HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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Archive for the ‘HIV absurdities’ Category

Architecture against HIV/AIDS

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/05/13

“Using architecture to consider HIV transmission”  could easily be taken as a hoax or a satire, even though it seems to be intended seriously as it discusses how a planned environment could bring HIV to contemporary attention and help with education for prevention.

The temptation to class this as hoax or satire is heightened by text reminiscent of Alan Sokal’s hoax of post-modernist discourse *:
“Architecture is constantly inventing, reinventing, denying, or embracing the notion of crisis. Whether it is a crisis of professional identity, social responsibility, or representation every moment of stagnation is multiplied by the speed of the world in which we live. . . . While architecture is used to bring HIV into focus, it steps back and acts as a canvas instead of the subject”.
Yet anyone with experience of architects would understand that there is nothing satirical or hoaxed about this stuff: some aspects and members of the profession of architecture display a naïvely arrogant hubris and airy-fairy approach coupled with a high degree of practical incompetence. A few reports from first hand:

When I was Dean of a College of Arts & Sciences that included such typical departments as philosophy, history, and sociology as well as music, art, and theater arts, I was taken aback to find that the College of Architecture believed it could teach any and all of those subjects to its majors not only as well as our specialists could but even better, given that Architecture is “interdisciplinary”, one might even say meta-disciplinary or metaphysical.
I was perhaps even more taken aback to discover that engineering or building construction was not regarded as an important feature of the Architecture curriculum. Such prosaic details as how to build solid structures of appropriate materials, with good ventilation, heat-exchange properties, and the like, are the concern of engineering companies, not architectural firms. Perhaps that should not have surprised me, since I had already experienced in Sydney (Australia) a Chemistry Building whose windows were constructed in the glass-and-aluminium cladding that was then the fad. That building, had to be modified as soon as it was occupied because it was totally unsuited to the climate: it became unbearably hot under the normal sun. The solution was to add huge sun-blocking panels that are eyesores and also make artificial lighting necessary.

SydneyChemistry

 Still, perhaps Melbourne’s experience had been somewhat worse, where a tall building in the city periodically shed part of its fashionable cladding with a certain amount of danger to the streets below.

A couple more illustrations of such occasional architectural incompetence:
In Australia I had become well acquainted with a practicing architect, I’ll call him Dennis, who happened to be rather down-to-earth and who shared with me a couple of interesting stories.
An architect well known to Dennis once confessed to him that he had made a little blunder when designing a personal house for a client: He forgot to put a front entrance in the construction plan for the building contractors. The client went almost daily to see how construction was progressing, and by the time the outside brickwork was close to finished, he noted the absence of a front door, and asked his architect about that. Dennis’s friend displayed sorely needed intellectual brilliance: He explained to the client that he had come to believe that a house’s structure was stronger if the walls were fully completed before a hole was broken open for the outside doors.

The Sydney Opera House is rightly world-famous for its design of sail-like roofs on the shores of the magnificent harbor. Not widely publicized is that the initial cost estimate of about AUS£3.5 million had been exceeded about 15-fold at ~AUS£50 million. Dennis explained to me that entries in international architectural competitions, like that held for the Opera House, are judged by panels of architects on the basis of sketches of the proposed building and supporting text that does not go into details of how the structure might actually be built. Nothing like those sails had ever been built, and the engineering firm engaged to do it could not find a way to accomplish the original shapes. So almost everything about the original sketch had to be later changed, including the size of the main hall, acoustic features, building materials . . . . Hence construction took much longer than originally estimated, the design-wining architect was fired and replaced, and the cost became ever-so-much greater.
But all’s well that ends well. The Opera House now works well, and in a certain sense the Opera House cost nothing, because it was funded by the proceeds of lotteries established by the government for that particular purpose. Gambling has long been an honored Australian pastime, and the Opera-House Lottery didn’t even cut into the proceeds from the other, longer-established twice-weekly government lotteries.

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* Alan Sokal, “Transgressing the boundaries: toward a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity”, Social Text 46/47, 14 (Spring/Summer 1996) 217-50; Alan Sokal, “A physicist experiments with cultural studies”, Lingua Franca, May/June 1996, 62-4; see also Janny Scott, “Postmodern gravity deconstructed, slyly”, New York Times, 18 May 1996, pp. A1,22; Alan Sokal, Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2009); Alan Sokal & Jean Bricmont, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science (Picador, 1999); The Sokal Hoax: The Sham That Shook the Academy by The editors of Lingua Franca (Bison Books, 2000)

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV transmission | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Poisonous “prophylaxis”: PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prevention)

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/04/08

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has ballyhoo-ed “PrEP: A New Tool for HIV Prevention”  because Truvada has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for preventing HIV infection. Truvada — tenofovir (TDF) plus emtricitabine (FTC) — had been earlier approved (in 2004) for treating HIV infection.

The 4-page CDC Fact Sheet contains no adequate warning of toxicity; the closest is this recommendation: “Disclose to women that safety for infants exposed during pregnancy is not fully assessed but no harm has been reported”.

Media coverage included “Gay men divided over use of HIV prevention drug”; but the reported division was not over the feeding of toxic drugs to healthy people but over whether such prophylaxis might induce people not to use condoms. The story said nothing about the toxicity of Truvada.

But the official Treatment Guidelines, freely available from the National Institutes of Health, have much to say about toxicity:

Adverse Effects of Antiretroviral Agents (Last updated February 12, 2013; last reviewed
February 12, 2013)
Adverse effects have been reported with use of all antiretroviral (ARV) drugs; they are among the most common reasons for switching or discontinuing therapy and for medication nonadherence. . . . However, because most clinical trials have a relatively short follow-up duration, the longer term complications of ART can be underestimated. In the Swiss Cohort study, during 6 years of follow-up, the presence of laboratory adverse events was associated with higher rates of mortality, which highlights the importance of adverse events in overall patient management (page K-7). [In clearer language: these are deadly drugs that can and do kill]

TDF may cause kidney injury in some patients, particularly in those who have pre-existing renal disease or are receiving concomitant nephrotoxic drugs. In addition, TDF induces a greater decline in bone mineral density than other ARV drugs (page F-2).

Renal impairment, manifested by increases in serum creatinine, proteinuria, glycosuria, hypophosphatemia, proximal renal tubulopathy, and acute tubular necrosis, has been associated with TDF use. . . .
participants receiving TDF/FTC experienced a significantly greater decline in bone mineral density than ABC/3TC-treated participants page (F-14).
TDF/FTC — Potential for renal impairment, including proximal tubulopathy and acute or chronic renal insufficiency (Table 6)

[TDF and FTC are both NRTIs (nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors)]
Table 13. Antiretroviral Therapy-Associated Common and/or Severe Adverse Effects
Hepatic effects — reported for most NRTIs
Lactic acidosis —NRTIs
Nephrotoxicity/urolithiasis — TDF: ↑ serum creatinine, proteinuria, hypophosphatemia, urinary phosphate wasting, glycosuria, hypokalemia, non-anion gap metabolic acidosis
Osteopenia/osteoporosis — TDF: Associated with greater loss of BMD than with ZDV, d4T, and ABC.

Even Truvada’s own website acknowledges the serious risks of taking this drug:
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
What is the most important information I should know about TRUVADA?
TRUVADA can cause serious side effects:
Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, stomach-area pain, cold or blue hands and feet, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or fast or abnormal heartbeats.
Serious liver problems. Your liver may become large and tender, and you may develop fat in your liver. Symptoms of liver problems include your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach-area pain.
You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking TRUVADA for a long time [emphasis added. PrEP implies extended use, but the CDC Fact Sheet says nothing about long-term use increasing the risk of iatrogenic harm]. In some cases, these serious conditions have led to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of these conditions.
Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and take TRUVADA, your hepatitis may become worse if you stop taking TRUVADA. Do not stop taking TRUVADA without first talking to your healthcare provider. If your healthcare provider tells you to stop taking TRUVADA, they will need to watch you closely for several months to monitor your health. TRUVADA is not approved for the treatment of HBV.”

Serious side effects of TRUVADA may also include:
New or worsening kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with TRUVADA. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to take TRUVADA less often, or to stop taking TRUVADA. [But the CDC Fact Sheet warns that failure to take Truvada consistently may vitiate its PrEP benefit]
Bone problems, including bone pain or bones getting soft or thin, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones.
Changes in body fat can happen in people taking HIV-1 medicines.
Changes in your immune system. If you have HIV-1 infection and start taking HIV-1 medicines, your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. This may cause minor symptoms such as fever, but can also lead to serious problems. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking TRUVADA.
The most common side effects of TRUVADA are:
In people taking TRUVADA with other HIV-1 medicines to treat HIV-1 infection, common side effects include: diarrhea, nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, depression, problems sleeping, abnormal dreams, and rash.
In people taking TRUVADA to reduce the risk of getting HIV-1 infection, common side effects include: headache, stomach-area (abdomen) pain, and decreased weight.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or don’t go away”.

And of course there is the usual
“You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.FDA.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088”.
The ultimate purpose of this statement is to safeguard a drug’s manufacturer against lawsuits stemming from the drug’s toxicity, by pretending concern for patients.

Summary:

A drug with known serious toxic effects,
which become more serious over time,
is being recommended for continuous use
and unlimited use in healthy people.

This would be bad enough

if HIV were actually an infectious agent causing serious illness,
which however it isn’t (see The Case against HIV

Posted in Alternative AIDS treatments, clinical trials, experts, HIV absurdities, HIV risk groups, Legal aspects, sexual transmission, uncritical media | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

HPV insanity

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/03/23

Number of Americans living with HPV: 79,100,000 (M and F about equally)
Number of new HPV infections annually: 14,100,000
(for 2008, cited in CDC Fact Sheet “Incidence, Prevalence, and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States”, February 2013)

In 2010 (the most recent year numbers are available)
11,818 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer.

So the risk of developing cervical cancer if infected with HPV is roughly 12,000 out of ~40 million (only women get cervical cancer)
In what sense can it be said meaningfully that HPV causes cervical cancer, if that happens to one HPV-infected woman in every 3000?

* * * * * * * *

Not only is the incidence of cervical cancer low compared to most other cancers, it has also declined steadily for many decades: from 14.79 per 100,000 in 1975 to 6.71 in 2010 (SEER Cancer Statistics Review 1975-2010). Between 2001 and 2010, incidence decreased steadily at 1.9% per year (Gynecologic Cancers).

Despite the steady decrease in incidence of cervical cancer, official recommendations are that pre-puberty girls be vaccinated — a practice that carries more risks of harm than possible benefit:
CDC mongers fear and hawks deadly vaccineGardasil and Cervarix: Vaccination insanity

* * * * * * * *

“HIV” may be a role model for wrong inferences based on mistaken confusion of correlation with causation. (Refresher: Correlation never proves causation.)
Because “HIV-positive” is found in a great variety of conditions, “HIV” is being blamed for an increasing range of ailments, many of which are actually caused by antiretroviral drugs, for example heart failure — see The Case against HIV,  sections 3.2, 4.3, 5, 6.1
So HPV too is being credited with causing more and more things.
First there was a campaign to treat boys as well as girls with anti-HPV vaccine so that they would be less likely to suffer from genital warts, a practice whose risk/benefit ratio is even less desirable than for women and cervical cancer. Bear in mind that, once again, all that’s known is that there appears to be a correlation between some strains of HPV and genital warts.
Then “studies” have found that “HPV also has been associated with . . . vaginal, vulvar, penile, anal, and some head and neck cancers” (The Link Between HPV and Non-Cervical Cancers).

Here’s another pertinent fact about statistics and correlations. The typical criterion of significance used by sociologists and medical researchers is p < 0.05, meaning that there is a 5% chance or less that the apparent correlation has no significance. Very roughly speaking, that means 5 of every 100 apparent correlations are purely random, chance occurrences.
Look at that another way. Assume there are a number of variables, and each is tested against each of the others to see whether there is a correlation. Purely by chance, 5% of all the tests will appear to show a correlation that is, however, spurious.
In other words: If a study tests 100 possible correlations and finds 5 statistically significant correlations, then all 5 are most probably spurious.
One trouble is that research articles report their “statistically significant” correlations, but don’t alert the reader to how many possible correlations were considered.

“HPV is a group of more than 100 related viruses” but only 2 — HPV 16 and 18 — are said to cause cervical cancer, or rather “about 70 percent of all cervical cancers”.
If just 40 strains of HPV had been tested for possible correlation with cervical cancer, purely by chance there would appear to be 2 correlations, spurious correlations.

Once an unwarranted theory has become mainstream, further research will turn up any number of intriguing things — intriguing because they make no sense. With HPV, for example, because there are so many strains one can come up with really mind-boggling results clearly demanding further research and research grants (HPV vaccines may be less effective in African American women, researchers find):
“Among women with mild cervical dysplasia, or early precancerous cells:
African American women: HPV types 33, 35, 58, 68
White women: HPV 16, 18, 56, 39, 66
Among women with moderate to severe cervical dysplasia, or advanced precancerous cells:
African American women: HPV types 31, 35, 45, 56, 58, 66, 68
White women: HPV 16, 18, 33, 39, 59”.

Since the presumption is that “mild cervical dysplasia, or early precancerous cells” lead to “moderate to severe cervical dysplasia, or advanced precancerous cells” on the way to actual cervical cancer, isn’t it intriguing (= makes no sense) that not the same sets of strains are “associated” with the first conditions as with the second?

What are the odds that these findings will be repeatable?
More likely, later studies will find equally spurious correlations with other strains.

And by the way: What inspiration was behind the hypothesis that cervical cancers would be caused by different strains of HPV in white women and in African-American women?

* * * * * * * *

I had been stimulated into this sidetrack into HPV and associated vaccines by something that popped up on my Goggle HIV Alert:

HIV drug used to reverse effects of virus that causes cervical cancer

This seemed so bizarre that I followed the suggestion that “For further information, please contact Alison Barbuti, Media Relations Officer | Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences | The University of Manchester Tel: +44(0)161 275 8383 Email: alison.barbuti@manchester.ac.uk”

An immediate response came that since I was not a journalist, my request had been forwarded to the authors. One of them e-mailed immediately that the material would be sent as soon as they were back home. That was a month ago. My paranoia is showing again: maybe they looked at my website and didn’t like my attitude toward HIV and antiretroviral drugs?
After all, for lopinavir (LPV) — the “HIV drug” of the title of the press release —one finds in the literature that all protease inhibitors have the following “side” effects (Table 13 in Treatment Guidelines, updated 12 February 2013):
Bleeding events
Cardiovascular disease
(Associated with MI and stroke in some cohort studies. . . .) . . . LPV/r: PR interval prolongation. Risks include structural heart disease, conduction system abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, ischemic heart disease, and coadministration with drugs that prolong PR interval.
Gastrointestinal (GI) effects
GI intolerance (e.g., diarrhea, nausea, vomiting); Diarrhea: . . . LPV/r > DRV/r and ATV/r
Hepatic effects
All PIs: Drug-induced hepatitis and hepatic decompensation (and rare cases of fatalities) have been reported with all PIs to varying degrees
Lipodystrophy
Trunk fat increase . . . ; however, causal relationship has not been established.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS)/ toxic epidermal necrosis (TEN)
. . . LPV/r . . . : Reported cases

For LPV specifically (Lopinavir + Ritonavir LPV/r)/Kaletra:
“GI intolerance, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; Pancreatitis; Asthenia [weakness]; Hyperlipidemia (especially hypertriglyceridemia); Serum transaminase elevation; Hyperglycemia; Insulin resistance/diabetes mellitus; Fat maldistribution; Possible increased bleeding episodes in patients with hemophilia; PR interval prolongation; QT interval prolongation and torsades de pointes have been reported; however, causality could not be established”.

Again with “HIV” as role model, the idea appears to be to administer dangerous drugs in absence of any substantial and proven risk.

Posted in antiretroviral drugs, clinical trials, experts, HIV absurdities, uncritical media | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

The Drug-AIDS hypothesis — a footnote

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/03/17

Peter Duesberg is usually credited with the “Drug-AIDS hypothesis”, namely, that AIDS was not and is not caused by HIV but is caused primarily by “recreational” and antiretroviral drugs [1].

Gordon Stewart had observed in the 1960s that drug addicts showed the same symptoms as were ascribed a couple of decades later to “AIDS” [2].

Nowadays, it is presumed that drug abusers contract “HIV” by sharing infected needles, as though the contents of the needles were harmless. My footnote refers to a review [3] of Breaking Night by Liz Murray: Murray’s parents were lifelong drug abusers who “usually burned through their monthly welfare check within a week, spending the money on cocaine”. Murray’s mother “died of AIDS at 42”. No “HIV” was needed, rather obviously.

So nowadays one cannot die just from drug abuse, it must be “AIDS”.

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[1] Duesberg, Koehnlein, & Rasnick, The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy and malnutrition, Journal of Bioscience, 28 (2003) 383-412
[2] Neville Hodgkinson, AIDS: The failure of contemporary science, Fourth Estate, 1996, p.103
[3] Tara McKelvey, Unsentimental education — review of Breaking Night, New York Times Book Review, 12 September 2012, p. 16

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, uncritical media | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

HIV/AIDS as pseudo-science

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2014/03/15

A vast literature in science studies, philosophy of science, history of science, sociology of science, and a variety of popular media deals with “pseudo-science”; sometimes enumerating instances of pseudo-science, sometimes focusing on a single example (creationism, or UFOs, etc, etc.) and sometimes grappling with an issue over which no consensus has been achieved despite a century or more of discussion: How to define pseudo-science? How to distinguish pseudo-science from real science?

The simplest identification of pseudo-science, with which almost no one would disagree (“there’s always one ….”), is something totally incompetent but pretending to be properly scientific. Examples can rather easily be found in “HIV/AIDS research”, for instance that one person has staved off the disease since 1978, which is several years before AIDS had even been identified and half-a-dozen years before “HIV” had been suggested as its cause (Mainstream HIV PSEUDO-science).

A commonly advanced supposed criterion for pseudo-science, directed often particularly at parapsychology, is an inability to reproduce results exactly. By that standard, HIV/AIDS “science” again qualifies as pseudo-science (HIV/AIDS and parapsychology: science or pseudo-science?)  — as of course does all of sociology and almost all of psychology.

My own empirically-based suggestion for when mainstream sources treat something as pseudo-science is if it differs from mainstream science in all the three aspects of established method, currently accepted fact, and standard theory. Once again, HIV/AIDS “science” qualified as pseudo-science (Defining pseudo-science: Three strikes against HIV/AIDS theory)  — that is, before it came to be accepted as unassailable dogma, which it was for reasons of politics and social factors, not on scientific grounds.

Yet another common criterion for supposedly characterizing pseudo-science, again often directed at parapsychology, is that claimed phenomena or events are not accompanied by the offering of any reasonable mechanism that could possibly cause those events or phenomena; see, for instance, Erich Goode, “Paranormalism and pseudoscience as deviance”, chapter 8, pp. 145-164 in Philosophy of Pseudoscience, University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Once more, HIV/AIDS qualifies as pseudo-science under that criterion. For three decades suggestions have been put forward as to how the purported retrovirus “HIV” could act to destroy the immune system. First it was found that some sort of direct action on the supposedly most involved immune-system cells (CD4 T-cells) was not a viable explanation. Subsequently a variety of indirect or “bystander” mechanisms have been suggested, all of which are notably non-specific, mere names like “chronic inflammation” unaccompanied by specific mechanisms (The Pathogenesis of AIDS).

By every measure that has been suggested for distinguishing science from pseudo-science, HIV/AIDS qualifies as pseudo-science.

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P.S., after a useful comment sent to me privately:

As always, my intent here has been to undermine the pretensions of HIV/AIDS theory.
However, I also have quarrels with the very use of the term “pseudo-science”, because of the lack of agreed substantive meeting for the term; it is in practice not an objective label but a term of abuse. I’ve written a great deal about improper labeling of a number of matters as pseudo-science, and the fact that what was once called pseudo-science has sometimes become accepted science, and vice versa (Science or Pseudoscience: Magnetic Healing, Psychic Phenomena, and Other Heterodoxies, University of Illinois Press, 2001).

That parapsychology in particular has been called pseudo-science under a couple of the above-mentioned criteria should not be taken to mean that I think it is pseudo-science. However, I do think HIV/AIDS theory is dead wrong and deserves all sorts of pejorative labels.

Posted in HIV absurdities, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV skepticism, uncritical media | Tagged: | 11 Comments »

 
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