Monday, July 17, 2006
Three New Articles on AIDS Criticism
If Celia Farber's recent article in Harper's left you with concerns about Nevirapine, don't miss this detailed expose on the controversial AIDS drug by Anthony Brink, a South African legal expert. Brink's meticulously researched 200-page document reads like a sophisticated crime novel and is full of harrowing facts you won't find anywhere else. To see of all of "The Trouble with Nevirapine" go to http://www.aliveandwell.org/html/a_closer_look/does_hiv_cause.html
Dr. Henry H. Bauer, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Science Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, arrives at a surprising conclusion in his newly published paper "How Does HIV Spread?" Bauer's extensive research evidences several "inescapable conclusions," that HIV tests do not track a virus that spread from original AIDS epicenters, that prevalence of HIV has decreased rather than increased since the mid-1980s, and that HIV is not "readily transmissible." To find out more, go to http://www.aliveandwell.org/html/a_closer_look/how_does_hiv_spread.pdf
"Why I Quit HIV"
Rebecca Culshaw's ten-year career as a mathematical biologist was built on the paradigm that HIV causes AIDS. Over time, she came to understand that the entire basis for this theory is wrong and as result of this discovery, walked away from her work. "AIDS," she reports, "is not a disease so much as a sociopolitical construct that few people understand and even fewer question." Culshaw's resignation statement is powerful, informative and clear, and is made available courtesy of the web site http://www.LewRockwell.com
As I write this, in the late winter of 2006, we are more than twenty years into the AIDS era. Like many, a large part of my life has been irreversibly affected by AIDS. My entire adolescence and adult life as - well as the lives of many of my peers - has been overshadowed by the belief in a deadly, sexually transmittable pathogen and the attendant fear of intimacy and lack of trust that belief engenders.
To add to this impact, my chosen career has developed around the HIV model of AIDS. I received my Ph.D. in 2002 for my work constructing mathematical models of HIV infection, a field of study I entered in 1996. Just ten years later, it might seem early for me to be looking back on and seriously reconsidering my chosen field, yet here I am.
My work as a mathematical biologist has been built in large part on the paradigm that HIV causes AIDS, and I have since come to realize that there is good evidence that the entire basis for this theory is wrong. AIDS, it seems, is not a disease so much as a sociopolitical construct that few people understand and even fewer question. The issue of causation, in particular, has become beyond question - even to bring it up is deemed irresponsible.
When it was announced in 1984 that the cause of AIDS had been found in a retrovirus that came to be known as HIV, there was a palpable panic. My own family was immediately affected by this panic, since my mother had had several blood transfusions in the early 1980s as a result of three late miscarriages she had experienced. In the early days, we feared mosquito bites, kissing, and public toilet seats. I can still recall the panic I felt after looking up in a public restroom and seeing some graffiti that read "Do you have AIDS yet? If not, sit on this toilet seat."
But I was only ten years old then, and over time the panic subsided to more of a dull roar as it became clear that AIDS was not as easy to "catch" as we had initially believed. Fear of going to the bathroom or the dentist was replaced with a more realistic wariness of having sex with anyone we didn't know really, really well. As a teenager who was in no way promiscuous, I didn't have much to worry about.
That all changed - or so I thought - when I was twenty-one. Due to circumstances in my personal life and a bit of paranoia that (as it turned out, falsely and completely groundlessly) led me to believe I had somehow contracted "AIDS," I got an HIV test. I spent two weeks waiting for the results, convinced that I would soon die, and that it would be "all my fault." This was despite the fact that I was perfectly healthy, didn't use drugs, and wasn't promiscuous - low-risk by any definition. As it happened, the test was negative, and, having felt I had been granted a reprieve, I vowed not to take more risks, and to quit worrying so much.
Over the past ten years, my attitude toward HIV and AIDS has undergone a dramatic shift. This shift was catalyzed by the work I did as a graduate student, analyzing mathematical models of HIV and the immune system. As a mathematician, I found virtually every model I studied to be unrealistic. The biological assumptions on which the models were based varied from author to author, and this made no sense to me. It was around this time, too, that I became increasingly perplexed by the stories I heard about long-term survivors. From my admittedly inexpert viewpoint, the major thing they all had in common - other than HIV - was that they lived extremely healthy lifestyles. Part of me was becoming suspicious that being HIV-positive didn't necessarily mean you would ever get AIDS.
By a rather curious twist of fate, it was on my way to a conference to present the results of a model of HIV that I had proposed together with my advisor, that I came across an article by Dr. David Rasnick about AIDS and the corruption of modern science (http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/data/drblinded.htm ).
As I sat on the airplane reading this story, in which he said "the more I examined HIV, the less it made sense that this largely inactive, barely detectable virus could cause such devastation," everything he wrote started making sense to me in a way that the currently accepted model did not. I didn't have anywhere near all the information, but my instincts told me that what he said seemed to fit.
Over the past ten years, I nevertheless continued my research into mathematical models of HIV infection, all the while keeping an ear open for dissenting voices. By now, I have read hundreds of articles on HIV and AIDS, many from the dissident point of view but far, far more from that of the establishment, which unequivocally promotes the idea that HIV causes AIDS and that the case is closed. In that time, I even published four papers on HIV (from a modeling perspective). I justified my contributions to a theory I wasn't convinced of by telling myself these were purely theoretical, mathematical constructs, never to be applied in the real world. I suppose, in some sense also, I wanted to keep an open mind.
So why is it that only now have I decided that enough is enough, and I can no longer in any capacity continue to support the paradigm on which my entire career has been built?
As a mathematician, I was taught early on about the importance of clear definitions. AIDS, if you consider its definition, is far from clear, and is in fact not even a consistent entity. The classification "AIDS" was introduced in the early 1980s not as a disease but as a surveillance tool to help doctors and public health officials understand and control a strange "new" syndrome affecting mostly young gay men. In the two decades intervening, it has evolved into something quite different. AIDS today bears little or no resemblance to the syndrome for which it was named. For one thing, the definition has actually been changed by the CDC several times, continually expanding to include ever more diseases (all of which existed for decades prior to AIDS), and sometimes, no disease whatsoever. More than half of all AIDS diagnoses in the past several years in the United States have been made on the basis of a T-cell count and a "confirmed" positive antibody test - in other words, a !
The epidemiology of HIV and AIDS is puzzling and unclear as well. In spite of the fact that AIDS cases increased rapidly from their initial observation in the early 1980s and reached a peak in 1993 before declining rapidly, the number of HIV-positive individuals in the U.S. has remained constant at one million since the advent of widespread HIV antibody testing. This cannot be due to anti-HIV therapy, since the annual mortality rate of North American HIV-positives who are treated with anti-HIV drugs is much higher - between 6.7 and 8.8% - than would be the approximately 1-2% global mortality rate of HIV- positives if all AIDS cases were fatal in a given year.
Even more strangely, HIV has been present everywhere in the U.S., in every population tested including repeat blood donors and military recruits, at a virtually constant rate since testing began in 1985. It is deeply confusing that a virus thought to have been brought to the AIDS epicenters of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the early 1970s could possibly have spread so rapidly at first, yet have stopped spreading completely as soon as testing began.
As it turns out, the reason there was no consensus mathematically as to how HIV killed T-cells was because there was no biological consensus. There still isn't. HIV is possibly the most studied microbe in history - certainly it is the best-funded - yet there is still no agreed- upon mechanism of pathogenesis. Worse than that, there are no data to support the hypothesis that HIV kills T-cells at all. It doesn't in the test tube. It mostly just sits there, as it does in people - if it can be found at all. In Robert Gallo's seminal 1984 paper in which he claims "proof" that HIV causes AIDS, actual HIV could be found in only 26 out of 72 AIDS patients. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=retrieve&db=pubmed&list_uids=6200936&dopt=Abstract) To date, actual HIV remains an elusive target in those with AIDS or simply HIV-positive.
I have come to sincerely believe that these HIV tests do immeasurably more harm than good, due to their astounding lack of specificity and standardization. I can buy the idea that anonymous screening of the blood supply for some nonspecific marker of ill health (which, due to cross reactivity with many known pathogens, a positive HIV antibody test often seems to be) is useful. I cannot buy the idea that any individual needs to have a diagnostic HIV test. A negative test may not be accurate (whatever that means), but a positive one can create utter havoc and destruction in a person's life - all for a virus that most likely does absolutely nothing. I do not feel it is going too far to say that these tests ought to be banned for diagnostic purposes.
As to the question of what does cause AIDS, if it is not HIV, there are many plausible explanations given by people known to be experts. Before the discovery of HIV, AIDS was assumed to be a lifestyle syndrome caused mostly by indiscriminate use of recreational drugs. Immunosuppression has multiple causes, from an overload of microbes to malnutrition. Probably all of these are true causes of AIDS. Immune deficiency has many manifestations, and a syndrome with many manifestations is likely multi-causal as well. Suffice it to say that the HIV hypothesis of AIDS has offered nothing but predictions - of its spread, of the availability of a vaccine, of a forthcoming animal model, and so on - that have not materialized, and it has not saved a single life (http://www.reviewingaids.org/awiki/index.php/HIV/AIDS) hypothesis
After ten years involved in the academic side of HIV research, as well as in the academic world at large, I truly believe that the blame for the universal, unconditional, faith-based acceptance of such a flawed theory falls squarely on the shoulders of those among us who have actively endorsed a completely unproven hypothesis in the interests of furthering our careers. Of course, hypotheses in science deserve to be studied, but no hypothesis should be accepted as fact before it is proven, particularly one whose blind acceptance has such dire consequences.
For over twenty years, the general public has been greatly misled and ill-informed. As someone who has been raised by parents who taught me from a young age never to believe anything just because "everyone else accepts it to be true," I can no longer just sit by and do nothing, thereby contributing to this craziness. And the craziness has gone on long enough. As humans - as honest academics and scientists - the only thing we can do is allow the truth to come to light.
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