“Evidence-based medicine: No HIV/AIDS epidemic” drew attention to the article, “AIDS since 1984: No evidence for a new, viral epidemic — not even in Africa”, Italian Journal of Anatomy & Embryology 116 (# 2, 2011) 73-92, by Duesberg, Mandrioli, McCormack, Nicholson, Rasnick , Fiala, Koehnlein, Bauer & Ruggiero. The article summarizes epidemiological evidence, and reiterates points made in the Medical Hypotheses publication that had been withdrawn by Elsevier publishers at the behest of HIV/AIDS vigilantes spearheaded by Nobel-Prize awardee Barré-Sinoussi (“Elsevier-Gate”).
That this material had been published in a peer-reviewed mainstream journal of long and honorable standing, indexed in all the leading professional places including PubMed, was judged noteworthy by Nature: see the article by freelance journalist Zoë Corbyn at Nature.com, 5 January. Corbyn’s news report is quite evenhanded and factual, paying the needed amount of attention to the outraged protests by “leading AIDS researchers and campaigners” — of whom the only one actually named is Nathan Geffen, a South African activist who lacks any of the scientific credentials for whose supposed lack he and his colleagues like to castigate AIDS Rethinkers.
The Comments to this Corbyn piece at Nature.com seem as if designed to warm the cockles of Rethinkers’ hearts. An amusing bit of trivia in those exchanges is that the editorially chosen heading for Corbyn’s piece had been “Paper refuting HIV-AIDS link secures publication — Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review”. This was soon changed (though not immediately on the Nature home page) to “Paper denying HIV-AIDS link secures publication — Work by infamous AIDS contrarian passes peer review”. As is the wont on Internet discussions, a certain amount of emotional energy was discharged over this terminology and substitution. As I pointed out long ago, in connection with Kalichman’s use of “refute” throughout his book (“HIV/AIDS refuted, according to Kalichman! — Kalichman’s very-Komical Kaper #8”), the Oxford English Dictionary notes that “refute” in the sense of “deny” is an acknowledged but archaic usage. That makes it appropriate to the archaic Dark-Ages mindset of HIV/AIDS vigilantes in which any deviation from authoritative orthodoxy is heretical, and those who commit it should be banished beyond the pale: imprisoned if Mark Wainberg had his way, or at least deprived of employment if he and John Moore had their way. Among the gurus of language usage who had their say about this was a graduate student in economics, who doubtless learned from his mentor, economist Nicoli Nattrass, that economists are qualified to speak with authority on every matter in any discipline.
I was delighted that Clark Baker was able to draw attention of Nature.com readers to the fact that the Office of Medical & Scientific Justice (OMSJ) has already succeeded in 38 cases in defending individuals charged with criminal transmission of “HIV”, because the prosecutors cannot find HIV/AIDS experts willing to be cross-examined under oath in court. Among other things, Baker challenges anyone to find a mainstream expert willing to run that gauntlet.
I was very pleased with the comments from activist Richard Jefferys, because they draw attention to the RA website, to the AIDS TRAP leaflet, to several articles like those showing that the risk of catching “HIV” is negligible even for medical students in South Africa, let alone in Italy, and — by no means least, in my view — to this blog. These citations are highly welcomed. Quite a few hits on my blog yesterday and today came from people who had linked to it from the Nature.com site, evidently people who had not previously known of my blog.
Jefferys illustrates quite a few of the tactics that activists typically engage in, like criticizing matters of procedure instead of addressing central substantive issues; insinuating guilt by association because Duesberg agreed to talk to someone representing as mainstream-sounding an organization as the American Family Association; attempting to make smear charges persist by saying that lack of evidence of guilt does not constitute clearing of charges — what about innocent unless proven guilty?
As Charles Geshekter notes, “The hyperbolic and frenzied comments from Richard Jefferys confirm that the article destabilized and agitated the AIDS orthodoxy, and that’s a good thing”.
Several of the vigilante commentators try to remain anonymous, by contrast to the Rethinkers who all write under their own names. Those familiar with this quite typical state of affairs will already have identified “Ed Daring” as a pseudonym, for example, or “Jack Knight”, who links to his “HIV Innocence Project Truth” which castigates Clark Baker and OMSJ for lack of transparency even while remaining anonymous. Connoisseurs will even have a very good idea which of 2 or 3 candidates those pseudonyms attempt to mask, as Clark Baker noted. Google is also an excellent resource for clues to the people behind pseudonyms.
Rethinkers should enjoy this cornucopia of vigilante fury and incompetence and shameless cherry-picking. For example, “Colin Esperson” links to a graph that does not appear in the sources he cites, Hall et al. (JAMA 300  520-9) and MMWR 57 #39 (2008) 1073-76.
Hall et al. estimate incidence (annual new cases) by an ingenious — not to say ingenuous — “extended back-calculation approach” that exemplifies the stimulus for the well-founded folklore about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” (see Darrell Huff, How to lie with statistics, 1954/93; Joel Best, Damned lies and statistics: untangling numbers from the media, politicians, and activists, 2001, and More damned lies and statistics: how numbers confuse public issues, 2004).
MMWR 57(39) estimates the prevalence (total number of cases) for 2006 at 1,106,400 (1,056,400–1,156,400) — an invigorating illustration of the penchant HIV/AIDS gurus have to imply extraordinary accuracy to guesstimates, in this case to 5 significant figures despite an acknowledged range of no less than 5%. Improved data are supposed to allow a correction for the estimates for 2003, from (1,039,000–1,185,000) down to 994,000. It is stated that the method of estimation used in the 1990s cannot be applied in later years owing to purported effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment, but I find no data reported here from those years to give a basis for the graph offered by “Esperson”. On the other hand, uncontested earlier data from official sources, cited on pages 1-2 of my book, are —
1986: 1-1.5 million
(MMWR 36 #49, 18 December 1987, 801-4)
1987, refinement for 1986: 945,000 to 1.41 million
(MMWR 36, suppl. 6, 18 December 1987, 1-20)
Mid–1988: 1.5-2 million
(Kaslow and Francis, The Epidemiology of AIDS: Expression, Occurrence, and Control of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 93)
1989: ~1 million
(MMWR 39 #7, 1989, 110-2, 117-9)
1993: >1 million
(Merson, Science 260  1266-8, Fig. 1)
2003: >1 million
(Glynn and Rhodes, JAMA 294  3076-80)
“Esperson’s” not-sourced figure for prevalence is reminiscent of, but not exactly the same as, numbers offered in AIDS in the World II, edited by Mann & Tarantola (Oxford University Press, 1996), numbers based entirely on one or more of the several computer models and ignoring the officially published data just cited.
So: I recommend highly reading, for amusement, the ensuing commentaries on the Nature piece by Corbyn, just bearing in mind that where comments from HIV/AIDS enthusiasts are concerned, the watchwords are, CAVEAT LECTOR.