Tuesday, December 2, 2014
by Nirmalya Dutta
Over the years, HIV/AIDS has evolved from a certain death sentence to a manageable ailment. This metamorphosis didn’t come easy though, because for a long time, the ambiguous nature of the disease gave voice to AIDS denialists who refused to believe the scientific consensus for the disease.
The following individuals and their views fuelled a movement called AIDS denialism, that had many believing AIDS wasn’t caused by HIV. Some of the most infamous proponents of this movement were molecular-biologist Peter Duesberg, chemist David Rasnick, journalist Celia Farber, vitamin salesman Matthias Rath and former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.
Peter Duesberg – The Cherry Picker
Duesberg’s stance that HIV did not cause AIDS, had disastrous consequences, particularly in South Africa where President Thabo Mbeki was convinced Duesberg was right. He was of the opinion that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and the real cause of AIDS was long-term consumption of recreational drugs and antiretroviral drugs.
Cherry picking is a logical fallacy that often has disastrous consequences in scientific research. It alludes to taking a particular position while ignoring a large amount of data to support your stand. The father of AIDS denialism, a 2008 Discover Magazine feature on Duesberg has HIV/AIDS expert Max Essex suggesting: ‘…history will judge Duesberg as either ‘a nut who is just a tease to the scientific community’ or an ‘enabler to mass murder’ for the deaths of many AIDS patients in Africa.’
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 9:47 AM
Monday, August 18, 2014
by SUSAN BRINK
August 17, 2014
Electromagnetism can detect AIDS. The "Complete Cure Device" can wipe out the virus.
The Egyptian military made those claims earlier this year, but now they have backtracked after the announcement was widely denounced by scientists, including Egypt's own science adviser.
Nonetheless, people are still eager to believe the unbelievable. Egypt's announcement prompted 70,000 people to send emails asking to try the new treatment.
The Complete Cure Device is just one more false promise in the ongoing fight against AIDS. It is a reminder, too, that for 15 years, beginning in the early 1980s, AIDS was a slaughter, shrouded in mystery, of people in the prime of their lives.
Then came a breakthrough in 1996: A combination of drugs could control the virus, allowing infected people to live long and productive lives. Today, antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS is widely available. An outright cure still eludes scientists, but the once deadly disease has become manageable.
So any claim for an unproven cure, offering hope that could deter patients from effective treatment, is cruel. But myths, false claims and outright fraud have persisted in the AIDS epidemic.
The bogus theories of Peter Duesberg, a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, were responsible for a global setback to HIV treatment. Duesberg argued that combinations of drug use and promiscuous behavior caused the virus, and passed his advice on to South African health officials in 2000.
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 12:26 PM
Thursday, July 10, 2014
By BRENDAN NYHAN
JULY 5, 2014
New York Times
Do Americans understand the scientific consensus about issues like climate change and evolution?
At least for a substantial portion of the public, it seems like the answer is no. The Pew Research Center, for instance, found that 33 percent of the public believes“Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” and 26 percent think there is not “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.” Unsurprisingly, beliefs on both topics are divided along religious and partisan lines. For instance, 46 percent of Republicans said there is not solid evidence of global warming, compared with 11 percent of Democrats.
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 9:18 AM
Thursday, January 23, 2014
|Turner, Davis, Coleman & Baker|
A Georgia jury found an HIV-positive pastor guilty Tuesday of knowingly exposing a woman to the disease and faces 20 years for the crime, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Craig Lamar Davis (pictured) was said to have sat motionless as the jury read guilty verdicts in two counts of reckless HIV, both of which are felonies. Deliberations took less than an hour. The case was the first of its kind in Clayton County, G., which falls in the metropolitan Atlanta area.
“We are pleased with the verdict,” said Kathryn Powers, deputy chief assistant district attorney, one of three prosecutors in the case, told the Journal-Constitution. “They (jury) were able to weigh the validity of testimony of people who don’t believe AIDS or HIV exist.”
The jury reached a verdict Friday, but wanted to sit on it until Tuesday.
Prosecutors said that Davis , who is now divorced, was a married minister when he had an affair with two women and did not tell either that he was HIV positive, according to CBS Atlanta. During his trial, Davis admitted that doctors diagnosed him with HIV in 2005. And while he admitted having sex with a Fulton County woman, the former pastor denied a sexual encounter with his second accuser, Ronita McAfee of Clayton County.
“As Ronita was upset, panicky, thoughts running through her mind, the defendant’s reaction was to tell her, ‘don’t worry about it. It’s not a death sentence,’” Powers said during the trail. “‘Don’t you worry about it. There is medicine you can take if you catch it early.’”
Davis’ attorney, John Turner, contended that his client never had sex with McAfee and described her as a “nutcase.”
The harsh name calling did not surprise McAfee “I didn’t not expect it,” she said. “I expected it to be said. I just stayed strong in my convictions and continuously moved forward.”
In what may have been the oddest development during the trial, an expert witness for the defense testified during that Davis’ crack cocaine use at the time may have caused him to be misdiagnosed for HIV and that no test on the market can definitively determine is someone has the virus.
“The (current HIV) test is an antibody test,” (Dr. Nancy) Banks told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after her testimony. “They don’t know where those antibodies come from. They’ve never been able to isolate the virus from the protein.”
Banks, who testified on behalf of the defense, was asked to review Davis’ medical records during the time he was alleged to have been diagnosed with the virus. On Thursday, Davis said during his testimony he had used crack cocaine.
“When I looked at the admission history and his physical exam (records), I didn’t think he had a very good history,” Banks said. “The doctor neglected to ask him pertinent questions.”
“What questions?” Baron Coleman, an attorney working with the defense, asked.
“Drug use,” Banks said, noting that crack users often develop symptoms such as thrush and certain types of pneumonia that mimic the HIV virus.
“When people smoke crack cocaine, they can develop crack lung,” Banks said. “His (Davis) X-ray was consistent with that.” She noted that the pneumosistis, a pneumonia often associated with HIV, is usually detected post-mortem. She also said that thrush, a yeast condition also associated with HIV and AIDS, is a side-effect of cocaine use."
The prosecution balked at the argument.
McAfee, 38, says she has consistently tested negative for the virus that causes AIDS, but the Clayton County woman tested positive a a year after her relationship with Davis began.Now Davis has to defend himself against a similar case in Fulton county. He is set to be sentenced for his conviction from the Clayton County case in February
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 9:19 PM
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Clayton County jury returns Tuesday to deliberate HIV case
By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Prosecutors said Friday it’s “absurd” to believe a woman would knowingly have sex with a man who is HIV-positive but defense attorneys called the woman a liar.
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 4:02 PM
Friday, January 17, 2014
Project Q Atlanta
By Matt Hennie | Jan 16, 2014 | 12:44 PM
It's tough to tell what's worse in a metro Atlanta case criminalizing HIV: a prosecutor comparing the disease to a deadly weapon, the accused man arguing his HIV status can't be proven or HIV deniers spouting their junk science.
The trial of Craig Lamar Davis opened on Monday in a Clayton County court and quickly turned into a three-ring circus. Davis faces two counts of failing to disclose his HIV status before having sex, which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Gay and HIV activists criticize the law, saying it prevents people from getting tested and further stigmatizes people with the disease. Prosecutors say Davis, 42, had sex with two women, didn't use condoms and exposed them to HIV.
But the case has put people with HIV and the tests used to detect the virus on trial as much as Davis.
A prosecutor overreached in his opening statement, going all weapons of mass destruction.
“When he wakes up in the morning, he has it with him. When he eats lunch, he has it with him. When he goes to bed at night he carries it with him,” Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Powers told a jury Tuesday. “Unlike the deadly weapons you can see - like a gun, knife or a bomb, this deadly weapon is something people have to rely on the defendant to tell them about.”
Davis has done his part, too, casting doubt on whether he's really HIV-positive, despite writing exactly that on jail intake forms after an arrest in 2009. Doctors diagnosed him as HIV-positive in 2005, according to prosecutors.
"Upon what my attorney just said, I would say no," Davis says in response to a reporter's question about whether he's HIV-positive. Watch his cofounding statements in the clip above.
His attorney, John Turner, weighed in. You know, to say that HIV tests are bunk.
Defense attorney John Turner told the jury not to be swayed by the state’s dramatic opening. Stick to the facts and the fact is, Turner said. ”There is no definitive test - scientific or medical for (the detection) of HIV. No such thing.”
So you say? Uh-huh. Where'd the notion come from? You can thank the HIV deniers of Los Angeles-based Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, which has inserted itself into Davis' case. Say what you want about whether bareback sex should result in criminal charges, but to argue that HIV doesn't really exist and tests that prove its existence are junk science is, well, a bit of junk science on its own.
“We expect this case will corroborate what we’ve found in all of our other cases … and that is the testing, diagnosis and treatment of HIV in this country is wildly inaccurate and inflated and incompetent,” Baker said.
The gay panic defense has gone mostly away, only to be replaced with an equally offensive HIV deniers defense. Oh sweet progress.
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 11:14 AM
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
By Tom Friend | ESPN.com
Tommy Morrison died Sunday night of an undisclosed illness. But for all intents and purposes, he died of denial.
In 1996, Morrison was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 1997, he told me he was still having unprotected sex with his first wife.
"I'll trust an attorney before I'll trust a doctor," he said.
I'm not sure how many wives he ended up with (I lost count after the fourth), but nothing ever changed. His last wife, Trisha, recently told ESPN.com's Elizabeth Merrill that they, too, had had unprotected sex. As far as Tommy was concerned, his HIV never existed. He searched high and low for rogue doctors who would assure him he was fine, who would clear him to go back to boxing. He was nothing without boxing, nothing without sex -- so he looked the other way.
He tried AZT for a month and threw it in the trash; he thought the HIV therapy drug taken by most HIV patients was propoganda. His family staged an intervention to get him back on meds, but he cursed at them and said, "I will lay down and die before I take any drugs." Magic Johnson tried to reach out to him in 1996 -- the same Magic Johnson who is thriving 22 years after his own HIV diagnosis -- and Tommy Morrison plum ignored him.
"I remember talking to Magic the day I announced I had HIV," Morrison told me in 1998. "He was preaching, 'Do what your doctor tells you.' Well, I didn't have a doctor then, so I got down on my knees and I prayed. Every day, I was like, 'God, what do I do?' Hell, I saw myself dying. And then I started getting all these books in the mail, and they all said, 'Don't worry about it. Just live your life.' So that's what I did."
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 8:40 AM
Saturday, August 24, 2013
has waged battles inside and
outside the ringIn a house on the edge of a dead-end road, an old woman waits for her son to die. The call will come any day now, she says, and when it does, she wants her youngest boy to be buried in Sulphur Springs, Ark., with the rest of the family. She dreads and hopes for this call, if that makes any sense. Only none of it makes sense.
Diana Morrison crushes a Pall Mall, lights another and dissects her son's fate. She's matter-of-fact about it, barely emotional, perhaps because Tommy Morrison, former World Boxing Organization champion, former HIV cautionary tale, has stared at death before. But this time it's different.
|Morrison with David Syner, |
Producer of AIDS Denialist
film "House of Numbers"
She says he has full-blown AIDS. She believes he's in his final days. His skin is jaundiced; his liver is failing. "He's too far gone," she says, flashing an incredulous look when asked whether he could recover. "He's in the end stages. That's it." She says Morrison has been bedridden for a year, can't speak and is being kept alive with the help of a feeding tube and a ventilator.
Tommy Morrison passed away Sept. 2 2013
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 8:53 PM
Sunday, August 18, 2013
By Rhett Pardon, SAN FRANCISCO
Adult industry attorney Gill Sperleinfiled court papers Friday on behalf of Todd DeShong, a blogger accused of trademark infringement and defamation relating to his criticism of notorious AIDS denialist Clark Baker and his organization the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice (OMSJ).
Baker believes the pharmaceutical industry promotes faulty HIV tests in order to sell HIV-suppressing drugs; DeShong, meanwhile, believes early HIV testing and treatment saves lives.
But the importance of accurate testing is well known in the adult entertainment industry, Sperlein said.
According to court documents, Baker first attempted to shut down DeShong’s website HIVInnocenceGroupTruth.com by filing a UDRP complaint, accusing DeShong of infringing the trademark “HIV Innocence Group.”
The UDRP arbitrator disagreed, ruling that OMSJ was actually guilty of reverse domain name high jacking because OMSJ clearly knew DeShong was legitimately using the mark when it filed its complaint, Sperlein said.
Undeterred, Baker and OMSJ sued DeShong in federal court for trademark infringement, defamation, and business disparagement.
But Sperlein and a team of attorneys came to DeShong’s defense filing two separate motions to dismiss Friday, arguing that the trademark claims should be dismissed because DeShong’s use of the mark was fair use and the defamation related claims should be dismissed because DeShong’s statements were either opinion or factually accurate.
Sperlein also argued that the claims were brought after the statute of limitations had passed.
DeShong’s pro bono defense team also includes another industry attorney, Gary Krupkin, who serves as local counsel; Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen; and Neal A. Hoffman of the Houston firm Bush & Ramirez.
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 11:32 PM
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Updated: Friday, 28 Jun 2013, 6:41 PM EDT Published : Friday, 28 Jun 2013, 7:14 AM EDT
MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - A New York drug dealer imprisoned in the 1990s amid accusations he infected 13 young women with HIV lost his bid for freedom Friday despite having completed his sentence more than two years ago.
A jury in western New York found that Nushawn Williams, 36, suffers from a mental abnormality that makes him subject to "civil management" and will either be confined to a secure treatment facility or kept under strict supervision, according to the attorney general's office.
"With this determination, Mr. Williams will get the treatment he needs and the citizens of New York will be safer," said Melissa Grace, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The Chautauqua County jury deliberated for just over an hour. A hearing will be held to determine Williams' level of management.
Williams, who now goes by the name Shyteek Johnson, completed a 12-year sentence for statutory rape and reckless endangerment in 2010.
But state officials sought his continued imprisonment and described him as a mentally disturbed, sex-obsessed drug user likely to infect more women if set free. A psychologist's report said Williams targeted vulnerable young women who were underage and/or drug addicted and "used charm and coercion to secure sexual contact."
Before the trial's start, Williams' lawyer John Nuchereno claimed that a new test showed that Williams isn't HIV positive. Nuchereno argued that without HIV, Williams is not a danger and should be freed.
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 10:25 AM
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
By Jay Tokasz | The Buffalo News
June 8, 2013
Nushawn Williams, the Jamestown man who gained national notoriety when accused of spreading the virus that causes AIDS, remains behind bars more than 15 years after his criminal offenses in Chautauqua County.
But when a 20-year-old Buffalo man admitted in 2011 to having unprotected sex with four young women and a 15-year-old girl while knowing he was infected with HIV, he was sentenced to a year in jail for his crimes.
“It was similar enough to say, ‘My God, the treatment was so different,’ ” said John R. Nuchereno, defense attorney for Williams.
Williams, now 36, was supposed to be freed in 2010, upon completing a 12-year sentence for a statutory rape and reckless endangerment conviction.
Yet, three years later, he remains in Wende State Correctional Facility because the state attorney general contends Williams is a sexual predator likely to infect others with HIV.
The trial, while not open to the public, is expected to draw plenty of interest, both from civil liberties groups troubled by the state’s civil confinement policy and from various HIV and AIDS organizations intrigued by the potential legal impacts of the case.
Nuchereno already has made the stunning claim in a pretrial hearing that Williams does not have HIV, based on a recent electron microscope analysis of his blood by the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.
The contention appears likely to be a crux of Williams’ defense, which is being aided by the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, a nonprofit organization based in Studio City, Calif.
The group runs the HIV Innocence Project and has used electron microscopy results in military trials to help defend soldiers accused of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
G. Baron Coleman, an Alabama lawyer connected with the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice who has represented several soldiers, is expected to assist Nuchereno in at least a portion of his defense of Williams.
Lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office questioned the legitimacy of the electron microscope test and asked State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski to allow them to do their own analysis of Williams’ blood.
Rules of law prohibited Michalski from agreeing to the request.
But several medical professionals and HIV experts contacted by The News said the electron microscope was not an accepted method for finding HIV or for monitoring a patient infected with the virus.
“Electron microscopy is not, never has been and never will be an appropriate, relevant or approved way to detect HIV in the blood. Indeed, it’s beyond silly suggesting it could, would or should be used for this purpose,” said John Moore, professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
‘A little bit out of left field’
Williams’ blood was analyzed in April by Gregory M. Hendricks, manager of the Core Electron Microscopy Facility at the UMass Medical School, who found “no evidence” of HIV, according to a letter he sent to the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice.
Dr. Joseph S. Cervia, clinical professor of medicine and pediatrics at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, noted that blood tests screening for the presence of HIV antibodies have been used reliably for years to determine whether someone has HIV.
HIV, AIDS ‘denialists’
Seth Kalichman, an HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment researcher, expressed concern that the startling legal strategy in the Williams case will mislead people about accepted science with regard to diagnosing and treating HIV.
The Office of Medical and Scientific Justice and its executive director, Clark Baker, are HIV and AIDS denialists, Kalichman said.
And he said their efforts are potentially damaging to public health.
“They have no credibility. They’re not really scientists at all,” Kalichman said.
The organization has become adept at trying to manipulate juries in court-martial cases by raising suspicions about HIV tests and the influence of big pharmaceutical companies, he said.
And that’s potentially destructive, because some people who test HIV positive can’t deal with the reality and will seek out the misinformation put out by AIDS denialists as a source of comfort, said Kalichman.
“These guys provide them with a way out,” he said. “There have been people who have died because they listened to these people.”
Posted by Seth Kalichman at 8:34 AM