Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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Malaria measures wildly successful

Rapid results suggest end of malaria and end of “AIDS”

Rasnick scores at Wall Street Journal Health blog with African analysis

Marcus Cohen’s solution to African AIDS implemented with Laurie Garrett’s support

mosquito.jpgThe expansion of Western interest in African ailments other than “AIDS” in the last few years is now bearing copious fruit. In other words, AIDS fantasy is being replaced by medical reality, and funding is being redirected to places where it can make a positive impact very quickly.

In malaria already many children’s lives are being saved, rather than the money going to torment unfortunate Africans with a misdiagnosis of “AIDS” when Westerners see the ravages of their hunger and poverty, followed by useless and harmful drugs delivered at ever lower cost by well meaning but seriously under-researched global power activists such Bill Gates and Bill Clinton.

Thus the New York Times today (Jan 31 Thu) salutes the success of malaria measures, crediting a new Chinese drug (artemisinin) made from wormwood and the distribution of millions of mosquito nets with dramatic numbers of lives saved in a story by Donald McNeil, Nets and New Drug Make Inroads Against Malaria.

New WHO estimates of amazing progress – a drop in the number of children dying from malaria of 60% in two months in Rwanda, for example – suggest a potential to wipe out malaria in Africa within five years, though how reliable the numbers are remains a small question, given the shameful record of the backroom boys of the international organizations responsible for mapping the African “AIDS” pandemic, UNAIDS and WHO (see Behind the U.N.’s HIV Numbers).

But the rapid improvement seems believable since it is repeated in many countries, and the scourge of malaria – the biggest global killer of children, perhaps one million a year – may even be on the way to extinction if the trend holds.

“This is extremely exciting,” said Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “If we can scale up like this everywhere, we should be able to eliminate malaria as a major public health threat in many countries.”

McNeil notes, however, the fact that Ghana showed a drop of 34 per cent malaria deaths among children in a country where funding was limited, nets in short supply, and drugs were charged for, raises some unanswered questions.

The gathering of statistics in poor countries remains problematical so even the basic number of one million children dying of malaria every year is a guesstimate, McNeil notes.

Even the most commonly cited mortality figure — one million deaths of children a year — has always been no more than an educated guess.

“AIDS” will drop too

One thing remains sure, however, to all serious students of the research literature. All good science so far indicates that the global “AIDS pandemic” is a monstrous chimera, and that the recent embarrassing lowering of the estimate of the total number of people in the world who are reckoned “HIV positive” (this means HIV antibody positive) by the UN is merely a first step towards the complete truth about the pandemic, which is that it doesn’t exist as such and is produced by the spread of the AIDS meme and the relabeling of every other illness it induces in the minds of observers.

The real picture is undoubtedly this: the entire world population group of “HIV positives” (now a revised 33.2 million rather than 39.5 million) is as healthy as the rest of us – unless they are scoring positive due to a test cross reaction to some other disease, of course – but merely included in the largely meaningless and substantially inaccurate mapping of people in whom an inert virus has already been defeated by their immune systems.

Why AIDS figures will be revised downward again

This false mapping is exaggerated by the inaccuracy of HIV tests which can react with malaria antibodies to give a false positive, among scores of other cross reactions, the most important being TB.

This introduces the interesting possibility that as malaria dwindles, so will the “AIDS” numbers.

A similar effect is likely to be seen as better nourishment and hygiene help to curb TB, a prominent African scourge in countries where large sections of the population are underfed. TB is widespread even among healthy people – half the population in tropical Africa harbor TB antibodies, as well as a significant proportion of the rest of us – but it is normally under control and effectively dormant if the immune system is strong, just as HIV is thoroughly repressed in anyone with a healthy immune system.

The infectiousness of residual TB is virtually nil in normal circumstances, just as it is in the case of HIV, which clearly is effectively non-infectious in healthy heterosexual people, contrary to all the cacophony of official claims.

Rasnick scores a hit

african-child.jpgAn accurate view of the African predicament was posted by noted HIV dissident David Rasnick as a well phrased summary comment following a post by Jacob Goldstein (Take Global AIDS Estimates With a Grain of Salt) on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog earlier:

Is AIDS devastating and depopulating Africa or anywhere else? The evidence says NO! and apparently the UN and others have started taking note of this.

“Can Africa be saved?” the cover of Newsweek asked as far back as 1984 (1), reflecting the old Western belief that Africa is doomed to starvation, terror, disaster and death. This was repeated two years later in an article in the same journal in a story about Aids in Africa. The title set the scene: “Africa in the Plague Years” (2). It continued: “Nowhere is the disease more rampant than in the Rakai region of south-west Uganda, where 30 percent of the people are estimated to be seropositive.” The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed “by mid-1991 an estimated 1.5 million Ugandans, or about 9% of the general population and 20% of the sexually active population, had HIV infection” (3). Similar reports were repeatedly published during the last 15 years, declaring as much as 30% of the population doomed to premature death, with dire consequences for families and society as a whole? The predictions announced the practically inevitable collapse of the country in which the world-wide epidemic supposedly originated.

Today, however, one reads little about Aids in Uganda because all the prophesies have proved false, as evidenced in the ten-year census of September 2002 (4). Summing up, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics says, “Uganda’s Population grew at an average annual rate of 3.4% between 1991 and 2002. The high rate of population growth is mainly due to the persistently high fertility levels (about seven children per woman) that have been observed for the past four decades. The decline in mortality reflected by a decline in Infant and Childhood Mortality Rates as revealed by the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys (UDHS) of 1995 and 2000-2001, have also contributed to the high population growth rate.” In other words, the already very high population growth in Uganda has further increased over the past 10 years and is now among the highest in the world (5).

Even if Uganda has so far escaped the apocalypse that was predicted in 1984, the popular media continue to inform us that the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa has suffered massive devastation and depopulation as a result of two decades of AIDS. Notwithstanding the claims of the media, it is extremely difficult to document an Africa AIDS catastrophe that some have compared to the European plague of the Middle Ages.

A new AIDS epidemic was claimed to have emerged in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1984 (6-11). In sharp contrast to its America and European namesakes, the African AIDS epidemic is randomly distributed between the sexes and not restricted to behavioral risk groups (12-14). The African epidemic is also a collection of long-established, indigenous diseases, such as chronic fevers, weight loss (alias “slim disease”), diarrhea and tuberculosis (15-20). In addition, the African AIDS-defining diseases differ from the American/European AIDS diseases significantly in their prevalence among AIDS patients. For example, the predominant American/European AIDS disease, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, is almost never diagnosed in Africans (21, 22).

According to the WHO, the African epidemic increased from 1984 until the early 1990s, similar to the American/European epidemics, but has since leveled off to generate about 75,000 cases annually ((23) and back issues). (By way of comparison, the plague epidemic of London in 1665 had eliminated 1/3 of the population with plague-specific symptoms in a few weeks to months [29] and the flu epidemic of 1918 eliminated 20 million in one season (24).

By 2001, Africa had reportedly generated a cumulative total of 1,093,522 AIDS cases (23). But, during this period the population of Sub-Saharan Africa had grown (at an annual rate of about 2.6% per year) from 378 million in 1980 to 652 million in 2000 (25). Therefore, a possible, above-normal loss of 1 million lives to AIDS is statistically hard to verify for two reasons: 1) the loss would be dwarfed by the overwhelming, simultaneous gain of 274 million people (the equivalent of the population of the USA), and 2) the African AIDS-defining diseases are indistinguishable from conventional African morbidity and mortality (26).

Because of the many epidemiological and clinical differences between African AIDS and its American/European namesake, and because of the many uncertainties about the statistics on African AIDS (27), both the novelty of African AIDS and its relationship to American/European AIDS have recently been called into question (27-35). Indeed, all available data are compatible with a perennial African epidemic of poverty-associated diseases under the new name AIDS (16, 19).

Because the WHO decided in 1985 to accept AIDS diagnoses without an HIV-test, there is no reliable documentation for even an HIV epidemic in Africa (27, 36). Such presumptive diagnoses were approved because the cost of the HIV-antibody test is prohibitive for most Africans. As a result, there are huge discrepancies in African AIDS statistics. For instance, based on WHO information, the Durban Declaration claimed in 2000 that, “24.5 million…are living with HIV or AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa”. However, the WHO had reported no more than 81,565 new cases AIDS for the whole African continent in that year (obtained by subtracting the cumulative total of 794,444 in 1999 from the cumulative total of 876,009 in 2000) (37, 38).

David Rasnick, PhD.

A slam dunk, it would appear, to any thoughtful reader who can somehow manage to uproot the AIDS meme “HIV=AIDS” from his or her mind. Rasnick’s references were given in full to drive the points home:References
1. Anonymous. Can Africa be saved? Newsweek. 1984 November 19:cover.
2. Nordland R, Wilkinson R, Marshall R. Africa in the Plague Years. Newsweek. 1986 December 1:44-6.
3. The Aids Support Organisation, WHO. The inside story; 1995.
4. Anonymous. Results from the Population Census from September 2002. Entebbe, Uganda: Uganda Bureau of Statistics; 2002.
5. United Nations Population Fund. The State of World Population 2001, Demographic, Social and Economic Indicators; 2001.
6. Piot P, Quinn TC, Taelman H, Feinsod FM, Minlangu KB, Wobin O, et al. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in a heterosexual population in Zaire. Lancet. 1984 Jul 14;2(8394):65-9.
7. Van de Perre P, Rouvroy D, Lepage P, Bogaerts J, Kestelyn P, Kayihigi J, et al. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Rwanda. Lancet. 1984 Jul 14;2(8394):62-5.
8. Bayley AC. Aggressive Kaposi’s sarcoma in Zambia, 1983. Lancet. 1984 Jun 16;1(8390):1318-20.
9. Seligmann M, Chess L, Fahey JL, Fauci AS, Lachmann PJ, L’Age-Stehr J, et al. AIDS—an immunologic reevaluation. N Engl J Med. 1984;311:1286-92.
10. Quinn TC, Mann JM, Curran JW, Piot P. AIDS in Africa: an epidemiological paradigm. Science. 1986;234:955-63.
11. Quinn TC, Piot P, McCormick JB, Feinsod FM, Taelman H, Kapita B, et al. Serologic and immunologic studies in patients with AIDS in North America and Africa: the potential role of infectious agents as cofactors in human immunodeficiency virus infection. JAMA. 1987;257:2617-21.
12. World Health Organization. Global AIDS surveillance, Part II. Weekly epidemiological record. 2001 Dec. 14;76(50):390-6.
13. Duesberg PH. HIV is not the cause of AIDS. Science. 1988;241:514-6.
14. Blattner WA, Gallo RC, Temin HM. HIV causes AIDS. Science. 1988;241:514-5.
15. Duesberg PH. AIDS acquired by drug consumption and other noncontagious risk factors. Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 1992;55:201-77.
16. Konotey-Ahulu FID. AIDS in Africa: Misinformation and disinformation. Lancet. 1987;ii:206-7.
17. Pallangyo KJ, Mbaga IM, Mugusi F, Mbena E, Mhalu FS, Bredberg U, et al. Clinical case definition of AIDS in African adults. Lancet. 1987;ii:972.
18. Colebunders R, Mann J, Francis H, Bila K, Izaley L, Kakonde N, et al. Evaluation of a clinical case definition of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome in Africa. Lancet. 1987;i:492-4.
19. Konotey-Ahulu FID. Clinical epidemiology, not seroepidemiology, is the answer to Africa’s AIDS problem. BMJ. 1987;294:1593-4.
20. Konotey-Ahulu FID. What is AIDS? Watford, England: Tetteh-A’Domenco Co.; 1989.
21. Goodgame RW. AIDS in Uganda-clinical and social features. N Engl J Med. 1990;323:383-9.
22. Abouya YL, Beaumel A, Lucas S, Dago-Akribi A, Coulibaly G, N’Dhatz M, et al. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. An uncommon cause of death in African patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992;145(3):617-20.
23. World Health Organization. Global situation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, end 2001 Part I. Weekly epidemiological record. 2001;76(49):381-4.
24. Fenner F, McAuslan BR, Mims CA, Sambrook J, White DO. The Biology of Animal Viruses. New York: Academic Press, Inc.; 1974.
25. U.S. Bureau of the Census International Data Base. World population by region and development category: 1950-2025. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census; 2001 March, 1999.
26. Duesberg P, Koehnlein C, Rasnick D. The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy and malnutrition. J Biosci. 2003;28(4):383-412.
27. Fiala C. AIDS in Africa: dirty tricks. New African. 1998 April:36-8.
28. Hodgkinson N. AIDS: the failure of contemporary science. London, UK: Fourth Estate; 1996.
29. Shenton J. Positively False: exposing the myths around HIV and AIDS. London/New York: I. B. Tauris; 1998.
30. Stewart GT, Mhlongo S, de Harven E, Fiala C, Koehnlein C, Herxheimer A, et al. The Durban Declaration is not accepted by all. Nature. 2000;407:286.
31. Malan R. AIDS in Africa in search of the truth. Rolling Stone. 2001 November 22:70-2, 4-8, 80, 2, 100, 2.
32. Gellman B. S. African President Escalates AIDS Feud. Washington Post. 2000 April 19;Sect. A01.
33. Fiala C, de Harven E, Herxheimer A, Kohnlein C, Mhlongo S, Stewart GT. HIV/AIDS data in South Africa. Lancet. 2002 May 18;359(9319):1782.
34. Ross E. Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenyia and the Malthusian paradigm in contemporary development thinking. In: Pimbert M, editor. Reclaiming Knowledge for Diversity: Routledge or Earthscan; 2003. p. in press.
35. Gisselquist D, Rothenberg R, Potterat J, Drucker E. HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa not explained by sexual or vertical transmission. Int J STD AIDS. 2002 Oct;13(10):657-66.
36. World Health Organization. Provisional WHO clinical case definition for AIDS. Weekly Epidemiological Records. 1986;March, 7, (10):72-3.
37. World Health Organization. Global AIDS surveillance, Part I. Weekly Epidemiological Record. 2000;75(26 November):379-83.
38. World Health Organization. Global AIDS surveillance, Part I. Weekly Epidemiological Record. 1999;74(26 November):401-4.
Comment by David Rasnick – November 20, 2007 at 12:02 pm
Alas, we wonder how many serious readers saw this rather neat summary of why the African picture is such obvious evidence of a global “AIDS” boondoggle.

