HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Archive for July, 2008

Science Studies 102: Burden of proof, HIV/AIDS “science”, pseudo-science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/22

For a long time, the central question in philosophy of science was to find objective, specific, and practically applicable criteria for deciding whether a claim or investigation warrants designation as “science”; without that, one cannot legitimately class anything as “not science” or “pseudo-science”. Tried and found wanting were notions of “scientific method”, falsifiability, progressiveness or regressiveness of research programs, as well as other, less well known attempts. Perhaps the definitive history and debunking of these attempts is by Larry Laudan (1).

Nevertheless, the epithet “pseudo-science” continues to be bandied about in controversies over such matters as human-caused global warming, psychic phenomena, HIV/AIDS, Loch Ness monsters—wherever dogmatists are 100% sure of their beliefs, they like to describe the opposing position as pseudo-science.

The history of such arguments teaches that they are finally settled only by evidence specific to the particular claims, not by application of abstract notions like scientific method or falsifiability (2); for no matter how plausible some abstract criterion may seem at first sight, in practice illustrations of it can be found on both sides of the imagined divide between science and pseudo-science.

Take the matter of burden of proof (3). Defenders of mainstream paradigms like to portray those who put forward unorthodox claims as saying, “Prove me wrong”, when actually the onus is on the dissenters to prove their claims right; but in practice, one can find mainstreamers themselves setting the challenge, “Prove us wrong”, instead of providing the necessary proof that the mainstream view is sound.

Immanuel Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision” had received great public acclaim in the 1950s, and the Velikovskian cult gained widespread support even among prominent humanists and social scientists (4), despite the huge implausibility of his claims: that a comet ejected from Jupiter had nearly collided with Earth and Mars, producing such Biblical events as the parting of the Red Sea and the fall of Jericho’s walls before settling eventually into its present position as the planet Venus.
“Throughout Velikovsky’s writing runs the subtly misleading attitude that the onus is on his critics to prove him wrong. Whenever he states — as he often does — that his case is unshaken and has not been disproved, the unwary listener or reader is led to expect that some clear disproof is called for, and that in its absence Velikovsky’s reconstruction stands as plausible or even valid. But in all fields of knowledge the onus of proof rests on the new proposition” (5).

Yet when it comes to HIV/AIDS, it is the orthodoxy that states, “Prove us wrong”, and that refuses to accept the onus of proof. Mainstream discourse is salted and peppered with statements to the effect that “the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is overwhelming” (6), yet the mainstream has never established, for example:
1. That a positive HIV-test marks the presence of active infection (7).
Whole virions of HIV have never been isolated direct from an HIV-positive individual. Indeed, a prize of $50,000 awaits anyone who uncovers a scientific publication in which such isolation has been demonstrated (8).
2. That HIV-positive portends progress to AIDS, and all AIDS patients are HIV-positive.
To the contrary: It has long been known that there are thousands (at least) of “long-term non-progressors” or “elite controllers”, HIV-positive individuals who have not become ill, some of them “positive” since the early 1980s. It has also been known since the early 1990s that there are many clinically diagnosed AIDS patients who have never tested HIV-positive, causing the mainstream to invent the new condition of “ICL” (9).
3. What mechanism it is by which HIV destroys the immune system (11).
4. What properties a vaccine needs to have to protect against infection (12).

As noted before [Science Studies 101: Why is HIV/AIDS “science” so unreliable?, 18 July 2008], the repeated publication of mainstream HIV/AIDS claims without adequate proof represents a failure of peer review that began in the late 1980s when Duesberg’s critiques were ignored. The initial claim that Gallo had discovered the “probable” viral cause of AIDS became accepted by default, it was never followed by definitive published proof; a prize of ₤50,000 awaits whoever produces proof of isolation of virions from AIDS patients (13).

By contrast, HIV/AIDS rethinkers and skeptics have accepted the onus of proof by publishing positive evidence to the effect that
1. A retrovirus cannot do what HIV is charged with doing (14).
2. Illnesses developing in “AIDS” patients who abuse drugs are specific to the particular drug; signifying that it is the drug that produces the illness and the frequently positive HIV-test in drug abusers (15).
3. Kaposi’s sarcoma in gay men in the United States results predominantly from persistent inhalation of nitrite “poppers” (16).
4. Official data show that the tendency to test HIV-positive has the characteristics of an endemic physiological property, not of a spreading infection (10).
5. Officially reported deaths from “HIV disease” since 1987 demonstrate that antiretroviral drugs have had no life-extending effect (17). AIDS patients treated by alternative modalities have lower mortality than those treated with antiretroviral drugs (18).
6. Officially reported death statistics together with officially reported data on HIV “infection” demonstrate that the 10-year latent period supposed to intervene between “infection” and illness does not exist (17).

References

1. Larry Laudan, “The demise of the demarcation problem”, pp. 111-27 in Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, ed. R. S. Cohen & L. Laudan, Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1983

2. Henry H. Bauer, Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001

3.  pp. 220-1 in reference 2

4. Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky, University of Illinois Press, 1984

5. P. 171 in reference 4

6. For instance, read the testimonies of the expert witnesses in the Parenzee case.

7. “The birth of antibodies equal infection”, Appendix II (pp. 333-40) in Celia Farber, Serious Adverse Events, Melville House, 2006

8. May 2007: Alive & Well $50,000 Fact Finder Award—Find one study, save countless lives

9. See “ICL” in index of reference 10 for details and sources

10. Henry H. Bauer, The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, McFarland, 2007

11. Chapter 7 of Principles of Molecular Virology

12. “Is it time to give up the search for an Aids vaccine? After 25 years and billions of pounds, leading scientists are now forced to ask this question”, 24 April 2008, by Steve Connor and Chris Green, Independent.co.uk

13. The Michael Verney-Elliott Memorial Prize: £50,000 reward for the existence of ‘HIV’; letter of 29 March 2008

14. Peter H. Duesberg, Retroviruses as carcinogens and pathogens: expectations and reality, Cancer Research 47 (1987) 1199–220; Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: correlation but not causation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 86 (1989) 755–64.

15. Duesberg, P., Koehnlein, C. and Rasnick, D. The Chemical Bases of the Various AIDS Epidemics: Recreational Drugs, Anti-viral Chemotherapy and Malnutrition, Journal of Bioscience 28 (2003) 383-412

16. John Lauritsen and Hank Wilson, Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS, Pagan Press, 1986

17. “HIV DISEASE” IS NOT AN ILLNESS, 19 March 2008; “Disproof of HIV/AIDS theory” [Society for Scientific Exploration, Annual Meeting, Boulder CO, June 2008]; http://aras.ab.ca/index.php at News for June 30; “Incongruous age distributions of HIV infections and deaths from HIV disease: Where is the latent period between HIV infection and AIDS?” in press, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

18. Only 3 of 36 (12%) of Dr. Köhnlein’s AIDS patients died under alternative treatment compared to about 63% of all AIDS patients in Germany, most of whom were treated with antiretroviral drugs; pp. 401-2, Table 8, in reference 15

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EXPERTS: Climate change and HIV

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/21

I’ve had occasion to remark that under HIV/AIDS theory, HIV makes EVERYTHING worse. So too, of course, does (human-caused) “global warming”. The latter is now known more frequently as “climate change”: a useful semantic shift, for “human-caused global warming” denialists are not obviously wrong, whereas who would dare to be a “climate-change denialist”? Who would dare deny that climate changes? If it doesn’t get warmer, then it’s bound to get cooler, after all; there’s the snowball’s chance in hell that things will remain exactly as they are.

The semantic shift from HIV/AIDS to “HIV disease” is similarly useful. It’s far from immediately obvious that HIV causes AIDS, and it can be embarrassing to be asked for proof that it does. But no one can deny that some people test “HIV-positive”, and no one could deny that “HIV-positive” people eventually die.

Anyway, here’s another authoritative prediction from academic gurus:

Climate change could increase HIV
Climate change will trigger a chain of events that is likely to prompt an increase in HIV rates worldwide, an expert has warned.
Daniel Tarantola of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) said the disadvantage in developing countries must be addressed if the world is to prevent a dramatic escalation of the HIV epidemic as well as other health problems.
‘It was clear soon after the emergence of the HIV epidemic that discrimination, gender inequality and lack of access to essential services have made some populations more vulnerable than others,’ Tarantola said Wednesday.
‘Today, additional threats are lurking on the horizon as the global economic situation deteriorates, food scarcity worsens and climate change begins to affect those who were already dependent on survival economies,’ Tarantola said.
David Cooper, also of UNSW, said: ‘Science has achieved great strides towards shaping a more effective response to HIV. Yet research has not succeeded in producing the hoped-for ‘magic bullets’ of either a cure or a vaccine.’”

Not just global warming and HIV/AIDS, we’re treated to a dose of political correctness as well.

[cr. Hindustan Times, 20 July 2008, from Indo-Asian News Service. Sydney, 1 May 2008]

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Antiretroviral treatment benefits? from 3 MILLION to 1.2 million to …!?!

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/18

The claim by Walensky et al., triumphantly cited by Anthony Fauci, was that “at least 3 million” life-years had been saved by antiretroviral drugs since 1989. The fine print, however, noted that only 1.2 million of those had already been realized, the remainder were expected to be accruing to currently living HIV/AIDS patients [HIV/AIDS SCAM: Have antiretroviral drugs saved 3 million life-years?, 6 July 2008]. Now I come across information showing that even this 1.2 million overstates matters.

The total benefit claimed by Walensky was calculated by them for 6 eras of treatment approach:
Let’s assume PCP prophylaxis yielded savings of only 3.1 months per person in later eras as well as in the first. Then the savings attributed to it amount to 58,000 years in the 2nd era, 19,000 in the 3rd, 14,000 in the 4th, 19,000 in the 5th, and 6,000 in the 6th, giving a total (including the 41,000 in the first era) of 157,000 life-years saved through PCP prophylaxis alone.

But how did Walensky et al. decide that PCP prophylaxis had this survival benefit? Their leading reference regarding PCP prophylaxis is:
“2. Ioannidis JP, Cappelleri JC, Skolnik PR, Lau J, Sacks HS. A metaanalysis of the relative efficacy and toxicity of Pneumocystis carinii prophylactic regimens. Archives of Internal Medicine; 156 (1996) 177–88.”

That article analyzed 35 randomized trials. It excluded one of those from mortality considerations because “mortality data were dominated by the early trial of Fischl et al. (15) in which the mortality from PCP was 50% and PCP accounted for 29% of all deaths in the placebo group. When this study was excluded, prophylaxis . . . offered no survival benefit over placebo (risk ratio 1.00 [95% CI, 0.72 to 1.39]). Similarly, no significant difference was seen in overall mortality among different prophylactic regimens”.
The Fischl trial was of a cohort of people already diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma; Fischl et al., JAMA 259 [1988] 1185-9. Half of those treated with Bactrim prophylaxis had “adverse reactions”. The authors commented that this drug is known to cause bone-marrow suppression, which would be enhanced by the antiretroviral then in use, AZT = zidovudine, which has the same “side”-effect.

In concluding comments, Ioannidis et al. again note the lack of survival benefit: “P carinii prophylaxis significantly reduced P carinii events and P carinii-related deaths, but there was no statistically significant reduction in the overall mortality of patients who received prophylaxis”.

Evidently the estimate of benefits of anti-HIV treatment needs to be further reduced below 3 million 1.2 million.

In every form of treatment, what matters to patients is quality of life and a possible reduction in all-cause mortality: it’s no gain if one dies just as soon or sooner from the drugs than from the ailment. It is by no means routine, unfortunately, for all-cause mortality to be reported in clinical trials; that lack is emphasized in Joel Kauffman’s rigorously researched book, Malignant Medical Myths.

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Science Studies 101: Why is HIV/AIDS “science” so unreliable?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/18

Recent comments and e-mails reminded me of my career change, about 3 decades ago, from chemist to science-studies scholar. I had begun to wonder: What is it exactly that has made science so strikingly reliable?

(This is a long post. If you prefer to read it as a pdf—of course without hyperlinks to some of the on-line references—here it is: sciencestudies101).

Over the years, teaching chemistry and publishing research in electrochemistry, I had become increasingly aware that research practices and practitioners differ significantly from the ideal images that had attracted me (1). My education, like that of most scientists, had been strictly technical: chemistry, physics, math, biology, statistics. Recreational reading had added some history of chemistry, which also focused on the technical aspects—progress, discoveries, breakthroughs. We were not exposed to history, philosophy, or sociology of science in any meaningful way; nor are most people who study science even nowadays.

Mid-20th century, that lack of exposure to the context and significance of scientific activity was partly a matter of Zeitgeist, I recognize in hindsight. Philosophy of science was rather in flux. History of science as a whole was not so different in approach from the history of chemistry I had read—and perhaps not so different from how history in general was being taught: as milestones of achievement made by great individuals (largely, of course, men). Sociology of science had been founded only in the late 1930s. It was the 1960s before historians of science and philosophers of science began to engage seriously with one another, an engagement illustrated by Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. Sociologists of science, too, began to engage with the historians and philosophers of science.

Following World War II, some scientists and engineers were looking for ways to make their knowledge an effective influence in public policy. Emblematic of this quest was the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Starting about 1960, there were founded a variety of free-standing academic courses, a few research centers, and some organized academic programs under the rubric of “science and society”. These science-based ventures and the history-philosophy-based ones soon recognized each other as concerned with the same issues, yet even after a half-century, no truly integrated multi-disciplinary approach to understanding scientific activity has matured into an overall consensus (3). There persists a distinct internal division between those whose backgrounds are in the practice of science and technology and those whose backgrounds are in the humanities and social sciences (3, 4, 5). But despite differences over modes of interpretation and what is most worth looking into, there has accumulated a body of agreed facts about scientific activity. Most important for the present purpose is that many of those facts about science are at variance with commonplace conventional wisdom. Misconceptions about scientific activity are pervasive, not least among practicing scientists and medical practitioners.

I was lucky enough to participate in the early days of one of the first programs in the world in what has become known as “science and technology studies” (STS). At Virginia Tech, we began with physicists and chemists, economists and sociologists, mathematicians, statisticians, political scientists, and other as well, telling one another how we thought about science. We scientists learned to be less sure that our research reveals unchanging, objective, universal facts about the real world. The humanists and social scientists learned that the physical and biological sciences uncover facts about the real world that are more trustworthy than the knowledge accessible in such disciplines as sociology. We learned also how different are the viewpoints and intellectual values to which we are schooled in the various disciplines: in a sense, the differences are not so much intellectual as cultural ones (6,7, 8). I learned even more about such cultural differences between academic fields through having responsibility for the variety of disciplines embraced by a college of Arts & Sciences (10).

A salient fact is that “the scientific method” is more myth than reality (2, 11). What makes science relatively reliable is not any protocol or procedure that an individual scientist can follow, it is the interaction among practitioners as they critique one another’s claims, seek to build on them, and modify them, under constraints imposed by the concrete results of observations and experiments. Because individual biases predispose us to interpret the results of those observations and experiments in congenial ways, the chief safeguard of relative objectivity and reliability is honest, substantive peer-review by colleagues and competitors. That’s why I was grateful to “Fulano de Tal” when he pointed to errors in one of my posts: we rethinkers do not have the benefit of the organized peer-reviewing that is available—ideally speaking—in mainstream discourse [see Acknowledgment in More HIV/AIDS GIGO (garbage in and out): “HIV” and risk of death, 12 July 2008].

Because proper peer-review is so vital, conflicts of interest can be ruinously damaging (12, 13). Recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are too often worthless—worse, they are sometimes positively dangerous (14)—because in latter days the advisory panels are being filled overwhelmingly with consultants for drug companies. That’s not generally enough appreciated, despite a large and authoritative literature on the subject (15-20).

Lacking familiarity with the findings of science studies, scientists are likely to be disastrous as administrators. It was a Nobel-Prize winner who relaxed the rules on conflicts of interest when he headed the National Institutes of Health, with quite predictably deplorable consequences (21). There have been many fine administrators of technical enterprises, but few had been themselves groundbreaking discoverers. To convince the scientific community of something that’s remarkable and novel, a scientist must be single-minded, captivated by the idea and willing to push it to the limit, against all demurrers—very bad qualities in an administrator; the latter ought to be a good listener, an adept engineer of compromises, an adroit manager able to stick to principles with an iron hand well masked by a velvet glove.

Those who have the egotism and dogmatic self-confidence to break new ground also need luck to be on their side, for—as Jack (I. J.) Good likes to point out—geniuses are cranks who happen to be right, and cranks are geniuses who happen to be wrong: in personal characteristics they are identical twins (22, 23). This role of luck has important implications: it’s why Nobel-Prize winners so rarely have comparable repeat successes, and why they should not be automatically regarded as the most insightful spokespeople on all and sundry matters.

HIV/AIDS vigilantes like to denigrate rethinkers for not having had their hands dirtied by direct research on the matters they discuss. Historians and sociologists of science, however, know that some of the most acclaimed breakthroughs were made by disciplinary outsiders, who were not blinkered and blinded by the contemporary paradigm (24, 25).

Self-styled “skeptics” (26) like to denigrate heterodox views as “pseudo-science” just because those views are heterodox, ignorant of the fact that there are no general criteria available by which to judge whether something is “scientific”; and they tend to be also ignorant of the fact that “scientific” cannot be translated as “true” (2, 27, 28).

Most relevant to the question of the “truth” of scientific knowledge is that science and scientists tend to occupy something of a pedestal of high prestige in contemporary society; perhaps because when we think of “science” we also tend to think “Einstein” and other such celebrated innovators. But nowadays there are a great many run-of-the-mill scientists, and even considerably incompetent ones: “Science, like the military, has its hordes of privates and non-coms, as well as its few heroes (from all ranks) and its few field marshals” (29)—which serves to explain, perhaps, some of the examples of sheer incompetence displayed in HIV/AIDS matters (30). Pertinent here is the fact that much medical research is carried out by people trained as doctors; training for physicians’ work is by no means training for research.

——————-

Those are some of the ways in which the commonplace conventional wisdom is wrong about science, but there are plenty more (24, 25, 32, 33). Those misconceptions play an important role in the hold that HIV/AIDS theory continues to have on practitioners, commentators, and observers, and they need to be pointed out in answer to the natural question often put to rethinkers: “But how could everyone be so wrong for so long?”

That’s why Part II of my book (31) has the title, “Lessons from History”, with chapters on “Missteps in modern medical science”, “How science progresses”, and “Research cartels and knowledge monopolies”. (About research cartels and knowledge monopolies, see also 34, 35). I’m enormously grateful to Virginia Tobiassen, the fine editor who helped me with the book, not least for the opportunity to augment the technical Part I with this Part II and the Part III that recounts the specific details of how HIV/AIDS theory went so wrong.

I’ve come to understand a great deal more since the book came out, among other things that perhaps the crucial turn on the wrong path came when Peter Duesberg’s rigorously researched and documented argument against HIV/AIDS theory went without comment, even in face of an editorial footnote promising such a response (36). Just as virologists ignored Duesberg’s substantive critiques, so epidemiologists ignored the informed critiques by Gordon Stewart (37) and immunologists ignored the fully documented questions raised by Robert Root-Bernstein (38); and just about everyone in mainstream fields ignored John Lauritsen’s insights into data analysis and his insider’s knowledge of interactions among gay men (39).

Peer review in HIV/AIDS “science” lapsed fatally from the beginning and has not yet recovered. Thus the only real safeguard of reliability was lost, it sometimes seems irretrievably.

References:
1. “Are chemists not scientists?”—p. 19 ff. in reference 2.
2. Henry H. Bauer, Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method, University of Illinois Press, 1992.
3. —— , A consumer’s guide to science punditry, Chapter 2 in Science Today: Problem or Crisis?, ed. R. Levinson & J. Thomas, Routledge, 1997.
4. —— , Two kinds of knowledge: maps and stories, Journal of Scientific Exploration 9 (1995) 257-75.
5. —— , The anti-science phenomenon in science studies, Science Studies 9 (1996) 34-49; .
6 —— , Disciplines as cultures, Social Epistemology 4 (1990) 215-27.
7. —— , Barriers against interdisciplinarity: Implications for studies of Science, Technology, and Society (STS), Science, Technology, & Human Values 15 (1990) 105-19.
8. Chapters 11, 14, 15 (in particular) in reference 9.
9. Henry H. Bauer, Fatal Attractions: The Troubles with Science, Paraview, 2001.
10. Chapters 15, 16 in Henry H. Bauer (as ‘Josef Martin’), To Rise above Principle: The Memoirs of an Unreconstructed Dean, University of Illinois Press.
11. Chapters 4, 5 in reference 9.
12. Chapter 5 in reference 2.
13. Andrew Stark, Conflict of Interest in American Public Life, Harvard University Press, 2000.
14. Joel Kauffman, Malignant Medical Myths: Why Medical Treatment Causes 200,000 Deaths in the USA each Year, and How to Protect Yourself, Infinity Publishing, 2006.
15. John Abramson, Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, HarperCollins, 2004.
16. Marcia Angell, The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do about It, Random House, 2004.
17. Jerry Avorn, Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs, Knopf, 2004.
18. Merrill Goozner, The $800 Million Pill: The Truth behind the Cost of New Drugs, University of California Press, 2004.
19. Jerome Kassirer, On the Take: How Medicine’s Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health, Oxford University Press, 2004.
20. Sheldon Krimsky, Science in the Private Interest, Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.
21. David Willman, Los Angeles Times, 7 December 2003: “Stealth merger: Drug companies and government medical research”, p. A1; “Richard C. Eastman: A federal researcher who defended a client’s lethal drug”, p. A32; “John I. Gallin: A clinic chief’s desire to ‘learn about industry’”, p. A33; “Ronald N. Germain: A federal lab leader who made $1.4 million on the side”, p. A34; “Jeffrey M. Trent: A government accolade from a paid consultant”, p. A35; “Jeffrey Schlom: A cancer expert who aided studies using a drug wanted by a client”, p. A35.
22. Henry H. Bauer, “The fault lies in their stars, and not in them — when distinguished scientists lapse into pseudo-science”, Center for the Study of Science in Society, Virginia Tech, 8 February 1996; “The myth of the scientific method”, 3rd Annual Josephine L. Hopkins Foundation Workshop for Science Journalists, Cornell University, 26 June 1996.
23. Chapters 9, 10 in reference 9.
24. Ernest B. Hook (ed.), Prematurity in Scientific Discovery: On Resistance and Neglect, University of California Press, 2002.
25. Henry H. Bauer, The progress of science and implications for science studies and for science policy, Perspectives on Science 11 (#2, 2003) 236-78.
26. The mother of all “skeptical” groups is CSICOP, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer; see George P. Hansen, “CSICOP and the Skeptics: an overview”, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 86 (#1, 1992) 19-63.
27. Chapters 1-3, 6, 7 in reference 9.
28. Henry H. Bauer, Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001.
29. “Science as an institution”, pp. 303-6 in Henry H. Bauer, Beyond Velikovsky: The History of a Public Controversy, University of Illinois Press, 1984.
30. Pp. 110, 192, 195 in reference 31.
31. Henry H. Bauer, The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, McFarland, 2007.
32. Chapters 1, 4, 6, 7 in reference 2.
33. Chapter 12 in reference 9.
34. Chapter 13 in reference 9.
35. Henry H. Bauer, Science in the 21st century: knowledge monopolies and research cartels, Journal of Scientific Exploration 18 (2004) 643-60.
36. Peter H. Duesberg, Retroviruses as carcinogens and pathogens: expectations and reality, Cancer Research 47 (1987) 1199–220; Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: correlation but not causation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 86 (1989) 755–64.
37. Gordon T. Stewart, A paradigm under pressure: HIV-AIDS model owes popularity to wide-spread censorship. Index on Censorship (UK) 3 (1999).
38. Robert Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS—The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, Free Press, 1993.
39. John Lauritsen, The AIDS War: Propaganda, Profiteering and Genocide from the Medical-Industrial Complex, 1993, ASKLEPIOS. ISBN 0–943742–08–0.

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SELENIUM: Mainstreamers again follow rethinkers as to dietary supplements

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/07/14

“Anecdotal” reports that “HIV-positive” people experience improved health from dietary supplements have long been pooh-poohed by the Pooh-Bahs of the HIV/AIDS Establishment. Periodically, however, mainstream journals publish “scientific” reports that “micronutrients” improve the health of “HIV-positive” people, see for instance WHAT’S IN A NAME? VITAMIN THERAPY BAD, MICRONUTRIENT THERAPY GOOD, 16 May 2008; David Rasnick, “The AIDS ribbon is a noose around the neck of Africa”, at www.dipmat.unipg.it/~mamone/sci-dem/sci&dem.htm, posted 9 May 2008.

This month, Dr. Barry Hurwitz of the University of Miami reported a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of selenium supplements stretching over 9 months and enrolling 262 HIV-positive people [“Selenium for HIV”, WFTV.com, 1 July 2008]. Selenium controlled or even lowered viral load, there was a positive dose-response correlation, and selenium also led to higher CD4 counts. According to Hurwitz, “I liken the effect of selenium to a lion tamer in a zoo. . . . What it tends to do is make viruses more docile and they are less likely to replicate. The effect of selenium appears to be acting directly on the virus”.

In April, a 5-year study from Tanzania reported that “micronutrient supplements appeared to decrease the risk of early tuberculosis recurrences among HIV-positive patients”; and there was “significantly decreased… incidence of peripheral neuropathy, regardless of HIV status”. Details are in articles by CS Benn et al. and by E Villamor et al. in Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 197 [2008], 1487-9 and 1499-1505 respectively (available free online).

Neither of the latter articles, nor the media reports, mentioned the name of Harold D. Foster, who has been amassing and disseminating information about the benefits of selenium supplements for AIDS patients (among others). In numerous articles and a book, “What really causes AIDS” (download available at Foster’s website), Foster brings together a wealth of sources that report a significant correlation of availability of selenium with a better prognosis for AIDS patients as well as with a lower frequency of positive HIV tests. A recent concise summary is in “Nutrients used in AIDS cases offer hope”, Well Being Journal, May/June 2008, 14-19.

Like Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath, Foster is an enthusiast for his cause who may lapse into over-enthusiasm. His website offers several other books, he considers selenium to offer benefits also in treating schizophrenia, and he seems in general an advocate of the orthomolecular approach to medicine. He is therefore readily found guilty by association with unorthodox views; but his claims are fully documented, often from mainstream sources; and, as noted above, mainstream researchers who happen to look in similar directions as Foster come to similar conclusions, albeit they fail to credit him for being there before them.

Foster makes a number of sound arguments against current standard practices in treatment of AIDS patients, but he accepts the theory that HIV is the cause of AIDS. However, all his data are equally compatible with the view that selenium is a necessary trace element, that its deficiency makes people more vulnerable to a range of illnesses and infections, and that remedying the deficiency makes for generally better health and ability to fight off infections.

Foster’s work is well worth attending to because it is so determinedly EMPIRICAL. One can learn from the evidence he cites and the sources he references, whether or not one ultimately draws the same conclusions as he does. Those of us who know that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS can still recognize the value of providing malnourished people with dietary supplements, and we can accept comfortably that “AIDS” patients benefit from such treatment, possibly even more than people who are less ill to begin with.

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