HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Archive for January, 2009

Scientific illiteracy, the media, science pundits, governments, and HIV/AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/01/15

“HIV/AIDS” is one of those “hard cases” that illustrate how disastrous can be the scientific illiteracy that is so widespread among science journalists (and among general journalists even more so), among self-appointed science pundits, among the science advisors to governments, among policy makers, and — last but far from least — within the scientific community itself.

Scientists often like to say that no one can understand science without actually having done some. There’s important truth to that. However, it’s also importantly true that you can’t understand science if all you know about it comes from having done some science. Working scientists learn a great deal about the leaves, roots, warts and microscopic components of the particular tree they happen to get fascinated by, but there’s nothing about doing science that automatically brings insight into the whole tree, let alone the forest of scientific activity, let alone the wider societal context with which that forest interacts.

A growing sense of the need for a comprehensive and contextual understanding of the proper place of science and technology in a modern society stimulated the emergence, during the last half century or so, of what has become the almost established yet little known field of “science studies” or “science and technology studies” (STS) — almost unknown outside academe, and within academe about as little known, understood, or appreciated as are, say, departments of religion or theology or religious studies. Two streams of endeavor are at the foundations of STS. One came from technologists, scientists, political scientists, and others concerned that inventions like the atomic bomb, with incalculable potential impact on humanity, could be handled sensibly only by a polity and governance that understands science and technology in all their aspects and implications. The second stream emerged from a recognition among philosophers of science, historians of science, and sociologists of science that their disciplinary insights were inadequate to grasp the totality of scientific activity and scientific knowledge and scientific theories. Thus STS is an inescapably interdisciplinary endeavor, fraught with all the extreme difficulties that attend attempts to bring coherence to a multidisciplinary  collection of biases, cultures, and ideologies. Still, despite the lack of a consensual governing paradigm within STS, a few insights are shared across the spectrum of differing approaches, for example:

1. Science and technology are not the same thing. Advances in science will not necessarily lead to important technology.

2. Future knowledge is unforeseeable; future science is unforeseeable. It is paradoxical and counterproductive to aim to support potential breakthroughs by awarding funds to ‘projects’ assessed in the light of the current conventional wisdom.

3. Specific technologies can sometimes be foreseen, but the implications of technology are unforeseeable; and it is virtually certain that any new technology will have unforeseen, unforeseeable, and unwished-for consequences.

4. Because living systems, including human societies, harbor complex interrelationships, even apparently simple individual factors have a multitude of consequences. There is no such feasible thing as ‘only’ wiping out mosquitoes, for example — other living species will be affected; nor can one ‘only’ clean up the environment — the standard of living measured in conventional economic terms will be affected; nor will there be a miracle drug to lower blood cholesterol and leave the rest of a human organism working as before; nor will it make sense to transplant organs until the immune system is understood rather than seen as an enemy to be immobilized.

5. Some of the most worrisome social questions cannot be answered unequivocally. The best available evidence in social matters will always be statistical, and statistical inferences always have a residual uncertainty. Above all: correlations do not signify causation.

6. Science is fallible — individual psychology, social forces, and historical influences affect the direction and performance of science. Nevertheless, science is enormously reliable under normal circumstances.

7. The distinction is vital between frontier science, where much is uncertain, and textbook science, where relatively little is uncertain (within the boundary conditions under which the knowledge was gained). Humanists and social scientists tend to understand the fallibility and contingency of science at the frontier, but tend also to have little if any feel for the enormous reliability of thoroughly tested science; by contrast, engineers and scientists know the enormous reliability of what’s in their texts and reference works without realizing that the same reliability does not pertain to recent discoveries, let alone to extrapolations from them. (For a survey of viewpoints within STS, see A Consumer’s Guide to Science Punditry.)

8. Science is a social activity. As such, it is inherently conservative. Breakthroughs occur despite scientists, not because of them: they occur when reality refuses to have itself molded to current theories. At the same time, the reliability of science depends on the conservatism of science.

It should be evident that at least some of this understanding contradicts directly what “everyone knows” about science — “everyone” including people who imagine themselves competent to hold forth about matters scientific.

Perhaps most pertinent to HIV/AIDS is the little-recognized distinction between frontier science and textbook science. Everything in HIV/AIDS theory is as uncertain and fallible as anything that has been newly observed in a laboratory or in a doctor’s office. “AIDS” was without precedent, and even the now-unquestioned interpretation that it represents a general “immune deficiency” was never established by differential diagnosis, let alone by continued assessment of evidence. Understanding of the immune system at the cellular level was barely beginning in the early 1980s, and the now-unquestioned interpretation that a deficiency of CD4+ cells is crucial has never been established by continued assessment of evidence. Retrovirology was a new specialty. “HIV” is credited with a whole range of unique characteristics for which independent evidence has never been produced. Antiretroviral drugs are introduced with the barest nod to testing their safety and efficacy, and the only valid approach — blinded clinical trials against placebo — is not used.

Despite how tentative remains the basis for much of HIV/AIDS activity, that researchers treat their results as definite until proven otherwise is not particular to HIV/AIDS, it’s in the nature of scientific activity; as also is the fact that researchers treat new publications by others as to-be-relied-upon until proven otherwise. In science, the kudos go to those who push ahead, not to skeptics who try to clean up behind the ground-breakers, who question and quibble and try to prove others wrong in the endeavor to bring genuine reliability to the whole enterprise. What happened with HIV/AIDS is not, on the whole, particularly atypical in principle, it stands out “only” in magnitude and the terrible harm done to many people. All the incentives in science point to going with the herd, and for every maverick who is responsible for an eventual scientific revolution there are untold would-be mavericks whose careers get nowhere. Most scientists, as in most other professions, choose to follow a low-risk path that guarantees a respectably successful career. All budding researchers know that the grants go to those who base their proposals on the prevailing mainstream consensus. Whistleblowers are no more welcome in science than elsewhere. As Sharon Begley noted in a recent article,  even when scientists write about having changed their minds, it’s rare that they changed them significantly — the typical “changes” are modifications that overturn no apple-carts. That overall approach, that routine functioning of the scientific system, has served science and society well in most cases, and it’s whistling in the wind to suggest otherwise. STS understands that the big advances come from the headstrong, ambitious, creative bulls-in-the-china-shops among researchers, not from the scholarly, carefully appraising, skeptical scientists who think before they leap. Science is not done by “the scientific method”, even if it might seem like that by long superficial hindsight that overlooks all the trial-and-error mis-steps along the way — see Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method .

The basic problem with HIV/AIDS is that the scientific system that works so well on routine tasks is wide open to catastrophe when something quite new crops up. It’s somewhat analogous to the trade-offs between freedom and security in a democratic society. To ensure that no terrorist events could ever happen, society would have to be as controlled as in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or the dictatorships envisaged by George Orwell; but to allow complete freedom to all would mean little or no safety for anyone.

So one cannot blame the scientific system as such for the tragic mistake of HIV/AIDS and thereupon conclude that the system needs to be changed in some fundamental way. What went wrong is owing only in part to the virologists and their cohorts and the official institutions. There have certainly been rather spectacular displays of incompetence, sloppiness, apparently willful ignoring of evidence, and the like, on the part of a few identifiable individuals. Such institutions as NIH and CDC have displayed bureaucratic deficiencies much more than accountability, competence, efficiency, or due diligence in exercising oversight. Nevertheless, I think a great part of the blame can justifiably be laid at the feet of hordes of ignorant science pundits and science administrators. If there’s one thing that those who manage science and grants should know, the very same thing that every science journalist and science writer should know, it’s the difference between relatively reliable textbook science and utterly unreliable frontier science. REAL SCIENCE ISN’T NEWS.  A fundamental problem is that reporting science in a responsible way is incompatible with the media concentration on what’s new and remarkable. No “scientific breakthrough” announced by an individual researcher, a laboratory, an official agency, or a corporation should be accepted with more trust than should be granted to the promises made by campaigning politicians. Even when an announcement is made in relatively good faith, with subjective belief in its essential accuracy, it’s at least partly self-serving and, most important, not informed by the understanding that no new “discovery” can be relied on until it’s been re-discovered and re-re-discovered and has served to guide, successfully, a certain amount of further research that depends on the validity of that claimed discovery.

That’s not difficult to understand. The reasons for it are not difficult to understand. Indeed, every science pundit is likely to hold forth at length about the necessity of peer review. Yet that’s lip service only, not applied in practice. Routinely, press releases from drug companies, directors of federal laboratories, individual researchers and laboratories, are treated as reliable and worthy of disseminating to the general public without further ado. Press releases from politicians and political parties are treated with well-deserved skepticism, but not anything that has to do with “science” or “medicine”; in those connections, our media swallow and regurgitate conscientiously what in better days most people would have recognized immediately as snake oil — say, a vaccine to safeguard against cervical cancer, peddled on the basis that a small number of strains of a particular virus are often associated with cervical cancers. Where’s the understanding that association doesn’t prove causation? Where’s the skepticism that an association with a small percentage of something makes causation even a plausible interpretation? Where is the collective memory of the “gene for breast cancer”, that’s associated with a small percentage of breast cancers but whose detection makes women contemplate disfiguring major surgery as prophylactic?

Illiteracy about the nature of scientific activity is a clear and present danger in this self-styled “scientific” and “modern” age, and innumerable “science bloggers” and science pundits illustrate that daily in their uninformed herd-like comments about HIV/AIDS. Scientific illiteracy isn’t about knowing what a molecule is, or a retrovirus; it’s not realizing that science isn’t done by a “scientific method” ; it’s about knowing that science can’t be guaranteed to deliver what it promises any more than a politician can; it’s about realizing that scientists are super-specialists blinkered to anything outside their immediate interest, and that the best people to consult about science policy and the assessment of a scientific consensus are historians of science, sociologists of science, ethicists and philosophers of science, especially those who have also done some science themselves at one time or another. Presidential science advisors and congressional advisors about science and technology should be drawn to a major extent from the young community of STS — as was indeed the case with the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, which was disbanded out of nothing short of political spite after partisan disputes over access to it.

Posted in experts, HIV skepticism, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Media: invariably wrong about HIV/AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/01/12

The media routinely disseminates entirely misleading “reports” about HIV/AIDS. For example, a single day’s Google Alert produced these:

“Dual HIV/TB infection common in S. African infants” (29 December 2008, by C. Vidya Shankar, MD]
“CHENNAI, India (Reuters Health) — HIV-positive infants are over 20 times more likely to develop tuberculosis than their HIV-negative counterparts, researchers from South Africa report in the current issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.”

It’s not that “HIV” makes TB more likely, it’s exactly the opposite: TB patients are very likely to test “HIV-positive”; people with TB test “HIV-positive” as often as do gay men or drug abusers (Figure 22, p. 83, and associated text, in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).
TB was never regarded as an opportunistic infection, which is (or used to be) the sort of thing HIV was supposed to bring about — until, that is, the fact that TB patients often test “HIV-positive” was misinterpreted and TB was added to the list of “AIDS-defining” diseases. TB was widespread in Africa long before “HIV/AIDS”.

“Increased exposure to tuberculosis, HIV-associated immunosuppression and reduced efficacy of the BCG vaccine could explain the increased risk of tuberculosis among these infants . . . .”
Why being “HIV-positive” would increase exposure to TB would be far from obvious, were it not that one can blame “HIV” for anything at all without fear of being challenged.
“HIV-positive” is marked by seroconversion, that is, generation of antibodies supposedly to “HIV”. Why then should a vaccine be incapable of generating antibodies in “HIV-positive” people? And if “HIV-positive” people can’t generate antibodies in response to a vaccine, why have researchers continued to attempt to create a vaccine that might at least stabilize “HIV” “infection” even if it doesn’t prevent “infection”?

“ . . .  routine HIV testing of infants with tuberculosis . . . [and] improved access to HIV treatment and newer vaccines could help . . .”
Yes, of course; it could help to make those poor babies even more ill as a result of the  “side” effects of the antiretroviral drugs.

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

“Yemen’s Low Education Levels, High Poverty Rates Increasing HIV/AIDS Risk”

Here’s another common media-parroted HIV/AIDS shibboleth.
Exactly how are poverty and lack of education supposed to increase the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS?
AIDS appeared first not among the poor, but among people able to afford lots of “recreational” drugs and partying. In Africa, too, AIDS was first noticed among the wealthy, not among the poor (Richard & Rosalind Chirimuuta, AIDS, Africa and racism, London: Free Association Books, 1987/89).

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

“Prostitution and HIV/AIDS, A Deadly Marriage”,  by Amanda Kloer, was featured on 9 January 2009 on — dare I say it? —change.org. The piece lives up to what we’ve learned to expect, unfortunately, from that site: politically correct, factually incorrect.

“HIV/AIDS is an equal-opportunity infector.  HIV doesn’t know or care if you’re a child or an adult, a man or a woman, someone having unprotected sex for the first time or someone who has been in prostitution for years.”
Ms. Kloer hasn’t even read the mainstream HIV/AIDS literature, apparently. But then, neither have most of the pundits. The risk of testing “HIV-positive” varies very significantly by age, sex, race; and the chance of seroconverting after one act of unprotected sex is considerably smaller than the risk of being struck by lightning — according to official statistics.

