HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Archive for December, 2007

ARE INTESTINAL WORMS GOOD FOR US? ARE THEY GOOD FOR AFRICANS? FOR AFRICAN CHILDREN?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/30

In FIRST: DO NO HARM! (19 December), I wrote: “In the determination to get rid of HIV, it is sometimes forgotten that the whole point is to make people better (WHAT HIV DRUGS DO, 15 December 2007).” At the time, I wondered whether I was overstating the case. But then Google Alerts brought news of a research program designed to find out whether starving people could benefit from antiretroviral drugs (DRUGS OR FOOD?, 25 December)—in other words, investigating whether HIV can be killed even in starving people. Now comes yet further confirmation that in the fight against HIV, people’s health and well-being takes second place, if that, to fighting that evil HIV:

“Does treating worms in HIV patients slow AIDS progression?” (Ivanhoe Newswire, 28 December)
“As many as half of the 25 million HIV-infected patients in Africa are also thought to have worms (helminths). There is evidence these worms may cause HIV to progress more rapidly into AIDS, so does de-worming slow down the progression?
Researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle wanted to find out. They did an extensive review of five studies that examined the link between being infected with worms and the progression of HIV to AIDS.”

What do worm infections do to people, whether or not they are HIV-positive?

Parasitic worms or helminths . . . live inside their host . . . receiving nourishment and protection while disrupting their hosts’ nutrient absorption, causing weakness and disease.”

“Parasitic infections contribute to a range of health problems including malnutrition, anemia, and slow cognitive development. . . . 300 million people, 50% of them school-aged children, are severely ill due to worms. Intestinal worms account for an estimated 11-12% of the total disease burden for school-aged children (5 to 14 years) in low-income countries. Regular de-worming allows people to avoid the worst effects of chronic worm infections, even without an improvement in sanitation. . . . Regular use of inexpensive [emphasis added] albendazole or mebendazole tablets has been shown to improve the health of individuals suffering from worm infestations, with reduction of transmission in school-aged children having positive externalities for reduction of the disease burden in the entire population. . . . Efficacy of albendazole was demonstrated by a World Health Organization (WHO) assessment of de-worming among pre-school children in Nepal. . . . [resulting in] 76% reduction in anemia prevalence . . . after only two rounds of de-worming. Treatment is safe, even when given to uninfected children. A WHO taskforce recommended that pregnant women should be treated” (http://www.psi.org/our_programs/products/deworming.html).

So there’s no doubt at all that intestinal worms are bad for one’s health. But apparently some people think it’s more important to find out how worm infections interact with HIV than it is to de-worm infected people.

At least, that’s what the Google Alert from Ivanhoe Newswire alleged. I was rather reluctant to believe that; after all, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments on human beings have long been acknowledged as beyond the pale, and the name of Josef Mengele remains a fairly well remembered and useful caution, at least to people of my generation. So, reluctant to believe and recalling my friend’s admonition not to believe everything I read, perhaps especially on the Internet, I checked and found the source: “Treatment of helminth co-infection in individuals with HIV-1: A systematic review of the literature”, by Judd L. Walson & Grace John-Stewart, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (www.plosntds.org) 1(3): e102. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000102:

From the Abstract: “Some observational studies suggest that helminth infection may adversely affect HIV-1 progression. We sought to evaluate existing evidence on whether treatment of helminth infection impacts HIV-1 progression. . . . There are insufficient data available to determine the potential benefit of helminth eradication in HIV-1 and helminth co-infected adults. Data from a single RCT and multiple observational studies suggest possible benefit in reducing plasma viral load. The impact of de-worming on markers of HIV-1 progression should be addressed in larger randomized studies evaluating species-specific effects and with a sufficient duration of follow-up to document potential differences on clinical outcomes and CD4 decline.”

In case you suspect that I’ve ripped this out of context, here is the complete Author Summary:

“Many people living in areas of the world most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic are also exposed to other common infections. Parasitic infections with helminths (intestinal worms) are common in Africa and affect over half of the population in some areas. There are plausible biological reasons why treating helminth infections in people with HIV may slow down the progression of HIV to AIDS. Thus, treating people with HIV for helminths in areas with a high prevalence of both HIV and helminth infections may be a feasible strategy to help people with HIV delay progression of their disease or initiation of antiretroviral therapy. After a comprehensive review of the available literature, we conclude that there is not enough evidence to determine whether treating helminth infections in people with HIV is beneficial.”

This was not a direct study of people, of course, just a review of others’ work. Still, I thought that some discussion of the ethics of such studies might have been appropriate, so I scanned the article for “ethic”. I did find one occurrence:

“The ideal study design to determine anti-helminth treatment effect on HIV-1 progression is a randomized clinical trial. Thus, randomization to immediate versus deferred treatment was used in the single RCT of schistosomiasis eradication. However, the short period of follow-up ethically feasible for treatment deferral limits ability to determine longer term effects of anti-helminthics on HIV-1 progression.”

In other words, it’s unethical to keep “HIV-infected” people for too long off antiretroviral treatment, but it’s perfectly OK to leave them worm-infested indefinitely.

The authors of this study are in the Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle. The study was funded by the University’s Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (grant D43-TW00007 NIH/NIAID, AI27757 NIH Fogarty International Center). I was moderately curious about the grant from NIH, and looked a bit further. I found mention of an already completed NIH-funded study, “Treatment of helminth co-infection: short-term effects on HIV-1 progression markers and immune activation”: “Identifying methods to slow disease progression in patients with HIV-1 infection remains a top priority in many regions of the world. . . . Many of the individuals living in these countries are also co-infected with a variety of other diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and soil-transmitted helminths. There are data to suggest that infection with these agents may activate the immune system in HIV-1 co-infected individuals and may lead to more rapid HIV disease progression. This study will evaluate the potential impact of treating helminths in HIV-1 seropositive individuals. Markers of disease progression and immune activation will be assessed. We will also measure the amount of virus in genital secretions to determine if treatment of co-infection can reduce the infectiousness of HIV in these individuals.”

I tried to access the provided link to the University of Washington Institutional Review Board , but didn’t have the required password.

Here once more is the single-minded obsession to deal with “HIV infection” that apparently leads some medical researchers and some bureaucrats in funding agencies and foundations to overlook the fact that starving people need food, that babies should not have their mitochondria damaged, and that worm-infested people are likely to have a poorer prognosis than others no matter what else they are infected with. Malnutrition does its damage NOW, worms cause malnutrition NOW, whereas untreated “HIV infection” is supposed on average to bring symptoms of illness in about 10 years. Yet some people seem determined to find out what happens to “HIV” in people who are malnourished and worm-infected.

Such studies continue to be funded, including by NIH. “Empiric therapy of helminth co-infection to reduce HIV-1 disease progression” is another clinical trial, “not yet open for participant recruitment”, whose “Sponsors and collaborators” are the University of Washington, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The principal investigator is Judd L. Walson, whose meta-analysis revealed the need for further studies. There was no link to the “Informed Consent” statement that will no doubt be used after approval by the committees that monitor research on human subjects.

But it’s not only the effect of worm infestation on HIV that we want to know more about. Admittedly, we know that worms are bad for people, but how exactly? Do they contribute to iron deficiency? To anemia? To stunted growth of children? To loss of appetite? How do hookworm infestation and malaria relate to iron status and anemia in 0-to-5-year-olds, and how do these relations change with age? We couldn’t learn all those interesting things if we just de-wormed people. Have a look on PubMed under “Stoltzfus helminth” and you’ll find a dozen studies of these and similar matters published in the late 1990s by Dr R J Stoltzfus (School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University) and various collaborators. (For people of my generation, that “Sponsors and collaborators” strikes a not-so-funny bone. “Collaborator” had quite a special meaning for us in the old days.)

There’s always more to be studied, so the Wellcome Trust approved an award in 2000 to help Stoltzfus and collaborators to find out more about “Effects of intestinal helminth infection in early childhood on immune response, inflammation, anemia and malnutrition”:

“Using a cohort of 2000 rural Zanzibari children, this programme will explore whether first-time intestinal worm infections contribute to severe anemia and malnutrition in children under two years of age, and whether treatment of the infections can prevent those adverse effects. This will test the hypothesis that first time intestinal worm infections in young children cause an immune response that suppresses children’s appetite, causes them to break down muscle protein and blocks the formation of red blood cells. In subsamples of children, specific mechanisms relevant to the hypothesis will be assessed, including specific aspects of the immune response that might be deleterious (e.g. intestinal blood loss, defects in blood production and breakdown of muscle protein).

