you (and they) have relied on rumour, innuendo, random copy&paste, allegations of conspiracy theory, denial of simple self-evident facts, deliberate decepetion and unfair characterisation of your (their) opponents. This has left me with little option but to consistently restate the case again and again and again. I would imagine that you and i are not the only people who are beginning to find this boring.

    Huckleberry –

    Dear Unread, I declare you the victor. I am utterly defeated and have nothing more to say on the matter lest I should dig myself further into the ground.

    Thank you for having the courage and good grace to admit you were wrong. Since you have now explicitly conceded that the statistical correlation between antiretroviral treatment and the reduction in deaths from AIDS provides perfectly reasonable grounds for advocating antiretroviral treatment for those who are HIV positive, i would suggest that it would be misleading for you to continue to describe yourself as an HIV sceptic. However, that is a matter for you to decide upon. The key factor here is that you have conceded the main point in this debate (treating HIV limits and defers the onset of AIDS, and thus preserves and extends life), and that, as a result, the discussion between us is over.

    In the light of both these situations, and the fact that i have succesfully demonstrated the fundamental weakness of the sceptic cause and the underhand and exploitative methods they use to peddle their dangerous nonsense, i am bringing this debate to a close, and closing this thread to all future comments.

    Thank you to all the participants – i hope those of you who are wrong will reflect on what has been discussed here and amend your stance accordingly. However, my final word goes to any HIV positive people who may be reading this:

    Hopefully at some point there will be an outright cure for HIV/AIDS, but in the meantime, taking antiretroviral treatments is the best way of preserving and extending your life. Thanks to these treatments, there are many, many people who lead long, healthy, and active lives. Please don’t be persuaded by the tiny minority of sceptics who, by their own admission, can offer no alternative treatment or lifestyle that has any chance of offering the same.

    Aethelread.

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