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.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

AIDS denial: A lethal delusion

ON 27 December 2008, a well-heeled 52-year-old woman died in a Los Angeles hospital. Her death certificate describes a body riddled with opportunistic infections typical of the late stages of AIDS. Christine Maggiore had tested HIV positive 16 years earlier, but she had shunned ART, the antiretroviral therapy that stops HIV replicating and prevents AIDS.

This was not the first time a death in Maggiore's family had made headlines: five years earlier her 3-year-old daughter Eliza Jane had died. The autopsy described a chronically ill little girl who was underweight, under-height, and had encephalitis and pneumonia - all AIDS-related. When pregnant, Maggiore had again rejected ART and she had breastfed Eliza Jane, another way of transmitting the virus.

Why, in 21st-century California, would a middle-class woman and her young daughter die like this when there is tried-and-tested treatment for their illness? The answer lies in a bizarre medical conspiracy theory that says AIDS is not caused by HIV infection (see Five myths about HIV and AIDS).
[UPDATE: further discussion of the New Scientist artcle is posted at]
It is tempting to dismiss the so-called AIDS denialism movement out of hand, but it has a strong internet presence, with a plethora of websites and blogs that can mislead the unwary. While the movement has lately suffered some significant blows to its credibility, it has in the recent past wielded extraordinary influence, especially in southern Africa, the centre of the world's AIDS epidemic. "Denialism has been relegated to the fringes of the internet, but it isn't of no consequence," says John Moore, an immunologist at Weill Cornell Medical College, Ithaca, New York, and one of the world's foremost AIDS researchers. "It can still cost the lives of unsuspecting people."

The origins of the AIDS denialism movement can be traced back to 1987, four years after the discovery of HIV. Peter Duesberg was then a renowned researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who had shown that some cancers were triggered by retroviruses. In March that year, Duesberg performed an about-face, publishing an article in which he questioned his original finding that retroviruses caused cancer, and also whether HIV (another retrovirus, although not one that he had studied) caused AIDS.

At the time, HIV science was in its infancy, and Duesberg was not the only mainstream scientist to speculate whether AIDS was actually caused by lifestyle factors such as taking drugs, for example. Indeed, New Scientist published Duesberg's manifesto of dissent in 1988.

"Duesberg did get laypeople's attention, and they, in turn, got him scientific attention," says University of California sociologist, Steven Epstein, author of Impure Science, a book on AIDS research. "Credibility was cycled back and forth."

As the clinical and epidemiological evidence linking HIV with AIDS accrued, however, support for denialism among mainstream scientists fell away. In the mid-1990s came the clincher. Cocktails of ART were found to halt the replication of HIV and reverse and prevent the development of AIDS. By the end of 1996, doctors in the west were witnessing the "Lazarus effect": AIDS patients who had been mortally ill were rising from their beds, putting on jackets and ties, and reporting for work.

By rights the denialism movement should have died out there and then. Yet it persisted. Not one of the denialists was a researcher studying AIDS or HIV - they simply critiqued the work of those who did. Much of the movement's output has been journalistic rather than scientific, spawning numerous articles, books, films (often self-published or self-produced), and lately websites. Tellingly, most of the studies they cite are quite old, reflecting the fact that mainstream support has long since died out.

Ask what the denialists do believe, however, and there is no consensus (see Five myths about HIV and AIDS). Some hark back to the early idea that AIDS in gay men is caused by amyl nitrite use; others say the cause is ART itself - although no one can explain why AIDS arose before ART was developed.

Some denialists accept that HIV may be present in those with AIDS, but claim it is just another opportunistic infection, rather than the cause. Others say, incredibly, that HIV has never been proven to exist at all.

Perhaps the most staggering of their beliefs, though, is that everyone else has got it so wrong. Denialists claim the scientific community cannot afford to admit their error because too many reputations and too many research grants are now at stake. Once ART was developed, the multibillion-dollar drugs industry had a vast investment at stake too.

It is certainly true that the scientific peer-review process can slow down the acceptance of new theories. And pharmaceutical companies hardly have a spotless record either. Yet the clinical and epidemiological evidence for the viral cause of AIDS is overwhelming, from virologists who see HIV under their microscopes, to doctors the world over who witness AIDS patients begin ART and make dramatic recoveries.

