Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy

Seeking Stories of AIDS Denialism

Have you or someone you know been harmed by AIDS Denialism? If you, or someone you care about, have been advised to stop taking HIV meds, ignore HIV test results, purchase a 'natural' cure etc., please email me.

All information will be kept confidential.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Unclear outlook for radical journal as HIV/AIDS deniers evoke outrage

14 January 2010
It has published papers on everything from ejaculation as a treatment for nasal congestion to why modern scientists are so dull, but the future of Medical Hypotheses is hanging in the balance after a host of complaints from high-profile researchers.
The irreverent publication is the only Elsevier journal not to subject its submissions to peer review. Instead, its editor decides what to publish on the basis of how interesting or radical a paper is, and how well expressed the arguments are.
But its future is in doubt after editor-in-chief Bruce Charlton, professor of theoretical medicine at the University of Buckingham, published a paper from a well-known HIV/Aids denier.
The paper, "HIV-Aids hypothesis out of touch with South African Aids - A new perspective", was published online last July. It was written by Peter Duesberg, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues.

It argues that there is "as yet no proof that HIV causes Aids" and says the claim that the virus has killed millions is "unconfirmed".
Prominent Aids researchers contacted Elsevier to object to the article and wrote to the US National Library of Medicine requesting that Medical Hypotheses be removed from the Medline citation database - an act that would exclude it from the mainstream scientific-communication network.
Elsevier's response was to retract both Professor Duesberg's paper and another article - "Aids denialism at the ministry of health", by Marco Ruggiero, professor of molecular biology at the University of Florence.
This second paper, also published by Medical Hypotheses last July, argues that the Italian Ministry of Health seemed not to believe that HIV was the "sole cause" of Aids.
In a letter to critic Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, a French virologist who was jointly awarded a Nobel prize for the discovery of HIV, Elsevier says: "We share your concerns about the (Duesberg article) and particularly the implications of its wider dissemination for global healthcare."
The publisher adds that it has started an "internal review" of the processes by which the two articles were published, and is undertaking a larger review of Medical Hypotheses, including its future role in medical and scientific literature.
Professor Charlton this week accused the researchers who complained of taking "behind-the-scenes action" to exclude dissenting views and bring the journal down.
"The coercive and anti-scientific reaction shows exactly why it was right that these papers were accepted to be published," he told Times Higher Education.
He said Elsevier had to decide whether to close the journal altogether or whether to leave it alone, adding that meddling with its unique status would be "unacceptable".
Steve Fuller, professor of sociology at the University of Warwick, said that while peer review worked for "normal science", it also had the power to suppress radical ideas.
"Medical Hypotheses has never hidden what it set out to do, namely to provide a forum for bold scientific ideas that challenge the status quo," he said.
A spokesman for Elsevier said a panel of experts had been convened to review the journal's future, with a conclusion due by the end of the year. "We took this step because we received serious expressions of concern about the impact of the dissemination of these articles on global healthcare," he said.


  1. The future of medicine is customized treatment. Consequentially the future of data also has to be focussed on smallest unit- each individual. A lot of user data is locked.

  2. Voltaire Speaks, channeling through "SETH"January 14, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out.”

    Yep – support the demise of the last semblance of a bastion of free thinking you Nazi-thinking oligarchs. What happened to “I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.”?
    One day “modern medicine” will fail you or a loved one and there will be nobody left for you to explore alternatives – they will all have been silenced, aided and abetted by the likes of your own “dissent-busting” selves.

    “Not only is it extremely cruel to persecute in this brief life those who do not think the way we do, but I do not know if it might be too presumptuous to declare their eternal damnation.”
    Does calling for people to be jailed for alternative viewpoints constitute persecution? – I’d say YES!

  3. It's interesting that they got Steve Fuller to be an apologist for the Denialist crap.

    He featured in Expelled, the ID/creationist apologist movie which portrayed the ID/creationists as radical thinkers persecuted by a fascist orthodoxy.

    Same tactic different pseudoscience.

  4. Boy, this article sure brought out the AIDS Denialist "Big Guns" at the comment section! Which only shows how badly they need some reinforcements!

  5. Sorry to see you abused in the comments section, JTD. But considering where the attacks are coming from, you, like I, will no doubt look upon them as water off a duck's back.

    The denialist "usual suspects" always spam the comments sections of articles on mainstream websites, causing the discussion to degenerate into oblivion and boredom. They do this because they naively think that by exposing their "thoughts" to people from the real world, they will gain credibility and change the status quo. Of course their posts actually have the OPPOSITE effect, because the insanity is exposed for all to see. It's why we lure them on and watch them make fools of themselves. And they never learn, which is what makes it so entertaining.

  6. I took another look at the THES comments page this morning. There's a wonderfully amusing and illustrative one from none other than Liam Scheff, he of the documentary that the BBC pulled from its web pages once they conducted an investigation and realized how factually inaccurate it was. Dear Liam praises his own work but fails to mention what the BBC concluded about it. He then further exposes his lack of respect for factual information and the need to conduct accurate investigations by making various inaccurate statements about me and my work - to whit:

    1) That I have received $34m in grant funding from NIH. That's a figure Liam has plucked from Clark Baker's blog, and it's wrong. So, not only does Liam (an alleged reporter) not conduct his own research into the facts, he's perfectly happy to rely on information posted on a blog by someone like Baker who's also notorious for getting things wrong.....

    2) That I administer "poison" to women in Africa. This is also untrue, as I have never given any compound to any human in any country (I am not a clinician). Even the most minimal of fact checking would uncover this.

    3) That I have monkeys in my lab - also untrue, I don't, only humans (scientists, not study subjects). Also easy to fact check.

    4) That my "gift to Africa" is "more HIV positive diagnosis, not fewer". This comment, although rambling, vague and hard to be sure of the meaning, is also untrue. I have never been associated with any research, in Africa or anywhere else, that lead to such an outcome. Indeed, any fact checking would show I have been strongly critical, in the peer reviewed literature, of certain studies by others that had such an outcome.

    No wonder the BBC acted in the way it had. The BBC is an organization that disseminates factual information. Liam Scheff's documentary failed to meet the BBC's standards. The BBC dissociated itself with Liam Scheff's works. Those are the facts. And in one paragraph on the THES block, Liam shows exactly what his problem is - an inability to research and report the facts, even when they are readily available, compounded with a willingness to rely on other notoriously inaccurate information sources, like Clark Baker's blog.

    Like I say, I had to laugh at the QED aspects of Liam's post. Who needs enemies when Liam can take himself down so efficiently and effectively?

    John Moore

  7. John Moore said:

    "The denialist "usual suspects" always spam the comments sections of articles on mainstream websites, causing the discussion to degenerate into oblivion and boredom"

    At this point, I think it's worth to mention that the very first comments on this article are from Seth Kalichman and - John Moore.

    At least Seth as an psychologist should very well know about the significance of the term "projection" within his area of knowledge...


  8. For anyone seeking Liam "I'm a journalist" Scheff's posting on the THE thread, it was removed as being libelous and in breach of the site's rules last night, along with several other posts from AIDS denialists for the same reason.

  9. Liam Scheff, or LiaR Scheff, as I like to call him, constantly displays his lack of skills as an investigative journalist. He must have gone to journalism school with Celia Farber as she does the exact same amount of fact checking. Oh, and by her own admission, Farber only took one semester of journalism school!
    Also, do not forget that The Vera Institute report completely refuted Scheff's Guinea Pig story!

  10. Same tactic different pseudoscience.

    Kinda like the similarity between Keno and Bingo - same tactic, different colored balls:)

    I crack myself up.

    By the way, John Moore -- you got your ass whipped in the comments section on the Charlton trhead.

  11. Bill's judgment is, as always, something to rely on - anyone who reads this Blog knows that he is NEVER wrong, and has PERFECT analytical skills.

    Or perhaps not......

  12. Bill is trying to comment on the virtues of other denialists..but Bill has not addressed the Boily paper on a different thread after doing the Padian rant... So no more Bill until he comes clean on the idiotic Padian comments by reading and discussing boily's review of heterosexual transmission of hiv.

  13. Dear Prof Moore,

    "We lure them on" I would say that in the internet context this is the exact definition of a Troll.

    You need to get with the program and stop your microbicide potion research and start looking at Selenium at the cutting edge now so it would seem. You stand a good chance of getting left behind, again.

    Glad to see all your ranting posts regarding Medical Hypothosis, it gives your peers the chance to see you for what you really are. I note though you didn't come out with quite the same level of invective against the many many comments against censorship.

    Your threats of legal action are also a key indicator to the shaky ground on which you stand and quite hypocritical considering the slander you have perpetrated constantly.

    Keep up the good work John, you may not get the Nobel, but you'll certainly be famous for being a Cyber Loon.

    As they say, when you lie down with dogs, you get fleas and you sir have a major infestation.

  14. Seth, I thought we were discussing censorship, but what the hey let's sidestep to Padian and Boily.

    Tried and true tactics from the Con-censors.

    If everyone dismissed all future research based on any previous mistakes by the researchers I wonder where your revered paradigm would be now?

  15. Puddle Stepper
    You are pretty stupid if you think I am out censor what you AIDS Deniers have to say. Der, what do you think this blog exists for? My aim is to let you ramble on aimlessly. The Padian rant just happens to be among my favorites. I know you will be astonished to hear this, but it is not my job to answer your repeated delusional questions. It is my job to give you place to ask them over and over and over again. The goal is for visitors to see just how whacked out you guys are. So thanks again for commenting!

  16. Selenium? What a wacko....

  17. as a mainstream aids scientist who is an occasional reader of this blog, i am always amazed when some of the aids denialists claim that scientists like bob gallo, mark wainberg, john moore, tony fauci, seth kalichman and others are harmed by or care about what anonymous aids denialists say about them on the internet - like the ones appearing on this thread. within our scientific community, these guys are regarded as heroes for putting themselves on the line and taking the abuse they do, in such a good cause. who cares if some crazy person with no name says nasty stuff about them? it doesn't matter to me and my fellow scientists. we just appreciate all the hard work these guys have done over the years to make the world a safer place, both through their science and their fights against aids denialists. you rock guys! thanks for caring!

  18. By the way, John Moore -- you got your ass whipped in the comments section on the Charlton trhead.

  19. Very apt, Chris Noble! Of course we need to take into account that no less a sage than Clark Baker believes that Wikipedia is a hoax/conspiracy, so perhaps we should not cite anything from it anymore.....

    I must say though that I was utterly mortified to be dissed in that way by Bill, a man whose IQ must surely soon surpass his age and whose wisdom on these threads is respected by no less an authority than the great sage "whereistheproof". If these two ever met in mid-Atlantic, what a wonderful discussion would ensue!

  20. I'm not aloud to comment until I do a book report on the Boily paper. Until that time, please refrain from addressing me or any points I have made.

  21. No Bill

    It is not a book report on Boily et al. We are not talking about a book. Rather it is 12 page review article on heterosexual transmission of HIV in the Lancet in 2009. It has been over a week since your Padian rant ended with my requesting that you read Boily to break you out of your denialist rant. Recall that you cut and pasted from various AIDS Denialist websites the common misuse, misinterpretation, and twisted cherry picking of Padian's 1997 study.

    Let see if I can help you along here Bill.

    I posted the abstract on the Mullis thread, but here it is again. I think it is fitting to carry on this discussion here because it focuses on peer-review research, unlike the Medical Hypothesis fiasco.

    Heterosexual risk of HIV-1 infection per sexual act:
    systematic review and meta-analysis of observational
    Marie-Claude Boily et al.
    Lancet Infect Dis 2009; 9: 118–29

    We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies of the risk of HIV-1 transmission per heterosexual contact. 43 publications comprising 25 diff erent study populations were identifi ed. Pooled female-tomale (0∙04% per act [95% CI 0∙01–0∙14]) and male-to-female (0∙08% per act [95% CI 0∙06–0∙11]) transmission estimates in high-income countries indicated a low risk of infection in the absence of antiretrovirals. Low-income
    country female-to-male (0∙38% per act [95% CI 0∙13–1∙10]) and male-to-female (0∙30% per act [95% CI 0∙14–0∙63])estimates in the absence of commercial sex exposure (CSE) were higher. In meta-regression analysis, the infectivity
    across estimates in the absence of CSE was signifi cantly associated with sex, setting, the interaction between setting and sex, and antenatal HIV prevalence. The pooled receptive anal intercourse estimate was much higher (1∙7% per act [95% CI 0∙3–8∙9]). Estimates for the early and late phases of HIV infection were 9∙2 (95% CI 4∙5–18∙8) and 7∙3 (95% CI 4∙5–11∙9) times larger, respectively, than for the asymptomatic phase. After adjusting for CSE, presence or history of genital ulcers in either couple member increased per-act infectivity 5∙3 (95% CI 1∙4–19∙5) times versus no sexually transmitted infection. Study estimates among non-circumcised men were at least twice those among circumcised men. Low-income country estimates were more heterogeneous than high-income country estimates,which indicates poorer study quality, greater heterogeneity of risk factors, or under-reporting of high-risk behaviour. Efforts are needed to better understand these diff erences and to quantify infectivity in low-income countries.

    Come on Bill.

  22. Myron Cohen's group published a paper a few years ago showing that 24% of women who had sex with men who were in the primary infection phase of their infection (i.e., first few months) became HIV infected within three months. Also, there was a cluster of transmissions in the Hollywood porn industry about 3 years ago, in which a male performer was filmed having sex with (I think) 11 women over the course of a couple of weeks, while he was undergoing primary infection. Of those approximately 11 women, I think 5 or 6 became HIV infected. Under circumstances when the donor's viral load is high (including but not limited to) primary infection, heterosexual transmission probabilities can be much, much greater than what is often understood to be the case.
    John Moore

  23. I understand it was three women out of 13 who became infected in the 2004 Los Angeles adult film industry cluster. (23% attack rate). The male actor returned from working in Brazil, where he apparently picked up the infection, which was missed by the regular screening prior to resuming work in Los Angeles. None of the partners of the infected women were infected by the time the cluster was identified. Two of the infected women and the male index case provided samples for molecular sequencing of the virus which demonstrated 100% similarity.

    Two of the women were infected the same day (March 24th 2004), and the third a week later on the 30th.

    Henry Bauer uses this cluster to argue that HIV is not sexually transmissible. Incredible.“hiv”-is-not-sexually-transmitted/

  24. You're right Poodles

    3 of 14 observed sexual encounters led to transmissions in that particular sex cluster.

    I was conflating the numbers in that episode with some later ones - the latest figure I could find by Googling was 26 transmissions overall, but obviously not all involving the same man and over a multi year period.

    John Moore

  25. One of the interesting things about the 2004 Los Angeles cluster is that two of the women became infected the same day, and a third only six days later. What this suggests to me is that there may be relatively brief periods of hyper-transmissibility particularly during the earliest and possibly latest stages of HIV infection. Certainly the often quoted ballpark "1 in 1000" risk derived from observing discordant couples in which the infected partner has long established infection is not borne out by this example.

    The "26" figure I believe was not transmissions in this cluster, but the total number of positive HIV diagnoses over several years identified by the clinic that screens performers for the LA adult film industry. The clinic claims that with the exception of the cluster of four in 2004 and a single case a year or so ago, all the diagnoses were found in would-be performers before they started work in the industry - that is, they were not work-related and were identified before they could put other performers at risk. I gather the Los Angeles health authorities are checking out this claim.