Malnutrition, measured as low weight-for-age, is one of the strongest known risk factors for child mortality in developing countries. Severe anemia may also contribute to mortality in children, especially when it coexists with respiratory illness. Both malnutrition and anemia are also associated with behavioural alterations and delays in child development. This programme will seek to achieve a clearer understanding of the role of intestinal worm infections in these conditions that affect so many children in developing countries.”

No doubt you’ll be as pleased as I was to discover that the Wellcome Trust also funds research on ethics in biomedical research.

Posted in clinical trials, HIV absurdities, HIV in children | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

TALKING OF HIV’S MAGICAL POWERS…

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/29

‘Twas only yesterday (“HIV DISEASE”, 28 December) that I remarked on HIV’s ability to act psychically or magically by way of its “bystander” mechanism. Immediately came this confirmation:

“HIV-Positive Women Have Higher Risk of Bone Fractures (POZ, 28 December):

HIV-positive women face a greater risk of bone fracture than HIV-negative women, despite . . . [being] similar in terms of age, bone mineral density, family history of osteoporosis, calcium intake and other factors known to affect bone health.

26 percent of the HIV-positive women had a history of a fragility fracture—a broken bone that occurs as a result of a fall from standing height or less—compared with just 17 percent of the HIV-negative women. This result was statistically significant, meaning that the difference was too great to have occurred by chance.

Dr. Prior’s team theorized that the difference in fracture rates, despite equal bone mineral density, may be due to the effect of HIV infection within the bone in a manner that does not show up on standard measures of bone health.”

* * * * * *

Missing from the report is such necessary information as whether the women had been HIV-positive when they suffered the fractures. As Kary Mullis points out in Robin Scovill’s must-see film The Other Side of AIDS, “infection” by “HIV” is the contemporary equivalent of possession by the devil; once possessed or infected, anything unpleasant that happens must be owing to that evil power.

For non-believers in Satanic possession, the thing to remember is that “HIV-positive” is not a sign of infection by a deadly pathogen, it is a sign that the immune system is reacting to something. What it’s reacting to may be trivial and temporary or serious.

“HIV-positive” signifies different things in different people.
—In those who inject drugs, it is probably a direct result of the physiological action of those drugs or of their debilitating “side” effects.
—In gay men, the testimony of many “long-term non-progressors” or “elite controllers” is that being HIV-positive is compatible with a healthy life provided one behaves in a reasonably sensible manner.
—When it comes to groups of people like those in the study cited above, who seem to be comparable in all manifest ways, yet some of whom test HIV-positive and others do not, it is a reasonable inference that the HIV-positive ones are experiencing some higher degree of physiological stress and may therefore have a more dubious prognosis; a search would be warranted for unsuspected ailments or genetic predispositions or earlier traumatic events.
For example, among people with tuberculosis, the HIV-positive ones have a poorer prognosis (“TB biggest threat to HIV positive”; “HIV, tuberculosis jointly kill 300 Peruvians every year” ). In one of the earliest studies in Africa, the poorer prognosis of HIV-positive youths led researchers in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confuse correlation with causation (“One may realize the association between HIV infection and death even without believing that HIV causes AIDS”, Dondero and Curran, Lancet 343 [1994] 989-90).

The relationship of HIV-positive to physiological stress is evident when one compares reported rates among low-risk groups:

groupcomparison.jpg

For all groups except the top three, the rates of testing HIV-positive seem to correlate with the average state of fitness or good health: repeat blood donors have been screened for fewer health problems than first-time donors; active-duty military have been screened for fewer health problems than applicants for military service; runaway youths and people attending various clinics are likely to have some noticeable health problems.

For the top three groups, something else seems to be in play. Tuberculosis apparently is very likely to produce a positive “HIV”-test, as is the abuse of drugs. As already said above, for gay men, HIV-positive may not signify a serious challenge to health. My correspondent Tony brought to my attention some time ago the intriguing possibility, with considerable evidence to support it, that in many cases HIV-positive among gay men may be an outcome of disturbances of the intestinal flora; that’s been mooted by other people as well, for example by Vladimir Koliadin and at NotAIDS! (3 February 2007, “AIDS or Candida albicans?” ).