“HIV/AIDS prevalancy among women in prostitution is a seriously underestimated global health and human rights crisis”, continued Kloer’s screed, followed by UNAIDS numbers for a several countries, comparing “HIV-positive” rates for women overall with those for prostitutes, the latter always being higher by factors of between 4 (Thailand) and 200 (Angola).
Those factors are so high in some part because the “HIV-positive” rate among women overall is (given as) so low — in Angola, 0.3%, which is comparable to that in the United States, incredibly enough, given what we’re told about “sub-Saharan Africa”, where Angola resides, with an estimated 3.9% “HIV” “infection” rate [Deconstructing HIV/AIDS in “Sub-Saharan Africa” and “The Caribbean”, 21 April 2008].
But leave that aside. Any number of published reports have contradicted the claims of a general association between prostitution per se and probability of testing “HIV-positive”. A couple of dozen highly active prostitutes in Nairobi (Kenya) remained HIV-negative during 2 years of actual observation (p. 46). Several studies found “HIV-positive” high only among those prostitutes who were drug abusers (pp. 46, 86). In the United States, “HIV-positive” among prostitutes in general was much lower than among drug users or TB patients or gay men or hemophiliacs (Table 23, p. 81). Not a single “HIV-positive” could be found among 300 Pakistani  truck-drivers of whom 50% reported sex with prostitutes and very low rate of condom-use (p. 115) [all page numbers refer to The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory].

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

BENIN: Voodoo community remains impenetrable to HIV outreach
COTONOU, 9 January 2009 (IRIN) — Voodoo rituals have long been inaccessible to anyone except disciples and priests. Even though certain practices like scarification carry a high risk of HIV infection, outsiders to the voodoo community have largely been unable to penetrate the secrecy that health officials say can be deadly to its followers.”

So the rate of “HIV-positive” in Benin must be shockingly high.

The CIA Fact Book estimated it at 1.9% in 2003. Benin, in West Africa, is surrounded by Togo (4.1% “HIV-positive”), Burkina Faso (4.2%), Niger (1.2%), Nigeria (5.4%) [see Deconstructing HIV/AIDS in “Sub-Saharan Africa” and “The Caribbean”, 21 April 2008].
Should Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Togo perhaps import from Benin some voodoo priests to increase participation in scarification rituals, so that their “HIV-positive” rate could be brought down to the level in Benin?

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

“HIV-positive” heart surgeons are less to be feared than “HIV-positive” dentists

“Everyone knows” about the “HIV-positive” Florida dentist who infected at least 5 of his patients (which isn’t actually true, of course), including the unfortunate Kim Bergalis who died within a couple of years of beginning “life-saving” AZT treatment.

Apparently it’s much less risky to have cardiac surgery from a certain “HIV-positive” Israeli surgeon. None of the 545 people on whom he had operated since 1997 was found to be “HIV-positive” [“Surgeon-to-Patient HIV Transmission Risk Very Low, CDC Report Says”; Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9 January 2009]

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

Everyone should help prevent the spread of HIV, to educate others, to urge them to practice safe sex — unless, of course, you happen to be homosexual in Senegal.

“Eight-Year Sentences in Threatening Conditions for 9 Accused of ‘Indecent and Unnatural Acts’”
“(New York, January 9, 2009) — The sentencing in Dakar on January 6, 2009 of nine men who were involved in HIV-prevention work, on charges of ‘indecent and unnatural acts’ and ‘forming associations of criminals,’ shows how laws against homosexual conduct damage HIV- and AIDS-prevention efforts as well as the work of human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch said today. HIV and AIDS advocates in Senegal report that the ruling has produced widespread panic among organizations addressing HIV and AIDS, particularly those working with men who have sex with men and other marginalized populations. These nine men apparently were arrested merely on suspicion of engaging in homosexual conduct.”

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

“To the contrary”, Public Television, 11 January 2009, featured a panel on how “HIV” is disproportionately affecting black Americans. The “hook” for the program was an interview with Marvelyn Brown, author of “The Naked Truth”, who believes she contracted “HIV” at age 19 from a man she thought the world of. Her words made plain that she had never had an “HIV” test before that relationship, so it’s not known whether she had perhaps seroconverted earlier. Since teenage females test “HIV-positive” more often than teenage males, especially among people of African ancestry, the possible guilt of Brown’s partner would seem an open question — even if “HIV” were a transmissible thing, which of course it isn’t.
Naturally, the inescapably racist concept of “the down low” was also mentioned in the program, without acknowledging its racist character. Naturally too, came repetition of the fact that “AIDS” is the number 1 killer of African American females aged 25-34.
That is unquestionably what the official statistics report. Still, the impact of saying “No. 1 killer” is rather greater than if one said, “kills 7 percent more African American females than die in accidents”, which would be just as literally true but also much less misleading. For the group, deaths from “HIV disease” in 2004 numbered 436; accidents ranked 2nd at 407, followed by cancer (402), heart disease (383), and assault or homicide (282). Pregnancy (childbirth and the puerperium) ranked only 6th, with 109 deaths. And outside the age group 25-34, “HIV disease” rapidly drops out of the “top 10” killers of African-American females.

