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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

AIDS & Autism: Nothing in Common Except Denialism

The parallels between AIDS Denialism and other denialism, such as Holocaust, 9/11, and Global Warming Denial are discussed at length here and elsewhere. Another fascinating connection exists with vaccine hysteria, especially in relation to Childhood Autism. I examined the mirror images of denialism and hysteria in Denying AIDS;

"And it is not just life-threatening diseases that must contend with medical denialism. In his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets, Paul Offit describes pseudoscientists who have claimed that autism is caused by roteins leaking through the intestines (leaky gut) and by the toxic effects of mercury contained in childhood vaccines. The rogue scientist that Paul Offit credits with bringing credibility and media exposure to the theory that vaccines cause Autism is British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. It is fair to say that Andrew Wakefield is to Autism as Peter Duesberg is to AIDS. Parents of autistic children, just like people who test HIV positive and those diagnosed with cancer, are desperate to understand how something so horrible could happen to them. As parents grasp for hope they are persuaded by factual sounding scams put forth by apparently reputable scientists.

And it was not just the parents of Autistic children who are harmed by claims that vaccines cause childhood neurological disorders; vaccine hysteria causes a decline in parents vaccinating their children and resurgences of childhood diseases. Amazingly, we still find more of the same characters who warn against anti-HIV medications and cancer chemotherapy fueling the hysteria against vaccines. Once again David Crowe warns about the hazards of flu vaccines stating in an online magazine article, ‘‘In addition to the health risks of mercury (nervous system damage, cognitive and visual effects), allergic reactions or sensitivities may also develop due to other components of the vaccine, including the eggs used to grow vaccines.’’

In his Nature review of Denying AIDS, John Moore calls attention to the link between AIDS Denialism and Vaccine Hysteria saying, Paul Offit's tour de force, Autism's False Prophets, claims that pseudoscientists and quacks have used similar tactics to parasitize the suffering of desperate parents by persuading them that vaccines cause autism.” This similarities to AIDS denial are striking.

Now people who care about Autism and combat denialism are examining the AIDS denial connection. Posted at the autism news science and opinion website Left-Brain Right-Brian, the discussion is quite thought provoking. The post leads off…

One of my big worries is that the public will someday turn against the autism community. We, and all segments of the disability community, all rely heavily on the public’s good will. One way we could lose that is if epidemics of infectious disease return and people point the fingers at “autism spokesperson” Jenny McCarthy. We as a group could be in for some real trouble.

One reason to blog and advocate against pseudoscience and dangerous celebrity advice is to make it clear that the autism community as a whole is not behind Jenny McCarthy and her crowd.

So you can imagine the dismay I feel when I search for autism related articles in the Nature journals and I hit upon this one, The dangers of denying HIV.
Why would that article come up using the search word “autism”, I wondered. AIDS denialism is a truly horrible movement in the world. It leads, quite clearly, to disease, suffering and death.”

What follows is an examination of AIDS denialism from people concerned about Autism. Recognizing the wide range of harm caused by various incarnations of denialism helps us understand the problem. It is also nice to see that we are not alone in our effort to expose the denialists for what they are.


  1. Good post. Points well made.

  2. I really must thank the AIDS Denialists. Before I discovered them, I had no idea that there were so many people out there who believed what they wanted to because the truth was much too scary for them. I really thank Orac of Respectful Insolence for opening my eyes further to this type of, as he calls it, woo!
    It is very sad, but even more, frutstrating, for people like me who actually understand biology and science, to read all the utter crap that people believe simply because they are too scared, worried or even disguisted by the truth of what they are going thru. I guess it is much easier to ignore the facts. That is, until the facts lead to death of themselves or their loved one!
    J. Todd DeShong

  3. JTD
    Have you thought about attending the Rethinking AIDS Conference?

    It will be held in the same spot as the Duesberg Aneuploidy Conference. Joe Newton has told me that the hotel is a dive – I would not stay there. And Oakland is not much of a draw. But still, it could be such an opportunity. I wonder what will be presented? I mean, what is the latest research that ‘dissidents’ can present? What will the Program Look Like?

    Day 1
    KEY NOTE ADDRESS Peter Duesberg “The HIV hypothesis: Looking back and moving backwards.

    Morning Plenary David Rasnick “I am not Paranoid! Now stop staring at me!”
    Paper presentations

    Liam Sheff “How to remove kids from HIV treatment and get away with it”

    Celia Farber “New avenues in self-inflicted victimology”

    Henry Bauer “Advances in denialist epidemiology: 40% of Americans Smoked in 1960 and 160,000 Americans die of Lung Cancer Annually – smoking cannot possibly cause lung cancer”

    Kari Mullis “LSD as the cure for everything, Man”

    Mid-day detox Break: Gourmet Coffee Enemas: Crappuccinos and Assrepressos

    Afternoon Plenary “Case studies of people falsely diagnosed with HIV and living just fine without medication [TBD – will be announced day of conference to avoid necessary rescheduling due to illness]

    Fun Time: Celia and Peter will host a tribute to their clean hands awards “bring your whistle and blow”

    Dinner Party and Dance at the Oakland Senior Center

    Care to contribute Day 2?

  4. Oh how I would dearly love to attend the Re-Thinking AIDS conference as it sounds like a weekend of laughter, joy and thrills. However, I'm afraid that my poor, frail body, which has been weakended by 14 years of toxic HIV meds would not withstand such excitement. Whatsmore, the date conflicts with my weekend of sky~diving and moto~cross racing!

  5. JTD, I am so sorry to hear you are feeling too weak and frail to go to Oakland. If you are having any mold sensitivities you do not want to go near the conference venue, trust me on that.

    You really should get off those poisons and stop paying attention to those invalid ‘viral load’ tests. I suggest a strong detox and some Gary Null Super-Zinc.

    The conference is a few months off. I have already inquired with Mrs. Duesberg the Conference Secretary and David Crowe. They both have extended a personal welcome to me, although that pesky Joe Newton and his camera are not invited!
    Take care JTD, I am praying for you.

  6. Is it true that they'll be charging $100 for each photo at the Hug-A-Denialist photo session?

  7. Chris
    No!! That is an outright lie spread by AIDS inc. to make the AIDS dissidents look like greedy profiteers. They are not! Here is what I was told, although it curiously seems directed at Joe Newton….

    “Since you did bring a camera to the cancer conference I would just like to emphasize that we will have a strict rule that no photography is allowed without the permission of all people being photographed. Among other reasons the laws of California do not allow anyone's HIV status to be revealed without their consent, and the presence of a non-scientist at this conference might well be because of someone's HIV status.”

    Amazing that the Rethinkers can be so concerned about revealing a status that does not exist! So you can take pictures at the Hug a Denialist Booth, you just need permission. I am preparing a signed consent form that stipulates ‘By agreeing to be photographed you are in no way admitting that you tested positive on an invalid HIV test…” that should do the trick.