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, October 7, 2012

AIDS Denialism in the Courts: Science is a Better Defense than Stupidity

The news below makes an important point about the type of legal cases that AIDS Denialist Clark Baker targets for his Office of Medical and Scientific Justice (OMSJ). There are far better legal defenses than AIDS denialism for those accused of HIV-related crimes. Psychopaths aside, no one infected with HIV wants to infect another person. Failure to disclose HIV is a serious consequence of the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV encounter. People with HIV may also fail to disclose when they believe that they are no longer infectious and use condoms. Reasonable people can differ regarding these dilemmas and their implications of HIV disclosure. What is not reasonable or even rational is to claim that no harm can come from failing to disclose because HIV does not cause AIDS, HIV tests are invalid, or some nutty conspiracy theory. Everyone accused of a crime deserves a competent defense. It looks like Canada is on the right track toward dealing with this issue. (Thanks to Truthy for the tip)

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

AIDS Denier Clark Baker invades the US Military Justice System

I posted earlier that AIDS Denialist and LA Private Investigator Clark Baker is focusing his attention on the US Military justice system. Baker’s storefront business, the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice (OMSJ) is paid by US taxpayers to bring AIDS denialists to the court.

How are AIDS Denialists used as experts in legal cases?

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Friday, September 28, 2012

AIDS Denialism in the Court: Clark Baker for the Defense

Clark Baker with the late Kari Stockely who
died of AIDS after falling into AIDS denialism
Clark Baker and his crock business venture, the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice (OMSJ) are back at it. Clark and his team of fake HIV experts are infesting the US Military Justice System with AIDS Denialism testimony.

The cases that Baker targets are tragic -- typically involving HIV positive people who are accused of exposing others to HIV without disclosing their status. Failure to disclose HIV is a complicated and serious issue. No one has the right to knowingly expose another person to a life threatening disease. But we live in a society that has made it enormously difficult to disclose HIV status. AIDS stigma has not gone away. People living with HIV face rejection, discrimination, and even violence when they disclose. They have to deal with disclosure issues every day. When accused of a crime for failing to disclose HIV, they deserve a competent defense.

So it may seem hard to believe that defense attorneys would employ the AIDS Deniers at OMSJ.

In recent cases, Baker and the gang have called into question the reliability of Elisa and Western Blot tests. You know, the package insert says a single test is not diagnostic;  the tests cross-react to all sorts of antibodies; clinical algorithms are circular; PCR is not diagnostic; RNA is not the virus; there is no gold standard for testing HIV antibodies; if a lab tech dilutes the specimen wrong everyone tests positive; HIV diagnosis is a sham. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing we have not heard before.

But when unchallenged by real science, the words of a fake expert can confuse a jury and raise reasonable doubt.

When unexposed as crocks, the AIDS Deniers can easily fool people into thinking they are scientists.

Who are the OMSJ experts?

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

AIDS and Climate Change: Are All Denialists Created Equal?

A Cabal of Bankers and Sister Souljah

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Winthrop Professor, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia
Posted on 9 September 2012

One of the many adverse consequences of knee-jerk science rejection is the voluminous noise generated in response to certain events, such as the recent publication of my paper on rejection of science and conspiracist ideation. Whenever baseless accusations are launched, whether against me or other scientists, this detracts attention from other potentially substantive issues.

My inbox has been overflowing with messages relating to my paper, to the point where I can no longer guarantee a personal response to each message. Some emails raise good points and substantive scientific issues. Likewise, the comment stream on my earlier posts contain some interesting points, and I apologize for not being able to engage with the comments to the extent that I would like—I am however monitoring them so I can make a note of important insights.
I will endeavour to take up those substantive issues here as time permits. I consider the following points to be particularly worthy of discussion in connection with my forthcoming paper:

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Montagnier Joins Mullis in the Nobel Prize Crackpot Club

