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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How AIDS Denialism Can Kill You Part IV: A Wake Up Call

I ask readers to share their personal experiences and encounters with AIDS denialism. Those who do usually prefer to not post their stories on my blog because they do not want to be harassed by the predictable onslaught of attacks. Perfectly understandable. At times people are willing to share their stories, usually out of a desire to help others.

Stories of getting hooked into AIDS Denialism have much in common. This is the latest addition to my series on how AIDS Denialism can kill you. have also updated previous posts from the series. Thank you again for sharing your experiences with me and for allowing me to share them on my blog.

"One too many" coincidences

I first learned about the AIDS dissident movement through a friend's "doctor" in around the mid 1990's. The doctor was a guy who had lived in China for many years and had been making a living as an acupuncturist. He was also an advocate for a myriad of other superstitious and odd points of view.  I've always found unorthodox views interesting.  Instead of just rejecting them flat out, I feel they are worth considering. I guess my nature is to be a curious person. At the time I just thought it was an interesting point of view. I wasn't even HIV positive, but being an AIDS dissident kind of fit my overall perception of the world back then.

I borrowed plenty of literature from the doctor. Mainly articles by Stefan Lanka and Peter Duesberg, and some Continuum magazine issues.  Truth is I was sold on it. I later did my own research on the Internet. I found websites like Alive and Well or Virusmyth, which found their way into my bookmark list. I thought they sounded believable. They were definitely saying the things you like to hear. The scientific dissidents were believable because they seemed very confident in their assumptions. And then there are (or were...) people like Christine Maggiore who I could relate to because she was just a lay person in apparent perfect state of health.

I can tell you that I have been harmed by my years of buying into AIDS denialism. First, I wasn't too careful about my sexual activities for many years, precisely because I believed HIV might not even exist.

 In 2006 I had clear symptoms of syphilis and went to get tested. It came out positive, and because the HIV test is included in the work up, I got the surprise HIV positive result too. Because of my dissident beliefs, I didn't really care about the HIV diagnosis and ignored the doctor's advice to start a follow-up for CD4 counts, etc.

In 2008 I had bumped into the website and, while reading it in a "yeah blah blah whatever" kind of attitude, I saw the "denialists who have died" and "who the denialists are" sections. Something clicked. And very soon after I paid one of my usual visits to the Alive and Well site and found the memorial text about Maggiore's death. It didn't mention the cause (of course) so I Googled away thinking "please, let it be a traffic accident or something" and bam! Pneumonia...

You know how denialists usually say it's just a coincidence, like "why not? Anybody can have pneumonia", but having recently read the list of dead denialists and wondering if those weren't too many untimely coincidences, for me Maggiore's death is where I drew the line. For me it was the "one too many" coincidence. That's where I secretly started to wonder if I had been wrong. But I still remained in denial.

It was just this year, 4 years after testing positive, I went to the doctor because I had these strange warts growing in my arm, and seemed to start reproducing in other parts of my body. Guess what... I had developed Kaposi's Sarcoma. That's what shook me out of denialism. I started on antiretrovirals, to my dismay because I've always hated pills, let alone those I had been indoctrinated to think of as pure evil.

I should point out that I have not taken poppers in my entire life, not once (and I'm 40), which seems to be one of the idiotic assumptions by the denialists.

I'm now taking antiretrovirals and I am in the middle of chemotherapy and seem to be doing well, but unfortunately I need more biopsies for yet more growths. All of this because I believed a bunch of quacks.  Thanks for giving me this chance to help debunk their moronic theories.


  1. Good luck! I hope things go well for you. I am also glad to hear that the world of AIDS Denial did not suck you in so far that you could not see common sense regardng Maggiore's death, as well as other Denialists who did (not) die from OI's, and apply some logic and see the truth.
    It gives me hope that most people who fall for the misinformation of AIDS Denialism will only do so temporarily.

  2. Oh shit! This is alarming to read but I am glad you've seen through the smoke and mirrors, and sized up the denialists for the cretins they are. I wish you all the best the chemo and hope the KS gets sorted. Thanks for sharing your story with Seth.

  3. I second JT's sentiments. I'm glad you were able to get out of the denial before going the way of Maggiore and so many others. I wish you the best of luck and the best of health.

  4. Thanks for speaking out about your experience with the denialists and how it has impacted on you.

    It's so very important that voices like yours be heard.

  5. Thank you for speaking up and best wishes with your treatment.

  6. Thank you so much for writing this blog.

    I am a heterosexual married woman of 57 who has HIV as does my husband.
    My blog about our journey through HIV is here:

    And I have recently been bombarded on my personal facebook profile by an AIDs denialist who calls himself 'Ricci Davis' who
    has 'advised' me to stop taking my HIV ARV meds or at least give them a 'holiday' to see how well I am without the meds.

    - although when challenged he will deny he has advised me this but that he has only drawn my attention to the facts. But his dialogues with me can be plainly seen on my FaceBook profile and he has suggested I stop my meds - and I have witnessed him suggesting the same to another who joined in with our 'discussion'.

    Don't worry I have no intention of doing so, nor will I ever be seduced by these Denialist arguments.

    I know without doubt we have HIV and need the ARV meds to survive and in fact my husband had reached the point of AIDs, and was hospitalized with severe weight loss a 4 count of
    8 PCP pneumonia and other infections, and I was also already ill before we were diagnosed.

    So I well know that without the meds we will die as my husband has already been close to death. But thankfully we are both now doing well on the HIV HAART medication.

    So I have seen first hand what HIV can do.

    But I just wanted to confirm how ruthless and totally uncaring of your situation theses Denialists are.

    This man has also suggested several of his friends become my facebook friends and they have requested that I accept them as 'friends' including Maria Papagiannidou

    ( her husband Gilles St-Pierre is already on my facebook profile as I accepted him by accident thinking he was a fellow HIV sufferer and he too has already tried to persuade me although not so continuously as this Ricci)

    I have not accepted Maria and the others as friends as while I feel sad for them and especially Maria who I know has been diagnosed HIV and I know she will eventually get ill without treatment and this is very sad to me, when I know that like me and my husband her life can be so easily saved by taking one or two tablets a day. ( we are currently on Atripla which is only one tablet a day and few side effects)

    But I know if I accept them as friends on my Facebook profile their intention is to bombard me with their warped theories and wear me down.

    So I just wanted to warn others with HIV not to accept these people as friends on Facebook unless they want to be subjected to their daft and dangerous arguments.

    For a while I was, I admit, a little interested in what they think and why? But they are so warped and bend the facts so much in a crazy way I am now totally tired of hearing it .
    And I am not at all vulnerable to their persuasion.
    I fear others may be.

  7. Veritee, I am sorry your husband is ill, I hope he gets better.

    Ricci Davis is definitely an AIDS Denialist. I have seen him on other sites that are definitely AIDS Denialist. They claim they never advise others to not take ARVs, but this is a flat out lie. Chrisine Maggiore did so very blatantly when she appeared on the cover of a national magazine (Mothering, I think it was called) and she had AZT with a line thru it on her very pregnant belly! Maggiore also advised Rex Poindexter not to take ARVs and others as well. I have documented them at my own site.

    Stay strong and do what is right for you. Them coming to your FB account is obvious harassment and I suggest you "unfriend" them!

  8. Thanks JTD - my husband - and me - are very well now since being on the ART.

    I will of course un-friend them now I know what they are about.

    Although I may not!! As have to admit I have found it fascinating and interesting to see their tactics first hand and attempts at persuasion by entering into dialog with them when approached by them.

    Toward someone who has HIV and is open about it and will NEVER be persuaded that HIV does not cause AIDs nor will anyone stop me taking the ART that I living in the UK an just so privileged to have and due to our National Heath System I get completely free.

    Sadly as I am now semi retired due to being in my late 50s and being HIV and having enough to live on without working full time I have time on my hands sometimes so I found it highly amusing at times to see what they said and that anyone can deny something for which there is no doubt and the convolutions they go through to explain - probably to themselves as much as me, why their daft theories are so!!!

    But I originally became 'friends' because so many others that are my FB friends who I know to also be HIV poz and are not denialist in any way ( my HIV positive friends on FB are mostly women from the UK and around the world who are also on ART like me)

    Have these denialists on their FB profiles as friends and in fact one woman who has been positive for over 15 years, who I have met personally at a UK national HIV woman's support meeting and who takes her ART and has no doubts that HIV is a virus leading to AIDS was one who first suggested I became friends with one of them? And she did not explain to me that this person was an AiDs denialist. She just suggested we become friends just as you would anyone who you may have something in common with?

    Another was suggested by a man who lives near me and does not have HIV himself but knows very well it exists as he wrote a book about nursing his partner through to his death who died of AIDs in the years before effective treatment, so he well knows what HIV can do without treatment.

    Also many others who have HIV and are not denialists have theses denialists as friends on their Facebook profiles and in fact many more of them than I do. Many are also 'friends' with the ones I refuse now to accept as friends as hearing the rubbish of two has been enough for me!

    I just wonder why they also do not delete them?

    Is there an Anti - denialist group or page on Facebook with the sort of info that can be found here I can point them to?

    As there are many people that only use Facebook and perhaps email who rarely if ever go on the rest of the internet and would never read the information you have here.

    Perhaps if it does not already exist - if it does I have not been able to find it? -

    i.e a page or group warning people with HIV who theses people are on Facebook and not to accept them as friends unless they are amused by it and have a laugh at what they say like me?

    And including a bit of the very valuable information here and on with a link on the FB page or group to this and other blogs and Aids Truth?
    And for someone form Aids truth to answer peoples queries when they find this FB group or page.

    This FB page may well exist. But I am a avid user of FB and I have not found it as yet??

    As are many HIV+ individuals and those also affected by HIV and those who just want to know.

    I worry that the AIDs denialists have a footing on Facebook that those who fight for the reality of HIV/AIDs do not have as they are not taking the platform aforded the denialists by social networking seriously enough?

    Thanks Again

  9. I do not know of an Anti AIDS Denialist FB page, but it might be interesting.

    What do you think, Seth?


  10. I think you - or in fact we, as while i am jsut an ordinary person with HIV I want to do my best to online counteract this - should do this i.e have a anti HIV/AIDs denialist page or group, or both on Facebook? with the sort of info on here and on Aids truth etc.

    As if this does not exist,and these AIDs denialists are on social networking sites and especially facebook and using social networking to promote their cause, as indeed they are.

    Then they are a step in front and accessing the ordinary ( non -activist) person who has been diagnosed HIV+, so may of whom use FB

    I think he last statistics were that 1 in 4 of the whole world population is on Facebook?

    This means that many people HIV+ are also on FB.

    Indeed I have found they are myself as I am in touch with through FB so many ordinary people from all corners of the world who like me have HIV - from SA, South America, Zimbabwe, Australia, Asia/Thailand etc US, Canada, and the UK etc, etc.

    If a facebook page or group does not exist that counteracts the denialist current very predominant/persistant presence on facebook.
    I think we should have one.

  11. Veritee
    I think you are right.
    I created a FB account for this very reason. I just never did anything with it. I know the AIDS Denialists have a lot of FB activity. I dropped the ball on my FB page. The biggest difference between me and the AIDS Deniers is not so much our views on AIDS. It is that I actually work. They are all old men who are retired (Bauer, Duesberg, DeHarven), or disabled either by HIV (Stokely) or a psychiatric condition (Rasnick). And let us not forget that freelance journalist is another name for unemployed (Crowe, Sheff, Fiber-Farber, whatever). I also know there have been other anti-denial FB pages that have not been updated. I do agree and think I will revisit mine soon.

    THANKS AGAIN For your great comments and your cool website!


    Karri Stokely is NOT "disabled". She constantly and very consistently states all over the web that she is incredibly healthy. She has stated that she receives Social Security Disability payments and brags that her case worker no longer checks up on her and she does not and WILL NOT comply with any further testing of VL and CD4 count eventhough it is required for her Disability Payments!!

    The rest of your statements above are more proof that these people have no integrity and no soul!!

  13. Thank you

    What is the address for the FB page you created Seth? As can not find it

  14. This is both dangerous and sad:

    Not only that. He stopped this treatment months ago because it DID NOT work, yet the website is still up and running.

  15. This is both dangerous and sad:

    Oh gawd. Joseph's got another victim, and probably a distributer. The "helpcure" scam wasn't originally HIV/AIDS denialist - it was a straight out fraud promoting a magic "biomagnetic device" and "ayurvedic herbs" as a cure for HIV/AIDS and just about everything else.

    These products (the magnetic tape on a card and the bag of compost) cost the victims $3000 three years go. Looks like he's moved on to selling the card plus the swimming pool disinfectant Tetrasil.

    Nice to see the denialists getting in on it. Scum attracts scum.

  16. Wondering how you are doing now? I can relate to your story as I'm going thru something now as well after believing the denialist side. Altho, I hate that word. Now one is denying that people are sick. Just what causes it.
    Questions: You don't have to take a HIV test with a syphilis one, so why did you? Also, isn't KS considered that you have AIDS? After 4 years?? Odd. Plus KS is caused by HHV8, so this doesn't mean it was because of HIV. Research have actually concluded it is NOT an opportunistic infection because the cancer is not caused by immune suppression.
    Anyway, I hope you're doing better on the meds!!

  17. - "You don't have to take a HIV test with a syphilis one, so why did you?"

    It is clearly stated in the text: "because the HIV test is included in the work up".
    In my country (or probably all of the EU, but that I can't confirm) you get tested for Syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis in one go.

    - "Also, isn't KS considered that you have AIDS? After 4 years??"
    No, it's not 4 years.
    2006 is the year I got Syphilis and went to get tested. I hadn't taken an HIV test since 1991, which came back negative then. So the infection could have happened any time in between.
    In fact, knowing my sexual history I'm almost sure I got infected between 1997 and 2000.

    - "Research have actually concluded it is NOT an opportunistic infection because the cancer is not caused by immune suppression."
    Where is that research? Can we see it?
    As far as I know (which is admittedly not much) HHV8 is present in many healthy people, and only kicks in if/when the immune system is compromised.

    -"I hope you're doing better on the meds!!"
    I am indeed doing quite well. Thanks.
    My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count has gone up to 280, which is still not ideal, but a considerable improvement, specially taking into account that the Doxil therapy obviously slows down the CD4 build-up.
    The KS spots are completely flat and the smaller ones have even disappeared. If all goes as expected, I'll end the therapy by November.
    As for the ARVs, after 6 months I'm still waiting for the side-effects. Not even a headache to report. Literally.

  18. Just to keep it totally accurate, I just realised it's been 7 months on ARVs already, not 6.
    Jeez, time flies!

  19. I'm amazed at the complete lack of common sense here. The HIV=AIDS debate started at the beginning of the supposed "epidemic." Peter Duesberg has recently been praised for his continued research in cancer; what does he have to gain from debating a hypothesis that has never been proven in a published form? He gains nothing but ostracism. WHat truly he gains is self-knowledge that he is practicing sound and legitimate science. He continues to question a hypothesis - do any of you remember what a hypothesis is? what it takes to turn a hypothesis into proof or causation? The people writing these blogs are the ones that perpetuate consensus science. This oxymoron holds that HIV=AIDS relies soley on consensus as the sole indicator of causation in biomedical research. Go back to high school and take a science class.

  20. This disease is scary honestly. Don't know how to react.