HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

HIV and BREASTFEEDING AGAIN

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/02/13

In science, hypotheses get modified as data accumulates. In HIV/AIDS research, the basic dogmas are not modified as actual data falsify them. “HIV” continues to be pronounced a sexually transmitted virus even as a great deal of evidence from epidemiology and from clinical practice says that it isn’t (WHAT “HIV” IS NOT: IT’S NOT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED, 6 January 2008). Condom use is urged in face of the evidence that they make no difference (or are even associated with a HIGHER rate of HIV-positive—see CONDOMS AND HIV: WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS IS ONCE AGAIN WRONG, 10 February 2008 ).

Breastfeeding is associated with less “transmission of HIV” than not breastfeeding (MORE HIV, LESS INFECTION: THE BREASTFEEDING CONUNDRUM, 21 November 2007). Nevirapine and AZT are known to produce irreversible, lifelong mitochondrial damage to babies exposed to them (FIRST: DO NO HARM!, 19 December 2007). And still there are further “studies” carried on to see whether those toxic drugs can prevent “HIV infection” supposedly incurred through breastfeeding:

“Longer drug regimen found to help babies avoid H.I.V.”, by Lawrence K. Altman, New York Times 5 February 2008

“Over recent years, giving an antiretroviral drug to a woman infected with the AIDS virus in labor and to her baby at birth has reduced the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby. Yet many babies born uninfected go on to acquire H.I.V. . . in the lengthy period of breast feeding because of contamination of the mother’s milk. Now researchers have found for the first time that the incidence of the virus among breast-fed infants can be significantly reduced by extending antiretroviral drugs for much longer periods, up to six months. . . . Breast feeding accounts for up to 48 percent of H.I.V. infections among infants in developing countries . . . . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . . . paid for three of the five breast-feeding studies reported at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections . . . . Additional studies will be needed to determine the cost effectiveness of longer-term therapy. . . . ‘The next series of studies will need to determine the optimal time for treating mothers and infants,’ said Dr. Fauci, whose agency paid for the fifth breast-feeding study. The studies reported here evaluated regimens and the potential of drug resistance among mothers and babies in India and African countries. In a study in the Kisumu area of Kenya, along Lake Victoria, infected mothers took a combination of antiretrovirals from the 34th week of pregnancy and for the first six months of breast feeding their children. The newborns were given the standard single dose of nevirapine to prevent H.I.V. infection that might have occurred in delivery. Of 497 newborns, 12, or 2.4 percent, were infected by the end of the first week of life, from infection in the womb or at birth. An additional 15 infants, or 3 percent, became infected 8 days to 12 months from breast feeding. In a study in Blantyre, Malawi, more than 3,000 infants received one of three regimens of antiretrovirals for the first 14 weeks of life. After nine months of observation, the group that received nevirapine for 14 weeks had the lowest percent of infected infants, 3.1 percent. That compared with 10 percent among the control group, which received one dose of nevirapine and one week of another antiretroviral, AZT. Another part of the Kisumu study showed that most of the infants infected in the first six months of life showed laboratory evidence of genetic resistance to the antiretroviral drugs in the study. But the authors cautioned that the finding did not mean that the drugs would necessarily fail in treating the infants.”

Note:

All the earlier studies that showed breastfeeding in developing countries to be beneficial are simply ignored.

All the studies showing the harm to babies from nevirapine and AZT are ignored. The decrease in “infections” was reported, but how did the babies fare in terms of overall health?

Additional studies are always needed. The number of HIV/AIDS researchers is vast, and they need grants.

Such studies are carried out most readily in Africa. One reason is that ethical requirements for clinical trials include that all those who enroll must be offered no less than the usual standard of care. That requirement is most readily met in Africa, where the usual standard of care in many places is no care at all. That’s why it’s possible in Africa to study whether it’s worth feeding malnourished people (DRUGS OR FOOD?, 25 December 2007) and whether it’s worth de-worming children (ARE INTESTINAL WORMS GOOD FOR US? ARE THEY GOOD FOR AFRICANS? FOR AFRICAN CHILDREN?, 30 December 2007) by contrast to treating them with antiretroviral drugs whose costs exceed those of food and of de-worming medications by orders of magnitude.

Words fail me at this stage. The “drugs or food” issue had even been raised in a couple of editorials in the New York Times without bringing any warranted chorus of outrage.

4 Responses to “HIV and BREASTFEEDING AGAIN”

  1. MacDonald said

    Since our host is momentarily at a loss for words, allow me to add a few observations quite apart from the proven benefit of breastfeeding.

    According to the article,

    “The findings open the way for new prevention strategies in areas where infected mothers cannot avoid breast feeding for a number of reasons. They include lack of access to formula, strong cultural traditions of breast feeding and reluctance to use formula for fear of being stigmatized as being infected, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.”

    And again:

    “For infected mothers who have to breast feed because they live where water is contaminated, the health organization now recommends weaning as soon as a safe and acceptable replacement feeding is available.”

    Thus we learn that,

    1. In areas where there’s a lack of formula milk, it’s easier to provide Nevirapine and AZT than simply shipping in the formula milk. Or have the researchers simply not thought of that solution?

    2. In areas where the problem is clean water, it is easier to inundate the population with AZT and Nevirapine, which even on Fauci’s logic would be of limited benefit for only a few, than providing clean water, which would be of lasting benefit for everybody.

    3. In cultures where there is stigma attached to formula feeding because of suspicion of HIV infection, there is apparently no stigma attached to mothers administering daily doses of AZT and Nevirapine to themselves and their children. . .

