HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘anatomical dissection’

Medical students in Africa need not fear HIV

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/05/31

I drew attention in March (Medical students in Italy need not fear “HIV” when dissecting cadavers, 2010/03/06) to the demonstration that there is negligible risk of HIV infection or AIDS during dissections that are part of medical education (“On the risk of contracting AIDS at the dissection table”, Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 114 (2-3, Apr-Sep 2009) 97-108, by M. Ruggiero, M. P. Galletti, S. Pacini, T. Punzi, G. Morucci, & M. Gulisano). The data reviewed there pointed to the lack of any documented cases of such infection during the whole AIDS era, by now about three decades; the fact that “HIV-positive” — the presence of antibodies regarded as associated with HIV — does not necessarily denote active infection; and the related fact that many “HIV-positive” individuals never get AIDS. Although there are undoubted risks associated with medical dissection from other sources, the fear of contracting HIV and developing AIDS is not warranted.
The significance of this article is underscored by its publication in a mainstream venue, the  Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, official journal of one of the most prestigious Italian and international scientific societies, the Italian Society of Anatomy and Histology. The Society’s founders in 1929 included such distinguished individuals as Professor Giulio Chiarugi, scion of Vincenzo Chiarugi, the founder of modern psychiatry. The journal is in English, is peer reviewed, and is listed in major indexing systems including PubMed.
Of course in Italy, as in the rest of Europe and indeed the rest of the world outside southern Africa and the Caribbean, the rate of “HIV-positive” is quite low, well within 1% and frequently even an order of magnitude less. So it seemed worth considering whether medical students in regions of higher “HIV-positive” frequency should perhaps worry about contracting HIV/AIDS even as students in Italy need not.
South Africa is a most appropriate locale for such an investigation on at least two counts: The prevalence of “HIV-positive” people is high, and the status of medical practice, medical education, and medical statistics is better, more reliable, than in most other high-prevalence regions.
The conclusions of such a study have now been published, again in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology: “Safety issues in didactic anatomical dissection in regions of high HIV prevalence”, 114 #4 [2009] 179-92, by Matteo Prayer Galletti & Henry H. Bauer. It turns out that South African medical students have no need to fear contracting HIV and AIDS, just as in Italy. To the arguments and data presented in the article by Ruggiero et al., this publication adds estimates of the rate of false positives, with special attention to the racial bias of existing “HIV” tests, a bias that stems from a failure to base the tests on appropriate control groups. That bias causes Africans to test “positive” about 20 times more often than they would under properly calibrated tests, and people of recent African ancestry also test positive about an order of magnitude more frequently than they would with appropriately calibrated assays.
Another feature of this article is an estimate of the proportion of long-term non-progressors or elite controllers among “HIV-positive” individuals. Official data indicate that this proportion is much higher than commonly assumed, perhaps as great as 50%.

Posted in HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV/AIDS numbers, prejudice | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Medical students in Italy need not fear “HIV” when dissecting cadavers

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2010/03/06

Dissection is a necessary part of medical education, and medical students are as likely as others to suffer fear in consequence of the propaganda that HIV/AIDS is a threat to everyone, especially where contact with blood or bodily fluids or tissues is concerned.

Their fear is unjustified.

The evidence is that anatomical dissection presents no discernible risk of infection with “HIV”: three decades of the AIDS era have produced only a single claimed case of such infection — and a single unreproduced report of anything is most likely an artefact.

This record illustrates why the Italian Ministry of Health does not consider HIV or AIDS to be significant public-health threats. Moreover the Ministry acknowledges cases of AIDS in absence of “HIV”, and of “HIV-positive” that have not led to AIDS.

All this throws considerable doubt on the hypothesis that “HIV” causes AIDS, to say the least. The full story is published in the peer-reviewed Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, a long-established mainstream journal (which is of course abstracted by the National Library of Medicine). Here’s the abstract posted at PubMed:

“Ital J Anat Embryol. 2009 Apr-Sep;114(2-3):97-108.
On the risk of contracting AIDS at the dissection table.

Ruggiero M, Galletti MP, Pacini S, Punzi T, Morucci G, Gulisano M.

Department of Experimental Pathology and Oncology, University of Firenze, Italy.

Didactic dissection of the human body is still considered the best tool to teach and learn anatomy. Although the risk of being infected with pathogens during dissection has dramatically decreased, fear of infection is still widespread among medical students and health care professionals. The fear of contracting AIDS at the dissection table is of particular relevance because of the emotional implications accompanying the syndrome. In this study we analyze the actual risks of contracting AIDS during dissection in Italy by evaluating health policies and proportions of the epidemic. According to the Italian Ministry of Health, HIV infection and AIDS are not to be considered relevant threats to public health from the epidemiological point of view, and it is estimated that 99.7% of health care workers, who are exposed to HIV, will not be infected. In fact, there is only one well-documented case of an autopsy acquired HIV infection that happened in 1992 the United States. Furthermore, HIV infection is not necessarily associated with AIDS, and most HIV-positive subjects do not develop AIDS, provided that they do not assume toxic drugs or engage in risky behaviours. Conversely, according to the Ministry, AIDS can occur in the absence of signs of HIV infection. Taken together these considerations should help rationalizing the fear of contracting AIDS at the dissection table. The dissection hall can still be a dangerous place and the adoption of safe working practices and awareness of potential risks are mandatory; HIV serophobia, however, is unjustified.

PMID: 20198822 [PubMed – in process]”

Observers of the controversy over HIV/AIDS may be aware that the points made in this peer-reviewed article abstracted by PubMed were earlier made in an article that had been accepted by Medical Hypotheses and posted online, but which was later hastily withdrawn by a vice-president of the commercial publisher, Elsevier, after he received an e-mail asserting that the publication of articles questioning HIV/AIDS orthodoxy constituted “a potential threat to global public health”. (! The pen is, apparently, really mightier than the sword!)
The cabal of fanatical defenders of the mainstream orthodoxy who sent that protest also threatened to have libraries, including the National Library of Medicine, drop subscriptions to and abstracting of Medical Hypotheses.
In the event, the National Library of Medicine ignored the cabal’s demand to stop taking notice of Medical Hypotheses. Elsevier’s attempt to save face after its vice-president’s hasty, ill-advised action culminated in an in-house recommendation that the journal, which had been founded to publish controversial matters that would otherwise be censored by mainstream “peer review”, should become just another peer-reviewed house organ. That suggestion has been roundly criticized by, among others, an editorial in the British Medical Journal (Geoff Watts, “Emasculating hypothetical oddities?”, BMJ 2010;340:c726) and by numerous correspondents to the blog at Medical Hypotheses itself — see “Authors’ letters of support for Medical Hypotheses”, 19 February 2010: “I have received more than one hundred and fifty individual letters of support for Medical Hypotheses in its current form, mostly from scholars who have published in the journal in the past”.

It’s becoming abundantly clear that, when a wider audience learns of the antics of HIV/AIDS vigilantes who want to silence all questioning voices, the vigilantes find themselves to be an isolated little sect whose unscientific approach is deplored by all and sundry.

For a time this handful of dogmatists had things its own way, so long as their behavior did not become widely known, in some part because of their personal connections to a few gatekeepers. But publications like this one in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology can’t be censored.

Many centuries ago, the European Renaissance was born in Florence, Italy. The modern renaissance of evidence-based, non-dogmatic medical science may now be incubating there as well, with  deconstruction of the misleading HIV/AIDS hypothesis which represents a true danger to global public health.

Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV skepticism, HIV transmission | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »