HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Not with a bang but a whimper

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/12/27

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

That’s the conclusion of one of T. S. Eliot’s best known poems, “The Hollow Men”, which begins,

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together

End and beginning seem very appropriate respectively to HIV/AIDS theory and to its creators. Those creators and their camp followers lean together, excluding any evidence that doesn’t fit their theory; they are empty of any wider perspective than their little bailiwick, and their failure to respond to substantive criticism makes all their statements hollow; and they are certainly stuffed: with self-importance and with dollars from drug companies and research agencies.

There’s been much speculation over the years as to when and how this house-of-cards theory will implode: Will it be with a bang when a Congressional Committee asks what we’re getting for $20 billion a year? Or why HIV tests are used to diagnose HIV infection despite the fact that  those tests are not able to do so and are not officially approved to do so? Or why a greater number of serious adverse non-AIDS events than “AIDS” events strike and kill people who are given the benefit of “life-saving” antiretroviral drugs?
Or will it end with a whimper, as HIV/AIDS fades even further into public indifference? — as it already has begun to do in the developed world, where not many besides grant-receiving researchers and politicians take it seriously.

Presaging a whimpery implosion may be this recent piece in the British Independent newspaper:

“Aids: the pandemic is officially in decline . . . . UN and World Health Organisation hail steep fall in number of new HIV infections” (2009/11/25, by Health Editor Jeremy Laurance)

The failure of the media to trumpet this article’s obvious implications is of a piece with the media’s failure to ask how HIV/AIDS theory could be compatible with a 25-90% “HIV infection” rate in African armies (South Africa needs Donald Rumsfeld, 15 December 2009):

“The HIV pandemic which started 28 years ago is officially in decline . . . . The number of new HIV infections peaked in the mid-1990s and has since declined by almost a third, according to the annual update on the pandemic for 2009, published yesterday by the Joint United Nations programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) and the World Health Organisation.
It is the first time that UNAids and the WHO have confirmed that the pandemic is on a downward trend and represents a landmark in the history of the disease. In their 2008 report, they said suggestions the epidemic had peaked were ‘speculation’ and that it was ‘difficult to predict the epidemic’s future course’” [emphasis added].
The number of new infections peaked about 13 years ago, yet by last year the official gurus had not yet admitted it?! That certainly inspires confidence in anything that those official gurus have to say on the subject.

“‘The latest epidemiological data indicate that globally the spread of HIV appears to have peaked in 1996 when 3.5 million new infections occurred. In 2008 the estimated number of new HIV infections was approximately 30 per cent lower than at the epidemic’s peak 12 years earlier.’”
OK, in 2008 there were 30% fewer than in 1996. How many fewer than in 1996 were there in 2007? Was the difference not statistically significant, so that the gurus did not need to admit it? In which case the drop would have had to be nearly 30% in the single year from 2007 to 2008; the likelihood of that is easily equal to that of all the other extreme absurdities that HIV/AIDS aficionados seem able to swallow without even a grain of salt. Why were the gurus still calling it “speculation” a year ago, that the pandemic had peaked a dozen years earlier? Is a dozen years the latent period required to overcome cognitive dissonance on the part of HIV/AIDS believers?

“in sub-Saharan Africa — the worst-affected region — new infections in 2008 were ‘approximately 25 per cent lower than at the epidemic’s peak in the region in 1995’.”
In the meantime, since 1995, the population had grown appreciably and the supply of antiretroviral drugs has been far below what was needed to decrease the infection rate, according to the (ir)responsible officials. What on Earth can then explain this decline in heterosexual transmission of a sexual infection in a region where 20-40% of the adult population is used to having several partners at the same time and changing them frequently? (James Chin, “The AIDS Pandemic”, calculated that this level of promiscuity is needed to explain the numbers — the estimated numbers — disseminated by UNAIDS over the years; James Chin, former epidemiologist for the World Health Organization, that is.)

“Despite the fall in new infections, the number living with HIV increased last year to 33.4 million as people are surviving longer with the roll-out of antiretroviral drug treatment. Greater access to drugs has helped cut the death toll by 10 per cent over the past five years.”
Of course one must not forget the continuing need for more resources, so the overall increase in “HIV-positive” persons must be reiterated. But one should also bear in mind that all these numbers come out of computers, not from data “on the ground”. The increase to 33.4 million is a computerized guess, just like the guess of 33 million a couple of years ago, reduced at that time from an earlier computerized guess of 40 million; all these guesses are just as reliable as you would expect from gurus who can recognize a 30% decline after 13 years but not a decline of 25% or more after 12.
Not only that, these gurus are somehow able to discern that the “roll-out” of antiretroviral drugs is the reason for the purported — guessed, believed, held on faith — increase in survival and lower death rate. I’ve noted before that HIV/AIDS theory satisfies the criteria for pseudo-science usually directed at parapsychology; so perhaps the gurus discerned these reasons by extrasensory perception? But they didn’t really need that. Like the number of infections, that death toll is not a count, it’s a computer output; and THE COMPUTER COULD NOT HAVE SPAT THAT OUT UNLESS IT WAS PROGRAMMED IN A WAY THAT WOULD SPIT OUT SUCH A PURPORTED INCREASE IN SURVIVAL; and of course the computer model includes the assumption of benefit from antiretroviral treatment.
Any computer model is captive to the assumptions built into it. In South Africa, the registration of deaths is better than 50% complete; the official count of annual AIDS deaths has been on the order of 10,000-15,000 for the last half-a-dozen years; but UNAIDS’ computers have been estimating on the order of 300,000 AIDS deaths annually, a factor of 20 greater than the actual count; see — from the Statistician General of South Africa — Lehohla P.: (2005) Difficulties in attributing deaths to HIV/AIDS.
There’s not even need for the Statistician General of South Africa to point out that UNAIDS numbers are unbelievable, UNAIDS does it by and for itself. Its report for 2009 states, “Greater access to drugs has helped cut the death toll by 10 per cent over the past five years”; yet in the 2008 report, AIDS deaths in sub-Saharan Africa were given as 1.3 million for 2001 and 1.5 million for 2007, an INCREASE of 15% in 6 quite recent years. Did the number shoot up rapidly from 1.3 million in 2001 to 1.56 million in 2003 so that “in the last five years”, by 2008, it could decline by 10% to 1.4 million?

“There are now 4 million people on the drugs worldwide, a 10-fold increase in five years. The report says 2.9 million lives have been saved since effective treatment became available in 1996 but less than half the patients who need them are currently getting them.”
Again: Doesn’t anyone THINK about these numbers?
Since 4 million are now getting the lifesaving drugs, why have not 4 million lives been saved? (Clue: the 2.9 million is a computerized guess based on innumerable assumptions and extrapolations to decades in the future.)

Parenthetically, note that “effective treatment became available in 1996”, which acknowledges that before 1996 the treatments were NOT effective. Yet when AIDS Rethinkers state directly that for a decade AZT was killing rather than curing, the AIDS apologists and the AIDS vigilantes will insist that AZT and its ilk were quite appropriate treatments; at best they may say, like Daniel Kuritzkes, “in retrospect the dose we started with, with AZT, was a dangerous and poorly tolerated dose”. Nothing wrong with AZT so long as the right dose is used, according to Kuritzkes. Same with arsenic, of course, or any other poison.