    For those whose stomachs aren’t churning by now, and who like statistics games, consider this:

    “Breast feeding accounts for up to 48 percent of H.I.V. infections among infants in developing countries, researchers said.”

    “Up to 48 percent ” means a suitably high-end number has been chosen for the purposes of this article. Only if the children are breastfed for up to 2 years (”breastfed”, especially for this length of time, actually means mixed feeding, which carries the highest risk of infection by far), is it possible to achieve rates of relative transmission approximating 50%. But consensus is that the rate of transmission during pregnancy and delivery is considerably higher than during breastfeeding:

    http://www.avert.org/motherchild.htm

    This means that the last 52% should be more than accounted for by transmission during pregnancy and birth.

    However, there is a third category which understandably finds no room in the statistics. A not-insignificant number of infants become HIV-positive even if they are never breastfed. Here some examples:

    “The randomized trial in Nairobi, Kenya, comparing breast milk with formula, suggested that 10% of the cumulative difference in infection rates between infants in the breastfed and formula-fed arms had occurred by six weeks of age, compared with the total cumulative difference of 16%.”

    And again:

    “The SAINT trial (Moodley et al., 2003) found that breastfed infants were at twice the risk of infection of non-breastfed infants during the first four weeks of life and at seven times the risk between the fourth and eighth weeks. This is because few replacement-fed children become HIV-infected after four weeks.”

    http://www.unfpa.org/upload/lib_pub_file/276_filename_HIV_PREV_BF_GUIDE_ENG.pdf (p.12)

    “Few replacement-fed children become HIV infected after four weeks”? How could any of them become positive in these supposedly controlled trials? How few is “few” exactly? The answer is, as few, or as many, as those exclusively breastfed according to Coutsodis et al.:

    “… exclusive breastfeeding carried a significantly lower risk of HIV-1 transmission than mixed feeding (hazard ratio 0.52 [0.28-0.98]) and a similar risk to no breastfeeding (0.85 [0.51-1.42]).”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10465172?dopt=AbstractPlus

    But regardless which study one selects, and the three “confirmed cases” of transmission via pre-chewed food notwithstanding, it remains an extra-statistical fact that a number of children test HIV-positive seemingly without having ever been exposed to the putative HIV.

  2. CathyVM said

    I’ve just been looking into this maternal antibody transfer issue and none of it makes sense. If memory cells really determine immunity rather than high antibody titres and memory cells are differentiated B cells (IgM that do not pass through the placental barrier) then surely antibody transfer during pregnancy is merely artefact? The rest of the antibody isotypes (and presumably memory cells) are passed on via colostrum. If this is the case then advising women not to breastfeed if possible is even more genocidal than it first appears.

  3. MacDonald said

    “Such studies are carried out most readily in Africa. One reason is that ethical requirements for clinical trials include that all those who enroll must be offered no less than the usual standard of care. That requirement is most readily met in Africa, where the usual standard of care in many places is no care at all. That’s why it’s possible in Africa to study whether it’s worth feeding malnourished people (DRUGS OR FOOD?, 25 December 2007) and whether it’s worth de-worming children (ARE INTESTINAL WORMS GOOD FOR US? ARE THEY GOOD FOR AFRICANS? FOR AFRICAN CHILDREN?, 30 December 2007)”.

    Another case in point: Since the Merck HIV-vaccine fiasco — which showed that dabbling in HIV-vaccines when one doesn’t really know what one is doing can be quite dangerous — the vaccine hunters have reached two conclusions:

    1) Animal and in vitro models of “HIV” infection are next to useless in predicting what happens to humans in vivo.

    2) It is ethically problematic to conduct human experiments with HIV-vaccines on the basis of animal models .

    The Catch-22 faced by the scientists is that more human experimentation is needed to find out what actually happens in human vaccinees because the animal models have poor predictive value. But at the same time we cannot very well inject people with potentially dangerous vaccines when we are unable to guess the effects from animal experiments. So how to solve this moral dilemma? Well, by a simple utilitarian calculation:

    “An FDA advisory panel said HIV/AIDS trials in adolescents may be appropriate in countries where adolescents are at higher risk for the disease, but said the risks may outweigh the benefits for testing in U.S. teens. The group is considering medical and ethical questions to improve research guidelines for testing a variety of therapies in clinical trials in children.”

    Some may object there is nothing new in this, so why the need to convene an “advisory panel”? Elementary, dear Watsons: The advisory panel has been convened for the sole purpose of inventing a suitable euphemism for “African children”; one that will help us “improve” (read “circumvent”) the ethical guidelines for HIV research. Thus the chosen euphemism cannot simply be “high-risk teenagers”, since it would not exclude all American teenagers. An extra criterion is therefore added, cleverly disguised as a common sense observation. Read with and without the brackets to see how gently we’re persuaded:(The) high-risk teenagers (must) come from high-risk countries.

    And so we’re finally ready for the semantic sleight of hand, the almost undetectable leap of logic, whereby the at-riskness of the teenagers will be defined exclusively by what country they live in. The circle is complete and we’re of course back where we started: in sub-Saharan Africa, with free reins and renewed assurance of our fundamentally altruistic motives.

    http://www.smartbrief.com/news/bio/storyDetails.jsp?issueid=077A8E36-9FC5-4F2D-BA82-80829B1E8985&copyid=724726CF-79BF-48BC-98F3-F90CAEDC9956

  4. hhbauer said

    MacD:

    Words fail me, to coin a cliche. You have pointed to a rather striking ilustration of how unwavering belief in an erroneous theory can cause ordinary human beings to ignore common sense and to avoid thinking about the consequences of their decisions. The banality of evil, in other words, to recall another cliche.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s