Posted in experts, HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, Legal aspects, prejudice, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

HIV/AIDS theory hurts people

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/01/08

My preoccupation with HIV/AIDS began as a purely intellectual pursuit, trying to make sense of contradictory accounts, and becoming hooked as I gathered HIV-test data that seemed to point inescapably toward the conclusion that “HIV” didn’t cause an epidemic and was not the cause of AIDS. But after my book was published, and increasingly since I began this blog, I’ve glimpsed the many human tragedies for which this monstrous mistake has been responsible. Careers of people who testified to the mistake have been wrecked; an unknown number of parents have been forced to feed their babies poisonous substances that hurt and harmed them; an unknown number of relationships have been broken needlessly; on and on. Recently my Google Alert brought in a single day several stories that illustrate the range of damage that the wrong theory of HIV/AIDS has wrought.

Circumcision:
It’s become a shibboleth among HIV/AIDS “activists” and journalists that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting “HIV” by something like 60%. That’s in the face of many studies to the contrary, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Rwanda: circumcise all men—even if it means more HIV infection, 3 February 2008]: “Unhygienic Circumcision ‘Increases Risk of Hiv’” (SciDev.Net, London, 28 February 2007); “PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has trashed claims that circumcised men are less prone to HIV/Aids infection. . . . “Why are Muslims and Bagisu dying? Who beats the Bagisu when it comes to circumcising men?” . . . Among the Bagisu, a tribe in eastern Uganda, every male, between adolescence and manhood, must be circumcised”; “Circumcised male and female virgins were substantially more likely to be HIV infected than uncircumcised virgins”; “Circumcision does not affect HIV in US men”.

And still the shibboleth is promulgated: “Adopt male circumcision as anti-HIV strategy” (by Sam Anguria, 6 January 2009, on The New Vision — Uganda’s Leading Website; “The writer an
HIV/AIDS specialist”) : “male circumcision should be fully rolled out in Uganda . . . . Leaders should themselves embrace male circumcision and circumcise their male children.”

It’s not as though circumcision of adults were a trivial matter; let alone in much of Africa, which is where the HIV/AIDS dogmatists advocate it

Stigma:
A rather astonishingly stark self-contradiction in HIV/AIDS matters is the plaintive appeal not to stigmatize HIV-positive people — at the same time as it’s insisted that “HIV” is contracted by careless, unsafe sexual behavior, the risk of “infection” being small unless there is a high level of promiscuity, adultery, and anal intercourse — all of them practices that most societies have stigmatized long before AIDS.
KENYA: Unease over new HIV transmission law . . .
NAIROBI, 12 December 2008 (PlusNews) — In June 2006, a young woman in western Kenya died of HIV-related complications and left a list of about 100 people that she said she had infected with HIV. A new law, approved by the Kenyan president but yet to be implemented, is hoping to prevent willful transmission. The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2006 has drawn mixed and very sharp reactions. Inviolata Mbwavi, an AIDS activist who went public about her status in 1994, warned that the legislation in its current form appeared to label HIV-infected people as dangerous human beings with whom people should not associate. ‘When you criminalise HIV then we are going back to square [one] of trying to stigmatise the virus even more, yet we have not effectively dealt with the stigma associated with HIV. Why do we want to further burden those who are already burdened by coming up with HIV-specific legislation?’ . . . . ‘We know that the majority of those who know their status are women. What we are doing by passing such a law is therefore to condemn people we are claiming to protect to jail.’ The new legislation has also brought into question the responsibility of HIV-negative people. ‘What we are proposing in the law only touches those already [HIV]-positive. We should also look at the responsibility of those who do not have the virus’ . . . .”
And so on and so forth. When a wrong theory gains acceptance, conundrums and contradictions and mutually impossible things also have to be swallowed whole.

Well-intentioned do-gooder harm:
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report [6 January 2009]
Global Challenges
“IRIN/PlusNews on Friday profiled a commune operated by HIV advocate Paul Ari designed for HIV-positive people who have experienced stigma and discrimination near Mount Hagen, the capital of Papua . . . . people are able to stay at the commune for as long as they need, and relatives are encouraged to visit to help fight stigma related to the virus”.
Clearly, the way to combat stigma directed at HIV-positive people is to have separate places for them, just as long ago we fought the stigma against lepers by providing them with separate accommodations.

Homosexuality:
Gay men — together with hemophiliacs and people of African ancestry and pregnant women and babies — are among those most harmed by the invention and application of the fallacious “HIV” test. For whatever reason, gay men tend to test “HIV-positive” with a rather high probability even when they are perfectly healthy and remain so (as of the present date, for upwards of two decades). So gay men are among those most threatened by the urging that “HIV-positive” people accept antiretroviral treatment, and “HIV” has delivered yet another arrow for the quiver of the confirmed homophobes and homophobic groups:
“HIV being spread mainly through homosexual relations in Spain” (Catholic News Agency, Madrid, 6 January 2009)
“The Anti-AIDS Independent Committee in Spain has called for behavioral changes among homosexuals in order to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, as 2007 data confirms that the disease is more prevalent in the homosexual population. . . . The organization criticized government campaigns that promote condom use, ‘with a message aimed indiscriminately at the population in general and young people in particular, as if everyone were equally at risk, regardless of their habits.’ . . .  the ‘disproportionately high rate of infections can only be explained by much higher promiscuity and a higher risk of homosexual contact.’”

African ancestry:
When panic erupted in a St. Louis school over possible “HIV” infections, I wrote, “What we know from the demographics of ‘HIV-positive’ in the United States is that an individual may test positive after being vaccinated against flu, or taking an anti-tetanus shot, or having TB, or for a large number of other reasons having nothing to do with a life-threatening sexually transmitted virus . . . . We also know that the probability of testing positive for any of those reasons is far greater for people of African ancestry than others; black females in particular are typically 20 times as likely to test positive under one of those numerous conditions. We also know that in the lower teenage years, females are more likely to test positive than males . . . . Those facts cause me to dread the further ‘news’ and rumors that will be leaking out from those ignorant, panicked, ‘everything is normal’, school administrators and health officials in St. Louis.” And, sure enough, it turned out that 99% of the students in that school are black.

Men of African ancestry have been charged with or convicted of having sex while “HIV-positive” in Australia, in Canada, in the United States. In the United States, the average “prevalence of ‘HIV’” is about 0.6%. African Americans are between 7 and 21 times as likely to test “HIV-positive” compared to others, so the average prevalence among African Americans is about 8%. Another demographic fact is that the likelihood of testing positive is greatest at ages in the late thirties to mid-forties. So African Americans in middle age have a chance ≥ 10% of testing “HIV-positive” under such circumstances as having recently been vaccinated or being exposed to some minor health challenge. It struck me as particularly sad that “HIV” should be mentioned in the case of an African American pastor charged with sexual abuse:
“Police: Pastor Charged With Sexual Abuse Has HIV — James Bell Faces Sexual Abuse, Sodomy Charges” (by Stephanie Segretto, WLKY Louisville, 5 January 2009)
“SHELBYVILLE, Ky. — More information about the arrest of a Shelbyville pastor charged with sexual abuse has become public, including his HIV status. . . .
For those who knew Bell, they said it’s hard to imagine he would be facing charges for anything, especially this. . . . neighbors said they will have several people on their minds — Bell’s wife and his three children [emphasis added]”
That “HIV status” will make it seem to most people ever so much worse than the far-from-uncommon sexual lapses of ministers and priests, or the actions of the many men who have sex with young teenagers.
Of course, Bell really behaved irresponsibly in having sex with a 15-year-old. On the other hand, he himself was the one who first reported the fact. And he would be far from the only African American clergyman to be confounded by the news that he is “HIV-positive”, knowing that he was never at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease:
“An increasing number of Africans who find themselves HIV-positive are taken aback, knowing that they have never behaved in a pertinently risky fashion, like the Rev. Gibson Mwadime, 53, an Anglican vicar in southern Kenya (Sanders 2006a): ‘I thought AIDS was for prostitutes and truck drivers,’ [he] said … learning about his diagnosis in 2001 was like a slap from God, spurring feelings of betrayal and anger. ‘I lived a faithful life and my wife lived a faithful life,’ he recalled praying. ‘And then you bring this sinful disease upon us?’ Like most of the clergymen, Mwadime said he doesn’t know how or when he contracted the virus. He believes his wife was infected through a blood transfusion during childbirth in 1985. A year later, doctors told the couple their baby girl had tested positive for HIV. But when they were told it was a sexually transmitted disease, they dismissed his advice to get tested themselves” (p. 172 in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory).

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

That one day’s set of stories is a mere glimpse of the many human tragedies that the HIV/AIDS business has brought. But is everyone at risk, as the mainstream propaganda would have it?

YES;  EVERYONE  IS AT  RISK
If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have their way, “HIV” testing will become routine if not universal. Then an increasing number of babies, pregnant women, recently vaccinated individuals, and people exposed to a whole range of health challenges will test positive. After all, the CDC keeps asserting that something like a quarter of all “HIV-positive” Americans don’t know their “status”. That’s about a quarter of a million people.

Some proportion of the newly “diagnosed” will be advised, urged, or forced to consume antiretroviral drugs. Thereupon the numbers of “AIDS” patients dying from non-AIDS events caused by those drugs will increase noticeably. It’s already a majority of them, after all — “In the era of combination antiretroviral therapy, . . .  the risk of several non-AIDS-defining conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, liver-related events, renal disease, and certain non-AIDS malignancies [97-102] is greater than the risk for AIDS in persons with CD4 T-cell counts >200 cells/mm3; the risk for these events increases progressively as the CD4 T-cell count decreases from 350 to 200 cells/mm3” (NIH Treatment Guidelines, 29 January 2008, p. 13).
Eventually, the increasing number of diagnosed people who know they could not have been “infected”, and the obviously increasing number of iatrogenic deaths, will bring wealth to a whole population of trial lawyers, and the HIV/AIDS house of cards will soon thereafter implode.

But it would be so very nice if that implosion could happen without so many unsuspecting people having to die first at the hands of misinformed doctors.

Posted in HIV and race, HIV risk groups, HIV tests, HIV transmission, Legal aspects, prejudice, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Trying to think about the Unthinkable

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/01/02

“Unthinkable” connotes different things in different contexts; it’s often value-laden — “an unthinkable horror” — but I’m using it here in the most basic sense of “inconceivable, impossible to imagine, not possible — impossible to think about”.

I had ascribed to cognitive dissonance, my difficulty in seeing that mortality (rate of death) among PWAs has nothing to do with individual deaths (median age of death) among PWAs [Cognitive dissonance: a human condition, 26 December 2008]; but my difficulty stemmed not only from the human penchant for cognitive dissonance, it was also owing to the logical impossibility of making sense of things that make no sense, trying to think about things that are unthinkable because there’s nothing to think about. If you try, you tangle your mind into Gordian knots.

The specific trouble here is that “mortality” and “death”, in general, in ordinary circumstances, when applying both to the same population, go together; “rates of death” and “average age of death” obviously ought to be related in some way. So it’s understandable that one begins by assuming that they also go together when it comes to “HIV” and “AIDS”. But since the latter aren’t definitive “things”, the populations of people classed as having “HIV” or “AIDS” aren’t “natural kinds”. You might equally try to compare the mortality among Andaman Islanders with the average age of death among the Sami. Since the  normal connection between mortality and death for a definite population doesn’t apply with “HIV/AIDS”, trying to think about the data brings up only mind-bending conundrums; until one finally realizes that there’s nothing there to think about, because “HIV” has nothing to do with “AIDS”.

The mortality among people defined as “PWAs” has changed in a manner that shows there is no functional relationship between “being a PWA” and the individual risk of dying for a person classified as “PWA” (reflected in the average age at which “PWAs” are reported to die). Therefore the basis for classifying someone as “PWA”, namely, “risk of dying from HIV disease, a.k.a. AIDS”, is wrong. Being classed as “having AIDS” has no functional connection to “risk of dying from AIDS”. Seems crazy, makes no sense — until you thoroughly absorb the fact that “HIV”, the criterion for “at risk of dying from AIDS”, actually has nothing to do with “AIDS”.

But if you’re stuck in the belief that HIV=AIDS, you’re doomed to attempt impossible explanations and to make nonsensical statements. So I occasionally get comments like the following from the ilk of Köpek Burun, The Snout, pseudo “Hank Barnes” at Change.org, Chris Noble, etc:
“There is a difference between two things being unrelated and them being inconsistent or contradictory.”

That boggled my mind. Of course there’s a difference, but we’re not talking about the definition of words. The point is that mortality and age of death are unrelated among “PWAs”, which demonstrates that “risk of death from HIV disease”, the criterion for being in the group of PWAs, doesn’t equate with the actual “risk of death from HIV disease” as experienced by individual PWAs. So “HIV”, being unrelated to “AIDS”, cannot be the cause of “AIDS”. It’s then utterly meaningless to attempt to consider whether “HIV” is consistent with or contradictory of “AIDS”; they just have nothing to do with one another. That disproves HIV/AIDS theory. Case closed.

Then KP-ilk continued:
“There may be no functional relationship between the price of sardines and size of oranges but this does not logically correspond to them being inconsistent or contradictory.”
Exactly. It’s meaningless to attempt to consider whether (sardines-price)-“HIV” is consistent with or contradictory of (oranges-size)-“AIDS”; they just have nothing to do with one another. That disproves (sardines-price)-“HIV”/(oranges-size)-“AIDS” theory. Case closed.

But KP-ilk went yet further:
“If you are claiming that the median age at death data contradicts the mortality data then you are obliged to show us what the relationship should be.”
But I’m not saying the mortality and death data contradict one another, I’m pointing out that they are not related. That disproves HIV/AIDS theory. Case closed.
Beyond that, here KP-ilk asserts a generalization that’s empirically baseless and illogical to boot: that when two things are not related, and therefore one is not the cause of the other, that cannot be recognized without postulating what the relationship between them should be if they were related!

Continuing in that vein, KP-ilk concludes with a statement that, pace Wolfgang Pauli, is “not even wrong”:
“If you are claiming that the median age at death data are not simply and directly related to the mortality data then this is not a disproof of the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS.”
Except, of course, the lack of any functional relationship between “at risk of dying from HIV disease, a.k.a. AIDS” and “at risk of dying from HIV disease, a.k.a. AIDS” does disprove the assertion that being a PWA, i.e. suffering from “HIV disease”, puts one at risk of dying from “HIV disease a.k.a. AIDS”. If there could be a clearer disproof of the claim that HIV causes AIDS, I’d like to know what it could be.

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

This aspect of HIV/AIDS, trying to think the unthinkable, is yet another similarity between HIV/AIDS and subjects that are often called pseudo-science: typically one is looking for explanations for which no explanation seems available, at least one consistent with logic and contemporary knowledge.

The topic of this sort that I know most about concerns Loch Ness “monsters”, a.k.a. Nessies. There’s a film of unquestioned authenticity that shows a large animal swimming in the Loch. Innumerable sonar contacts have been recorded with large moving underwater objects. A few still photos of underwater objects are consistent with several thousand eyewitness reports. BUT there is no explanation so far offered that is consistent with contemporary knowledge within biology. The apparent shape of the animals is like nothing except species (plesiosaurs) extinct for tens of millions of years; which, moreover, were air-breathing and would be seen at the surface far more often than Nessies are. Perhaps that’s what makes the mystery so universally fascinating.

Parapsychology affords similar conundrums. If it’s possible to glimpse the future, then one could do something to change it, transgressing common sense; or, it would mean that we don’t have the free will that subjectively we are sure we do have. Or, if the claims of above-chance psychokinesis or precognition are warranted, even at only a few percent above chance, then it would be possible to break casinos and win the sums of money that parapsychologists claim to need to further their research, which hasn’t been done even by those who claim to have successfully made money by above-chance predictions; why ever did they stop?

However, with Nessies and psychic phenomena and UFOs and the like, there are many evident gaps in empirical knowledge, so there exists the possibility (somewhere in the “unknown unknown” *) that future observations could provide satisfactory understanding of the empirical data. As concerns extrasensory perception, there’s even a plausible analogy in the phenomenon of quantum entanglement at the sub-microscopic level. With HIV/AIDS, there’s no such hope, because data in hand have already disproved decisively the notion that HIV causes AIDS.

———————————

* for a discussion of the “unknown unknown”, see my book, Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV/AIDS numbers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UCLA’s AIDS (“Beetroot”) Institute discovers how HIV kills cells

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/01/02

HIV/AIDS vigilantes enjoyed many field days criticizing Thabo Mbeki’s health minister, cartooned as “Dr. Beetroot”, for suggesting the medical and nutritional value of a number of herbs and vegetables. Turns out that we have a Beetroot Institute right here in these medically scientific United States; moreover, funded by the HIV/AIDS mainstream:

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

Herbal chemical helps combat HIV
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 1 (UPI) — Scientists at a Los Angeles multidisciplinary think tank say the herb Astragalus root may help fight HIV.
University of California, Los Angeles, AIDS Institute researchers say a chemical from the Chinese medicinal herb may help immune cells stave off the progressive loss of disease fighting ability caused by HIV, infections associated with chronic diseases or aging.
Immune cells are compromised as they age and their chromosomes — known as a telomere — become progressively shorter with cell division. The Astragalus root chemical prevents or at least slows down telomere shortening, the study said.
‘This has the potential to be either added to or possibly even replace the HAART — highly active anti-retroviral therapy — which is not tolerated well by some patients and is also costly,” study co-author Rita Effros said in a statement.
In a study published in the Journal of Immunology, Effros and colleagues show how the herbal plant chemical — called TAT2 — helped inhibit HIV replication.
“The ability to enhance telomerase activity and anti-viral functions of CD8 T-lymphocytes suggests that this strategy could be useful in treating HIV disease, as well as immunodeficiency and increased susceptibility to other viral infections associated with chronic diseases or aging,” the researchers said in a statement.
************************

AHA! HIV shortens telomeres! At last we know how HIV destroys the immune system!

Obviously it’s time to update Principles of Molecular Virology which still says:
“It is not clear how much of the pathology of AIDS is directly due to the virus and how much is caused by the immune system itself. There are numerous models which have been suggested to explain how HIV causes immune deficiency:
Direct Cell Killing: . . .
Antigenic Diversity: . . .
The Superantigen Theory: . . .
T-cell anergy: . . .
Apoptosis . . .
TH1-TH2 Switch: . . .
Virus Load and Replication Kinetics: . . .”

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, antiretroviral drugs, experts, HIV absurdities, HIV skepticism | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »