HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

The Family of Rethinking AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/11/15

[Here’s a pdf of this post]

 

RA2009, the conference held by Rethinking AIDS (RA) in Oakland, 6-8 November, was an extraordinary success in every possible way. It exceeded wildly any reasonable expectations.

That’s not just my opinion. The RA Board meeting on Sunday evening, the later get-together for speakers at the Duesberg’s, various “au revoir”s on Sunday, all assured me that my own feelings were fully shared by many others. In the last few days, e-mails and Facebook threads and the like have further underscored how many of us remain incredulous over the blessing of having participated in this unforgettable bit of human history. RA2009 was a success not just from a scientific or intellectual point of view but also in its demonstration of deeply shared commitment and in the exhilaration felt at such unstinted commonality of purpose among so large a contingent of people representing the full spectrum of humankind.

We will be digesting the experience for a long time to come, but one insight came to me already on the Monday morning after the meeting. As I woke up, my mind was buzzing “The Family of Man!” Subconsciously while asleep, I had evidently encapsulated, this extraordinary occasion by a reminder of the book of photographs titled “The Family of Man” which had brought enthusiastic encomiums 50 years ago for its stunning photographs of people of all ages from around the world, portraying the universality of human experience that underlies superficial differences.
(I’ve been unable so far to lay my hands on the copy of the book that’s somewhere on my disorganized shelves, so I refreshed my memory from a copy  in the university library. Though the book had been published more than half a century ago, there are still 4 or 5 copies of it in the open library stacks, not in the remote storage area used for material that’s rarely accessed; and a couple of those copies are currently out on loan. The book’s sales have been in the millions. It had its source in a photographic exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art arranged by Edward Steichen in 1955, of more than 500 pictures by more than 250 photographers from dozens of countries.)

At any rate, RA2009 achieved what Steichen’s exhibition of the Family of Man had aimed for. People of all ages and backgrounds mingled and shared civilly — more than that, empathetically, in passionately demonstrated mutual good will. I’ve never before seen so many tears of empathy shed so freely and appropriately. I startle easily from sound or touch, yet while I was listening intently to a talk, when a hand suddenly descended on my shoulder, it didn’t startle, it somehow conveyed companionable reassurance. I’ve never before experienced an occasion where intellect, emotion, and spirit were so much in harmony.

Registered for the conference had been in total about 150 people from every inhabited continent. In age we ranged to my knowledge from 19 to 77, and there may well have been some outside that range. Personalities ranged from shy and retiring to effusively outgoing, from deadpan to demonstrative. Appearances ranged from old-fashioned coat-and-tie conservatism to every type of contemporary exuberance including cosmetic adornments, from stunning examples of elegant Italian style to illustrations of Hollywood grunge and sloppiness. Skin colors ranged over the spectrum. There were traditional families present and there were gay people, some announcing that preference in obvious ways and others not. There were people revealing in private or in public their “HIV-positive” status, and there were physicians who attend without discrimination equally to “HIV-positive” individuals as to others — with the vital exception that they have a special understanding, an empathy, and an awareness of when to use and when not to resort to antiretroviral medication. There were people who have suffered in dreadful, tangible ways from being “HIV-positive” (and not only because of physical iatrogenic damage), and there were friends and relatives of people who have so suffered; and there were others again, like me, who came to Rethinking for intellectual, abstract reasons and came to understand and feel only later the human aspect, the personal impact of the colossal human tragedies that HIV/AIDS theory has brought. There were writers and scientists and students and people from all sorts of work experience. There were several shades of “libertarians” and of “conservatives” and of “liberals”. There could not be a more convincing demonstration that the endless diversity among human beings need be no barrier to productive commitment to a shared purpose.

I had previously met in person only two of those present, but I had exchanged e-mails, phone calls, and written material with several dozen whom I had come to regard as valued colleagues. After just a few minutes or a few words face to face, e-mail acquaintances have become firm personal friends — something that others too experienced, as remarked in e-mails, on blogs, and elsewhere in recent days. We discovered ourselves to be members of a very large and very close-knit FAMILY.

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

Much about the program bears discussion, and the proceedings will be disseminated and analyzed and critiqued in a variety of venues and ways for quite some time. Here I want to make just a few observations.

The most powerful presentations, by common agreement, were those by individuals who have most directly experienced horrors stemming from HIV/AIDS madness. The Nagel family, featured in the film House of Numbers, were at the conference throughout and made themselves available for comments and questions after the film’s showing; how can words capture the miracle of meeting Lindsey, now healthy and beautiful because her courageous parents had defied and evaded the AZT mafia? Celia Farber’s images-with-music in memory of Christine Maggiore brought a standing ovation. Karri Stokely and Tony Lance shared to the full their experiences — 11 years of devastating “side” effects of antiretrovirals for Karri, for Tony the isolation experienced by a gay Rethinker who lost to AZT some hundred friends and acquaintances. Karri and Tony honored us greatly by allowing us to learn from their lives, sharing details frankly in public that most people might hesitate to discuss even with their doctors or their priests.

All the formal and informal proceedings showed people at their sincere best: honest, open, trusting, uninhibited. No bullshit. I was struck by the contrast with the mainstreamers appearing in House of Numbers, who display the robotic hypocrisy of automata who emit only what they have been trained to emit in their designated social roles — nothing original, nothing from personal experience, everything abstracted from human reality by dishonest euphemisms like Kuritzkes’s comment that  “in retrospect the dose we started with, with AZT, was a dangerous and poorly tolerated dose.” What a way to talk about something that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and done untold permanent damage to God only knows how many more — which Kuritzkes surely knows at least subconsciously, for otherwise not even so evasive an admission would have come from him. “In retrospect”?! Many ignored voices were protesting the toxicity from the beginning and throughout.

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

So RA2009 was a resounding success. No forethought or planning could have ensured that, but it also could not have happened had not the opportunity been created through splendid organizational groundwork by Siggi Duesberg, insightful first-rate program arrangements by David Rasnick, and necessary fundraising as well as instigation by David Crowe. Exemplifying the unplanned is what occurred at the banquet. Crowe had arranged for a few toasts; what could not have been foreseen was the stampede to the microphone by the many people who wanted to make explicit their gratitude for the occasion, their particular role in Rethinking, their own thoughts and feelings. I’ve been at many occasions where everyone has been positively urged to join in like this, usually to little or no effect; I’ve never seen so widespread and spontaneous a desire to share publicly.

It’s only natural that in recalling this occasion we will wonder just what made it so remarkable. Cynics might even suggest that it wasn’t really unique, just that those in attendance hadn’t much experience of similar get-togethers. For me personally, no such explanation could hold water. I’ve been to innumerable professional conferences on chemistry and history of science or science studies, where there has sometimes been excitement over specific items or topics, but nothing like the communal atmosphere and impact of RA2009. I’ve been to meetings where a single purpose was passionately shared — the wish to preserve academic standards and integrity — but we were always a noticeably homogeneous crowd of largely white, male, senior professors. I’ve participated in several other organizations of contrarian bent, for example several of the International Conferences on the Unity of the Sciences which brought together people of all stripes and disciplines and beliefs from all over the world, but the actual proceedings were in small groups and little different from academic seminars; enjoyable as interdisciplinary discussions freed from the blinders of the traditional fields of knowledge but no more than that. The Society for Scientific Exploration was established precisely to enable disciplined discussion of matters ignored or shunned by the mainstream disciplines, and its meetings have some of the characteristics that RA2009 displayed — wide range of intellectual backgrounds, joint experience of struggling against mainstream dogma, the making of friends through shared endeavor — but, again, not the extraordinary symbiosis of intellect, emotion, spirit, and very specific common purpose evident at RA2009. In the proper meaning of that much-misused word, RA2009 was UNIQUE in a very meaningful way.

We come away from RA2009 with renewed determination, as well as with a number of new ideas and plans for constructive action (plans for actions DEstructive of HIV/AIDS theory and practice). I found myself wondering what might have happened if some mainstreamers had been in attendance; surely their baseless and mistaken beliefs would have become somewhat unsettled, at the very least subconsciously.

I am by nature less than an optimist, and my instinctive reaction to optimistic plans and forecasts is “Yes, well, maybe, … BUT ….”. Nevertheless, RA2009 convinces me that we cannot be stopped, and that we will not be stopped.

Yes, we can.

Yes, we will.

25 Responses to “The Family of Rethinking AIDS”

  1. Paul said

    Do you know if the video or audio recordings were taken and will these be posted somewhere? If not will you publish your speech in text?

  2. Martin said

    I can understand your and the family of AIDS Rethinkers’ optimism because they have an important mission to topple the AIDS Establishment Genocidal Juggernaut.

  3. Karri said

    Henry,

    What a beautifully and honestly well-written overview of the RA2009 conference last weekend.
    It was my great pleasure to meet and speak with you.
    Thank you, sir, for staying in this battle!

    Sincerely,
    Karri Stokely

  4. Henry,

    I am writing this from a table-top in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I retreated to after the conference. I have begun work on a book about the half of my life spent inside this war. Not a book about me but a book about the winning frequency, (love) by way of pain, error, abjection.

    I think it is a watery sense of language to call it a “movement,” yet most enlightened souls would protest the word “war.”

    Today I turned myself over to a healing place high in the hills, where they have built a box capable of emitting the same frequency as pure love. I plan to get myself into this box every day I am here, and twice on the last day.

    My point, Henry: I told you in person, and I want to say it again: What you have already been through is what makes you unique in this “movement,” which is, I believe, turning its pyramid structure inside out, FINALLLY, thanks to the very forces, frequencies, and real people you mentioned.

    I thought your talk was not only “excellent,” but connected to a spirit movement I was able to perceive.

    It was not lethally academic, as I feel most of the dissident elite wishes to be, to its great detriment if not downfall.

    You are a gift.

    Sorry we didn’t have more time to talk–

    Celia

    • Henry Bauer said

      Celia: Thank you and bless you.
      “What you have already been through”: I have felt for some time, and continue to, something akin to “guilt of the survivor”, because my involvement in Rethinking has not harmed me in any significant way, whereas so many of you who have been involved much longer have suffered so substantially.

  5. Philip said

    Youtube footage would be awesome. Also, I can already see Snout et all cashing in on the “family” reference.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Philip: It will be mildly interesting to see what contortions the AIDStruthers will perform

    • Cheryl Nagel said

      Who is Snout anyway? He’s been attacking me on the POZ site.

      • Henry Bauer said

        Cheryl: I’m told he’s a gay Australian nurse. Uses various other pseudonyms as well. Like other HIV/AIDS vigilantes, won’t respond to query, what makes him believe HIV causes AIDS.

      • Snout said

        A “gay Australian nurse”, Henry? Well, I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

        You’ve never asked me publicly before why I think HIV causes AIDS, and when you posed the question privately you ignored my initial reply. Just setting the record straight.

        Why I think HIV causes AIDS is as follows. No, not simply because I read it on the net, and not even because each claim is backed by a substantial body of properly peer reviewed evidence.

        Each of the following has been part of everyday real-life personal experience to me (and many, many people close to me) over a number of years:

        1. AIDS does not occur except in the presence of HIV infection. Yes, I know that HIV is part of the technical definition of AIDS these days, but nothing that looks even remotely like AIDS to an informed observer occurs without the presence of HIV, except for in extremely rare circumstances, and mostly where there is a genuine medically credible alternative explanation for that particular, distinctive pattern of immunodeficiency, not vague speculations like “he must have been malnourished, or taken drugs, or got a bum-full of semen”.

        2. People who seroconvert for HIV have an extremely strong tendency to develop AIDS over time. Untreated, 20% develop this otherwise very rare syndrome within 6 years. 50% within 10 years. 75% within 15. 90% within 20. Yes, I have been observing this for long enough for the figures derived from peer reviewed literature to be entirely consistent with my own observations.

        3. People almost never get a diagnosis of HIV infection unless they have a blood or sexual contact with another person with HIV (or are born to a mother with HIV). It is not always possible to identify the precise source of an infection in the highest risk groups (for example gay men with multiple partners or IDUs who have shared with multiple others, but in many cases you can. In some cases molecular testing provides near-unequivocal evidence.

        4. Whichever population you choose, prevalence and/or incidence of AIDS correlates closely with prevalence of HIV. If HIV is appearing newly in the population, the incidence of AIDS is delayed (something you failed to grasp in your book, Henry).

        5. HIV disease is more complex than was first realised two decades ago, but the primary pathology is a disease of CD4+ cells, the exact molecular target of the virus HIV.

        6. In general, but not in every single case, effective treatments targeting HIV replication dramatically change the natural history of HIV/AIDS disease for the better.

        7. I have read a considerable amount of literature by people who deny that HIV causes AIDS, including your book, Henry. I have yet to find any criticisms that were not deeply flawed in their basic understanding of the methodologies they used, or that misrepresented the totality of the data, or were loaded with logical fallacies such as obvious straw men, or that nit-picked peripheral or frankly irrelevant issues, or were exercises in sophistry. Or were obviously and screamingly dishonest.

        It is your choice whether you publish this reply, Henry. If you do so, please publish it in full, not with the editings you are frequently so fond of. If you choose not to publish, as you so often do with comments that challenge your assertions, then you know the drill by now.

        Whatever you choose, stop complaining that no-one has ever explained to you why they accept that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

      • Henry Bauer said

        Snout (hereafter S) and other readers:
        I stopped paying attention to S quite some time ago, after finding him unwilling or unable to engage in substantive discussion of the central issues, in any of his other guises (Fulano de Tal, Mengano de Tal, Köpek Burun, the real Fulano de Tal). I remain unable to understand why those who are ashamed to reveal their identity imagine that others would take seriously anything they say.
        I decided to post S’s comment of 19 November to illustrate the futility of trying to conduct a substantive discussion with S, though I wish I had answered Cheryl’s query about S in a private e-mail instead of giving S this warrant for getting onto this blog again.
        S asserts an error about his (her?) presumed identity even though it is S’s own choice not to let anyone know who he or she is, though Fulano had assured me long ago that he would.
        S suggests “everyday real-life personal experience to me (and many, many people close to me) over a number of years” as a sufficient basis for asserting, without citing any sources, precise percentages for what happens to “HIV-positive” individuals; nor does S cite sources for other assertions like “People almost never get a diagnosis of HIV infection unless they have a blood or sexual contact with another person with HIV (or are born to a mother with HIV)”, which are demonstrably wrong, see for example the actual peer-reviewed sources I cite at “Spontaneous generation of ‘HIV’”, 25 October 2009 — and it’s not that S hasn’t read that post, he or she sends comments so frequently that it’s obvious S follows this blog religiously. Like others of that ilk, S wants to have it both ways by making these grand assertions but slipping in “almost”, “in general”, and the like as needed escape clauses, perhaps unaware that they vitiate the assertions.
        This may well be the last comment of S’s that I post, and the second-last paragraph offers yet another reason for that: he (or she?) is incapable of refraining from snide insinuations, no matter how baseless, even when not using the gutter language S displays on other blogs and for which I censored his submissions to this blog from the beginning. S’s presuming to address me by my first name yields further insight into his or her manners and personality.
        I would appreciate it if my other readers would not feel it necessary to continue this thread and would leave it, as I intended, just as a documented, unedited illustration of S’s intellectual vacuity. If you like baiting S, addressing his mistakes, and the like, please do so on the blogs that my correspondents tell me S frequents, which I believe include Aetiology, DeShong’s, Kalichman’s.

  6. Joe Stokely said

    Henry,
    Thank you so much for putting my thoughts on RA2009 into words. I have never seen so many people from such different backgrounds sexually, socially, political, religious or non religious that were NOT fighting with each other! You covered them all Henry. I would love to have a picture book with stories of everyone in this movement(for the lack of better description) I felt as though the weekend would last a lot longer and I would have loved to have spent more time with everyone there.

    I have so much more to say about it and probably will!
    Thanks again,
    joe

  7. Stefan R. said

    It was a great example of meaningful globalization. Let’s think about RA2010…

  8. All that love and empathy and difference among people. Talk about “family”! Ain’t it kind of funny that AIDS-thinkers put a lot of money into “branding” their cheap emotionality as that? All that “We All Have AIDS” double-talk, creating panic where there is none, and covering up the real tragedies. And then they call all our depth of pain and solace “denial” or “denial-ism.” What a foreign language they speak, but I guess that’s what people do when there’s no end to their pain and narcissism. I feel so sorry for all those who scream out at the merest hint of, hm, is it connection and realness? Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World.” I don’t have to go somewhere sweet and special to experience it; reality will do. Nice seeing you, Henry.

  9. I was equally moved by the conference and appreciate they way you accurately presented it. My only regret was not being able to chat with everyone. Cheers!

  10. Cheryl Nagel said

    Henry, Thank you for posting a beautifully writen letter. My eyes are welled up with tears because I feel blessed and overwhelmed to be part of such a fine group of human beings! Every attendee — whether it was a scientist, someone with HIV, gay, straight — added a unique dimension, and I think that made the conference a total success! My hat’s off to you, Henry!
    Cheryl Nagel

  11. Francis said

    Dear Henry

    Including Snout’s diatribes on this blog only lowers the tone of an otherwise excellent discourse.
    [Moderator: Yes. I have rejected them for a long time, but since I answered Cheryl’s question about S and mentioned S’s failure to give reasons for believing, I thought I had to post the response]
    If I want to be indoctrinated by the Consensus, I can go to Snoutworld, Aidstruth, Seth Kalichman et al. Personally I view those sites as SPAM (Serial Perpetuation of Aids Myths). I would appreciate, if someone could explain what “nearly unequivocal” means? My best guess so far has been, “not quite true”.
    Gay Aussie Nurse? Snout lists himself as an “Ovine Resources Director”, which technically would be a sheep counter, how that qualifies for anything in the field of AIDS research quite baffles me. Unless of course he is soon going to lay claim to having newly discovered an OIV, Ovine Immunodeficieny Virus which will be about as significant as Gallo’s HL23V. No doubt though it has important implications for HIV vaccine research or market applications for ARV therapy for the 100 million or so potential pandemic victims in New Zealand.
    Of course we should monitor this virus carefully, as it has a great capacity to mutate, much like Montagnier’s virus mutated from LAV in Gallo’s lab to HTLV-III, which in the same lab mutated from a leukemic virus to a cell-killing virus and following some hasty patent negotiations mutated worldwide in to HIV.
    Is it any wonder this cunning virus consisting variously of 8, 9 or 10 genes constantly outsmarts the best efforts of science to eradicate it?

    Baaa

    On “Consensus”

    Herd mentality
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search

    Herd mentality describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items. Examples of the herd mentality include the early adopters of high technology products such as cell phones and iPods, as well as stock market trends, fashions in apparel, cars, home décor, etc. Social psychologists study the related topics of group intelligence, crowd wisdom, and decentralized decision making.

    People in these herds are broken up into two groups, explains Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher who coined the phrase. One lended itself to the religious points of views — their beliefs and how those dictated their actions — while the other lended itself to influence by the media — based upon what others perceive as ‘right’ (following trends, social norms, etc.). Nietzsche perceived these two forms of subservience to be a weakness among the common man, and that the “Superman” as Nietzsche terms is the one who overcomes the values of the fallible herd.

    Again, Baaa!

  12. Tony Lance said

    Thanks for the lovely recap of the conference Henry.

  13. Dear Henry,

    Just like when you headlined the Alive and Well Peer Support meeting back on Rethinking AIDS Day in Los Angeles, April of this year, your RA2009 talk was again outstanding!

    I’ll never be able to thank you enough for all your dedication and overwelming contribution.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Brian Carter: Thank you! I feel enormously privileged to be a member of the Family I could mingle with in Oakland. As I responded to Celia Farber a little while ago, I’m rather embarrassed when I get compliments about my involvement because so many of you have been working at it for so much longer, and above all have been damaged grievoulsy and in several ways, which I have not. (I’m not asking to become a martyr, though 🙂 .)

    • Henry,

      Being conscious of, but denying the imminent danger to embarrass you even more (well, I’m one of the “denialists”, so I can’t help it), I’d like to say this:

      In my opinion it is not important at all, for how long somebody has been a part of this Family, or how many so-called scientific papers somebody has produced at his assembly line –– not the quantity of the work is important, but the quality of it. My favorite of the many thousands of utterly superfluous and utterly stupid non-scientific papers certainly being the study about the fantasized protective properties of male circumcision against “infection” with “HIV”, regardless of the study subject using a condom or not.

      As I’m just reading your book, it is beyond me, how anybody who has reached page 19 or 20 of it could still continue to believe that “HIV” has anything to do with AIDS. It is impossible –– unless the believer has lost 95% of his brain cells.

      I agree with Brian –– it is an overwhelming contribution.

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