Denialism in the west continued to limp along, attracting a following of conspiracy theorists, attention seekers, peddlers of pseudoscience and HIV patients in denial. The movement's leaders vary in their credibility. Duesberg's most vocal supporter is David Rasnick, a former biochemist who makes much of his research background, as he once studied a group of enzymes called proteases. HIV possesses a protease enzyme, and protease inhibitors represent a key class of ART drugs. However Rasnick only worked on rat proteases, never on HIV's.

Then there is Henry Bauer, a retired chemistry and life sciences professor at Virginia State University in Petersburg, who edits the Journal of Scientific Exploration. This publishes research on such topics as alien abductions and telepathy. Before dabbling in virology, Bauer was a leading authority on the existence of the Loch Ness monster.

Leading AIDS denialist Henry Bauer is a former expert on the Loch Ness monster


The effects of AIDS denialism in Africa are no joke, however. In 2000, as the movement was rapidly losing all credibility, South African president Thabo Mbeki asked some of the leading denialists to sit on an advisory council to guide his response to the epidemic. On their advice he did everything in his power to resist ART use in his country.

Mbeki felt the mainstream western view that AIDS was caused by a sexually transmitted infection reflected racist beliefs that Africans were promiscuous. Western science, Mbeki believed, was blind to an obvious cause of immune deficiency in Africa: poverty.

It wouldn't be the first time. A century ago TB became endemic among black, but not white, South Africans, leaving western scientists flummoxed. Some pondered a genetic explanation, while overlooking the obvious - in white-ruled cities black people lived in the crowded conditions that encourage the spread of TB. In other words, blacks were falling ill as a result of white domination. Mbeki argued that the same thing was happening again. AIDS was simply a name for the diseases of poverty that had been legion in Africa since the days of colonial rule.

Mbeki was forced out last year - although not because of his denialism - and South Africa's new president, Jacob Zuma, supports ART. But immense damage has already been done. Last year, a study found that if Mbeki's government had provided HIV treatment, there would have been 365,000 fewer premature deaths in South Africa (Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, vol 49, p 410). The legacy of Mbeki's denialism might still have an influence on the treatment decisions of many HIV-positive South Africans.

In Australia there is now the "Perth Group", led by Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, whose science qualification is an undergraduate degree in nuclear physics. She appeared as an expert witness in 2006 for an Australian man appealing his conviction for failing to tell his sexual partners he was HIV-positive. Papadopulos-Eleopulos stood up in court and claimed that HIV does not exist. The man lost his case, however, with the judge noting that Papadopulos-Eleopulos had "no formal qualifications in medicine, virology, immunology, or any other medical disciplines... Her opinions lack any credibility."

Along with Christine Maggiore's death, you might think that these events would significantly weaken the denialists' case. Yet it would be premature to predict the movement's demise.

Consider that in the US, two small surveys have shown startlingly high numbers of people - around 1 in 4 - who question whether HIV causes AIDS. This probably reflects lack of education about the virus, rather than active denialism, since there is no evidence that people are seeking alternative AIDS treatment in large numbers. It does suggest, however, a troubling lack of communication between mainstream medicine and ordinary people. It is precisely such gaps in communication that internet quacks and conspiracy theorists can exploit.

Gaps in communication between mainstream medicine and ordinary people can be exploited by internet quacks and conspiracy theorists

Seth Kalichman, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, who carried out one of the surveys, has recently published Denying AIDS, a book about the movement. "My perception is that there is certainly a lot more mischief, like books and documentaries shown at film festivals," he says.

For some, no amount of evidence will overturn their entrenched beliefs. Maggiore blamed her daughter's death on an allergic reaction to antibiotics. For a long time she publicly cited her own good health as proof that HIV does not cause AIDS.

It is unpleasant to imagine what went through her mind last year as her own health worsened. She apparently continued to refuse the potentially lifesaving ART. Perhaps that is no surprise. To accept the drugs she had denied Eliza Jane would have been tantamount to accepting responsibility for her daughter's death.

To accept the drugs she had denied Eliza Jane would have meant taking responsibility for her child's death. And that's something that anyone would want to stay in denial about.

Note New Scientist article by Jonny Steinberg is the author of Three Letter Plague: A young man's journey through a great epidemic (Vintage), published in the US as Sizwe's Test

My year as an AIDS denialist

"For a year I had two lives," says Seth Kalichman, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and editor of the journal AIDS and Behavior. "It was pretty disturbing."