By Steven Salzberg for Forbes magazine
If you’re reading this from anywhere but Chicago, you just missed the Autism One conference, which ends today. This conference, run by Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue, purports to tell parents “the truth” about autism.
The conference is a veritable festival of unproven claims, offering a powerful but false message of hope to parents who are desperately searching for new treatments for their children. It’s also a nexus for anti-vaccinationists, who run special seminars educating parents about how to get vaccine exemptions so that they can enroll their unvaccinated children in public schools.
A look at the presentations reveals that rather than presenting “the truth,” one speaker after another is making unsupported, unscientific claims and then offering their own special therapy. The one thing that most of these presentations have in common is that the speaker is making money from selling their so-called treatments. For example, Anat Baniel offers her self-named “Anat Baniel method” and is promoting it through ads in the conference program. Other speakers are offering special diets, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and in perhaps the most damaging treatment, Mark and David Geier’s chemical castration therapy. Mark Blaxill is there, still pushing the thoroughly disproven link between mercury and autism, and hawking his book on the topic.
The other major theme of the conference is conspiracies: how the government, big pharma, and the scientific establishment are all conspiring to hide “the truth” about autism, which the speaker will reveal to the audience. Coincidentally, many of the speakers also offer treatments, for a fee.
This year’s speakers include Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield, as usual, but also a new entry: Luc Montagnier.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Death by Denial: Maria Papagiannidou dies of AIDS

"It is said that a cure for 'AIDS' cannot be found, but I was 'HIV-positive' for 10 years, had full-blown 'AIDS' for another 12 years and have now become perfectly fine again without any doctor's intervention or medication."
Maria Papagiannidou

Word has spread that Maria Papagiannidou  has died. She became hooked into AIDS Denialism and paraded about by her pals at The Rethinking AIDS Society. She gained media attention in her home country of Greece when she proclaimed AIDS was a myth. She chronicled her denial in her book Goodbye AIDS! Did you ever exist?
Ms. Papagiannidou is the most recent in a long succession of AIDS Deniers who have died of AIDS. They made the misinformed choice not to take antiretroviral medications; dying earlier than they could have if treated. 
Once again, the leaders of AIDS Denialsim -- David Crowe, Peter Duesberg, David Rasnick, and Henry Bauer are living to very (very) ripe old ages, while those who listen to them die young. 
The leaders of Rethinking AIDS have much in common - they are all crazy old white men.
Those who listen to them and die have much in common too -  they are young, men and women, racially and ethnically diverse, HIV positive, and refuse treatment. 
Fortunately, the AIDS Deniers are becoming increasingly irrelevant. 
I would like the old guys at Rethinking AIDS to hold one more AIDS Denier's conference before they completely disappear. I want one more chance to say Goodbye AIDS Denialists! Did you ever exist?

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Monday, March 19, 2012

AIDS Denialist Marco Ruggiero: Destined for a Duesbergian Career

Inquiry launched over AIDS contrarian's teaching

Academic freedom should not be misused to spread theories that opponents say lack scientific evidence.
Zoë Corbyn  Nature News 19 March 2012

The University of Florence has launched an inquiry into the teaching activities of an academic who assisted on a course that denies the causal link between HIV and AIDS, and supervised students with dissertations on the same topic.

The Italian university's internal 'special commission' will examine the "teaching behaviour and responsibility" of molecular biologist Marco Ruggiero, a university spokesman told Nature.

The move follows a letter to the institution's rector, Alberto Tesi, by an Italian campaign group called the HIV Forum, which represents people infected with HIV and others concerned about the disease. It calls on him to disassociate the university from the "science and activities" of Ruggiero, who, the group says, is "internationally known" for denying the widely accepted link between HIV and AIDS, and promotes a potential cure for HIV involving an enriched probiotic yoghurt for which there is no proven evidence.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Death by denial: The campaigners who continue to deny HIV causes Aids

As each of their followers dies, those who campaign against HIV treatments simply move on to the next level of denial
By Brian Deer, The Guardian, February 21, 2012

Karri Stokely is a poster girl for a different way to look at health. After receiving an Aids diagnosis in 1996, at the age of 29, she was treated for 11 years with a cocktail of drugs. But then she saw an internet video saying that HIV was a hoax, stopped taking her medicines – and felt terrific.

"I'm not getting any answers from the mainstream as to why I'm healthy, and why my husband is negative, and why I can quit these drugs," she explains in her own video, which is currently being promoted online. "I think it's a crime. It's crimes against humanity."

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Southern Poverty Law Center's HateWatch and the AIDS Deniers

AFA’s Bryan Fischer: HIV Doesn’t Cause AIDS

Posted in Anti-LGBT by Leah Nelson on January 6, 2012

It’s tempting to describe American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer as a close-minded, reactionary bigot. But when it comes to embracing fresh ideas that support his beliefs – heck, he pretty much outdoes us all.

Remember when he said that gays were responsible for the Holocaust? Or the time he claimed that states can require public officials to pass religious tests, directly contradicting both a 50-year-old Supreme Court decision and the express wishes of the Founding Fathers themselves? These are not exactly mainstream theories, but, ever open-minded, Fischer adopted them anyway.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

A controversial research paper that argued “there is as yet no proof that HIV causes AIDS" and met with a storm of protest when it was published in 2009, leading to its withdrawal, has been republished in a revised form, this time in the peer-reviewed literature.

The reworked version of the paper, led by Peter Duesberg of the University of California, Berkeley, who is well known for denying the link between HIV and AIDS, was published in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology (IJAE) last month.

The manuscript was examined by two peer reviewers, one of them the journal's editor-in-chief, Paolo Romagnoli, an expert in cell anatomy at the University of Florence, Italy. But leading AIDS researchers and campaigners question how the paper could have passed peer review, and say that publishing it in a minor journal known to few does not give it scientific credibility or legitimacy.

"In my view this paper is scientific nonsense and should not have passed peer review. The thesis that HIV does not cause AIDS has no scientific credibility," says Nathan Geffen of the South Africa-based Treatment Action Campaign, who previously raised concerns about the article.

Romagnoli says he decided to review the revised paper because the original was withdrawn by Medical Hypotheses not for “flawed or falsified data” but for “highly controversial opinions” — which the IJAE's readers can make up their own minds about.

“Speculative conclusions are not a reason for rejection, provided they are correlated with the data presented,” he says.
Potentially damaging

The paper's initial publication in Medical Hypotheses caused a furore, with attention being drawn to the fact that the journal was not peer reviewed despite being listed in the MEDLINE citation database.

Retrospective peer review later led to the paper's permanent withdrawal from Medical Hypotheses. The grounds stipulated in the withdrawal notice were concerns over the paper's quality and that it contained opinions about the causes of AIDS “that could potentially be damaging to global public health.

The journal's publisher, Elsevier, revamped Medical Hypotheses to introduce peer review and fired editor Bruce Charlton, who resisted the changes. The University of California also bought charges of misconduct against Duesberg over the article's publication, but he was later cleared.

Duesberg says that the revised publication is a “new victory in our long quest for a scientific theory of AIDS”, adding that the new version of the paper was better documented and more up to date.

Although the revised version has been toned down, the article still makes many of the same points as the original — refuting the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drugs, as well as death-toll estimates from HIV and AIDS in South Africa put forward in a study led by AIDS epidemiologist Max Essex of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts3. “We deduce ... that HIV is not a new killer virus,” Duesberg et al. write, proposing a “reevaluation of the HIV–AIDS hypothesis”.

But Geffen says the paper "contains no new arguments or evidence about the South African data, and these arguments have been rebutted before".

Duesberg admits submitting the revised paper to more than four other journals before it was accepted by theIJAE, and only alerted his co-authors to the publication after he was sure it wouldn't be aborted at the last minute.
Dangerous distraction

"It is just so far out that it is hard to respond in an intelligent way," says Essex, adding that it is "unfortunate" to see Duesberg continuing on a "dangerous track of distraction that has persuaded some people to avoid treatment or prevention of HIV infection".

Yet whether the publication will be officially challenged remains to be seen. John Moore, an HIV researcher at Cornell University in New York, who lodged a complaint with Elsevier when the original paper was published, believes that the movement to deny the link between HIV and AIDS is on its “last legs”. Geffen, meanwhile, thinks the likelihood the paper will have significant impact — and therefore warrant challenge — is small.

“Duesberg's views no longer have significant political support, like they did in South Africa in the 2000s,” Geffen says. ”No one of consequence in government is likely to take any notice.”

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