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Is Aids a Myth

  1. Jun 8, 2007 #1

    I heard this on the radio driving home. Apparantly this guy claims that Aids has never been isolated or photographed and that medical industries are diagnosing things as AIDs that is something else.

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  3. Jun 8, 2007 #2


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  4. Jun 8, 2007 #3
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2007
  5. Jun 8, 2007 #4
    They have over 4,000 HIV testing sites in S Africa, with equipment provided by the WHO, UNAIDS and private funds. Despite what the PHD's say, there is large amount of people who have tested positive for HIV.
    While deaths are explained as HIV related deaths, it has more to do with things like secondary infections. For example, bacterial or virus infection can kill someone with HIV, simply because they have very little ability to fight off the infections, even with medications. We here, in the states have people who die of HIV related disorders.
    I am very sure, they{UNAIDS and WHO} know the difference between dysentery and starvation..and HIV
  6. Jun 8, 2007 #5
    I want to hear moonbears take on the guy who talks about the photograph and all that other stuff. Im no biologist, so I cant take what he says as BS or fact - I know next to nothing when it comes to biology. :blushing:
  7. Jun 8, 2007 #6


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    I'm no biologist either, but my take is that this has got to be one of the dumbest conspiracy theories of all time.*

    [*caveat: Most conspiracy theories are among the dumbest of all time.]
  8. Jun 8, 2007 #7
  9. Jun 9, 2007 #8
    AIDS being a conspiracy is more the reaction from a desperate and shamed underclass than medical fact.
  10. Jun 9, 2007 #9


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    No, he makes stupid points.

    -He denies the reality of African cultural sexual problems.
    -He says that the symptoms seen are probably just the same flu, etc. seen in developed nations. Nevermind the actual HIV testing... :rolleyes:
    [I only got 2 minutes into it before I couldn't take any more]

    Btw, you do realize that not all doctors are medical doctors, right? I don't know what his phd is in, but he's not a medical doctor, he's an African history teacher. Seems to me he suffers from an obvious case of bias.

    In any case, he's missing his own point: it doesn't much matter what, specifically, is killing Africans by the millions. The fact of the matter is that it is happening and needs to be dealt with. Even if it actually is a flu strain that doesn't exist anywhere else and isn't detectable, we should still be trying to stop it.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2007
  11. Jun 9, 2007 #10


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    Tara at Aetiology (a blog at scienceblogs.com) regularly looks at the HIV and the claims of HIV deniers.

    You should go through her archives on HIV
    http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/aidshiv/ [Broken]
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  12. Jun 9, 2007 #11


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    I can't view any of the video clips, but I don't know why you're giving someone with a Ph.D. in history more weight than people with Ph.D.s studying microbiology/virology. If the gist of what they're saying is that HIV doesn't exist, then they're just crackpots, period.

    If you're questioning that there are photomicrographs of the virus, here's the abstract of the article descriving them.

    To elaborate on what Chroot already explained, HIV infects the immune system. AIDS is the syndrome describing when that infection has reached a stage in which is has disabled the immune system making the patient vulnerable to any and every pathogen around them...they are immunocompromised. Again, I don't know what the videos show because these clips all seem to just hang on me lately (not sure if there's a problem with youtube, the specific videos or my computer, or if they're just huge and I'm not patient enough to wait for them to load), but if any part of the argument is that people don't die from AIDS, that would be technically true...the HIV infection leading to AIDS is what made them vulnerable to everything else in the environment, and they die of whatever opportunistic infection they get that they can't fight off. Common pathogens in the environment that most people can fight off easily and have immunity against become deadly diseases for someone with AIDS.
  13. Jun 9, 2007 #12
  14. Jun 9, 2007 #13
    Id like an explanation of what he's saying though. If no one has watched the video, I dont think its fair to criticise him. I want to know exactly what he's saying thats wrong. Not just that he's wrong.
  15. Jun 9, 2007 #14

    I think because you only watched 2 minutes into the film, you missed his point. He said that AIDs needs to be critically evaluated in Africa because it might be a misdiagnosis and that many times when people die in Africa, they say its due to AIDS w/o doing a thurough autopsy. You should watch part II of the history guy before you criticise his words, because now your misquoting him.
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  16. Jun 9, 2007 #15


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    My post contained no quotes, so I couldn't have misquoted him!
  17. Jun 9, 2007 #16
    Hi all,

    Saw this in my referral logs and just thought I'd say a few things. First, as noted, Charlie Geshekter, the historian in the video (and indeed, many of those who were in the other videos--Kary Mullis, Duesberg, etc.) are all on the board of an HIV denial organization, Alive and Well.


    This was started by Christine Maggiore, and HIV+ individual whose daughter, Eliza Jane, died of AIDS. (Though they claim it was from a reaction to antibiotics, even though slides of her brain tested positive for HIV proteins). Note that none of them are infectious disease epidemiologists, and if their arguments about the epidemiology of HIV were held to each infectious organism, no microbe could be suggested to cause any disease. I can elaborate on this if you like, but that's their biggest problem.

    Regarding AIDS in Africa, I wrote more about that here: http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2006/02/post_3.php [Broken] , but the biggest problem with Geshekter's analysis is that he conflates simply having sex with developing AIDS--note the bait and switch? We know that people can have sex 20 times a day if they want, and they won't develop AIDS *unless they're infected with HIV.* So the issue isn't that the poor in Africa are having more sex than those who are wealthy--it's that the prevalence of HIV in the poor populations is much higher, so when they *do* have sex (especially with new partners), they can spread the virus, and thus AIDS is much more common in these populations. It's not just the sexual activity, as Geshekter would have you think researchers believe--it's sexual activity in those infected with HIV. So he's created a strawman, only to knock it down. Classic science denial.

    As far as testing in Africa, yes, diagnosis of AIDS, especially in very impoverished areas, is often on symptoms rather than a molecular test. Again, Geshekter would have you believe this means that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. But think about it. What about the last time you went to your own physician and were diagnosed with influenza? What were the odds he did a molecular test? I'd guess about 50/50, and that's in a wealthy country. Physicians get pretty darn good at diagnosis based on symptoms alone, and in Africa, they do as well. A single bout of malaria or diarrhea won't cause a physician to suspect AIDS, even in Africa. It's when those are frequent, and accompanied by other signs (such as severe weight loss, etc.) that the physician begins to suspect AIDS.

    Indeed, it's pretty rich that Geshekter chastises American science and Americans in general for attributing Africa's problems to AIDS, when essentially, he's saying that African doctors in Africa are too incompetent to even diagnose AIDS when their patient presents with it. African doctors have certainly noticed that contradiction, leading to articles such as this one: http://www.aegis.com/news/vv/2000/VV000701.html [Broken] , where African doctors themselves note how ridiculous Geshekter's conclusions are (and how he also mischaracterizes their own research).

    Finally, on HIV denial more broadly, it's interesting how even among themselves, the deniers can't agree. Does HIV even exist? Duesberg says absolutely; the Perth group says no way. Is AIDS then caused by drugs? Oxidation? Another virus? None of the above, all of the above? It's much like creationists arguing amongst themselves about the age of the earth and common descent--they can't agree on anything except that the scientists are wrong.

    I could say a lot more on these topics, but I'll stop there for now...
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  18. Jun 9, 2007 #17


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    If they are already diagnosed as having AIDS, and an illness associated with AIDS, then why would a formal autopsy be required? As I stated above, you don't die of AIDS, per se, you'll die of the AIDS-associated infection, so how would it change the diagnosis of AIDS to find that someone died of TB, or pneumonia, or encephalitis? It's no different than someone on immunosuppressant drugs to prevent rejection of a transplant acquiring an infection and dying of it. The official cause of death would be the infection they acquired, but the reason they contracted the infection in the first place is that their immune system is suppressed by the drugs they are on.

    By the way, I tracked down more info on Maniotis. I found another site with the video as well, and can't view it there either, but also tracked down a foundation he supports that seems to have discrediting the validity of AIDS tests as its premise. [Late edit: This is the same foundation to which TaraS refers above; she posted while I was working on this post...thanks for the added information TaraS.] From the information provided there, he must be quite the embarrassment to his department if he actually works in pathology and supports that foundation. They're challenging the early validation of the ELISA test because they say they don't actually show they can culture the virus from people with positive results for the antibody...but then go on to say they have "only" found the RNA or virus particles. HIV is a retrovirus. It's mostly RNA. Finding the RNA is quite conclusive. Beyond that, virus "particles" don't mean bits and pieces of virus, it's the term used when counting individual virions. So, they're refuting it because they simply don't know how to read a scientific paper.



    The latter of these two seems to be the one frequently misquoted by the nutcases to claim there isn't enough HIV in infected individuals to account for disease (they often claim only about 10 virion were found), but that's only viruses present in SERUM (the liquid part of your blood), and more careful reading shows that that increases as symptomatic illness progresses. It also doesn't account for the much larger number of viruses found inside mononuclear blood cells, which are the part of the immune system compromised and targetted by the virus. And, in that case, all it takes is ONE virus particle in a cell to infect it.

    From what I'm gathering about what these people are refuting, I think the best I can do is refer you back to the thread in General Discussion on strawman arguments.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2007
  19. Jun 9, 2007 #18
    Hi Tara,

    I see where you are going with this, but since I am not a Biology major, please do. :smile:


    What do you say in response to his claim of lots of false positive testing used by clinical researchers in populations that are highly prone to giving false testing results, or the fact that testing positive for AIDs varies from country to country?

    But given that these people live in poverty and may suffer from other conditions, isnt it imperative that testing be done to isolate what exactly is the cause of death or illness?
  20. Jun 9, 2007 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    I've heard it argued that African nations often inflate the number of AIDS related deaths because in some sense funding is determined by the death rate.
  21. Jun 9, 2007 #20
    Sure. Many AIDS deniers, for example, use the aforementioned Christine Maggiore's life story as a case in point. She's tested HIV+, but as her organization notes, remains "alive and well." Therefore, HIV doesn't cause AIDS, because she's never developed AIDS.

    Of course, if they took a broader picture of infectious disease epidemiology, they'd see how silly this is. With every pathogen known to man (with the possible exception of rabies), we know people who are infected but never develop disease symptoms. Look at tuberculosis, for example--approximately a third of the world is infected with this bacterium. However, only a small fraction of that go on to develop disease symptoms, and only a fraction of those die in any given year. To AIDS deniers, then, because many people carrying TB remain "alive and well," Mycobacterium tuberculosistherefore doesn't cause TB, right? Obviously that's incorrect, but that's one of their big arguments against the current "dogma" that HIV causes AIDS.

    However, even medical science doesn't say that all people who are HIV+ will develop AIDS. We know of groups of people who have been HIV+ for years, yet are apparently just fine (even without antiretroviral drugs). These are known as "long-term nonprogressors," and are a group that's actively being studied to see just how they're holding the virus in check--what is it about them that keeps them OK, whereas other people succumb in just a few years if they're not treated? Again, where AIDS deniers sees a group like this and goes, "aha!! These people aren't dying of AIDS, therefore HIV doesn't cause AIDS!", infectious disease epidemiologists, virologists, and immunologists see this as an expected outcome that we see with every other pathogen, and an opportunity to better understand the host/virus interaction.

    Similarly, there are people who are repeatedly exposed to the virus, but never seroconvert. Why not? Deniers again cry foul with regard to HIV causation of AIDS, but meanwhile scientists have found factors (such as a mutation in the CCR5 gene, a protein on cells that helps the virus bind and invade host cells) that make a host resistant to infection in the first place. Again, these are things we'd expect with a broader understanding of infectious disease epidemiology, but deniers (wrongly) think it presents a challenge for the HIV/AIDS paradigm.

    Again, this is something we see with all diagnostic tests (for any illness, be it cancer, infectious disease, autoimmune disease, etc. etc.)--no test is perfect. All have a rate of false positives or negatives associated with them. With HIV, that's why we use an original screening test, followed by a secondary (more specific) test. The first one will weed out most of the people who are negative (and do so fairly cheaply); the second (more expensive) test will confirm those who are positive.

    Deniers like to say that there are all these conditions that will result in false positives. And indeed, a number have been reported in the literature--but do they mention that these reports are typically associated with *one case*? So while they say things like "there are 60 different conditions that have resulted in false positive results," that means that there have simply been ~60 (or heck, I'll be generous and even give them a few hundred) people, with certain conditions, whose condition has been associated with a false positive HIV test (and again, I'll note they are *associated* with this result--not necessarily *causal*). It's a big red herring, because again, we see this with pretty much every diagnostic test. But the HIV test is given to tens of millions of people, and the error rate is very small overall (for the ELISA, on the order of .2% give a false positive; for the Western confirmatory test, false positives occur more like .00001% of the time, with false negatives a bit more commonly at .001% of the time). This is a damn good test, and can additionally be followed up with RT-PCR to determine viral load (even more specific than the protein tests).

    As far as differences between countries, I've tried to dig into that, but it's tough to find information out there on that which doesn't come from denialist websites. Different countries may use different confirmatory tests as well, so it's true that there's no universal, worldwide standard as far as HIV diagnosis. In the past, one commenter on my blog has posted standards around the world, and they're not nearly as different as HIV deniers would have you believe. Unfortunately it's tough to search comments and I'm apparently not using the right keyword to find that information right now.

    In an ideal world, absolutely. However, the one thing I agree with the deniers on is that these countries are resource-poor, and there's simply not the funds available to do that for every person. Additionally, in some areas, there are cultural traditions that mean that doing autopsies or any kind of post-mortem work violates their beliefs. It's a tough area to work in, and this is why seroprevalence studies of living individuals are carried out instead--to get a snapshot of viral prevalence and disease in a particular area. It's not perfect, but coupled with some trust in the area physicians (as I mentioned previously) and their familiarity with the disease, it's probably as good as we're going to get for right now. (And in this context, keep in mind the thousands of people here in the US, with all our resources, that also die of undiagnosed causes...)
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2007
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