HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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Posts Tagged ‘Max Essex junk science’

Junk HIV/AIDS science from Max Essex and others

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2013/02/10

A fellow Rethinker was interested in an article by Max Essex, “The Etiology of AIDS”, in the monograph AIDS in Africa, so I got it on Interlibrary Loan and made the mistake of glancing through it. The book is replete with factual errors. It illustrates much about the AIDS industry: researchers publish incessantly for no good reason, just for self-promotion; and this is abetted by publishers who know they can make a handsome living by producing high-priced tomes that all-too-many academic libraries feel obliged to purchase (AIDS in Africa is listed at $195 on

The following refers to the 2002 (second) edition of AIDS in Africa, which was first published in 1994. The Preface by Essex and co-editors (Souleymane Mboup, Phyllis J. Kanki, Richard G. Marlink, Sheila D. Tlou) raises a number of points worth pondering, for instance, that in some African countries “more than a third of young women are HIV-infected”. Recall that HIV crossed to humans from apes in Africa, some unknown time before it arrived in the USA via Haiti, according to the current mainstream fable. If there are now countries where so many young women are “HIV-positive”, it’s difficult to understand how there is any population there at all, at least 4 decades after the deadly virus first began to spread. Especially since “65% to 85% of teenagers in some countries will die of AIDS unless major changes occur now”. Again: Why weren’t they dying while HIV was spreading after its ape-to-human jump at least 4 decades ago?
During the 1980s, Essex at al. inform, the focus regarding AIDS was on the USA and Europe, it was largely ignored in Africa even by African governments. Evidently not too many Africans were dying of AIDS!? But “there has been a massive expansion of the AIDS epidemic in Africa . . . [o]ver the last eight years”. Again there’s something obviously wrong here. Where was HIV/AIDS in Africa hiding up to ~1994? Why has it exploded only since it did become of wide concern, including at least rudimentary provision of antiretroviral drugs and other interventions? Some of which have been praised for remarkable success in bringing down infection rates?

Why no vaccine, after “more than 15 years . . . of intent to develop a vaccine”? Essex et al. know why: resources have not been great enough, and in general “[p]reventive medicine has never been as popular as therapy”.
There’s no vaccine because despite a variety of attempts, there have been nothing but failures — for which the most plausible reason is that “HIV” isn’t an infectious agent.

Essex et al. not only distort the past and present, they can even see into the future: “The new edition . . . reflect[s] the current and future epidemics” [emphasis added]. They may well be right, given that the AIDS epidemics are nowadays manufactured by the AIDS industry and its researchers.

Chapter 1, “The Etiology of AIDS” by Max Essex and Souleymane Mboup, begins in unpromising fashion if one cares for accuracy. The first identification of AIDS in 1981, they say, was in “young adults” and comprised “Kaposi’s sarcoma, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and Mycobacterium avium tuberculosis” as “the most frequently observed”.
But the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention HIV/AIDS Surveillance Reports specify only Kaposi’s sarcoma and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and “Other opportunistic diseases” up to 1988. For the first time in 1989 is Mycobacterium avium tuberculosis mentioned separately, and then it comprises only 1243 definitive plus 105 presumptive cases out of a total of 48,109. Even including M. tuberculosis and other mycobacterial disease only brings the total to 2770 (i.e., less than 6%) compared to 18,288 for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. In reality, TB has only comparatively recently become an “AIDS” disease. A cynic might suggest that Essex and Mboup want TB to have been a AIDS disease from the beginning because in Africa it is one of the most common manifestations of “HIV/AIDS”, that is to say one of the most common pre-existing diseases to be included under “AIDS” in order to boost the numbers.
As to “young adults”, Michelle Cochrane found in the original medical records that the average age of AIDS victims in the early 1980s was mid-to-late 30s, much more compatible with a lifestyle explanation than with a sexually transmitted disease (The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, pp. 187-8).

Much else would be grist for criticism in “The Etiology of AIDS”, for example that the title does not describe the contents and that the cited references include more Essex publications than could be objectively justified. But instead of continuing this thankless and frustrating analysis, I’ll just refer to some egregious errors in the discussion of testing. There are no tests or combination of tests that can by themselves diagnose infection by HIV, inevitably so since there is no gold standard because pure HIV virions have never been isolated from an AIDS patient or an “HIV-positive” person (Stanley H. Weiss & Elliot P. Cowan, “Laboratory detection of human retroviral infection” in Gary P. Wormser [ed.], AIDS and Other Manifestations of HIV Infection). Yet here are some of the statements to be found in AIDS in Africa, Chapter 7, “Serodiagnosis of HIV Infection”, by Aissatou Guèye-Ndiaye:

“Serologic assays have been an established method for the clinical diagnosis of HIV infection since the early 1980s”, citing none other than Stanley H. Weiss for his 1982 paper on screening, which is not diagnosis. Then the crucial distinction between screening and diagnosis is explicitly muddied: “These techniques for detecting HIV infection have also been fundamental to the screening of blood donations, and to the epidemiologic monitoring of . . . the AIDS epidemic” [emphasis added]. Further, “direct detection is based on the identification of whole viral particles . . . . [T]he polymerase chain reaction (PCR) [is] . . . the most common direct detection assay”.
These gross mistakes are not ameliorated by admissions that the “genetic variability of HIVs” means that some strains may not be detected; the real problem is that none of the tests are a sound basis for demonstrating infection.
“[A] screening assay [is] followed by a supplementary or confirmatory assay . . . . [C]onfirmatory assays . . . distinguish true infections from nonspecific reactions” [emphasis added] — but supplementary is not the same as confirmatory, and no “HIV” test is confirmatory, indeed cannot be since there is no gold standard for these tests since pure HIV virions have never been isolated from an AIDS patient or from a person who is “HIV-positive”.
As is so often the case with the mainstream HIV/AIDS literature, reasonably close reading by any half-awake person would suffice to undercut the wrong assertions. Thus Guèye-Ndiaye mentions that interpretation of ELISA results hinges on setting cut-off values for color reactions, in other words “positive”, “indeterminate”, and “negative” are based on arbitrary decisions. And although Western Blot is called “the gold standard of HIV testing”, the subsequent Table 1 describes five quite different criteria for what constitutes a positive, according to the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Red Cross, France, and Japan. If there are five quite different criteria, none of them can be authoritative. (Not mentioned is Britain, where the Western Blot is used only for research purposes because it is not suitable for confirmation or diagnosis of HIV infection.)

Not surprisingly, Weiss and Cowan are not cited by Guèye-Ndiaye, even though their chapter is in a monograph first published in 1987 and now in its 4th edition (2004). Already the 2nd edition in 1992 described the unreliability of the Western Blot and that PCR is prone to false positives (as its inventor, Kary Mullis, has himself pointed out).

I read no more than these two chapters in any detail, recalling the long-ago words of  David Grahame, a singularly meticulous and ground-breaking electrochemist at Amherst College: It is not a productive endeavor to be spending time ferreting out mistakes in other people’s work.
The important point is made amply by the above-demonstrated flaws. The monograph AIDS in Africa contains plainly wrong, dangerously misleading material on central issues about HIV/AIDS; which is all the more disgraceful and inexcusable since this is its 2nd edition (the copy I borrowed gives Kluwer Academic/Plenum as publisher, but credits it to Springer).

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