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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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

by Nirmalya Dutta

Over the years, HIV/AIDS has evolved from a certain death sentence to a manageable ailment. This metamorphosis didn’t come easy though, because for a long time, the ambiguous nature of the disease gave voice to AIDS denialists who refused to believe the scientific consensus for the disease.
The following individuals and their views fuelled a movement called AIDS denialism, that had many believing AIDS wasn’t caused by HIV. Some of the most infamous proponents of this movement were molecular-biologist Peter Duesberg, chemist David Rasnick, journalist Celia Farber, vitamin salesman Matthias Rath and former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.

Peter Duesberg – The Cherry Picker
Duesberg’s stance that HIV did not cause AIDS, had disastrous consequences, particularly in South Africa where President Thabo Mbeki was convinced Duesberg was right. He was of the opinion that HIV is a harmless passenger virus and the real cause of AIDS was long-term consumption of recreational drugs and antiretroviral drugs.
Cherry picking is a logical fallacy that often has disastrous consequences in scientific research. It alludes to taking a particular position while ignoring a large amount of data to support your stand. The father of AIDS denialism, a 2008 Discover Magazine feature on Duesberg has HIV/AIDS expert Max Essex suggesting: ‘…history will judge Duesberg as either ‘a nut who is just a tease to the scientific community’ or an ‘enabler to mass murder’ for the deaths of many AIDS patients in Africa.’

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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Destructive Legacy of Peter Duesberg and AIDS Denialism

August 17, 2014

Peter Duesberg
Electromagnetism can detect AIDS. The "Complete Cure Device" can wipe out the virus.
The Egyptian military made those claims earlier this year, but now they have backtracked after the announcement was widely denounced by scientists, including Egypt's own science adviser.
Nonetheless, people are still eager to believe the unbelievable. Egypt's announcement prompted 70,000 people to send emails asking to try the new treatment.
The Complete Cure Device is just one more false promise in the ongoing fight against AIDS. It is a reminder, too, that for 15 years, beginning in the early 1980s, AIDS was a slaughter, shrouded in mystery, of people in the prime of their lives.
Then came a breakthrough in 1996: A combination of drugs could control the virus, allowing infected people to live long and productive lives. Today, antiretroviral treatment for HIV and AIDS is widely available. An outright cure still eludes scientists, but the once deadly disease has become manageable.
So any claim for an unproven cure, offering hope that could deter patients from effective treatment, is cruel. But myths, false claims and outright fraud have persisted in the AIDS epidemic.
The bogus theories of Peter Duesberg, a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, were responsible for a global setback to HIV treatment. Duesberg argued that combinations of drug use and promiscuous behavior caused the virus, and passed his advice on to South African health officials in 2000.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

   JULY 5, 2014
New York Times

Do Americans understand the scientific consensus about issues like climate change and evolution?

At least for a substantial portion of the public, it seems like the answer is no. The Pew Research Center, for instance, found that 33 percent of the public believes“Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” and 26 percent think there is not “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.” Unsurprisingly, beliefs on both topics are divided along religious and partisan lines. For instance, 46 percent of Republicans said there is not solid evidence of global warming, compared with 11 percent of Democrats.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Turner, Davis, Coleman & Baker

HIV-Positive Pastor Found Guilty Of Knowingly Exposing Woman To Disease

By NewsOne Staff

A Georgia jury found an HIV-positive pastor guilty Tuesday of knowingly exposing a woman to the disease and faces 20 years for the crime, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Craig Lamar Davis (pictured) was said to have sat motionless as the jury read guilty verdicts in two counts of reckless HIV, both of which are felonies. Deliberations took less than an hour. The case was the first of its kind in Clayton County, G., which falls in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

“We are pleased with the verdict,” said Kathryn Powers, deputy chief assistant district attorney, one of three prosecutors in the case, told the Journal-Constitution. “They (jury) were able to weigh the validity of testimony of people who don’t believe AIDS or HIV exist.”
The jury reached a verdict Friday, but wanted to sit on it until Tuesday.

Prosecutors said that Davis , who is now divorced, was a married minister when he had an affair with two women and did not tell either that he was HIV positive, according to CBS Atlanta. During his trial, Davis admitted that doctors diagnosed him with HIV in 2005. And while he admitted having sex with a Fulton County woman, the former pastor denied a sexual encounter with his second accuser, Ronita McAfee of Clayton County.
“As Ronita was upset, panicky, thoughts running through her mind, the defendant’s reaction was to tell her, ‘don’t worry about it. It’s not a death sentence,’” Powers said during the trail. “‘Don’t you worry about it. There is medicine you can take if you catch it early.’”

Davis’ attorney, John Turner, contended that his client never had sex with McAfee and described her as a “nutcase.”
The harsh name calling did not surprise McAfee “I didn’t not expect it,” she said. “I expected it to be said. I just stayed strong in my convictions and continuously moved forward.”
In what may have been the oddest development during the trial, an expert witness for the defense  testified during that Davis’ crack cocaine use at the time may have caused him to be misdiagnosed for HIV and that no test on the market can definitively determine is someone has the virus.

The (current HIV) test is an antibody test,” (Dr. Nancy) Banks told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after her testimony. “They don’t know where those antibodies come from. They’ve never been able to isolate the virus from the protein.”
Banks, who testified on behalf of the defense, was asked to review Davis’ medical records during the time he was alleged to have been diagnosed with the virus. On Thursday, Davis said during his testimony he had used crack cocaine.
“When I looked at the admission history and his physical exam (records), I didn’t think he had a very good history,” Banks said. “The doctor neglected to ask him pertinent questions.”
“What questions?” Baron Coleman, an attorney working with the defense, asked.
“Drug use,” Banks said, noting that crack users often develop symptoms such as thrush and certain types of pneumonia that mimic the HIV virus.
“When people smoke crack cocaine, they can develop crack lung,” Banks said. “His (Davis) X-ray was consistent with that.” She noted that the pneumosistis, a pneumonia often associated with HIV, is usually detected post-mortem. She also said that thrush, a yeast condition also associated with HIV and AIDS, is a side-effect of cocaine use."

The prosecution balked at the argument.

McAfee, 38, says she has consistently tested negative for the virus that causes AIDS, but the Clayton County woman tested positive a a year after her relationship with Davis began.
Now Davis has to defend himself against a similar case in Fulton county. He is set to be sentenced for his conviction from the Clayton County case in February

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

GUILTY: AIDS Denialism is a Dumb Defense

By Tammy Joyner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Clayton County jury found a Stone Mountain man guilty Tuesday of knowingly exposing a woman to HIV.
Craig Lamar Davis, 43, sat motionless in a packed courtroom as the jury read guilty verdicts in two counts of reckless HIV, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Davis was taken into custody. Sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 21.
Shortly before being taken into custody, Davis comforted family members, some of whom were crying.
The case is the first of its kind to be tried in Clayton County, prosecutors said after the trial.
“We are pleased with the verdict,” said Kathryn Powers, deputy chief assistant district attorney, one of three prosecutors in the case. “They (jury) were able to weigh the validity of testimony of people who don’t believe AIDS or HIV exist.” Powers also noted the jury’s verdict sends a strong message that it is incumbent that people infected with the virus notify people of their status.
James Walker, the attorney for the woman whose allegations led to the case, said he hoped the verdict “will give others the courage and fortitude to bring these types of individuals to justice.”
District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Tuesday’s verdict sets the stage for a similar case against Davis in Fulton County. The defense conceded Tuesday’s decision could make it tough to try the same case in Fulton.
“It’s hard to override 30-plus years of HIV prejudice and hysteria,” John Turner, Davis’ attorney said. “The (Clayton) jury’s decision reflects that. We clearly established reasons to question the results of (HIV testing). We handed them reasonable doubt on a platter but they chose to disregard it.”
The verdict ended a week of testimony from medical professionals and other witnesses, including a California nonprofit that refutes HIV testing. The Office of Medical and Scientific Justice flew in experts at its own expense to help in Davis’ defense.
“I’m just disappointed by the verdict,” OMSJ director Clark Baker said. He said his organization is considering filing claims against the doctors, hospitals and others who Baker believes misdiagnosed Davis since HIV tests on the market state they can not be used to definitively detect HIV.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lawyer Baron Coleman and His Court Jesters

Clayton County jury returns Tuesday to deliberate HIV case

By Kathy Jefcoats

JONESBORO — Prosecutors said Friday it’s “absurd” to believe a woman would knowingly have sex with a man who is HIV-positive but defense attorneys called the woman a liar.
“(She) lied,” said defense attorney John Turner. “She said they knew mutual acquaintances and that he pressure-washed her car. That’s a lie. If she lied about that, she could have lied about everything else.”
Turner represents Craig Lamar Davis, 43, charged with two counts of reckless conduct by an HIV-infected person. He was married and led the men’s ministry at an Atlanta church, leading some to refer to him as a pastor. Prosecutors allege Davis had unprotected physical relations with a woman at his Jonesboro home without disclosing he is HIV-positive.
Davis is also charged in Fulton County with the same charges involving a second woman. That woman testified in the state’s case and the jury is allowed to consider her account as they deliberate Davis’ fate.
Turner and co-counsel Baron Coleman of Alabama, and prosecutors Erman Tanjuatco, Katie Powers and Marcus Thorpe completed their cases by Friday and closing arguments began at 1:15 p.m. Neither woman is being identified by Clayton News Daily because they are considered victims of alleged sexual assaults.
The jury got the case after 5 p.m. Friday but returned to Judge Geronda Carter’s courtroom an hour later to say they wanted to stop deliberations and resume them Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Court is dark Monday because of the King holiday.
Before the short deliberation, jurors heard one last time from the attorneys. Because the burden is on the state to prove the charges, Tanjuatco and Powers spoke first and last with Turner and Coleman addressing the panel in between the two.
“The defense is absurd,” said Powers, who went first. “It’s smoke and mirrors.”
Powers said the case comes down to a battle of the experts. The state presented Davis’ treating physicians, infectious disease expert Joyce Drayton of Decatur, and Courtney Shelton. Both doctors told Davis he was HIV-positive in 2004 and 2005 and prescribed HIV medications for him.
Drayton testified that Davis had full-blown AIDS in 2005 when he presented at Atlanta Medical Center with thrush and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, known as PCP, an infection commonly found in patients with AIDS.
Drayton also testified that she counseled Davis on taking care of himself and preventing the spread of the virus to others. In fact, Davis brought another woman he had infected to Drayton’s office for treatment, the doctor testified.
Turner and Coleman brought in three experts, all considered “AIDS denialists” associated with Office of Medical and Scientific Justice. The group believes the HIV and AIDS viruses don’t exist and works to exonerate defendants accused of criminally exposing others to HIV. All three underwent a scathing cross-examination by Powers, who got them to admit they never examined or interviewed Davis and reached their conclusions based on incomplete documents provided by the defense attorneys.
One of the experts, Dr. Nancy Turner Banks, admitted she thinks AIDS is an “imaginary monster” that can be defeated if patients are emotionally balanced and drink water and eat cilantro. Banks also testified that HIV is not sexually-transmitted, a position backed by David Rasnick, who took the stand after Banks.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

HIV deniers play part in Atlanta bareback case

Project Q Atlanta
By Matt Hennie | Jan 16, 2014 | 12:44 PM
It's tough to tell what's worse in a metro Atlanta case criminalizing HIV: a prosecutor comparing the disease to a deadly weapon, the accused man arguing his HIV status can't be proven or HIV deniers spouting their junk science.

The trial of Craig Lamar Davis opened on Monday in a Clayton County court and quickly turned into a three-ring circus. Davis faces two counts of failing to disclose his HIV status before having sex, which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Gay and HIV activists criticize the law, saying it prevents people from getting tested and further stigmatizes people with the disease. Prosecutors say Davis, 42, had sex with two women, didn't use condoms and exposed them to HIV.
But the case has put people with HIV and the tests used to detect the virus on trial as much as Davis.
A prosecutor overreached in his opening statement, going all weapons of mass destruction.
“When he wakes up in the morning, he has it with him. When he eats lunch, he has it with him. When he goes to bed at night he carries it with him,” Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Powers told a jury Tuesday. “Unlike the deadly weapons you can see - like a gun, knife or a bomb, this deadly weapon is something people have to rely on the defendant to tell them about.”
Davis has done his part, too, casting doubt on whether he's really HIV-positive, despite writing exactly that on jail intake forms after an arrest in 2009. Doctors diagnosed him as HIV-positive in 2005, according to prosecutors.
"Upon what my attorney just said, I would say no," Davis says in response to a reporter's question about whether he's HIV-positive. Watch his cofounding statements in the clip above.
His attorney, John Turner, weighed in. You know, to say that HIV tests are bunk.
Defense attorney John Turner told the jury not to be swayed by the state’s dramatic opening. Stick to the facts and the fact is, Turner said. ”There is no definitive test - scientific or medical for (the detection) of HIV. No such thing.”
So you say? Uh-huh. Where'd the notion come from? You can thank the HIV deniers of Los Angeles-based Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, which has inserted itself into Davis' case. Say what you want about whether bareback sex should result in criminal charges, but to argue that HIV doesn't really exist and tests that prove its existence are junk science is, well, a bit of junk science on its own.
“We expect this case will corroborate what we’ve found in all of our other cases … and that is the testing, diagnosis and treatment of HIV in this country is wildly inaccurate and inflated and incompetent,” Baker said.
The gay panic defense has gone mostly away, only to be replaced with an equally offensive HIV deniers defense. Oh sweet progress.

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