HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

International Symposium — a Hall of Zombies

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/03/30

The 16th International Symposium on HIV & Emerging Infectious Diseases was held in Marseilles on 24-26 March 2010. Our intrepid PR man, Martin Barnes, provides a Rethinkers’-eye view, with editorial assistance of friends Georg and Stefan.

The keynote speaker was — who else, in France? — Robert Gallo. A cartoonist’s take on that:

The atmosphere seemed to our observers that of a HALL  OF  ZOMBIES:

“We thought we were prepared.

We had our AIDS Trap brochures in English and French, we had a special ‘Gallo Gorilla’ page ready.

The AIDS industry meeting in Marseilles was sponsored by a group of pharmaceutical companies. [Ed.: What a surprise!]

We arrived at 9 am and cased out the huge conference building. The auditorium was perfect. We had red balloons and a helium tank. There was a balcony above. We could attach our literature to the balloons and release them when Gallo began to speak.

But first we had to get a feel for what was going on. I circulated among the pharma booths. There were pretty girls with bright literature. One booth had 8 different AIDS drugs. I asked how many you had to take. She said 3. I asked if it mattered which 3. She said no. I asked if there was liver damage as a side effect. She said no. [Liver damage is the #1 cause of death for those on AIDS medicines!]

The attendees started to arrive. Hundreds of them. All ages, all gender, all colors. A few serious academic professor types, but most in mid-thirties, most French speaking. All people making their living on AIDS. We began to hand out our literature, such as Henry Bauer’s recent paper on HIV-testing.

Georg ran into a German radio journalist from Deutschlandfunk DLF and asked whether he was looking forward to listening to the keynote. He said, ‘Not really.’ Does he like Gallo? ‘Not really, I have interviewed him multiple times in the past, he always was very unfriendly and arrogant.’ Georg handed him a printout of Janine Roberts’ analysis from her website and the letter to Science from the Rethinking AIDS homepage. They agreed to get back in touch once back in Germany.

The invited speakers were AIDS doctors and researchers. Each time they would talk about their experiments with this or that new AIDS drug and how it was working. There was one talk about AIDS and aging, how do you keep up with AIDS problems and confounding old-age problems? A guy from WHO was there. He started off with a picture of a pig and spent the whole time defending what had happened with the swine-flu debacle.

I asked a speaker from Australia how he knew the AIDS virus was pathogenic. He said those studies were done years ago in the mid-80s. HIV infects lymphocytes, which in turn emit toxins that kill neurons: AIDS dementia. I asked how did he know HIV was there. He said p24 and gp120, ‘gp120 kills neurons in vitro.’  (These proteins are not specific to HIV!)

There was a doctor from a London hospital who kept talking about viremia. Afterwards I asked how he measured viremia.  He didn’t answer. I said was it viral load? He said it was a standard survey technology. I said was he aware of criticisms of the viral load technology? He nodded sheepishly and turned away.

Another speaker had a slide showing that of patients with cirrhosis of the liver after high alcohol use, some 80% had Hepatitis E. (We should develop a vaccine or treatment for this deadly virus now — more money for the pharmas!)

It was lunch time and we had a pow-wow. Should we go ahead with plan A?  We weren’t detecting any openings whatsoever for an alternative message. The only sort of intellectual exchange was, ‘You have talked about interleukin 2, interleukin 5, interleukin 7, interleukin 11. Why have you been ignoring interleukin 6?’ There simply was no critical thought on the HIV/AIDS paradigm to build on.

We just couldn’t go through with it. The whole conference was like a meeting of zombies practicing a religion. If we were to shower them with leaflets they would conclude the information came from the devil. The only way to make inroads at a conference like that was to have already established an alternative platform with professionals that the attendees could look to for competing information. Luc Montagnier needed to be there saying a healthy immune system can clear HIV, and anti-oxidant papaya juice helps.

It was time for Gallo to speak: ‘HIV Vaccine of the Future.’ He said, Look guys, the only way to really stop this thing is with a vaccine. Medicines help but they are not the answer. The history of vaccine-trial failures has been bad for keeping us funded. But I have an idea. We’ve got to get a vaccine that hits fast and hard. If HIV gets to the viremia stage, it’s embedded in the cells and then it’s too late.  The recent Army trial in Thailand gives us hope. For the first three months the vaccine was effective.  It wasn’t until they reached six months that the vaccinated group was the same as the controls. This matches some data we have developed at my institute. The gp120 envelope is flexible and folds onto the C4i antibody. If we could just figure out how to get the antibody to last longer we will have the answer.

(The old snake-oil salesman was still at it after 25 years. After 63 unsuccessful attempts at finding a vaccine, wouldn’t this be throwing good money after bad?)

Polite applause. One innocuous question. Then Gallo says, ‘Are there no more questions? This is a record. I have finished 6 minutes early!’

It was show time for Plan B. We rushed out ahead of the crowd to grab our balloons to hand out as people departed. We noticed as we left that our surreptitious table of literature had been cleared. They knew we were here!  As we began to hand out balloons they sent an emissary. ‘The conference organizers request that you leave the premises.’

Well, afterwards at least we had a nice dinner at an Indienne restaurant in the old town of Marseilles.  I had renewed respect for the power of a meme made of fear and obscure biology to create a money-machine juggernaut that goes and goes and doesn’t stop.

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

Here’s the Conference Program and the handout that had been prepared for distribution

10 Responses to “International Symposium — a Hall of Zombies”

  1. Henry, the link to the handout gives a 404 (no such file) error.
    I think you should study the example of the Autism Research Institute and Bernard Rimland. The most ahem distinguished experts ahem totally ignore both, but I think you’ll find that their influence in the real world has been enormous nevertheless. They published numerous controlled studies that were simply pretended away by the “experts”. So Rimland gave up publishing in the “scientific journals” and the ARI took to the internet (and grapevine) instead. That may be the best way forward.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Robin P Clarke:
      Thanks for letting me know, the link to “handout” is fixed now.
      Rethinking AIDS is indeed using the Internet, but some Rethinkers are also continuing to batter away at the Establishment’s publications, conferences, etc. Who knows what will eventually bring the needed breakthrough.

      • Some powerful points on the handout. Just one problem I see is that almost all people on being given a handout turn to the last paragraph at the back, and in this case they see that they are being accused of being cruel and greedy …. at which they tear it up in disgust!
        What’s more, even though that final quote is true, sometimes a truth is better not stated for the reason that it is the self-evident implication of actual evidence that does need stating in order to be known. So I’d just miss out that last quote (with apologies to Charles Thomas in the process).

  2. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, It’s kind of funny that these individuals (Georg, Stefan, and Martin) became persona non grata only at the end. Don’t these conferences have rules and regulations regarding distribution of literature — like doesn’t such literature (like the ones Barnes talked about) have to get pre-approved by the proper authorities prior to distribution? Anyway, I think these guys were at least being more honest than Seth Kalichman at the Rethinking conferences.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Martin:
      I think they just placed stuff on a table when no one was watching, and apparently when it was noticed the material was removed. I don’t think Kalichman has ever been to a Rethinking conference.

      • If you just put a pile of leaflets then the forces of darkness can remove them in a flash. Better techniques can involve strategically scattering such as one in a toilet cubicle, another on a seat, another in a shopping trolley, etc. Or handing out to a queue, putting on conference seats, or as I once did, going along the aisles handing out sheets of the “wrong” verses of “Allah’s” flawless timeless Qur’an. By the time I was noticed and threatened with the appropriate death a hundred already had those words they’d never seen before. The celebs Tony Benn and George Monbiot had travelled a hundred miles to speak there but the usual session of questions from the floor somehow forgot to take place in the embarrassing circumstances I’d created, join the dot.

    • Stefan R. said

      Indeed we wore badges with our real names which flagged us as ‘RA staff’🙂 …

  3. Francis said

    I seriously doubt Kalichman has been to any conference where the word “thinking” is included in the title.

    He’s described himself in several blogs as a “Scientist”.

    But become a little upset when it was pointed out that there are ample references referring to Psychology as an actual Pseudoscience and definitely not a “Science”. His response is that it’s a Social Science……you say Potato….

    Perhaps you should run another series of Kalichman’s Komical Kapers, but then you probably have more interesting things to do, like cutting your toenails.

    Seth also likes to dish out mental-illness diagnoses regularly, until it was pointed out that Psychiatry has been shown to be the most corrupt of the medical branches in the pocket of the pharmaceuticals. Then he goes into Psychiatric Denial.

    Particularly like the cartoon of Gallo.

  4. Francis, I question the meritableness of your vague generalisations of pseudo /science. In just about all fields of thinking there can be (1a) competent/ (1b) semi-competent evidence-based scientific endeavour, (2) knowing charlatanism pretending to be that first item (e.g. hiv>aids and many other examples), (3) ideologically-driven pseudo-evidence-based dogma (politically-correct pseudo-psychology/pseudo-sociology/pseudo-biology), and (4) mumbo-jumbo that hardly even pretends to be evidence-based. Even within physics there are the highly dubious string theory speculation, the “just-so-happened” big bang “origin” of everything, and the illogical wave-particle duality.

    What matters is the detailed discernment within these fields of what belongs in which of those different categories.

  5. Nguyen said

    More HIV inconsistency (http://www.dcagenda.com/2010/03/26/14-percent-of-d-c-gay-bi-men-are-hiv-positive-report/) –

    “In a finding that surprised city health officials who commissioned the study, MSM over age 30 years reported using condoms less frequently than MSM under 30, and black MSM of all ages used condoms more frequently than whites.

    Yet the infection rate for black MSM remains extraordinarily high, the report says, most likely because the number of infected black MSM is significantly higher than white MSM, increasing the chance of infection even if safer sex is practiced most of the time.

    “Though white men were more likely to engage in higher risk sexual behavior, more men of color were impacted with HIV,” says the report.”

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