Among other than these “high-risk” groups, “HIV-positive” seems to mark the possibility of a poorer prognosis for some undetected reason, not because some devilish retrovirus is secretly at work: HIV-positive women are more likely to break bones, and it would be good to find out why—and especially whether the fracture perhaps came before the positive HIV-test and caused it, for there have been a number of reports showing a higher rate of HIV-positive tests among victims of trauma (references cited at p. 85 in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

Yet one must not link HIV-positive inevitably to a poorer prognosis, because the physiological reaction represented by “HIV-positive” is strongly influenced by individual factors and such attributes as sex, age, and race: for instance, within a group matched for all other known variables, people of African ancestry test HIV-positive 5 or more times–sometimes very many times more–than others.

Testing HIV-positive means that certain proteins or bits of RNA or DNA are present. What consequences that may have need to be explored in each individual case.

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

“HIV DISEASE”

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/28

Sharon Stone’s assertion that AIDS is “the fourth leading killer of women in America” (WORLD AIDS DAY…, 22 December) led me to discover that official death statistics now contain the category “HIV disease”.

Perhaps this is a natural progression from the belief that HIV causes AIDS; but it muddies the waters even further by declaring “HIV” to be something that causes harm without specifying what that harm is.

The trouble is that testing HIV-positive can result from a large number of conditions; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has kept expanding the list of “AIDS-defining” diseases, to include just about any medical condition if an appreciable number of people suffering from it have tested HIV-positive. Thus cervical cancer became an AIDS-defining illness in 1993, even though that is said to be caused by human papillomavirus, not by HIV, and even though the incidence of cervical cancer has been decreasing throughout the AIDS era; and tuberculosis now comes in two forms, identical in clinical diagnosis and symptoms and differing solely in “HIV” status—one is tuberculosis, the other is “HIV disease” or “AIDS”.

AIDS, as described and named in the early 1980s, bears little if any relationship to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now call “HIV disease”. Historians and sociologists of medical science will find it fascinating as well as onerous to untangle how the former was transformed into the latter.

In the 1980s, all people suffering from AIDS were manifestly and seriously ill, expected to die within a matter of months after being diagnosed. By 1997 (the latest year in which the CDC reports detailed this information), more than half of the people “living with AIDS” (PWAs) were not even ill. Out of a cumulative total of 315,000 PWAs, 180,000 had been diagnosed as having AIDS purely on the basis of laboratory tests, amounts of CD4+ cells, even if they evidenced no symptoms of illness; they were “persons reported with immunosuppression as their only AIDS-indicator condition” (CDC Surveillance Report for 1997, p. 18).

“These persons may also have other AIDS-indicator conditions that are unreported”, the document continues. That may of course be so, but in absence of reporting one has to assume that there was nothing to report. Beyond that, the remark illustrates the lack of relevant information that is a major hindrance to understanding what is really going on in “HIV/AIDS”.

For example (WORLD AIDS DAY…, 22 December), official death statistics have it that about 2% of deaths in 2004 among black females aged between 10 and 14 were from “HIV disease”–which means they were HIV-positive when they died, but they might also have had flu, pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis, or any of the host of other conditions known to be capable of causing a positive HIV-test. Without knowing from what immediate, manifest sickness those young black female teenagers died, it is hardly possible to judge the validity of labeling those deaths as “HIV disease”.

When were these unfortunate teens first found to be HIV-positive? If it was only at death, perhaps it was death that caused the positive HIV-test, for fatal trauma seems to be associated with a high probability of testing HIV-positive (see references cited at p. 85 in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

If it was at birth, were the children treated with antiretroviral drugs, whose “side” effects could well have resulted in death a decade or so later?

If the children had not been born HIV-positive, how and when did they become “infected”?

These questions are pressing if only because it is only black and Hispanic teenagers who are reported to be so at risk in those early teen years: not Native American, Asian, or white teens (from CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, 56 #5, 20 November 2007):

deathstats2004-2.jpg

Under HIV/AIDS and “HIV disease” theory, one has to accept that these young teens were HIV-positive because of sexual intercourse or needle-sharing, or had been infected by their mothers. Must we accept that African-American and Hispanic communities have so much higher an incidence of child molestation or children using dirty needles to inject drugs than do Native American, Asian or white American communities? Or that African-American and Hispanic men infect their female partners with HIV so much more often than do Native American, Asian, or white men?

Rhetorical as those last questions may be, the earlier ones illustrate the genuine need for specific information that is presently hidden under the umbrella of “HIV disease”.

* * * * * *

Up to 1987, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 29,000 cases of AIDS and 16,300 deaths: for both cases and deaths, 65% from Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), 20-25% from other opportunistic infections, and 10-15% from Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). In 1997, 61% of the 60,000 people with “AIDS-indicator conditions” may not have been ill at all, they had no reported symptoms of opportunistic infections, having been diagnosed on the basis of lab tests. PCP accounted for only 15% of “AIDS” cases in 1997 instead of 65% a decade earlier, and KS accounted for only 2.5% instead of 10-15%.

By what sleight of evidence did “AIDS” of the early 1980s become “HIV disease” of the late 1990s?

In 1987, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the criteria for an AIDS diagnosis to include “HIV wasting syndrome” and “HIV encephalopathy”. Those terms imply that HIV had been found to cause a particular type of wasting and a particular type of brain disease, but that’s not the case; the terms simply mean that some people with those two conditions had tested HIV-positive. But as already noted above, dozens of conditions are known to be associated with testing HIV-positive—autoimmune diseases, herpes, pregnancy, malaria, flu and vaccination against it or against hepatitis or against tetanus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supposedly the nation’s prime resource for epidemiology, persistently makes the elementary mistake of taking correlations as indicating causation (see, for instance, p. 194 in The Origins, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory). Instead of recognizing that any number of circumstances that disturb the immune system can simulate a positive HIV-test, CDC kept expanding what it called “AIDS-defining” conditions without proof that HIV is the cause of those conditions.

“HIV wasting syndrome” is not even clearly defined. For example, “Involuntary weight loss of greater than 10 percent associated with intermittent or constant fever and chronic diarrhoea or fatigue for more than 30 days in the absence of a defined cause other than HIV infection. A constant feature is major muscle wasting with scattered myofibre degeneration. A variety of aetiologies, which vary among patients, contributes to this syndrome.” That last sentence reveals that the actual causes—note the plural “aetiologies”—vary among those who suffer from the wasting, in other words, the common factor of “HIV” is not the cause, even though the term “HIV wasting syndrome” implies that it is.

Or consider the “fact sheet” at aids.org. “AIDS wasting is not well understood”, and several factors can contribute, such as “low food intake”, “poor nutrient absorption”, “altered metabolism”. Perhaps all those can indeed be caused by a retrovirus, but there are any number of other possible causes as well, which would be invoked readily enough in people who are not HIV-positive.

Or look at what Gay Health News has to say: “symptoms of wasting include weight loss, loss of fat and muscle mass (particularly on the sides of your head), diarrhea, fever, malnutrition, depression, poor appetite and weakness”. Surely no one would suggest that those can be directly caused by a retrovirus!

But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases asserts that it can: “HIV wasting syndrome [is] . . . defined as unintended and progressive weight loss often accompanied by weakness, fever, nutritional deficiencies and diarrhea. . . . Wasting can occur as a result of HIV infection itself [emphasis added] but also is commonly associated with HIV-related opportunistic infections and cancers”. What this really means is that when HIV-positive people in high-risk groups lose weight, “HIV” is taken to be the reason for the weight loss. How that might come about is no better understood, however, than how “HIV” is supposed to kill immune-system cells.

* * * * * *

Assertions about HIV/AIDS and “HIV disease” are based on a variety of assumptions grounded in the belief that HIV is the sexually transmitted cause of AIDS. That belief has survived the facts that “HIV” has never been isolated from an “infected” person; that a significant number of HIV-positive people never become ill; that a significant number of AIDS patients are HIV-negative; that “HIV” and AIDS are not correlated chronologically, geographically, or in their relative impact on different groups of people; that laboratory tests for viral load and CD4 cells do not correlate with one another and that neither correlates with the patient’s health; and more.

Belief in HIV/AIDS theory also entails acceptance of a variety of implausible things, such as that married women are at the highest risk of infection for a venereal disease (TO AVOID HIV INFECTION, DON’T GET MARRIED, 18 November); that babies are less likely to become infected, the more infected mothers’ milk they imbibe (MORE HIV, LESS INFECTION: THE BREASTFEEDING CONUNDRUM, 21 November); that a venereal disease has remained voluntarily quarantined in the same geographic and social boundaries for more than two decades; that this venereal disease displays demographic regularities not shown by any other venereal disease; that this “virus” mutates more rapidly than any other, yet all mutants remain equally cunning and equally deadly—though some portions of the virus remain sufficiently not-mutated as to allow its ancestry to be traced decades into the past.

Not to mention that this virus kills by means of a quite novel mechanism, a so-called “bystander” mechanism (Rowland-Jones & Dong, Nature Medicine, 13: 1413-5): it is supposed to incite certain unknown others to do the killing via certain unknown signals.

“Bystander”, perhaps. But a better term might be “Abracadabra!” or “Open sesame!” mechanism, since the phenomenon reeks of magic; or perhaps it is a psychic phenomenon akin to extrasensory perception or psychokinesis, where a physical effect is brought about by non-physical means.

Posted in HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV in children, HIV risk groups, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV/AIDS numbers, sexual transmission | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

DRUGS OR FOOD?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/25

A modest proposal:
Billions of dollars have been promised to provide antiretroviral drugs to Africans, and some of those promises have even been met. Do an experiment. Divert a small percentage of that money—say 10%—to buy food and vitamins. Allow Africans to choose between nutrition and antiretroviral drugs. Compare, over time, the health of those making the different choices.

That suggestion appears at p. 228 of my book. I was reminded of it by today’s report from David Tuller in the New York Times (“Cases without borders”): antiretroviral drugs are being provided to Africans who are being left to starve and to suffer “side” effects of those drugs made even worse because they are taken on empty stomachs: “families scramble to survive from meal to meal, never far from the edge of starvation. Many say their H.I.V. drugs have drastically increased their appetites and made them crave food even more”.

The reporter is part of a team of researchers organized by the University of California, San Francisco, in collaboration with Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Kampala, Uganda. The rationale for the study would easily have qualified for one of Senator Proxmire’s “Golden Fleece” awards. It is seeking to discover “whether ‘food insecurity’—a persistent difficulty in finding enough to eat—undermines the effectiveness of H.I.V. treatment. . . . [and] whether costs related to treatment limit their ability to cover basic foods and whether hunger forces women to offer men ‘live sex,’ or intercourse without condoms, in exchange for food or money. . . . Other patients will be followed for two years to monitor how food insecurity affects their drug regimens, and illness and death rates.”

Do we really need a study to find out whether starving people fare worse than properly fed ones, especially when they are taking drugs with nasty side effects? Do we really need a study to discover whether starving women will sell their bodies to feed their families?

And, Oh!, how George Orwell would have relished that “food insecurity” in place of “on the edge of starvation”!

I’m curious to know, among a number of other things: Who dreamed up this study? How are the “Informed Consent” documents phrased? Which oversight bodies approved those documents—and for that matter, this whole study?

What is the ethical warrant for spending money on research whose outcome is already known and that requires observing rather than feeding people? Could not some of the resources being expended in the study be diverted to the provision of food to some of the starving ones?

Apparently, the study’s obvious outcome isn’t obvious to everyone, the investigation is needed “to demonstrate that packaging food aid with H.I.V. drugs or reimbursing patients for travel can actually improve health and save lives”. Demonstrate to whom? To the “international donors [who] demand data and documentation. They want proof that an intervention will reduce the total misery index before they will shell out millions of euros for new programs, even if the need appears self-evident”. [How George Orwell would have relished that “total misery index”!]

Concerned lest we appear to waste resources, elaborate and expensive studies are carried out to “demonstrate” what everyone already knows—because common sense and experience are not sufficient to justify official actions, there must be the paperwork at hand to guard the policy-makers and the bureaucrats against any suggestion that they might actually be responsible for the decisions for which they are responsible.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I trust that all the researchers, and those who approved this study and those who are funding it, and those who profit from the sales of antiretroviral drugs, will enjoy their customary seasonal feasts.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, clinical trials, HIV absurdities | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WORLD AIDS DAY: SHARON STONE ON LARRY KING, SHARING URBAN LEGENDS (OR CELEBRITY FACTS)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2007/12/22

“Urban legends” are widely believed stories that circulate without the benefit of supporting evidence. “Celebrity facts” are urban legends expressed in sound bites.

* * * * * *

SHARON STONE: “We will stand for the one child who dies every minute. We will stand for the one person who dies every second of AIDS. “

ELTON JOHN: “It is a huge pandemic that’s affecting the whole world.”

ANGELINA JOLIE: “Every 14 seconds a child becomes orphaned.”

SHARON STONE: “We will not be silent. We will not be silenced. We will stand for those 40 million people who are, at this moment, dying of AIDS”.

[The above from video clips included in the program.]

* * * * * *

[The following from Sharon Stone to Larry King]
“a child is dying every two minutes from AIDS. We have to look at what’s really happening. And I think the biggest number we have to look at is how many people have survived AIDS. Zero.”

“people don’t really believe it can happen to them. I don’t think that people are in the reality of how prevalent AIDS really is and how serious that it really is. . . . it’s the fourth leading killer of women in America . . . half of the people that have AIDS are women.”

Medications prevent mother-to-child transmission: “mothers of HIV [sic] were able to give birth to zero children with AIDS”.

* * * * * *

My valued correspondent Tony alerted me to this interview by Larry King with Sharon Stone, on 27 November, in honor of World AIDS Day. I got a transcript, and the quotes above are taken from that.

Stone is in her “12th year with the American Foundation for AIDS Research, now the Global Foundation for AIDS Research”; earlier she had “worked at the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation here in our community when it was just a very small thing, a local fair. And of course now it’s a worldwide foundation, which is really quite wonderful”.

Well-meaning celebrities often lend their names and their presence to fund-raising and consciousness-raising events of all sorts. How much responsibility do they bear for getting their facts straight?

If the intentions are good, do the facts matter?

If the cause is a good one, do the facts matter?

To what extent does it matter, that every one of the asserted “facts” cited above is at variance with at least one of official data, reality, or plain common sense?

* * * * * *

In the video clip, a child is said to die every minute; in the interview, it’s every two minutes. Does this difference of a factor of 2 matter, halving or doubling the claimed number?

What had struck me most was the adult dying every second. That seems an awful lot. How many does that make in a year?

I checked my rough figuring by means of a calculator, and then checked it again twice to make sure I had my decimal point in the correct place. 1 per second equals 31,500,000 per year. Stone asserted that 31,500,000 adults die each year of AIDS.

According to UNAIDS (update of December 2006), annual adult deaths from AIDS were 2,600,000. Does it matter that Stone’s number is 12 times as large as the UNAIDS figure? (She couldn’t yet have known of the UNAIDS December 2007 update that lowered the estimate from 2,600,000 to 1,700,000.)

* * * * * *

Here’s what the National Statistical Service says about the leading causes of death among women in the United States for 2004 (CDC National Vital Statistics Reports, 56 #5, 20 November 2007):

cdc2004femaledeaths.jpg

Far from being fourth, as Stone told Larry King, AIDS is not even among the TEN leading causes of death.

When the data are broken down by age category, AIDS is not in the top ten for ages up to 19. At ages 20-24, “HIV disease” comes in at #8. Accidents come first, accounting for 40.5% of all deaths in this age group. “HIV disease” is responsible for only 1.4% of all deaths, less not only than accidents but also below assault, cancer, suicide, heart disease, pregnancy and childbirth, and congenital illnesses.

For women between 25 and 34, “HIV disease” has moved up to #6, below accidents, cancer, heart disease, suicide, and assault; it represents 4.4% of all deaths in this age range.

For ages 35 to 44, “HIV disease” is up at #5 but still represents just 4.3% of all deaths. In the next group (ages 45-54), it’s back down to #9, and 1.6% of all deaths. Above age 55, it fails again to make it into the top ten.

Perhaps Stone just misspoke slightly? We’ve all heard that HIV and AIDS in the USA have become a disease of the African American community, with black women particularly at risk. Maybe she meant the fourth leading cause of death among African-American women?

But AIDS doesn’t appear in the top ten there either. It does come in at #8 among 10-14 year-old African-American females, at 2.1% of all deaths in that category. But it’s only at #9 for those aged 15-19 (1.7% of all deaths). It rises to #6 for ages 20-24 (5.5% of all deaths); reaches #1 for ages 25-34 (13.5% of all deaths) before falling to #3 at ages 35-44 (12%), #4 at 45-54 (5%); and disappears again from the “top ten” above age 55.

Add up all the deaths at all ages; “HIV disease” represents 1.5% of all deaths among black females in the United States in 2004. Heart disease claimed 27%, cancer 21%, stroke 7.5%, diabetes 5%. kidney diseases 3%, accidents 2.9%, Alzheimer’s 2.2%, flu and pneumonia 2.1%.
Is the hysteria about the risk of AIDS to black women somewhat disproportionate?

Among white women, “HIV disease” accounted for 0.05% of all deaths.

Among all Americans, both sexes, all races, “HIV disease” accounted for 0.5% of all deaths in 2004.

That’s Elton John’s “huge pandemic . . . affecting the whole world”. Those are the data underlying the official mantras that “everyone is at risk”.

* * * * * *
* * * * * *

Those numbers illustrate yet another stark discrepancy between the actual data about HIV and AIDS and the statements from those who speak for the orthodoxy. I repeat my questions, but now they are rhetorical:

How much responsibility do Sharon Stone, Elton John, Angelina Jolie and other celebrities bear for getting their facts straight?

If their cause is a good one, do the facts matter?

If their intentions are good, do the facts matter?

Celebrities take on these campaigns in the belief that people will pay attention to them, so surely they are responsible for getting things right. Of course it matters what the facts are: it’s the facts that determine whether a cause is a good one or not; and the path to Hell is paved with the good intentions of those who failed to get their facts straight.

* * * * * *

How has it happened that wrong assertions, sometimes patently absurd ones, are swallowed whole by the media, by celebrities, and by the public, on the say-so of a few gurus in white coats?

It could happen because science has become the universal religion and scientists have become priests whose sayings go uncontradicted because of a belief that only they have access to the requisite arcane sources of knowledge. Just ponder what weight the adjectives carry, when it’s said somewhere that “scientific tests have shown…”, or when it’s said that something is “unscientific”. “Scientific” is nowadays a universal synonym for “true”, and “unscientific” is nowadays a universal synonym for “false”.

Another similarity with religion: Anyone who questions the “consensus” disseminated by the white-coated gurus who hold prominent offices is excommunicated. What other word describes so accurately what happened to Peter Duesberg, described in chilling detail in the first chapter of Celia Farber’s “Serious Adverse Events”?

* * * * * *

Those actual data about female deaths in the United States revealed some more numbers that illustrate the failings of HIV/AIDS theory:

1. Why is “HIV disease” a more prominent killer of 10-14-year-old black females than of 15-19-year-old black females?

2. Why is “HIV disease” so much more prominent a killer of black females than of white, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American females?
Here are the rankings (within the top ten) for deaths from “HIV disease”, by age group (corrected 27 December):

deathstats2004-2.jpg

Note, by way of preamble, that Stone said deaths from AIDS, not from “HIV disease”. “AIDS”, “HIV/AIDS”, and “HIV disease” have been made into synonyms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bear ultimate responsibility for this because, starting in the late 1980s, they expanded the definition of “AIDS” a number of times to include common diseases when the patient happens to test HIV-positive; thus people with tuberculosis have tuberculosis if they are HIV-negative, but they are “living with AIDS” if they are HIV-positive. So a death from “HIV disease” signifies a death from any manifest cause if the person happens to have tested HIV-positive: “all deaths among HIV-positives are counted as AIDS deaths . . . [even if death resulted from] liver failure, a heart attack, suicide, drowning, CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection, or a car accident, or anything else” (“Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?” by Rebecca Culshaw, p. 30; the specific example given there is for Massachusetts).

This confusion, or lumping together, of HIV and AIDS is illustrated when Stone said, “mothers of HIV [sic] were able to give birth to zero children with AIDS”, but it is also evident in the official CDC Surveillance Reports, which in several places do not distinguish “HIV-positive” from “living with AIDS”; for example, from the 2004 Report, “Table 1. Estimated numbers of cases of HIV/AIDS, by year of diagnosis and selected characteristics of persons, 2001-2004—35 areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting”.

Here then is the reason why black females die so much more often from “AIDS” than do other females. “HIV-positive” is not a sign of infection by an HIV virus, it is a non-specific indication of some sort of physiological stress. In any given circumstances, when exposed to some health challenge or stress, people of African ancestry test “HIV-positive” much more often than others do. So deaths from all sorts of common diseases are labeled “AIDS” deaths more often in the case of black people than with members of other human groups. A comprehensive survey of race-related data and associated discussion are in my book: chapter 5, “HIV discriminates by race”; chapter 6, “What is it about race?”; chapter 7, “Racism”. An earlier and shorter discussion is in an article posted at http://hivnotaids.homestead.com/RACE.html.

Posted in HIV and race, HIV risk groups, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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