Kalichman was researching his book, Denying AIDS, which was published in the US earlier this year. The book charts the development of AIDS denialism into its current incarnation as a ragbag of eccentric scientists, crusading conspiracy theorists and HIV patients in denial.

Kalichman wanted to get close to the denialists - and that meant becoming one of them. "I knew that they would never talk to me as Seth Kalichman, the AIDS scientist," he says. So Kalichman became public health student "Joe" (a nickname he sometimes uses).

The denialist movement has a strong internet presence. As Joe, Kalichman started posting on websites and blogs. "I would pose questions, and they indoctrinated me into denialism," he recalls. "There were times when I felt I was being groomed."

His next step was to get Joe on an internet list of "AIDS dissidents". Denialists often cite this document, which currently has 2651 international signatories, as a list of scientists who dispute that HIV causes AIDS. In fact, only some of those listed are scientists, and even fewer are biologists - although alternative therapists often crop up.

As a budding denialist who was part of the medical establishment, Joe would no doubt have been seen as a great catch. Once he passed a brief email cross-examination, his name went up.

"That list is a roster of who can be trusted," Kalichman discovered. Joe now gained access to, and regularly chatted with, other prominent denialists, including the Canadian journalist David Crowe.

Kalichman began to find his double life surreal. "I was going to meetings at the National Institutes of Health during the day and in the evenings blogging with David Crowe," he recalls. But Kalichman wanted to meet denialists face to face. He heard that the movement's founder and star scientist Peter Duesberg was holding an invitation-only cancer conference.


Duesberg was once widely renowned for his discovery of the first cancer gene, but he is now derided for his eccentric views on HIV. He works in a small, privately funded laboratory where he researches his outlandish theories of cancer.

Joe's status as an AIDS dissident won him an invite. He felt nervous his subterfuge would be discovered, either by inadvertently using his real name or through his appearance. "I had been telling them I was a student, and I'm 48 years old," he says.

Still, Kalichman got through the door and talked to other attendees, including Duesberg's right-hand man David Rasnick. Rasnick seemed suspicious but did not get him thrown out.

Finally, Kalichman met Duesberg himself, and it made him revise some of his opinions about the man. Kalichman had previously wondered if Duesberg's stated views could be genuine. "He looked me dead in the eyes and said this is not an infectious disease," he says. "I have no question that he really believes this. He ignores the science to retain this belief."

Why? In Kalichman's opinion: "In that very small circle of AIDS denialism, he's a rock star. He was the focus of attention the whole time and he was very comfortable with that."

After the conference Kalichman abandoned his double life. He has no doubt that his time spent as Joe gave him unique insight into the denialists' world. "For Peter Duesberg, he's the big fish in the small pond. For people with HIV, denialism protects them from having to face that fact. Our beliefs are a substantial part of our psychological survival."

Note: Interview in New Scientist by Clare Wilson


  1. Seth,
    After reading this, its conclusive. There is DEFINITELY something wrong with you mentally. Anyone who would parade around under a phony name, lie to get into events and pretend they are someone they are not, for a year, is not playing with a full deck. I dont agree with the denialist people, I have lost too many friends to AIDS, but I will say youve taken this thing way too far. Its almost obsessive in nature. Focus on people who will listen, instead of people who wont. Educate those who are open to being educated. I believe we all have choices in life, based upon the information we choose to accept. Denialists have to live with their choices and their consequences, but they are their choices, and as individuals with free will, they are entitled to make them. I respect your work, but there is also a part of me that thinks you need to get a life.

  2. Anonymous

    I suspect you have not read Denying AIDS?
    I think when you do you will see what Joe contributes to our understanding of AIDS Denialism.

    The people I am interested in are not those who freely choose to believe. AIDS denialists are doing considerable harm and undermine our efforts to prevent and treat HIV infection.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comment and can only tell you...

    meeting David Rasnick was informative,

    corresponding with Henry Bauer humorous,

    and meeting Peter Duesberg – Priceless.

  3. Seth,
    I stand by what I said. Of course they are doing harm, but you dont expose those who are doing the wrong by doing the wrong thing! This is a problem in our culture. There is no "Joe"! Its you, my friend, lying and pretending to be something your not. The ends do not always justify the means.
    My final comment is that the denialists are not babies, they are adults. Most have looked at both sides and have chosen the false one. We need to spend less time on denialists and more time helping vunerable populations were HIV is spreading like wildfire. Gay teens especially.
    Anyway, good luck to you.

  4. I think I spend a bit of time trying to put out those wildfires.

    Shutting down AIDS denial is consistent with that effort.

    By the way, you can call me Joe. There are lots of people who do, especially in South Africa. And I am a student of public health.

    Buy a copy of Denying AIDS at Amazon and see if my means justify the ends. All the royalties buy HIV meds in Africa, also part of the ends.

  5. The proof positive graph is a real laugher. Are you admitting that HIV did not cause AIDS until 1996?

  6. Bill
    Let me explain the simple chart.

    AIDS DEATHS rise steadily in the USA from late 1980’s up through 1995. Plot AIDS deaths against all other causes of AIDS among people ages 25-44 and they are all steady, varying little from year to year.

    AIDS DEATHS stand out as a sharp rise, unlike any other cause of death. The trend reversed in 1996 with treatment breakthroughs for HIV.
    Same picture in Brazil and Botswana after effective HIV treatments become available deaths slow.

    No Bill, the graph does not show AIDS cases. Rather, AIDS Deaths. And not that the first occurred in 1996.

  7. Bill,
    I'm curious, how exactly did you come to that conclusion from that chart?

  8. Bill, is your first name "Mr"?
    Were you ever a huge celebrity on Saturday Night Live?

  9. You really must be the dumbest professor on the planet, Seth. Your acolytes here don't help either.

    The New Scientist piece claims that -- proof positive -- the correlation in 1996 between a decrease in mortality and approval of various, unspecified drugs somehow proves the viral theory of AIDS.

    If you disagree with this poppycock, then you and I have no quarrel.

    The real question is, What published data in 1984 leads you, Seth, to conclude that AIDS is caused by a new retrovirus.

    If history is any guide, you won't answer this question, because you can't answer the question. Therefore, like most sheep, you are simply part of the large echo chamber uncriticallty repeating the mantra, "HIV causes AIDS."

  10. "The real question is, What published data in 1984 leads you, Seth, to conclude that AIDS is caused by a new retrovirus."

    Wow Bill sounds an aweful lot like Cooler.

    " Therefore, like most sheep, you are simply part of the large echo chamber uncriticallty repeating the mantra, "HIV causes AIDS.""

    Bill have you done any research with HIV? Do you have a degree in virology/biology? Do you have any sort of credentials that would permit you to actually understand the material and discern real science from the pseudoscience that is denialism? No? Then I submit to you that it is you who are the sheep. I've done research for many years in molecular biology. I've used viruses and cell cultures. I've done PCR, Western Blots, ELISAs, RT-PCR. I have experience in those techniques. Do you? Do you have any grounds for believing yourself correct and all other scientists wrong? Who truly is the sheep? Look at Mikey as an example. He copies and pastes. He regurgitates the BS other denialists vomit out. But, when push comes to shove, he didn't know RNA from DNA. He didn't know provirus from infectious virus. Who is the the sheep now?

  11. Bill, I'll explain it to you slowly.

    If you go down to your local airport you will see proof positive that heavier than air flight is possible.

    This in no way implies that proof did not exist before.

    Only an idiot would go on and on about the Wright brothers while ignoring all evidence since 1903.

  12. Bill
    I thought I would give Poodlestomper and Chris first dibs.

    Snout is on the other side of the planet. He should be with us soon.

    Bill, I am a little surprised. AIDS Deniers usually do not ask such obviously stupid questions.


    Let’s see,
    Ronald Reagan was President, first term.
    The Soviet Union existed and withdrew from the Summer Olympics in LA.
    The Olympics in Sarajevo
    The Cosby show debuted.
    The movie The Pope of Greenwich Village was released
    Terms of Endearment won Best Picture

    I was hanging out at the Beta-Gamma Pool on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. As a College Senior I aced my Abnormal Psychology class. Little did I know then it would come in handy now, with you Bill.

    Bill, What the F#@K is wrong with you?

    So no science since then counts?
    And of course HIV existed before 1984.

    And the effects of HIV meds on HIV/AIDS??

    Tell you what Bill, when you get cancer skip the chemotherapy because everyone knows that just because chemotherapy cures cancer it does not prove you had cancer to start with. Right?

    Will someone please get this moron out of here?

  13. Actually, Bill (are you really Clark Baker? Your science knowledge is so non~existent, I had to ask), there are many occasions thru out this disease in which it could be demonstrated conclusively that HIV causes AIDS.
    Oh, like the change in the way developed countries screen the blood supply and therefore decreased transmission of HIV via the blood supply is now virtually eradicated. Or the way clotting factors are now processed (along with the change in screening for the blood supply from which clotting factors are harvested) and now hemophiliacs do not become HIV+ due to clotting factors.
    And, this lovely graph is another demonstrable example of proof that HIV is the cause of AIDS? How? It is simple, Bill. HIV meds attack HIV in different ways, all utilizing some organic facet of the way HIV works such as utilizing Reverse Transcriptase. Around 1996 when the drug cocktail was beginning to be utilized, AIDS patients demonstrated, as the article points out, a Lazarus Effect. This means those on deaths door became well. Such is the example of my friend Arcade whom I have blogged about. He had two T~Cells to his name, had pneumonia and a collapsed lung in 1994, but went on to live almost twelve more years, thans to the meds which attacked HIV in ways specific to HIV.
    Does that make sense? Can you see how these meds coming into existence are just one in a myriad of ways which prove that HIV is the cause of AIDS? If not, you are bringing down the IQ of the world, and you should do us all a favor and remedy that, if you know what I mean?

  14. Seth - let me guess... you make your living from AID$. Sad fucker.

  15. Bill reminds me of Germ Theory Denialist.

    They are also in a Denialist Time Warp. They go on and on about Louis Pasteur and his allegedly fraudulent rabies vaccine experiments. They're stuck in the 1800s. WWII and the dramatic reduction in deaths using penicillin is unimportant.

  16. Anonymous
    Do I make a living off AIDS?

    No, not really. Duesberg does not make his living from silly cancer ideas like Aneuploidy. Henry Bauer does not make his living from the Loch Ness Monster. We are all tenured professors. So we make our livings from writing and teaching. Like Henry has Nessies and Peter has Leppo, I have NIH grants.

    Most academic AIDS deniers like Rasnick, Culshaw and Maiottis do not have academic jobs…so at least the system works sometimes.
    Unlike Duesberg and Bauer, I have no deaths on my hands.

    I actually do my research on preventing and treating HIV infection. My new thing is exposing AIDS denialists like you, Pat. So thanks again.

  17. Anonymous,
    If you look closely, however, you will see that people like Rath and his ilk have no problem making multi-millions on selling bogus vitamin "cures" for all sorts of things including AIDS, cancer and whatever else will make them a buck. I'm sure this doesn't bother you, right? While I've never met Seth in person (although I have had the pleasure of e-mail correspondences) I am fairly certain he does not make the kind of money Rath makes. Using your logic, shouldn't Rath and his denialidiot flunkies thus be more corrupt?

  18. In response to my very simple question, we get bad analogies, evasions, rhetorical questions and ad hominem attacks ...... but no published data.

    This is typical of amateurs.

  19. Bill

    “What published data in 1984 leads you, Seth, to conclude that AIDS is caused by a new retrovirus?”

    Who the hell asks a question like that?

    AIDS Denialists that’s who.

    I made the point in Denying AIDS that you guys are stuck in the 1980’s. Well Bill, you are the poster child for stuck in the 80’s.

    I know this is what you want.

    I will give you a Gallo reference so you can explode in your pants and scream conspiracy.

    Sarngadharan MG, DeVico AL, Bruch L, Sch├╝pbach J, Gallo RC. HTLV-III: the etiologic agent of AIDS Princess Takamatsu Symp. 1984;15:301-8.

    But how about this one too.
    Goedert JJ. Recreational drugs: relationship to AIDS. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1984;437:192-9.
    As early as 1984 the crazy ideas of Peter Duesberg were already being refuted. Duesberg and Rasnick have not learned anything new in 25 years! Better than that, they are claiming all cancers are caused by Aneuploidy a defunct idea that is like 100 years old.

    1984 Bill! You must be quite the nostalgic!

  20. I've got $25 says he will misunderstand the study (if he bothers to read the paper at all and not just the abstract) and then makes a stupis comment displaying his ignorance! Anyone want to take me up on this (I know it is kind of like a rigged bet and I'm sure to win)?

  21. Poodlestomper

    You are right. You would have to give odds.

    And in case you challenge me to Snout AIDS Denialist Bingo for Bill, I already won!

    002. Show me the one paper

    004. Gallo was a fraud

    006. Never been isolated

    029. Just a new name for old diseases

    048. Ad Hominem!

    057. Gallo dishonestly published EMs of debris in Science – and none of its readers noticed for 24 years until Janine Roberts came along.


  22. " I actually do my research on preventing and treating HIV infection. My new thing is exposing AIDS denialists like you, Pat. So thanks again."

    That wasn't me you were talk..writing to, Seth. Try seperating your nuts from the dried fruit.


    Denialists like Duesberg are accused of homophobia and racism because they argue a "life-style" cause of AIDS whereas mainstream argues a "risk-behavior" cause. Why is one homophobic/racist and the other not? Can you clarify the difference to me? Thanks, Pat

  23. "No, not really. Duesberg does not make his living from silly cancer ideas like Aneuploidy." -Seth

    "Better than that, they are claiming all cancers are caused by Aneuploidy a defunct idea that is like 100 years old." -Seth

    I can find no definitive answer anywhere as to this idea beeing defunct. As far as I can tell the jury is still out on this one and no one really understands the implications of it. I know you hate Duesberg but for you Seth, a psychologist, to jump the gun on thousands of microbiologists and call it silly is...well, silly.

  24. Sorry anonymous. AIDS Denialists all sounds alike, say the same things, repeat the same old myths, etc. Mistaking you for Pat is understandable, but probably unforgiveable.
    Pat,no AIDS scientists says that behavior causes AIDS.
    HIV is transmitted through exposure of infectable cells to the virus. Certain specific behaviors afford exposure more than others.
    AIDS Denialists say behavior causes AIDS, just like Behavior causes Aneuploidy. In fact, you deniers do not point to specific behaviors. Rather lifestyles and life circumstances cause AIDS. Gays test HIV+ because of all those STD’s they get. And Blacks test HIV+ because they have a ‘different’ immune system. Now why would anyone say this sounds homophobic and racist?
    And speaking of silly, I attended Duesberg’s conference on Aneuploidy. The jury being out must explain the attendance because the jury certainly was not there. I am not surprised you cannot find a scientific article refuting Aneuploidy as the CAUSE of cancer. There were no electronic data bases a century ago. Bet you cannot find a citation refuting the existence of the Loch Ness Monster either…can you?

  25. I know you hate Duesberg but for you Seth, a psychologist, to jump the gun on thousands of microbiologists and call it silly is...well, silly.

    To say that aneuploidy is involved in cancer is not silly. To claim that aneuploidy is the sole cause of cancer and that viruses such as HPV, EBV, HBV play no role is silly, monomaniacal and delusional. He is cloaser to Hulda Clark than a real scientist at this stage. He is a crank.

  26. Yeah, Seth, I do not understand where the liars, I mean, deniers, get off with their "causation" bullshit! And that is just what it is, bullshit, whether Pat wants to admit it or not. It makes no sense logically to come down on a virus, HIV, as the cause, which real scientists have not wavered from since it was discovered. Yet the denialists claim everything from "behavior" and malnutrition, to poppers and parasites!
    How in the world can they claim this disease has multiple causality, and deny a virus could be the culprit? These denialists are not logical in anything they say and whatsmore crazy, is they do not see their stupidity, nor their hypocrisy nor even their down right crazy!!
    They think us sane, rational, intelligent people continuing this conversation gives them legitimacy, but in reality, we continue this ridiculous conversation in hopes of keeping these deadly denialists from making an emotional connection to a scared person with HIV like Karri Stokely, and potentially harming their health/life!

  27. JTD
    My favorite ignorant denialist proclamation is ‘how can a virus cause so many diseases… a virus does not cause a syndrome.’

    South African President Mbeki, who was once believed to be an intellectual, adhered to this nutty interpretation. My 6 year old nephew understands how HIV causes immune destruction allowing for AIDS.

    Karri Stokely is about as sad a case as Maggiore. In fact, she is aspiring to be the new Maggiore isn’t she? It seems that just as Duesberg lured Maggiore into AIDS denial and the death of Baby EJ, Rethinking AIDS and David Crowe have been the Stokely’s source of light. The Stokely’s seem to be a true case of denial – the whole family. How many of these tragedies will we watch play out?

  28. How JT? It is very simple. It is the Dunning-Kruger effect. I copied the wollowing from Wikipedia but I think we can all see that #1-#3 all apply to denialists and explain why it is so difficult reaching them. Mikey is a great example of this.

    From Wikipedia entry on the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

    1. Incompetent individuals tend to overestimate their own level of skill.
    2. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
    3. Incompetent individuals fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
    4. If they can be trained to substantially improve their own skill level, these individuals can recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill.

  29. Oh how right you are! Especially with number one.
    I have been reading interviews with Farber from a couple of years ago. All I can say is my blog about this will be ready in two or three days (whenever I get time to devote to it) and suffice to say, Farber will probably add me to her lawsuit because I am going to call her everything except a Christian and a human being!!!

  30. How in the world can they claim this disease has multiple causality, and deny a virus could be the culprit?

    It's simple. Everything except for a virus can cause AIDS. A virus infecting CD4+ cells? Ridiculous!

  31. In relation to "Denialist Idol" and the way it has been playing out, Stokely is clearly being exploited by the likes of Baker and that simpleton Connie Howard. I question how willingly she is allowing herslef to be exploited though as she clearly seems to be enjoying stepping into the shoes of maggiore.

    I want to know who wrote the rules for "Denialist Idol"

    Do they clearly state that the winner has to be a white married mother with two children?

  32. I truly feel bad for Kari (if in fact her story is completely true). I wonder; do the denialists already have a laundry list of reasons in the event that, like Maggs (and so many other denialists), Kari dies of a disease associated only with severe immune suppression? What is most telling is that they don't seem to give a rat's behind that she has a family that needs their mother. All they want is a temporary poster child. When she dies, her family will be devastated and the denialists will simply make an excuse and look for the next victim. Disgusting!

  33. It is disgusting.
    What is particularly disturbing is how the husbands and kids jump on the denial bandwagon. Those pictures of family AIDS Denial are the saddest.

    I know too well how easy this can happen. When my Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer some lady we had helping in the house told her to throw out all of the toxic chemical cleaners and start taking nutritional supplements to fight the cancer. There is nothing more powerful than the search for hope in the face of a life threatening disease… including false hope.

    Rethinking AIDS, Alberta Reappraising AIDS, The Perthies, etc only seem to care about pissing off Gallo et al. and preserving a false idea to keep the denial and attention going. They are completely self-absorbed. It is the stuff that crimes against humanity are made of.

  34. Rethinking AIDS, Alberta Reappraising AIDS, The Perthies, etc only seem to care about pissing off Gallo et al. and preserving a false idea to keep the denial and attention going.

    Raphael Lombardo. Duesberg was happy to include a letter from Raphael Lombardo in his book as evidence that if you are HIV+ but drug free you don't get AIDS. When Raphael dies from AIDS months later Duesberg callously dismisses him as a liar who was secretly taking drugs. Duesberg has no morals.

    Part of the problem is that Duesberg et al get the thank-you letters when people go off the meds and feel better in the short term. They mostly don't get the letters when the same people come down with opportunistic infections and either go on ARVs or die.

  35. And some, like Rex Poindexter, who was in that "film" by Scovill, shunned the denialists once he got sick, and yet Maggiore herself made some horrible accusations about Rex on AME after his death (and they were supposedly friends). This info is backed up by the man who was Rex's lover at the time and remains fearlessly faithful to Rex's memory to this day!

  36. Yep. They did it to Raphael, they did it to Maggiore and I see no sign of them stopping Karri from following in their footsteps.

  37. Huw Christie is another example.

    Huw was diagnosed with HIV in 1993, and swallowed Duesberg's bullshit that Kaposi's Sarcoma in gay men was caused by excessive nitrite use.

    Huw became a passionate campaigner against nitrite abuse in the gay community, and took on the editorship of the denialist magazine "Continuum" shortly before the previous editor, Jody Wells', death following multiple bouts of PCP.

    Huw died in at his parents' home in Tasmania, Australia in 2001 from Kaposi's Sarcoma.

    Duesberg claimed that this was because Huw must have been a secret nitrite abuser/addict.

    I find Duesberg's attempts to rationalise the failings of his pet hypotheses utterly disgusting.

  38. Chris Noble said...

    "To claim that aneuploidy is the sole cause of cancer and that viruses such as HPV, EBV, HBV play no role is silly, monomaniacal and delusional."

    Yeah, but to claim that HIV is the SOLE cause of AIDS and that other factors like malnutrition, drug abuse, promiscuity or stress play no role whatsoever is clever, realistic and scientific.

    George Orwell branded this kind of propaganda ploy as "Double Talk" - and he did so rightfully.


  39. whats wrong with this....
    Case studies increasingly point to the potential of HIV-negative individuals with clinically diagnosed AIDS. The results of hematologic tests on blood samples collected from 227 Ghanaian people with AIDS suggest the potential existence of many such cases. Blood samples were subjected to ELISA, particle agglutination, indirect fluorescent assay, western blot, and mono-epitope ELISA tests. 48 individuals tested positive for only HIV-1, 17 for only HIV-2, 11 were dual positive, 16 indeterminate, and 135 seronegative.
    All of those testing seronegative for HIV nonetheless suffered weight loss, prolonged diarrhea, and chronic fever. Many also exhibited lymphadenopathy, tuberculosis, dermatological diseases, and neurological disorders. While many of these individuals may have been misdiagnosed as having AIDS, the existence of unknown agents which are antigenically different from any know type of HIV should be seriously considered....
    Clinically diagnosed AIDS cases without evident association with HIV type 1 and 2 infections in Ghana [letter]
    Author: Hishida O; Ido E; Igarashi T; Hayami M; Miyazaki A; Ayisi NK; Osei-Kwasi M
    Source: Lancet. 1992 Oct 17;340(8825):971-2.

  40. What is wrong?

    Nothing is wrong.

    Who said people that don't have HIV infection don't develop weight loss, prolonged diarrhea, chronic fever, lymphadenopathy, tuberculosis, dermatological diseases, and neurological disorders?

    The finding, along with their follow-up in 1994, shows that an AIDS diagnosis requires both a positive HIV test result and clinical manifestations, such as clinically low CD4 (T-cell)count.

    We cannot assume that someone has AIDS because they have TB.

    There are other diseases (e.g., KS, PCP, disseminated HSV) where the assumption may be safer, but still may not be AIDS.

    From their 1995 follow-up; "HIV-1 infection is now dominant in Ghana in contrast to our previous survey in 1986 which showed the dominance of HIV-2. The change in seroprevalence suggests that an HIV-1 epidemic has been developing in recent years in this country, where HIV-2 was originally endemic. A relatively high prevalence of dual-reactive specimens implies the existence of highly cross-reactive strains of HIV or frequent coinfection with HIV-1 and HIV-2 in the region. The large number of seronegative patients with clinically diagnosed AIDS raises the question of the inadequacy of AIDS definitions based on clinical manifestations only."
    AIDS. 1994 Sep;8(9):1257-61.

    No mystery here. These cases were discussed at the 1992 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. Except no one but Celia Farber seems to recall that. I spoke with Mike Merson about his memory of the cases and he had none. And I saw his keynote address with edits and the words HIV and AIDS remained intact.

    A good question to a dissident is "why only since the 1990s when HIV emerged are there so many more southern Africans dying of these 'old African' diseases?

    In fact, a new study by Yudkin et al. [Deaths caused by HIV disease under-reported in South Africa. AIDS. 2009 Jun 10] shows that AIDS deaths in South Africa are even higher than previously thought.

  41. One of the many bizarre hypocrisies of AIDS denialism is complaining about definitions of AIDS, while they let Duesberg define AIDS however he wants. For Duesberg, the 1985 Bangui clinical surveilllance definition is 100% accurate, as he calls any report of an HIV-negative individual meeting the criterion (including those reported in the study cited above) an "HIV-negative AIDS" case.

    Furthermore, if you're a gay man who uses recreational drugs and has a CD4 count toward the lower end of the normal range, or a hemophiliac with a CD4:CD8 ratio on the lower end of the normal range, you're an "HIV negative AIDS" case according to Duesberg. Why? Because Duesberg's entirely evidence-free theory is that you will eventually develop AIDS. Here's the quote:

    ""But even if not all of these cases fit the current definition of AIDS-defining immunodeficiency exactly, they do so prospectively. This is because their T-cells typically continue to decline either because of risk behavior, such as the consumption of recreational drugs, or because of clinical AIDS risks, such as chronic transfusion of foreign proteins as prophylaxis against hemophilia (Duesberg, P.H., 1992, op. cit.)."

    Duesberg Biotechnology, 11: 955-956, 1993"

    And here's what the Kaslow paper he's citing actually says:

    "Prior [drug] use was not associated with low mean T helper cell counts at enrollment, and continued drug or alcohol use after enrollment was not associated with greater subsequent decline in counts."