HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Archive for February, 2012

What’s next for the HIV/AIDS vigilantes at Treatment Action Campaign?

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/02/14

Just a couple of months ago, I noted that the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa had urged the Gates Foundation not to proceed with trials comparing stavudine to tenofovir because stavudine is so much more toxic and should simply be replaced by tenofovir forthwith. I noted too how strange this seemed, given that the toxicity of tenofovir is high and well known, as I had noted in several posts; see “HAART is toxic: Mainstream concedes it, in backhanded ways” (2011/12/30).
What will TAC do next, given that the toxicity of tenofovir is becoming talked about increasingly?

“In their analysis of comprehensive VA electronic health records, the study authors found that for each year of exposure to tenofovir, risk of protein in urine — a marker of kidney damage — rose 34 percent, risk of rapid decline in kidney function rose 11 percent and risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) rose 33 percent. The risks remained after the researchers controlled for other kidney disease risk factors such as age, race, diabetes, hypertension, smoking and HIV-related factors. . . . Patients were tracked for an average of 1.2 years after they stopped taking tenofovir. They remained at elevated risk for at least six months to one year compared with those who never took the drug, suggesting that the damage is not quickly reversible . . . . ‘We do not know the long-term prognosis for these patients who stop tenofovir after developing kidney disease’”.
(Of course the authors of the reported study pointed out that HIV itself increases the risk of kidney damage. HIV itself is blamed by HIV/AIDS believers for every ill that antiretroviral drugs bring, for example “HIV-associated lipodystrophy”. Strange that all this supposed harm done by “HIV” was first noted only after antiretroviral drugs came into use.)

I confess that my query, what’s next for TAC, is replete with unashamed and undisguisable Schadenfreude.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa exemplifies as actively virulent a set of HIV/AIDS groupies and vigilantes as one could find anywhere. It is not too easy, though, to find out who exactly are the individuals who staff TAC. The website identifies only the “Leadership” of Vuyiseka Dubula, TAC General Secretary, and Nonkosi Khumalo, TAC Chairperson; and the Contact page gives the name only of the PR person (“Media Comment”), Caroline Nenguke. In this type of organization, these positions are figureheads, the real work being done by full-time staff.
The Annual Report for 2010 like the website gives no names of staff, not even who wrote the Report. It does mention — as had earlier news items — that funding has declined in a way that has made it necessary to retrench. Were I a donor, I would be unhappy at the Annual Report’s acknowledgement that the budget shows “General and Administrative” expenses at 21.7 million, not much below what was spent on “Programmes and Projects” at 27.6 million (currency is not indicated, presumably SA Rand). However, the Report does give a link  for the full financial reports, and the 2011 one has the names of 5 directors: NAC Khumola, V Dubula-Majola, N Geffen, MJ Heywood, and TT Diamini, as well as two who had resigned in 2010: A Achmat and TGP Klaas. Compensation for the 5 directors is shown as 777,019 (if in South African Rand, a bit over US$100,000), a very small part of the 21,700,000  “General and Administrative” expenses. What were the other parts?
Nathan Geffen is a member of “”, co-authored Edwin Cameron’s book, “Witness to AIDS”, and himself has written “Debunking Delusions: The Inside Story of the Treatment Action Campaign” (2010). He is active not only in HIV/AIDS matters but also politically, active among Jews who are critical of Israeli policies and actions. Mark Heywood is Director of the AIDS Law Project, whose website is as lacking in individuals’ names as is the TAC website.
I am irrevocably suspicious of organizations that do not give up front the names of all their significant staff and that do not in public documents itemize expenditures on salaries and associated benefits, just as I’m not interested in the views of bloggers and commenters who hide their identities. When things are not revealed, it seems reasonable to infer that revealing those things would discredit whoever wants them to remain hidden.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, Funds for HIV/AIDS | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Census Bureau supports Duesberg

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/02/12

Duesberg et al. (“HIV-AIDS hypothesis out of touch with South African AIDS – A new perspective”)  had debunked the claim by Chigwedere, Essex, et al. (“Estimating the lost benefits of antiretroviral
drug use in South Africa”, JAIDS 49 [2008] 410-5) that antiretroviral treatment could have saved about 330,000 lives in South Africa between 2000 and 2005 — or 2.2 million person-years — were it not for the misguided theories of Peter Duesberg taken seriously by President Mbeki.
So threatening to the HIV/AIDS Establishment was the Duesberg refutation of Chigwedere et al. that Nobelist Barre-Sinoussi was enlisted to lead-sign a protest against the Duesberg publication, which led eventually to the demise of Medical Hypotheses as a credible vehicle for innovative ideas (“Elsevier-Gate”): the journal’s new editor claimed it possible both to  “publish radical new ideas” and at the same time “not . . .  get into controversial subjects” (Martin Enserink, “New Medical Hypotheses editor promises not to stir up controversy”, ScienceInsider, 25 June 2010).
Duesberg et al. had resorted to Medical Hypotheses only after JAIDS — the journal that had published the Chigwedere article — had refused, counter to all standard practice not to say common decency, to allow a response in  its own pages.
Despite Elsevier’s withdrawal of the Duesberg article, it has been freely available  on the Internet, but it seemed proper and useful to have it in the mainstream literature indexed as other than “withdrawn”. Independent peer review led to the recent publication of the Duesberg arguments in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology , and the abstract is now in PubMed:

Of course the HIV/AIDS vigilantes were beside themselves at this turn of events, and even more that it was brought to widespread attention by a piece on the Nature website. Subsequent fury was expressed in comments to that piece, leading to rather comical machinations by Nature editors attempting to cleanse its site by “losing” those comments owing to an alleged software glitch, see “NATURE and science journalism”.
That blog posting brought a highly informative comment  from Jean Umber: Dr. Willy Rozenbaum, who had given Montagnier the first samples in which “HIV” was supposedly found, had published in 2007 a presentation which showed projections by the US Census Bureau of how the population of South Africa would grow if AIDS were present or if AIDS had not been present:

This is precisely one of the arguments made by Duesberg et al., that the actual population growth in South Africa is what had been projected to happen if AIDS were not present:

According to the official doomsayers of the HIV/AIDS faith, AIDS should have capped the South African population at about 45 million around the year 2000; instead the population has continued to grow in steady fashion.
The defenders of HIV/AIDS theory had ventured a couple of substantive criticisms of the original Duesberg article, among them that this comparison of actual with projected population growth is not convincing. Yet it is the US Census Bureau that published the projections with and without AIDS, and what actually happened is precisely what the Bureau projected if AIDS were not decimating the population.
Rozenbaum’s slide does not give details (other than the date of 2004) for the actual Census Bureau documents from which he extracted these projections. It may well have been The AIDS Pandemic in  the 21st  Century, issued March 2004, tagged WP/02-2, described as an International Population Report by  Karen A. Stanecki, and given the imprimatur not only of the US Census Bureau but also of the Office of HIV/AIDS, Bureau for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development. That document does give copious details of projections with and without AIDS, in numbers and histograms and graphs. It also provides even further support for the validity of the case made by Duesberg et al.:
One of the persistent criticisms made by HIV/AIDS vigilantes is that numbers for the prevalence of “HIV-positive” used by Duesberg et al. came from pre-natal clinics and that data on pregnant women was not a valid proxy for the rate of “HIV-positive” in the general population of South Africa. To the contrary, the Census Bureau points out that it is a very good proxy, and why that is the case:

Although this particular figure refers to data from Zambia, the Census Bureau describes it as representative for all of sub-Saharan Africa:
In Sub-Saharan Africa,  More Women Than Men  Are HIV Positive
At the end of 2001, UNAIDS estimated that 58 percent of all HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa were among women.  Peak HIV prevalence among women occurs at a younger age than among men: around age 25 compared to age 35-40.  As Figures 3 and 4 show for Rwanda and Zambia, younger women tend to have higher levels of HIV infection than men of their same age. Several studies have shown that HIV prevalence among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics provides a reasonable overall estimate of HIV prevalence in the general adult population, although it underestimates the rate among all women while overestimating it among men.  This is shown for Zambia in Figure 4.”

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Note that the Census Bureau Figure 4 above is also yet another illustration of the demographic fact that, in all populations for which data have been published, prevalence of “HIV-positive” rises from the mid-teens and falls again at higher ages, and that females test “HIV-positive” more than males at the younger ages while the opposite is seen at higher ages. The exact ages at which the ratio reverses, and at which “HIV-positive” reaches a maximum, varies not only with sex but also with race; African genes are associated with a longer age-span during which females test positive more than males. For details see a number of earlier blog posts confirming all the trends pointed to in The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory.

Posted in experts, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, M/F ratios | Tagged: , | 14 Comments »

NATURE and science journalism

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2012/02/03

The NATURE website has published a couple of pieces about the article by Duesberg et al. in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology (see “Evidence-based medicine: No HIV/AIDS epidemic”): “Paper denying HIV–AIDS link secures publication — Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review” (by Zoë Corbyn, 5 January 2012)   and “Paper denying HIV–AIDS link sparks resignation — Member of editorial board quits as editor defends publication” (by Zoë Corbyn, 30 January 2012).

The first of these set off an avalanche of comments from Rethinkers and from HIV/AIDS vigilantes. Soon the Nature editors removed some of the Rethinkers’ comments. Brought to task via e-mail, they were unable to offer plausible excuses, and resorted to blaming software glitches. Then ALL the comments disappeared.
Now a few of them have been re-posted, so ineptly as to show a correction by Eugene Semon without the comment that he was correcting, for example. The whole original set of comments is available HERE — Christian Fiala had made a copy of them before they disappeared. Comparing the full original set with the small sample that Nature apparently judges harmless enough to re-post demonstrates how feckless these editors are. For instance, they allow Richard Jefferys to post a string of ad hominem insults, but censor the substantive remarks of Charles Geshekter.
Jefferys has one thing — and only one — in his favor: he writes under his own name. Most of the HIV/AIDS vigilantes hide their identities, no doubt aware that they lack any of the qualifications to take part in such discussions (not to say that Jefferys has any pertinent qualifications).  Some of these groupie-vigilantes seem to use their creative powers only to multiply their pseudonyms, like Snout = Köpek Burun (Turkish for “dog nose”) = Colin Esperson (SO clever, Esperson = S person, i.e. the Snout fellow), etc. etc.

In refusing to post comments from Geshekter and others, Nature said (from  <> signed “-Nature News editors”):
“The following post you wrote on the Nature News website has been hidden by the moderator in accordance with our terms and conditions”;  .
That might lead the unwary to imagine that there are guidelines about substance, civil language, relevance, and the like. Not at all. Nature gives itself the right to be entirely arbitrary and subjective:

“Your content – what we are allowed to do
We may publish, check, edit or remove all or part of the comments, posts, applications, any of your User generated content or other material, including your name, town and country, which you submit to us (‘Your Content’), at our sole discretion. We are not obliged to do any of these things and we may not.
. . . .
This clause 6 means, for example (without limitation), that we can:
. . . .
Remove Your Content, even if you have not breached these Terms or our Community Guidelines;
. . . .
Edit Your Content, which may result in a part of it being modified and displayed, including without your name.
Please note that we do not check, monitor, moderate or even see all the comments and other material submitted to us. While some comments and the applications may be pre-moderated (i.e. checked in advance by us before publication), some comments and other content is not.”

These few paragraphs illustrate accurately the pomposity Nature has long exuded, and which long-term editor John Maddox, for one, exemplified so capably, for instance in regard to special relativity and Herbert Dingle or with the work of Jacques Benveniste; in both cases he managed to change his position drastically without ever admitting to it or showing any signs of embarrassment, exuding arrogant pomposity even as he contradicted himself.
These Terms and Conditions make it possible for the (ir)responsible editors to hide their mis-steps, usually behind anonymity as well. The excuse about software glitches reminded me of the journalist with the BBC who had arranged to interview me by phone, but just before the designated time sent an e-mail that she had been summoned home because a pipe had burst and the house was being flooded; remarkably enough, she never followed through on the promise to be in touch to arrange a new time for the interview.

Perhaps the Nature editors learned something from their experience with the comments on the 5 January piece, because so far they have not censored comments by Geshekter, Terry Michael, and me on the 30 January article — though they did puzzle me with an e-mail saying my post was being hidden even as they posted it. Maybe assistant editor Brian Owens is right after all, and there are glitches in their software that they are unable to fix, technical incompetence matching their intellectual incompetence.

Fecklessness is revealed not only by these editors but also by various people whose credentials lead to them being described as scientists (“Resignations over AIDS denial”, Jef Akst, 31 January 2012):
“Cell biologist Klaudia Brix of Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, has resigned from the board of the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology . . . following the publication of a paper by the infamous Peter Duesberg . . . . Another member of the 13-member board, Hanne Mikkelsen of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, is also considering resigning . . . . ‘Only one [external] reviewer in my mind is not enough for manuscripts of a sensitive nature,’ [said] board member Laurentiu Popescu of the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, who is not resigning”.
The timing of Brix’s resignation demonstrates that she had not taken the time to consider the substance of the controversy, in other words to look at the article itself and its sources and the piece by Chigwedere et al. which had accused Duesberg and President Mbeki of South Africa of partial responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths.
This sort of thing is far too common nowadays in the scientific community: political considerations, safeguarding one’s position and grants and good standing in the professional guild, outweighing considerations of proper scientific protocols.
Beyond that, too many scientists don’t understand elementary aspects of scientific activity, for example, what and why “peer review” is. Somehow, peer review has become a shibboleth that is taken as a synonym for reliable, trustworthy, properly accredited science. But peer review is nothing but opinion, moreover opinion usually from people who have no second thought about accepting on faith as absolutely true whatever the current belief happens to be that dominates mainstream discourse. But as Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, has pointed out *:

Peer review . . . is simply a way to collect opinions from experts in the field.
 Peer review tells us about the acceptability,
 not the credibility,
 of a new finding

A nicely appropriate commentary came from Hank Campbell at Science 2.0 about Popescu’s remark that a sensitive manuscript called for more than one external reviewer:
“If a paper is shoddy yet isn’t ‘sensitive’, it should be allowed to just sail on through? . . .   Duesberg and co-authors contend HIV is not a new(ish) killer virus and AIDS deaths and their drug treatments are hyped.  The knock on that, say critics, is the use of estimates of AIDS deaths in South Africa based on cause-of-death data, which are notoriously unreliable. But that is the exact same unreliable data AIDS advocates use”  (“Should you resign over a paper you disagree with?”).

The only thing that really counts in science is whether claimed knowledge reflects actual external reality. Evidence and theory need to match one another. Theories have always changed and there is no reason to presume that we will ever evolve an understanding that will require no modification over time, so it’s foolish to insist that any theory is “right”.
Scientists are human, and fallible, no matter how eminent they are. Mainstream beliefs always have to be modified as time goes by. Spokespeople for science have no monopoly over facts or understanding.
Science journalism, unfortunately, draws almost entirely on statements from sources presumed to be authoritative. By contrast, journalists who cover politics or economics or the art world are familiar with the fact that equally qualified experts will deliver opposing views and focus on different facts, but journalists who cover science rarely understand that their authoritative sources are biased and that they should seek out the existing range of views among competent people. Duesberg is no less competent than Gallo, Montagnier, or Fauci; indeed, many insiders will in private rate Duesberg’s scientific competence far above those of the other three; yet so far as science journalism is concerned, Duesberg is “infamous” with respect to HIV/AIDS, and the facts he presents and arguments directly based on them are ignored as  beyond the pale.
Sorely needed is science journalism by individuals capable of grappling with the substance of claims and of asking authoritative spokespeople the right questions. A persistent request for the precise proof that HIV causes AIDS would soon reveal the naked fatuity of the official stance.

*    Richard Horton, Health Wars: On the Global Front Lines of Modern Medicine,
New York Review Books, 2003, p. 306

Posted in experts, HIV skepticism, uncritical media | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

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