“The reasons for the decline in new infections are disputed.”
And well they might be. Any claim to have effected behavioral change among adults, 20%-40% of whom have an established tradition of high promiscuity with continually changing partners, ought to be based on some rather concrete evidence; for a priori, one might be inclined to doubt the efficacy of “sex education, HIV awareness campaigns and distributing condoms”, given, for instance, the failure of such programs to curb pregnancies among unwed teenagers in the United States. What we’re offered instead of substance is a pabulum of unsupported self-serving assertions:
“We have evidence [not revealed, however] that the declines we are seeing are due, at least in part, to HIV prevention. However, the findings also show that prevention programming is often off the mark and that, if we do a better job of getting resources and programmes to where they will make most impact quicker, progress can be made and more lives saved.”
But one might hesitate to provide more funds given that “Ties Boerma, a WHO statistics expert, said countries whose HIV prevalence declined dramatically, like Zimbabwe, were not always those that got the most HIV cash”, which would indicate that the interventions have not done any good. But don’t let facts get in the way of self-interested propaganda.

Perhaps the whimpering fade into neglect of HIV/AIDS theory will be hastened by those who have long been asking why more aid is not being directed into Africa’s more salient ills:
“Philip Stevens of International Policy Network . . . said with HIV declining it was time to rethink global spending priorities . . . . Globally, HIV causes about 4 per cent of all deaths, but gets [23% of what is] spent on development aid for health  . . . . In most countries HIV is a relatively minor problem compared with other conditions such as malaria and diarrhoeal disease” [emphasis added].

Those vested in HIV/AIDS careers will not retrench willingly, of course:
“Dr Karen Stanecki, senior adviser to UNAids, said repeated studies in different parts of the world, comparing the reduction in new infections with what happened where there was no intervention, had demonstrated the effectiveness of prevention programmes. ‘The decline was over and above the natural decline in the epidemic. They showed it could only have been explained by behavioural change.’”
So there was already a natural decline of the epidemic?
Connoisseurs of statistical legerdemain will recognize “could only have been explained by behavioural change” as a rather desperate and wishful assertion that could not possibly be based on concrete observational evidence and competent statistical analysis. Since there was already a natural decline, cause unknown and therefore unpredictable in future magnitude, how could it then be calculated that the rate of this natural decline had been substantially augmented by “intervention”?

10 Responses to “Not with a bang but a whimper”

  1. Norman B. said

    It looks like we will have to pull down from the library shelf and dust off that classic volume, “How to Lie With Statistics.”

    • Henry Bauer said

      Norman B.: Huff’s book “How to Lie With Statistics” remains worth reading. I continue to cite his wonderful example of correlation proving causation in the case of rum prices in Cuba and clergymen’s salaries in New England. Unfortunately, CDC researchers often forget this, for example in Dondero, T. J., and J. W. Curran. ¡994. Excess deaths in Africa
      from HIV: confirmed and quantified. Lancet 343:989–90.
      These are also pretty good:
      Best, Joel. 2001. Damned lies and statistics: untangling numbers from the media, politicians, and activists
      AND
      2004. More damned lies and statistics: how numbers confuse public issues.
      Both Berkeley: University of California Press.

  2. Francis said

    One upon a time in a land far far away,

    a famous scientist Gobert Rallo stole one of his friend’s favourite toys. He claimed this toy was his own and used it to make a lot of money for himself. Sadly his friend did not like Rallo using his toy and said he would do bad things unless he got it back.

    Rallo being a greedy child would not give the toy back and only agreed to share it with him when his mommy told him he was going to be grounded and not allowed in his lab to play.

    Rallo grumbled a lot about having to share the toy and went to his friends Max, John and Tony to see if they would help him. Max, John and Tony had been playing with other toys up to then but had become bored with them. They too did not want to be grounded so they told him that he could not play in their labs anymore and would have to start up his own, so he did.

    Now Rallo’s stolen toy was a special toy. It could change its shape and size and color at any time you wanted it to and often it would try to hide in the unlikeliest of places. This toy didn’t actually do anything but it was pretty and everyone else wanted to play with it as well. These were the same children that liked dressing in their sister’s clothes and playing with dolls. So many children wanted to play with this toy that it was eventually cloned so that there were lots of them, enough for every lab child to be happy with. The toy was also magic, it could make money come from out of nowhere!

    Eventually though the smart children became tired of Rallo’s toy and stopped playing with it. This made Gobert and a lot of lab children unhappy because they worried that the money would stop coming too and they wouldn’t be able to buy sweets and Porsches and big houses, or go to fancy dinners with adults and have their names in the papers.

    Gobert came up with a smart plan though, he would take his toy to Africa where there were so many other children, surely they would play with it too. Africa was a great success for the toy, you could make people play with it even if they did not want to. And the rest of the world approved of this toy in Africa as no one wanted to deny a poor black child of a toy, that would make them seem mean.

    Eventually though, the child that had originally owned the toy became upset at how much attention the other kids were getting over the toy. So he decided to tell the truth about it. He told all the children that Africans didn’t need the toy after all, they would be much happier with some nice water and food and a good night’s rest.

    The other children though were very grumpy about this and started to call him names, they even said he could not speak their language!

    Now mommy became upset about this and thought the other kids did not play fair at all, she thought about this for a long time, how to make her boy happy again…….so she gave him a Nobel Prize and he smiled.

    The other kids got nothing, they looked very grumpy but tried and tried to make the Prize not seem very good, They held on to their toy tightly because now it looked like someone might take it away from them.

    The End

  3. mo79uk said

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was eventually said the HIV/AIDS war was mostly won thanks to HAART and other so-called preventative measures; it’s the only way they can save face. A sceptics victory won’t get any congratulatory hugs.

  4. Joe said

    In the light of this “admission”, it might be appropriate to look at a recent survey of Asian (gay and bisexual men). I hope it is of some interest.

    It is a 2009 survey of almost 8000 men, publicised here: http://www.fridae.com/newsfeatures/2009/12/24/9495.one-in-five-msm-do-not-use-condoms-consistently-with-casual-male-partners-2009-msm-sex-survey.

    These were a sexually-active group: 63% had 2 or more sexual partners in the preceding 6 months.

    31% of those with a regular partner did not use condoms; 21% of those having casual sex did not use condoms. The headline seems to underplay things — I’d say it is more like 25% of the respondents who had sex did not use condoms (indeed the lack of condom use is probably higher — 48% had tested for STIs and 24% of the respondents had actually had a STI in the past 6 months). [In the last 30 years of largely-condomless yet promiscuous sex, I’ve only had one STI].

    These were highly-educated and sophisticated men (67% had university degrees or higher). They are also highly mobile and well-travelled (64% had been to a foreign country in the preceding 6 months). 10% of those who travelled to a foreign country had casual sex there without a condom.

    Yet only 5% of the total respondents were “HIV positive”; 62% of these were on ARVs (and one could say that in half of the cases this treatment failed “virologically”).

    It is very likely that most of these men are Asian. The article doesn’t give their “racial” origins, but says they were living in the following countries: Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand and China. The company behind the website seems to have sponsored the report, and the website is mosly used by gay Asian men. It’s likely that at least a minority of the respondents from the US and Australia were also Asian.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Joe: Many thanks indeed, this is highly interesting. I’ve downloaded the full report for further digestion.

  5. mo79uk said

    The swine flue pandemic has rightly been finally criticised too: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1242147/The-false-pandemic-Drug-firms-cashed-scare-swine-flu-claims-Euro-health-chief.html

  6. danimal said

    slightly weakens your (still strong) argument but the actual chigwedere paper doesnt’ say 330,000 annually, but for essentially 5 yrs, with the median being 80,000 deaths…still 5-6 times bigger than the official statistics http://www.aids.harvard.edu/Lost_Benefits.pdf

    • Henry Bauer said

      danimal:

      We wrote “it has been proposed that between 2000 and 2005 the new AIDS virus, now called HIV, had killed 1.8 million South Africans at a steady rate of 300,000 per year and that anti-HIV drugs could have saved 330,000 of those.”

      in other words, during the 5 years

      • danimal said

        gotcha i understand now…that’s just insane to think it could be off by 20-30 fold on account of just stigma alone

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