Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Legal System Turned Upside Down: Defining, Diagnosing, and Denying HIV

Nushawn Williams. Remember him? In 1999 Williams was convicted as a sexual predator in New York State; Guilty of rape and reckless endangerment. Williams is HIV infected and he infected his victims, including a 13 year old.

It looks like Clark Baker and his AIDS Denialist crew of medical mischief and pseudoscientific scams have come to rescue Nushawn Williams, who now claims that he is not HIV infected. Williams may have tested HIV positive, but the tests were, of course, invalid.

New tests ordered by the defense, with what appears to be consultation from Clark Baker, uses an AIDS denialist favorite scheme -- electron micrographs.

For an AIDS Denialist, the only proof that HIV exists would be an image of the ‘pure virus’. AIDS Deniers refute science that relies on combinations of antibody/antigen/PCR testing to diagnose HIV. They also, by the way, refute images of HIV because they are not ‘pure virus’.

While in prison, Williams had been receiving treatment for his HIV infection. Successful treatment leads to viral suppression, making it very hard to get an image of the virus.

This is the new tactic of AIDS Deniers Clark Baker and David Rasnick. They have been using services of The Core Electron Microscopy Facility at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. A cell biologist named Gregory Hendricks has been running these tests in cases that employ Baker and Rasnick.

There is no reason to believe that Gregory Hendricks is an AIDS Denialist. I doubt that he is aware that he his providing pseudoscientists like David Rasnick with material for testimony in legal cases. Aware or not, that is what is happening. Dr. Hendricks and U-Mass Medical School probably want nothing to do with these clowns. Talk about a credibility liability. Hopefully they will figure this out.

AIDS Denialists are masters of confusion. Doubt is the one thing that they seem good at generating. That is why they have found a place in the courts.

Below are the news stories…

In court, lawyer says Nushawn Williams ‘doesn’t have HIV’ Man is said to have infected 13 women

By Gene Warner Jay Tokasz

Throughout Western New York, Nushawn Williams has been known for 16 years as a sexual predator who infected young women with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

But Williams, 36, appeared in State Supreme Court in Erie County on Tuesday to argue that he never had the virus.

His attorney, John R. Nuchereno, dropped the bombshell revelation Tuesday morning in a hearing before Justice John L. Michalski.

“He doesn’t have HIV,” Nuchereno said. “Now, it doesn’t just go away, and it leads me to believe the victim in this case is right here. His liberty has been denied for 16 years.”

Nuchereno had a sample of Williams’ blood sent to the Core Electron Microscopy Facility at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where an analysis showed no HIV, according to a report by Gregory Hendricks, a cell biologist and the facility manager.

In February 1999, Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree (statutory) rape and one count of reckless endangerment for his Chautauqua County crimes. Authorities have said he infected at least 13 young Chautauqua County women, including one 13-year-old, with the virus that leads to AIDS.

After his plea, Williams, in an interview with a New York City television station, said he had slept with 200 to 300 young women before he was put behind bars.

Williams’ 12-year prison term ended in April 2010, but he continues to be held in Wende State Correctional Facility under a state law that permits civil confinement of sex offenders. A trial had been scheduled for this summer in Chautauqua County to decide whether the state can prolong his confinement.

When his story broke in 1996, Nushawn Williams made headlines around the world. He was widely portrayed as a pariah, and Chautauqua County was thrust into the spotlight as an unlikely hotbed of sordid sexual activity and drug use among teens.

Tuesday’s hearing brought the furor back to the forefront.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace had trouble making sense of Williams’ new claim in court.

“I think it’s a desperate effort to try to get him released from custody,” said Gerace, who has been sheriff since 1995. “I don’t recall any claim that he wasn’t HIV-positive. In fact, it was shown in court that he was HIV-positive and continued to have unprotected sex with girls as young as 13. That’s what made it so heinous.”

But Nuchereno said Williams wasn’t made aware of the HIV test results until shortly before he was arrested and after the public was warned about him.

“He wasn’t told. That’s always been a major contention. It was never litigated,” Nuchereno said.

Williams now goes by the name Shyteek Johnson, largely to shield himself from notoriety in prison, Nuchereno said.

“His name’s been slandered across the country. He has been a target in the Department of Corrections. He’s notorious,” Nuchereno said after Tuesday’s hearing.

Handcuffed and wearing green prison garments, Williams listened intently to the court deliberations.

Lawyers for the State Attorney General’s Office questioned whether the blood sample was properly handled and whether the electron microscopy is a scientifically valid method for detecting HIV.

“It’s sort of a Pandora’s box at this point, this test,” said Joseph Muia Jr., an assistant attorney general. “The information we have is that the electron microscope testing is not the gold standard, so to speak, of testing in this area.”

Muia also suggested that with proper treatment, HIV-infected people can have their “viral loads” reduced to the point that the virus becomes undetectable.

“That may be what we have here,” said Muia, who asked the judge to allow the state to draw Williams’ blood and do more testing.

Assistant Attorney General Wendy R. Whiting reminded the judge that Williams admitted to his crimes, and medical experts are able to link people infected with HIV to a source of the infection.

“Links can be made that, at a minimum, many parties came up HIV-positive,” Whiting said.

Nuchereno tried to cast doubt on those links.

“My concern with the victims is I don’t know if they were even properly tested,” he said. Back in 1996, HIV testing was still relatively new and potentially riddled with error, Nuchereno said. “It was the equivalent of taking a home pregnancy test,” he said.

Williams’ HIV-positive status stuck, even though the test wasn’t confirmed, Nuchereno said.

“Everybody’s just assumed it all along – and, most importantly, he even assumed it,” he said. “He accepted those results. He stated, ‘They must be true because the government told me that.’ ”

Muia said Williams was tested four times a year for HIV in prison, but when pressed by Michalski, the state’s lawyers said they did not have documentation of such testing.

That’s because it did not happen, Nuchereno said.

“They kept telling him, ‘We’re treating you, but we don’t find any evidence of the virus,’ ” he said.

Williams stopped taking HIV medication in preparation for the electron microscopy, Nuchereno said. He has remained off of HIV drugs since discovering the results of the test in April.

Additional Reporting from the Associated Press

Lawyer: NY man at center of HIV scare not positive

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nushawn Williams, a New York drug dealer imprisoned amid accusations he infected 13 young women with HIV in the 1990s, does not have the virus that causes AIDS, according to his attorney, who said he arranged for a new blood test as part of efforts to get him released from prison.

"The results were that there was no HIV," lawyer John Nuchereno said Thursday, after revealing the findings during a court hearing earlier in the week.

He said Williams, 36, may have been the victim of a false positive when tested 16 years ago.

"Everybody just assumed the results were correct. Everyone just accepted it," he said.

State officials, seeking to keep Williams locked up, have questioned the validity of the new results.

Williams has been in prison since pleading guilty in 1999 to statutory rape and reckless endangerment.

In 1997, before he was charged, authorities in the western New York city of Jamestown took the unusual step of announcing publicly that Williams was HIV positive in an effort to stem further spread of the virus by Williams' partners to others. News that the dreadlocked Bronx native known as "Face" had been found to be the common denominator in numerous HIV cases, including that of a 13-year-old girl, set off a panic in the small city and sent lines for HIV testing out clinic doors.

He told a reporter in 1999 that he'd had sex with 200 to 300 partners.

Williams, who now goes by the name Shyteek Johnson, completed a 12-year prison sentence in April 2010 but has remained in custody as the state seeks to have him committed indefinitely under a civil law that allows extended confinement for sex offenders with mental abnormalities that make them likely to offend again.

Nuchereno argues that Williams, without HIV, is not a danger and should be freed.

"Are you dangerous because at 19 or 20 you liked to have sex?" he asked.

A trial is scheduled for next month.

The state's request to conduct its own HIV test on Williams was denied on Wednesday.

Assistant Attorney General Joseph Muia Jr. questioned whether the April blood sample had been properly handled, as well as the reliability of the test submitted by Nuchereno, which was conducted using an electron microscope at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"The information we have is that the electron microscope testing is not the gold standard, so to speak, of testing in this field," Muia said during a motions hearing Tuesday in state Supreme Court.

He told the judge that Williams had been tested quarterly while in prison and treated for HIV because of consistently positive findings. But he said he did not have access to the prison medical records to show the court.

State corrections officials said Thursday they could not discuss specific inmates' care but that offenders generally receive services consistent with the standard of care in the community.

Muia also suggested the treatment Williams received in prison had made his HIV undetectable.

Dr. Joseph McGowan, medical director of the Center for Aids Research and Treatment at North Shore University Hospital, told The Associated Press that the accepted protocol for HIV testing involves screening the blood for antibodies and then confirming the results with a second test. An electron microscope would be unreliable, particularly for someone infected a long time, because the number of cells harboring virus genes would be diluted over time and difficult to detect, said McGowan, the New York and New Jersey chairman of the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

"Electron microscopy is not typically a means for confirming or ruling out HIV infection," said Dr. Joseph Cervia, who is also a certified HIV specialist with the American Academy of HIV Medicine and a clinical professor at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

In its 2010 petition seeking civil confinement, the attorney general's office described Williams as a mentally disturbed, sex-obsessed drug user who was unruly and sometimes violent in prison and would likely infect more women if set free. A psychologist's report said Williams targeted vulnerable young women who were underage and/or drug addicted and "used charm and coercion to secure sexual contact."

For more on the original Nushawn Williams Case see


  1. It would be fascinating to know whether Greg Hendricks really believes you can tell whether someone has HIV or not by doing a "thorough examination" of their blood with an electron microscope.

    I suspect his work has been spun and misrepresented by the denialists, but if that's not the case he wouldn't be the first scientist to develop blitheringly idiotic beliefs about fields outside their area of expertise.

    Either way, the University of Massachusetts Medical School has a serious embarrassment on their hands, given the high profile of this case internationally. I wonder if they will make a public clarification, or if they will simply sweep the problem under the rug and hope it goes away?

    Former traffic cop Clark Baker has described the scientific basis of their claims in this case. Apparently he did a Google search and has concluded from this that you can spot retroviruses in whole blood like a school bus viewed from a police helicopter:

    "A Google search reveals that electron microscopy (EM) was first used in 1975 to observe retroviruses. In 1983, Robert Gallo used EM to identify HIV, a retrovirus.

    EM detects objects as small as .5 nanometers, which means that, when present, the 120 nanometer HIV is as obvious as a yellow school bus on an asphalt parking lot."

  2. You could detect it, but you'd have to concentrate it by exposing the blood to cultures of T-cells and allowing repeated replication and then preparation to extract the virus.

    A Western Blot would be easier

    1. There's no suggestion the blood was cultured first. If it had, then the "test" would have been described as a culture test, not merely "a thorough examination with an electron microscope".

      The denialist meme they are trying to bring to life here is that the only true isolation is from "fresh uncultured plasma":

      "Isolation, Papadopulos explains, is the only sure proof that a virus is present--the only direct, unambiguous evidence of a virus. And isolation from uncultured patient plasma is the only sure proof that a person harbors an active infection-- the only sort of infection that can cause disease. She points out that the accuracy for even a properly constructed viral test (one made from true viral isolates) can be established only by answering the following question: In what fraction of people who test positive can the virus be isolated from their fresh (uncultured) plasma?

    2. Seriously? Even in an ebola patient with incredible viral load, you aren't likely to image a virus by chance. Certainly the micrograph isn't created that way.

  3. Clark Baker and his OMSJ were just found GUILTY of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking in a case where he was attempting to silence the First Amendment Rights of his critics:

    Baker was found guilty of attempted theft of two sites:
    HIV Innocence Group Truth &
    HIV Innocence Project Truth

    These two sites which contain identical content, are highly critical of claims by Baker that he has been successful in 52 HIV Criminalization Cases, much like this Nushawn Williams case. These two sites provide proof to the General Public of Baker's fraud by supplying Attorney communications, Journalist Reports and specific court documents. It's no wonder Baker has gone to such lengths to silence the truth.

    Both sites will be back up for Public Viewing shortly now that Baker has not only lost his case, but was found Guilty of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

  4. These people are proving once again what extreme hypocrites they are.

    At one time they claimed that EMs of HIV were no good and did not prove that an EM was actually HIV. They claimed it was "cellular debris".

    NOW they are claiming that EMs are the best thing ever for searching blood for HIV. Over at Baker's OMSJ site, he has put up a new post about how great EMs are and he even has a hyperlink on Robert Gallo that links to a PBS site and not back to Baker's own OMSJ site with a myriad of horrible lies about what a fraud Gallo is!

    This is just like how they claim that PCR is a God send for every thing EXCEPT HIV! Just wait until they need PCR to uphold one of their delusions and then it will be the next, greatest thing!

    It's amazing that Baker et al can not see how the rest of see what hypocrites they all are. SO FUNNY!!

  5. regardless of the uselessness of EM being used on "blood tests", do the idiots think that they can actually zoom in on a virus in the blood when someone has an undetectable viral load anyway?

    That isn't just finding a bus in a parkinglot, its like spotting one in the Andromeda galaxy.

    1. Of course they don't. That is the whole point. THen they can say they looked and the virus does exist. Thus continuing their insane delusions.

    2. We both know that it takes something like half a billion possible micrographs to cover a ml of blood, and that even someone with a very high viral load only has ~10,000 or so viruses to find in that area, 100,000 if we are very generous. It would take extraordinary luck to pick one out on the first shot. But then they can say the virus doesn't exist.

      Unfortunately for CD4 cells, there is a large difference between a dilute suspension and a non-existent one.

    3. Greg Hendricks AffadavitJune 8, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      9. On the afternoon of 9th of April 2013, I received one sample of human blood plasma from BioReference Laboratories, Inc. (Federal Express Tracking number 8018 1315 8373) at the U. Mass Core Electron Microscopy Facility. The package
      appeared to be intact and the seals unbroken. The sample was marked NW060313, and contained three fresh sample tubes of human plasma, stored and shipped on wet ice. I placed the sample in the laboratory refrigerator until Thursday morning (April 11th).

      10. On the morning of April 11 (Thursday), I transferred a 1 ml aliquot of the sample to a microfuge tube and centrifuged to pellet the cell debris and clean the plasma. Following the centrifugation, I took a 10┬Ál aliquot of the supernatant and applied it onto a freshly prepared carbon stabilized formvar support grid and negative stained the sample with 1% unaryl acetate, air dried and examined it on a Philips CM 10 at 80Kv accelerating voltage and imaged the sample using a Gatan fast scan digital camera (accompanying micrographs). Because the original plasma sample was concentrated, I also ran samples of the plasma after dilution (1:10) in 100 mM ammonium acetate.

      11. I observed that the undiluted plasma sample was full of what appears to be protein aggregates and strands, and a few lipid vesicles; so much so that individual particles cannot be resolved easily (ATTACHMENT 2, image NW 060313 Conc 46 KX b). After diluting the original blood plasma 1:10 with 100 mM Ammonium Acetate, the protein aggregates and small lipid vesicles were easily resolved when observed at 46,000X (see micrograph NW 060313 46 KX a, arrows indicate the lipid vesicles). There were also numerous particles of what appears to be AAV (Adeno Associate Virus), based on their size and morphology (see micrograph NW 060313 46 KX b, arrow indicates AAV-like particle). I also found numerous large membrane fragments in this plasma sample (see micrograph NW 060313 46 KX c, arrows). The only virus-like particles observed in this blood plasma sample are probably AAV, a small (24 nm) non-enveloped virus which infects humans and is not known to cause disease.

      12. I found no evidence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or any other virus-like particles in this sample. All Images were recorded at 46,000X.

    4. My my question is..Were you aware that your results would be used by David Rasnick and Clark Baker as evidence that HIV diagnostics are invalid and useless? That they would say HIV is harmless? That your science would be used by pseudo scientists like Rasnick, Richards, and Banks in their legal scheme with attny Coleman to bring cranks into the courtroom?
      And I wonder if you will do it again?

    5. I think that Hendricks would have a hard time pleading ignorance of Baker's and Coleman's scam here. It looks to me like he was fully aware of what they were up to when he misused the University of Massachusetts' equipment and name to produce bogus "HIV negative" test results on demand.

      On his website Baker has published an affidavit from Miranda Kelewood, who is a paralegal in another case involving Baker, Coleman and Hendricks. She writes:

      "Dr. Hendricks stated he became aware of the aforementioned ease through contact with Mr. Clark Baker. Dr. Hendricks was initially willing to assist because he had a history of working with Mr. Baker and never had any issues with the cases. Dr. Hendricks had informed OMSJ that he was available to testify telephonically for a motions hearing and was willing to travel to North Carolina and testify at the trial, if necessary."

      Hendricks is up to his eyeballs in it.

    6. I now agree.
      At first I thought Hendricks must have been unaware of who he was dealing with. But his report going directly to Rasnick says it all.
      What scientist would affiliate with Rasnick??
      All it takes is a simple Google search to see who Rasnick is and how he would be using those reports.
      I bet the UMass Administration does that search.
      Next thing you know Rasnick will be flashing a UMass ID saying he is faculty ... We have seen him pull that stunt as well.
      At the very least this is misuse of the UMass lab.

      It is also only a matter of time before Coleman gets his ass in sling for malpractice. His clients deserve a legitimate defense. How he can continue to put Baker and his cast of crazies forward as experts is beyond reason.

  6. Can EM find Clarkie's Brain?June 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    The only real use of EM- to try and find evidence of Clarkie's Brain!

    But which is the smallest peanut- the brain of Clark, Duesberg or Farber?

    Even smaller- their heart! Nonexistent- their courage! Even PCR would not work,

    Yes, the trio without a heart, brain or courage

  7. Of course they don't. That is the whole point. THen they can say they looked and the virus does exist. Thus continuing their insane delusions.

  8. Clark has published Greg Hendricks' affidavit and the letter he wrote to David Rasnick, along with the three EM images they intended to use in court.‎

    If you want to see what human plasma looks like when it's diluted tenfold with ammonium acetate solution and examined under 46,000x magnification, check it out. The methodology is, of course, complete hogwash for telling whether someone is infected with HIV or not, and any court that takes this seriously as "evidence" will make itself a laughing stock.

    It appears that Hendricks has withdrawn from giving evidence in the case after someone made enquiries about whether his laboratory has the legally required accreditation to perform diagnostic testing on human tissue samples. According to Clark, asking this basic question triggered an "investigation" by the university and as a result "Hendricks' reputation as a faculty member was completely soiled".

    I actually feel sorry for Nushawn Williams here, being saddled with such an incompetent and ludicrously idiotic defence strategy. Yet again the clowns of Rethinking AIDS have taken a serious and complex issue and reduced it to farce.