HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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

Posts Tagged ‘fair allocations in research’

Open Letter to my Representatives in Congress

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/03/27

With all due respect: Why we are spending so much on HIV/AIDS? Overall and also compared to other diseases? In 2008, “U.S. federal funding to fight HIV totaled $23.3 billion”.

By the end of 2007, not much over 1 million Americans had supposedly been infected by HIV; so in just one year, 2008, we spent $23,000 for every American who had ever been infected. Or look at it this way: There were 37,000 new cases in 2007: in 2008 we were spending $630,000 per each new infection in the previous year.

We — taxpayers, via the federal government — pay for treatment: HIV/AIDS is the only disease for which objections to “socialized medicine” don’t apparently apply. We pay for “education” and “prevention” activities. We provide billions of dollars in foreign aid specifically targeted to HIV/AIDS.

Compare just the research funding for HIV/AIDS with that for other diseases:
Why are we spending nearly 100 times as much on HIV/AIDS research, per patient and per death, than on research into heart disease? $2800 compared to $29 per patient, $207,000 compared to $2700 per death?
Or compared to diabetes, 15 times as much per patient and 70 times as much per death?

fair2009figure

fair2009table1

Would it be churlish to suggest that you enquire into what we have received and are receiving in return for these enormous expenditures?

I hope you won’t think it out of order for me to suggest that you exercise the same skepticism toward what you hear from medical and scientific experts as you are wont to exercise when questioning corporate executives and the experts that they bring with them.

You are familiar with the phenomenon that distinguished economists will disagree with one another over what specific facts mean and what the best policy might be. You are also aware that the opinions of expert economists are sometimes influenced by their political views and even by their personal vested interests.

Admittedly, economics is scarcely a hard science; but experts disagree with one another in the hard sciences, too. One of the best-kept secrets in science is that the major breakthroughs that we celebrate in retrospect were, at the time they were proposed, fiercely resisted by the overwhelming consensus of leading contemporary experts — the overwhelming consensus of leading contemporary experts has been wrong on notable occasions, on really significant issues. It wasn’t only Galileo who experienced that, it was also Charles Darwin. And Albert Einstein. And Gregor Mendel, who first discovered the laws of heredity. And Alfred Wegener, whose concept of continental drift has now become a universally accepted belief. Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, went so far as to say that new ideas don’t triumph by convincing the opponents, the new ideas win out only as those opponents die off. That’s no different nowadays than it was in the past, in fact in some respects it may be worse now, because of the heavy and pervasive intrusion of commercial interests into scientific research and into federal agencies concerned with science and medicine.

Another aspect of this resistance to new ideas, this inertia of the status quo, is that accepted theories are clung to long after the evidence has shown them to be invalid, because no such theory is abandoned until a comprehensive better one has been developed. Unfortunately, the hegemony of the old hinders development of the new. At any rate, Popper’s notion that scientific theories can be falsified by contradictory evidence isn’t borne out in practice.

You are surely familiar with the oft-quoted warning by President Eisenhower about the influence on public policy of the military-industrial complex. What has been realized only by a few so far, however, is the power exerted nowadays by the medical-pharmaceutical-research-industry-government complex. A number of books in the last few years, by editors of leading medical journals and prominent medical scientists and social scientists in academe, have described in some detail how widely conflicts of interest are spread throughout medical science, in academe and in federal agencies. An appreciably large part of public policy relating to medical matters is tainted by influence exerted by pharmaceutical companies through direct and indirect payments to practicing physicians and to academic and government researchers. If you want to look at only one book about all this, perhaps it might be “Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion”, by Daniel S. Greenberg, whose name you may recall from his decades of informed and instructive commentary on the interaction of Science with Washington DC. If you doubt that dedicated academic scientists could be influenced by filthy lucre, Greenberg has a more recent work about that, “Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards, and Delusions of Campus Capitalism”.

But let me not digress too far from the matter of HIV/AIDS. Please look into the question of what we have received in return for massive investment in HIV/AIDS research. Quite specifically:

How reliably do positive HIV tests diagnose a life-threatening active infection?
What do we know about how HIV produces immunedeficiency?

No matter what you hear from mainstream experts, the documented facts are that HIV tests have never been shown to detect active infection, and the tests were not approved for that purpose. As to the mechanism of HIV’s action, there are half-a-dozen or more theories, none of which has sufficient evidential support to have gained universal acceptance.

You may not feel qualified to question the experts on technicalities. Please bear in mind the wisdom expressed many decades ago by a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Lord Rutherford (when such locutions didn’t transgress public sensitivities or political correctness): “If you can’t explain your physics to a barmaid it is probably not very good physics”.
What you and your colleagues can certainly do is to ask the experts to cite the publications in which it is proved that HIV tests detect active infection; those that showed definitively how HIV destroys the immune system; and, indeed, those that proved that HIV cause AIDS.

My prediction is that you will be met at first with answers about “overwhelming evidence”, “25 years of research”, “no single paper but a cumulation of evidence”, “universal agreement”, and the like. It will take some persistence before you are given specific references — and I can’t guarantee that you ever will get them. But if you do, please have those publications examined by some of the experts who hold the minority view that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, competent experts whose opinions have been shoved aside for decades, informally barred from the leading professional journals. Let these dissenting experts explain to you exactly how those publications do NOT prove what the mainstream experts suggest that they do. You will then have your own ideas how to proceed further and whom to believe. You don’t need to understand technicalities to judge whether people you question are being responsive or evasive. Sound inferences can be drawn when people are persistently unable or unwilling to give direct answers to straightforward questions. Keep this lesson of history always in mind: the overwhelming consensus of leading contemporary experts has been wrong on notable occasions, on really significant issues. No matter how incredible it may seem, HIV/AIDS is one of those issues.

Is it insufferably and unwarrantedly arrogant of me to make these suggestions and assertions?
My own view has been formed not through any deep understanding of molecular biology, but by noting the consequences of the contemporary conventional wisdom about “HIV/AIDS”. For example, in every tested group — blood donors, pregnant women, military cohorts, drug abusers, gay men, college students, in every social sector and in every country and culture — the highest rate of testing positive is among people of African ancestry, and the lowest rate is among people of Asian ancestry. Caucasians are 50% more likely than Asians to test positive. Blacks are more than 10 times as likely as Asians to test positive. To me it’s obvious that those racial disparities cannot be a result of different tendencies to practice risky sex, because these disparities cut across all social and cultural sectors.

There are other incongruities as well:
— Again on racial disparities, though blacks are far more likely to test “HIV-positive” and to die from “HIV disease”, they become infected at later average ages than others and survive to greater average ages than others — in other words, they are MORE susceptible to “HIV disease”, and at the same time LESS debilitated by it.
— Though breast-feeding by “HIV-positive” mothers is supposed to risk infecting babies, babies are less infected, the more they are breast- rather than formula-fed!
— More on the matter of age: The highest probability of “contracting” HIV is between the ages of 35 and 45, quite different from the age of greatest risk for sexually transmitted diseases, where adolescents and people in their early twenties are at greatest risk. Strangely enough, the highest mortality among “HIV-positive” people is also in that age range of 35-45, and it has been since records were first kept in the early 1980s.
— Among “people with AIDS”, the death rate does not increase sharply with age, as it does with every other illness and with all-cause mortality.

But perhaps I’m going too far too soon, so let me close with my initial question and pleas:
Why are we spending so disproportionately on HIV/AIDS? Where is the proof that HIV tests detect active infection? How does HIV infection destroy the immune system?

Posted in experts, Funds for HIV/AIDS, HIV absurdities, HIV and race, HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV in children, HIV skepticism, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV varies with age, HIV/AIDS numbers, sexual transmission | Tagged: , , , | 23 Comments »

STOPPING THE HIV/AIDS BANDWAGON—-Part II

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/02/01

My earlier post about this [HOW CAN THE HIV/AIDS BANDWAGON BE STOPPED?, 27 January 2008] brought a gratifying number of useful comments.

There seems to be general agreement that the mainstream scientific community will not spontaneously or willingly change its view on HIV/AIDS, even as the evidence against it continues to mount and anomalies and incongruities accumulate. That’s the lesson of some two decades. This is then a natural starting point for considering strategies that might help toward producing change.

There’s also general agreement over the somewhat related point that it’s not just a matter of what the science does or does not prove, because such a vast array of people and organizations apart from the scientific community benefit in some manner from the present situation. Not that they are willfully selfish or that they deliberately ignore the evidence, it’s a matter of cognitive dissonance, a psychological phenomenon that makes it difficult if not impossible to grasp anything that runs too severely against deeply ingrained beliefs. People came to benefit from the HIV/AIDS industry because they believed HIV/AIDS theory, and they believe they are doing worthwhile things.

Scientists are no less subject to cognitive dissonance than everyone else, and that serves as a partial explanation for the fact that unorthodox claims in science are routinely resisted (see, for example, Hook, “Prematurity in Scientific Discovery”).

For one example among innumerable available ones: Max Planck placed the foundational piece of what became quantum theory, but—like most great innovators—he was initially opposed vigorously by the pooh-bahs of the Establishment. In his memoirs, he made the remark often cited by dissidents in all fields but apparently not known to run-of-the-mill journeymen scientists: “New truths do not triumph by convincing their opponents, they win out because a new generation replaces the old one” (a free translation from German); which has also been paraphrased as “Science progresses funeral by funeral”.

At any rate, it seems evident enough that change as to HIV/AIDS will only come as the result of pressure from social or political forces external to the medical-scientific establishment. Those forces must be sufficiently influential to stand against the colossal combination of interests vested in HIV/AIDS. They must be able to force a public discussion of all the evidence in a way that allows full airing of the variety of interpretations. Where might dissidents turn to enlist such forces?

Obvious places to look are among those who are being most hurt by what’s presently happening. That means anyone who tests HIV-positive or may at some future time test positive. Here everyone is truly at risk, for anyone might be unfortunate enough to have a test administered just after they’ve been vaccinated against flu, or when pregnant, or when they are more likely to test HIV-positive for some other of the many possible reasons. And if someone tests HIV-positive, they will at once be emotionally shattered, and thereupon almost certainly debilitated physically by antiretroviral drugs.

Though everyone is truly at risk in this way, the danger is greater for some people than for others. As a class, gay men are particularly at risk because they tend to be tested more often than most, and they tend to test HIV-positive more often than most; as do drug abusers; as do TB patients; as do hemophiliacs; as do African Americans. Might any of those groups offer the possibility of forceful organized action against HIV/AIDS dogma?

The trouble is, these high-risk people understand no better than the general public what the risk is. They think it’s “HIV/AIDS”. Only after experiencing what goes with testing positive do some people learn that HIV = AIDS is a dreadful illusion that has caused them tangible harm. Some learn it from personal experience of series of inconsistent tests; some learn it through being unable to tolerate the antiretroviral drugs and trying to live without them and finding that to work; some learn it through losing friends and loved ones. But few people even in the highest-risk groups come to question HIV/AIDS dogma before it affects them directly in some way.

So: The endeavor to enlist the people who would most benefit from toppling the paradigm, who are most at risk under current circumstances, presents the same problem as that of convincing the media and the general public; they have to be made to understand what’s wrong with HIV = AIDS before they have a really direct incentive to question the orthodox view. This starts to look like a circular discussion. Anyone who voices the dissident view is automatically dismissed as either crazy or an old fool (both terms recently applied to me by a medical scientist asked by a friend to comment on my book). What’s needed is an emotional, psychological, human-interest hook so powerful that it is at least competitive with the belief that’s been ingrained in almost everyone by the constant media refrain of “HIV, the virus that cause AIDS”. The emotional hook must also be strong enough to shake the general belief that official statements about medicine and science can be relied on.

Are there candidates for such psychologically powerful hooks?

I can think of two: for gay men, the issue of homophobia; for African Americans, the matter of racism.

I can suggest two other possible avenues for change that don’t entail such strong emotional charge but enlist forces in society that have the requisite power:

1. Legal actions. Maybe HIV/AIDS “science” could be forced to defend itself in a court of law where dissident arguments could be aired. Perhaps it might be possible to sue a laboratory that carries out HIV tests, since it presumably certifies—against the manufacturers’ test-kit disclaimers—that those tests detect infection by HIV; or perhaps in some case where an HIV-positive person is charged with endangering sexual partners, a lawyer might find a way to have the scientific issues argued. The Parenzee case represents one such attempt, so far unsuccessful (“Can we learn from Parenzee?”).

2. Perhaps Congress could be persuaded to hold hearings about the utterly disproportionate amount of research funds directed towards HIV/AIDS in comparison to diseases that affect vastly more people, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer:

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(data from http://www.fairfoundation.org/factslinks.htm)

Even once the scientific issues are raised publicly, however, there will still remain a matter over which dissidents must come to agree if there is to be truly coherent action: which part of the scientific story should be emphasized as decisive disproof of HIV/AIDS theory? While all dissidents agree that HIV has not been proven to be the cause of AIDS, there are differing views on just about everything else: Does HIV even exist? What caused AIDS? What causes AIDS now? What does a positive HIV-test signify? And more.

I’ve suggested (“Can we learn from Parenzee?“) that the best strategy will be to concentrate on the simplest point, the most readily proved one, the one most readily understandable by the largest range of people. Recent e-mail discussions indicate that the most appropriate point, and one generally acceptable among dissidents, might be the lack of validity of HIV tests for diagnosing infection by HIV. After all, the instructions accompanying test kits (aras.ab.ca/HIVTestInformation.zip at http://aras.ab.ca/test.html) acknowledge that they cannot be used to diagnose infection. Further to that, the data collected in my book show that HIV tests do not track an infectious agent

Posted in HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV risk groups, HIV tests, Legal aspects, prejudice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »