HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Archive for January, 2011

Picking cherries in South Africa

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/01/13

When Rethinkers cite the many published peer-reviewed mainstream reports of the toxicity of HAART, or demonstrating the lack of any direct evidence for sexual transmission of “HIV”, or showing the lack of correlation between “AIDS” and “HIV”, a common riposte from the AIDS groupies and vigilantes is to accuse us of cherry-picking the literature, in other words ignoring an allegedly much larger amount of literature — not cited, however — that supposedly says something different.
Of course the riposte is intellectually invalid, because it takes only one good study to disprove a theory, no matter how many flawed or incomplete or inconclusive ones had seemed to support that theory. It’s entirely normal in science that theories are inferred from early studies and that they are later overturned as better or more sophisticated studies are reported.
In any case, when it comes to cherry-picking the literature, mainstream HIV/AIDS researchers are certainly in their element and could serve as role models. Even the specialist computer modelers are honest about the flaws in their models (Sexually Transmitted Infections 80, Suppl. 1, 2004), and retired mainstreamers like James Chin or retiring ones like Kevin de Cock acknowledge that official statistics are grossly inflated  and that there’s never going to be a sexually transmitted HIV epidemic outside Africa or the Caribbean or perhaps African-American communities; yet the HIV/AIDS literature continues to be replete with claims and reports that ignore the lack of validity of the models and the lack of evidence for epidemic spreads.
South Africa is an outstanding example. Nearly a decade ago, Rian Malan exposed the errors of UNAIDS models that claimed “AIDS” deaths to be a multiple of what they actually were. Duesberg et al. (cited by Chigwedere & Essex, AIDS Behavior, 14 [2010] 237-47)  pointed out that for about a decade Statistics South Africa has reported AIDS deaths at about 15,000 per year while UNAIDS computers would have the number at about 300,000. Yet cherry-picking “AIDS” “activists” and mainstream camp-followers keep insisting on this unfounded, absurd number, which entails ascribing something like half of all deaths in South Africa to AIDS as well as multiplying the official numbers from Statistics South Africa by 20.
For some reason, the professionals at South Africa Statistics have been unmoved by this nonsense. Their latest published report on “Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2008: Findings from death notification” (P0309.3, released 18 November 2010) notes that the completion of reporting of deaths has been at around 80%, and that deaths from “AIDS” or “HIV disease” were a little over 15,000 in 2008, ranking 7th among causes of death, responsible for just 2.5% of all deaths. The UNAIDS model is once more officially declared to be wrong by a factor of 20 or so.
The director of Statistics South Africa, Lehohla (2005; cited in Galletti & Bauer) has explicated the errors committed by those who rely on the UNAIDS models, for example by using long chains of inferences based indirectly on a host of doubtful claims that jump to farfetched conclusions based on changes in the age distributions of deaths and ignoring rises in political and criminal violence that account for those changes. By contrast, Chigwedere and other mainstream doom-purveyors have simply cherry-picked the invalid UNAIDS numbers and ignored the official Statistics South Africa reports. Those who attempted to defend the UNAIDS numbers coould only assert, without a shadow of evidence, that causes of death must have been misreported to the extent of almost half of all deaths; yet they have not even attempted to show how or why Statistics South African is wrong about its estimate of 80% completeness of counts and accuracy of reporting.
Among the mainstream culprits is the Medical Research Council (MRC) of South Africa itself. For details of the sleight-of-evidence used to multiply by a factor of 20-25 the numbers reported by Statistics South Africa, see “The impact of HIV/AIDS on adult mortality in South Africa” by Dorrington, Bourne, Bradshaw, Laubscher & Timaeus (September 2001; Burden of Disease Research Unit, Medical Research Council). Even as it concedes that reporting of adult deaths around 2000 covered 89% of cases , it then asserts that deaths of children are under-reported (p. 5), and asserts the ASSA 600 model (p. 6) to be “largely consistent” with empirical data. It even ventures the extraordinary claim that “statistical modeling of epidemiological and mortality data adds a fifth component to the art of diagnosis” (p. 3).
That would be arguable in any case, but here the modeling and statistics are demonstrably unsound, not to be used for any purpose at all. That ASSA 600 model had claimed 143,000 AIDS deaths in 1999. Rian Malan had pointed out that this was an improvement over MRC’s earlier Epimodel which had estimated 250,000 deaths in that year, but that “Towards the end of 2001, the vaunted ASSA  600 model was replaced by ASSA 2000, which produced estimates even   lower than its predecessor: for the calendar year 1999, only 92,000  Aids deaths in total” (Malan, “Africa isn’t dying of Aids”, The Spectator [London], 14 December 2003).
So just a few months after Dorrington et al. of the MRC were using ASSA 600, the MRC was abandoning that model and issuing estimates lower by some 36%, having earlier abandoned a pre-ASSA-600 model and reducing estimates by 43%.
Malan also cited computer-modeled estimates of 9.5% “HIV-positive” for college students at Rand Afrikaans University when a large sample of them (nearly 1200) tested poz at only 1.1%; and a computer-modeled estimate of bank employees at 12% when actual testing of 29,000 employees revealed a rate of only 3%.
The model is thoroughly discredited, in other words — as its own creators have admitted forthrightly (Sexually Transmitted Infections 80, Suppl. 1, 2004).
Still, the MRC released a report (by Bradshaw et al.) for South Africa’s province of Gauteng  asserting that 33% of deaths in 2000 were owing to HIV/AIDS, some 35,000 in total. Now Gauteng’s population is about 1/5 of South Africa’s, whose TOTAL number of deaths from HIV/AIDS in 2000 was reported by Statistics South Africa as 10,500: thus MRC’s estimate is exaggerated by at least an order of magnitude, probably by a factor of about 20.
To provide a perfect illustration of cherry-picking, this report about matters in Gauteng relies on — cites — data from Statistics South Africa about population numbers, yet fails to cite and contradicts blatantly, by an order of magnitude or more, what Statistics South Africa says about AIDS deaths.
Perhaps “cherry-picking” is too kind a description for the persistent, continuing promulgation of numbers based on a computer model that the issuing agency itself abandoned because of its obvious disagreement with the facts, disagreement by an order of magnitude of more.
However, HIV/AIDS activities in South Africa are supported by copious funds from other countries and from drug companies, so HIV/AIDS research and HIV/AIDS activism are very desirable means of “earning” a living in a country where the unemployment rate is so high (in Gauteng in 2000, 36% of those between 15 and 64 years of age).
If these HIV/AIDS camp-followers and groupies weren’t picking cherries, what could they be doing for a living?

Posted in experts, Funds for HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS numbers | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Infiltrating the mainstream

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/01/09

Only the journals and conferences that specialize solely in HIV/AIDS reject Rethinking work automatically irrespective of its substantive merits, as illustrated by Rethinking articles accepted by peer-reviewed periodicals like the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, the Journal of Bioscience, or the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology.
Those publications then lead to further exposure in other venues again, for example Professor Ruggiero was invited to contribute to an edited international monograph on HIV infection, and several of the authors of these articles have been radio-interviewed on several continents. My “HIV tests are not HIV tests” in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is cited on a medical blog in Rumania. The previous post mentioned a British cartoonist who understands the need for Rethinking.

Another recent illustration of how Rethinking is seeping into mainstream visibility is the website Nurse Tips, “chock-full of resources and tips for the intelligent nurse. Whether you’re and LPN or RN, you’re sure to find additional healthcare knowledge right here.”
The “Top 50 Blogs About HIV and AIDS” includes several Rethinking ventures.

Posted in experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Modern medicine in cartoon nutshells

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/01/08

A correspondent just alerted me to these insightful cartoons which comment capably on certain aspects of modern medicine, including a couple about HIV/AIDS.

Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Public health and individual health

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/01/02

In the previous post [Medicine isn’t science — nor should it be, 2010/12/26; see also “Doctors aren’t scientists, and medicine isn’t science”, 25 November 2008], I pointed out that medical practice ought to be concerned with the individual, making it fundamentally different from science which is concerned with universal laws. “Public health”, too, is different from what physicians practice because its focus is on populations and not on individuals.
Public health practice relies on epidemiology and statistics. It deals in averages and medians and ignores outliers. By contrast, patients who are statistical outliers from a population standpoint are nevertheless individuals whose health is the direct, sole concern of their doctors. The Hippocratic Oath has to do with caring for individuals, not populations.
There may be something of an analogy to political matters. Politicians and policy makers are concerned with collections of people, with majorities and averages. No matter how often it may be pointed out that modern ideals for democracies include safeguards for equal rights for minorities, and that it is the freedom of individuals that matters and not the preferences of the majority, in practice the ideal of personal liberty has to be fought for continually. Perhaps especially in times of crisis, slogans and sound-bites and generalities tend to take over, and people become of a mind to “destroy villages in order to save them”, to recall an infamous remark from the Vietnam-war era.
Public health practices may not overreach quite to that extent, but there is an inherent contradiction between the Hippocratic Oath and regulating for population-wide health. Vaccination, for example, is unquestionably a public-health good, and thereby good for untold numbers of individuals. Yet there are some individuals who are damaged by it, and officialdom seems just to shrug that off as unavoidable collateral damage, as well as reacting without empathy or sympathy to individuals who would prefer to accept the risk from non-vaccination to the risk from vaccination.
How cavalier can be those who focus on public health and not individuals is illustrated by the advocates of “interventions” that comprise administering medications to entire populations in order to improve statistically measured health. An iconic example is the proposal that every adult over 55 should, without prescription or prior medical examination, take life-long a “Polypill” that would purportedly reduce strokes by 80% and coronary events by 88%, according to calculations based on meta-analyses of hundreds of studies on hundreds of thousands of human beings; the Polypill (for which a patent application had been lodged) would comprise a statin, aspirin, folic acid, and three blood-pressure-lowering drugs (a diuretic, a beta-blocker, and an inhibitor of angiotensin-converting enzyme). An editorial in the British Medical Journal suggested that this was the most important medical news in half a century (“Editor’s choice: The most important BMJ for 50 years?”, BMJ 326, 28 June 2003).
Perhaps “cavalier” is not the right description for what common sense can identify as blatant insanity. It was proposed by professors at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and the School of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of London, and endorsed enthusiastically by the editor of the British Medical Journal and a director of a Clinical Trials Research Unit [Anthony Rodgers, “A cure for cardiovascular disease? Combination treatment has enormous potential, especially in developing countries”, BMJ 326 (2003) 1407-8]. Do these medical professionals not know that every medication has “side” effects? That liver damage is almost inevitable when drugs — physiologically active substances foreign to the body — are administered long-term? That “side” effects of statins had already been known to be potentially fatal, Baycol having been withdrawn from the market a couple of years before the Polypill was proposed? It is far from reassuring that most of the on-line Rapid Responses to this British Medical Journal article took the proposal as quite a serious one, finding fault only with various technical details; only about 1 in 6 of the Responses found the concept laughable, e.g., “I am just wondering if the ‘compelling’ observational evidence that lowering serum homocysteine reduces heart disease is as ‘compelling’ as the observational evidence that estrogen did the same thing”.
Another clash between statistical and individual medicine is the controversy over whether or not there is such a thing as chronic Lyme disease (Medicine isn’t science — nor should it be). Mainstream practitioners admit that some patients treated for acute Lyme diseases with the officially proclaimed sufficient short-term antibiotic regimen may suffer “post-Lyme inflammatory” conditions and that in “rare” cases the infection might not be defeated by that regimen. Yet the treatment of these unfortunate outliers is left to maverick doctors who run the risk of losing their licenses because their professional associations and officialdom and insurance companies do not regard these outlier individuals as the proper concern of their individual doctors. In some ways this is the more remarkable because doctors have so much leeway in other respects, for example, they may prescribe any approved drug for any condition, and are not liable to disbarment for having recourse to off-label uses of drugs; why not off-label length of antibiotic treatment for chronic Lyme?
HIV/AIDS, too, illustrates how stark can be the difference between population-wide policy-making and caring for individuals. The eradication of “HIV” is the main thrust of officialdom and the groupies of HIV/AIDS theory, and draconian means are pushed toward that end, for example, the circumcising of as many African males as possible and the testing of everybody followed by antiretroviral treatment of all “HIV-positive” individuals, whether or not they are ill. That’s in the face of the unquestioned facts that the “HIV” tests have not been approved to diagnose “HIV infection” and that, even if they had been, universal testing of low-prevalence populations would turn up more false positives than true positives, so that toxic antiretroviral drugs would be administered unnecessarily and damagingly to a large number of people, a few tenths of a percent of the population (Weiss SH & Cowan EP, “Laboratory detection of human retroviral infection, Chapter 8 in Wormser GP (ed.), AIDS and Other Manifestations of HIV Infection, 4th ed., 2004). From the individual’s point of view, the question whether a positive test is a false positive is all that matters. Even the official mainstream acknowledges the existence of long-term non-progressors, or elite controllers, who remain perfectly healthy despite testing “HIV-positive”. Population data indicate that elite controllers may constitute about half of all those who would test “HIV-positive” under universal testing.

Such instances as the proposed Polypill and the medical profession’s response to chronic Lyme disease incline me increasingly to the view that the HIV/AIDS catastrophe is not a unique aberration but rather quite a natural culmination of developments in medicine and science over the last half century or so, illustrating a final triumph of authoritative expertise over evidence-based common sense; or to put it in another way, of eminence-based rather than evidence-based medical practice, a neat locution I found in C. Andrew Aligne, “Flu skepticism”, American Scholar, 79 (#2, Spring 2010) 6].

Posted in clinical trials, experts, HIV absurdities, HIV tests | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »