Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Welcome to My World Mr. President

President Obama spoke at the White House yesterday to deal with the conspiracy theory regarding his birthplace. His frustration was all too familiar to anyone who follows AIDS Denialism.  Here is a sample...

"As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the site of my birth. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now.  I think it started during the campaign.  And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I've been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going.  We've had every official in Hawaii, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, in fact, I was born in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital.

We've posted the certification that is given by the state of Hawaii on the Internet for everybody to see.  People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this birth certificate.  And yet this thing just keeps on going. 

We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.  We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.

I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. "

It has been a couple years since the rumor started that our President is not an American.  

The so called Birthers first demanded that his birth certificate be released. It was.

Then they demanded that independent proof and witnesses be found. And they were.

And then came demands for the long form birth certificate. And now we have that too.

Anyone who expects the Birthers to go away does not understand the mindset of conspiracy theorists and denialists.

They will not go away.  

If you do not know much about the Birthers, just watch Stephen Colbert for a quick rundown. 

So what is the President to do? Ignore them? As he said, he tried that...

"Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given day and I've got other things to do."

Ignoring them did not work, so he addressed them head on, again.

Once a conspiracy theory becomes rooted online and enters the mainstream it is very hard to reverse. 

Watching all of this Birther stuff is mind boggling.  

The Birthers do make me grateful that AIDS denialism has not yet attracted a high profile 'carnival barker'. Let's just hope it stays that way.


  1. Are these Birther people the same crew as AIDS Denialists?? They sure have the same mental thing going on. And the same political perspective. These people need more than a psychologist with a blog. They need their heads examined!

  2. Anonymous,
    We know that Celia Fiber, I mean Farber, is a Tea Bagger. And Clark Baker is a huge Ann Colter fan (did someone say Mark David Chapman?). The overlap is more than curious. It is pathognomonic.

  3. The Birthers are more racists than anything else! Rachel Maddow did a segment on Wednesday about the history of Afrian Americans being asked for all sorts of papers and documentation. It's absurd.

    And you're right, Seth, these people will never be satisfied no matter what President Obama says or does. Just as the AIDS Denialists see the obvious AIDS deaths of Stokely, Maggiore, EJ and Emory and still they can convince themselves HIV is a hoax.


  5. More laughable Birtherism from Clark Baker:

    Well, at least he put his money where his mouth is.

    Even more ridiculous is the fact that a TV journalist in Kansas thinks that Clark Baker is sane:

    Mind you, a news poll on the same page asks: "Should the release of President Obama's birth certificate put all citizenship rumors to rest? "

    43.2% have voted "No" so far.

    Are these the World's Stupidest People?

  6. So this is what brings Clark Baker out of hiding? What a tool!

    I wonder if Clark Baker lost any sleep knowing he helped kill Karri Stokely? I doubt it. A person has to have a conscious or a soul to feel guilt or culpability.

  7. Yes you're right Teet, I wonder how many sleepless nights doctors had when prescribing 1500 mg of AZT per day? I mean, we now know it is an absolutely lethal dose for that drug.

    I wonder how many people got that dose from 87 to 91, some suggestions are 400,000 deaths directly attributable to that course of action, I mean like that's in the genocide figures, more than attributed to Dusebergs dabble in SA with the Mbecki panel.

    No official death count though, guess it's not in the WHO's interest to publish such things.

  8. Hey Anonymous,
    Why don't you do an IV Infusion of 10,000mg of AZT and then top it off with the same dose of Arsenic? I will even administer it for you.
    Love, Jonathan

  9. There is a rather important difference between the estimates for Duesberg's contribution to avoidable deaths in South Africa and those anonymous puts forth as being attributed to AZT in the US: The former are based on data, and the latter are completely made-up. And I don't use the term "made-up" facetiously, they are indeed fictional, from a work of fiction by Stephen Davis:

    The number that anonymous has chosen to exaggerate a little is actually 300,000 in Davis's fictional work. This is stated to be the number of people who died between 87-97, which is not factual but then it is a work of fiction. Davis's fictional character says: "We will then prove that AZT was inappropriately but intentionally given to these 300,000 young men and women, and that it was the AZT and nothing else that caused these victims to develop AIDS and die."

    And this is of course more fiction. There are multiple placebo-controlled trials of AZT that tracked mortality in AZT & placebo recipients ( - see fig 2), not to mention prescription utilization data showing that it wasn't even used by anywhere near that many people let alone responsible for their deaths. The annual number of deaths from AIDS are listed on the AEGIS timeline:

    By the end of 1997, there had been approximately 262,000 in total, including those that occurred prior to any antiretroviral treatment being available.

    So no, it's not in the World Health Organization's interest to be publishing fictional claims about AZT from Stephen Davis's book. Might not be the best idea to cite them as fact in ostensibly non-fictional legal affidavits either.

  10. Oops, you left one out (again)May 3, 2011 at 5:20 AM


    We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral azidothymidine (AZT) in 282 patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or AIDS-related complex. Although significant clinical benefit was documented (N Engl J Med 1987; 317:185-91), serious adverse reactions, particularly bone marrow suppression, were observed. Nausea, myalgia, insomnia, and severe headaches were reported more frequently by recipients of AZT; macrocytosis developed within weeks in most of the AZT group. Anemia with hemoglobin levels below 7.5 g per deciliter developed in 24 percent of AZT recipients and 4 percent of placebo recipients (P less than 0.001). Twenty-one percent of AZT recipients and 4 percent of placebo recipients required multiple red-cell transfusions (P less than 0.001). Neutropenia (less than 500 cells per cubic millimeter) occurred in 16 percent of AZT recipients, as compared with 2 percent of placebo recipients (P less than 0.001). Subjects who entered the study with low CD4 lymphocyte counts, low serum vitamin B12 levels, anemia, or low neutrophil counts were more likely to have hematologic toxic effects. Concurrent use of acetaminophen was also associated with a higher frequency of hematologic toxicity. Although a subset of patients tolerated AZT for an extended period with few toxic effects, the drug should be administered with caution because of its toxicity and the limited experience with it to date.

  11. Thanks for posting that cutting edge research from 1987!
    AIDS Deniers are stuck in the 1980's...
    How come you forgot this one...

    "The role of flies in the epidemiology of poliomyelitis."
    Journal of Bacteriology, 945 Aug;50:236.

  12. "Oops, you left one out (again)"

    No, that double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is included in fig 2, along with many others. The documented toxicity described in that paper does not support the claims that AZT at that dose was "absolutely lethal" or that there were "400,000 deaths directly attributable to that course of action."

  13. NM, Aegis is always a great source of information on HIV/AIDS. It should be in that it is funded primarily by Boehringer Ingelheim and previously by Glaxo Smith Kline, and Bristol Myers Squibb. Good come back with the timeline, shame it's tainted to death, much like AZT patients.

    (AZT) + HIV = AIDS = Death

  14. The paper that "Oops, you left one out" has copy-pasted is one of a pair published together in the NEJM describing the initial placebo-controlled study of high dose AZT monotherapy in AIDS/ARC in 1987. Both papers were by the AZT Collaborative Working Group, and the authors of each paper were much the same.

    The first paper details the benefits while the second details the risks and adverse events. They are meant to be read together, because any decision about a medical therapy involves weighing up risks and benefits. While this concept would be second nature to NEJM's readership, it seems to be completely foreign to HIV/AIDS denialists.

    In the case of this trial, adverse events included a higher risk of anemia and neutropenia in those taking high dose AZT. Benefits included a 95% reduction in deaths in the treatment group over 8 to 24 weeks, and a 50% reduction in opportunistic diseases. Karnofsky scores (a measure of functional impairment and quality of life) also improved in the actively treated group.

    How a study showing a 95% reduction in deaths among people with AIDS/ARC and a 50% reduction in opportunistic illnesses over the short term compared to placebo is supposed to prove that high dose AZT was "absolutely lethal" is anyone's guess.

    But logic was never the denialists' strong suit.

  15. Nice catch, Rhonda. The fact that this AIDS Denialist intentionally left out the other study is a great example of their very typical, duplicitous way of discussing this topic. They can not win this argument on the facts, therefore they lie, lie and lie some more. Their facts lead to the deaths of Karri and Emory, just to name two, but to them death is just the cost of doing business.