Marcus Cohen’s 10 year solution to African AIDS

hivpositivehappyblacks.jpgThe independent medical columnist at the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Marcus Cohen, whom we introduced to the full dimension of the HIV=AIDS debacle a while back, ended up writing ten columns on the topic of HIV=AIDS and the evidence that it is a false paradigm.

In a fine perception Cohen came up with the true solution to the African AIDS dilemma in his commentary, AIDS in Africa: Medical Neocolonialism?, which is that we should first build up the health infrastructure on the continent, and then see what if any “AIDS” might remain after Africans were well nourished and cared for medically without rushing to give them the chemotherapy of antiretrovirals:

Again for the record: My reports on NY’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct in Townsend (they began in 2001 and are ongoing), and my four columns in Townsend about censorship in medicine (Aug./Sept. through Dec. 2004) include many instances where theories on disease causation in vogue were dead wrong, where treatments introduced into community practice were later subjected to rigorous trial and proven harmful, where the majority of physicians and medical researchers clamped down dogmatically on free debate over appropriate treatment, where research clinicians with approaches new to or different from the corpus of accepted wisdom were ridiculed and denied funds to pursue and publish their studies.

In light of these instances, and there is in fact a lengthy list of them, eventually acknowledged by the mainstream,10 why should theories about the cause and treatment of AIDS be exempted from reexamination? Why – without question – should the AIDS establishment be handed “blank checks” on defining and managing AIDS and its therapy?

What is there in the nature of AIDS that accords Western governments and non-governmental organizations the right to “dictate” to sovereign African governments policy on controlling AIDS and priorities on healthcare spending?

Closing Thoughts

Morally, the constructive course to follow in sub-Saharan Africa on AIDS would be for the developed nations of the world to provide or lend money to African countries: leave these countries to move forward with desperately needed improvements in sanitation, to rebuild infrastructures that bring adequate medical care to citizens afflicted by poverty-related diseases, to relieve conditions that breed malnutrition (which perpetuates susceptibility to the many illnesses that have ravaged Africa for centuries).

Above all, first wait and see if such improvements lower the death rates among Africans. Then, if the alarming rise in deaths reported in recent years doesn’t abate, consider HIV as a possible reason, and lend money on the stipulation that it must be used to block the spread of AIDS. Then, but only then, get on with the condomizing of sub-Saharan Africa, of every “underdeveloped” nation on the globe where AIDS has manifested.

Books have been published on why the more likely course is the one that Western governments and non-governmental organizations have already shamelessly, evangelically taken,11 the one that promises profits for the US and a sprinkle of other high-tech countries through what is essentially a medical form of neocolonialism, the one that portends an immense disaster for black Africans, especially women and children. Note well in this connection: in university studies where Africans clinically diagnosed with AIDS (according to the Bangui definition and its variants) are tested serologically for HIV, the majority of the test results prove antibody-negative!12

Cohen is one of the few impartial independent medical columnists to see clearly what is happening in HIV=AIDS, perhaps because of his extensive experience in the politics of cancer, where for many years alternatives to mainstream treatment have been suppressed with prejudice rather than evaluated on their merits, as he describes in the first paragraph. The full body of Marcus Cohen’s work at the Townsend Letter is worth reading through for its judicious view of HIV=AIDS and of medical prejudice in general.

When AIDS is not infectious

cartoon-hens.jpgHere we will sign off with the latest indication of the specious nature of the “global AIDS pandemic”, a study released from the Swiss National AIDS Commission this week which has caused a flutter in the paradigm hen coop.

As these reports – AIDS experts: Unprotected sex OK for some, – Researchers reveal ‘astounding’ HIV study – and others indicate, the Swiss have pointed out that HIV antibody positive patients being treated with antiretrovirals do not pass on the virus.

Geneva – Swiss Aids experts said on Thursday that some people with HIV who are on stable treatment can safely have unprotected sex with non-infected partners.

The Swiss National Aids Commission said patients who meet strict conditions, including successful antiretroviral treatment to suppress the virus and who do not have any other sexually transmitted diseases, do not pose a danger to others.

Jay Levy and other paradigm loyal researchers and activists responded swiftly and indignantly to this revelation with the usual alarmist claims, but it seems possible that the discussion will bring home to careful readers the fact, well established in a large study by Nancy Padian in the nineties, that HIV is effectively non-infectious among healthy heterosexuals whether they take ARVs or not, a research finding which explodes the main pillar of the notion that we have a “global AIDS pandemic”.

The proposal, published this week in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine, astonished leading Aids researchers in Europe and North America who have long argued that safe sex with a condom is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of the disease – apart from abstinence.

“Not only is (the Swiss proposal) dangerous, it’s misleading and it is not considering the implications of the biological facts involved with HIV transmission,” said Jay Levy, director of the Laboratory for Tumor and Aids Virus Research at the University of California in San Francisco.

Small wonder that Levy and other knowledgeable folk are quick to resist any light thrown on the matter. The entire ideology of HIV=AIDS is based on the notion that it is an infectious disease, when its non infectiousness has been staring everyone in the face from the birth of this remarkably infectious meme. Exposure of this falsity threatens to bring down the whole house of cards once it is appreciated by the press and public.

In fact, once HIV is widely known to be effectively non-infectious in normal circumstances ie in heterosexual sex of a conventional nature, the level of funding from Congress, which now promises to rise to $50 billion at the urging of some members, rather than the paltry $30 billion advocated by President Bush in his desperate attempt to clean up his legacy, seems likely to dwindle to a dribble.

Does “AIDS” deserve less money?

A wholesale reallocation of public money away from “AIDS” towards more realistic and responsive areas such as malaria, TB, cancer and heart attacks, which kill so many more people than “AIDS”, however, is probably not what AIDS researcher Daniel Halperin had in mind when he greeted the New Year in the New York Times with his suggestion that maybe it took more than its fair share: Putting a Plague in Perspective

Some have criticized Mr. Bush for requesting “only” $30 billion for the next five years for AIDS and related problems, with the leading Democratic candidates having pledged to commit at least $50 billion if they are elected. Yet even the current $15 billion in spending represents an unprecedented amount of money aimed mainly at a single disease.

Meanwhile, many other public health needs in developing countries are being ignored. The fact is, spending $50 billion or more on foreign health assistance does make sense, but only if it is not limited to H.I.V.-AIDS programs.

Last year, for instance, as the United States spent almost $3 billion on AIDS programs in Africa, it invested only about $30 million in traditional safe-water projects. This nearly 100-to-1 imbalance is disastrously inequitable — especially considering that in Africa H.I.V. tends to be most prevalent in the relatively wealthiest and most developed countries. Most African nations have stable adult H.I.V. rates of 3 percent or less.

Many millions of African children and adults die of malnutrition, pneumonia, motor vehicle accidents and other largely preventable, if not headline-grabbing, conditions. One-fifth of all global deaths from diarrhea occur in just three African countries — Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria — that have relatively low H.I.V. prevalence. Yet this condition, which is not particularly difficult to cure or prevent, gets scant attention from the donors that invest nearly $1 billion annually on AIDS programs in those countries.

What did Anthony Fauci at NIAID think of that piece we wondered, and wondered again when it was followed by another report from London by AP’s Maria Cheng, saying that other AIDS researchers agreed that the funding preference for AIDS was a little lopsided:

Experts Call for Rethinking AIDS MoneyJan 18, 2008, London: “We have a system in public health where the loudest voice gets the most money,” said Dr. Richard Horton, editor of Lancet. “AIDS has grossly distorted our limited budget.”

But some AIDS experts argue that cutting back on fighting HIV would be dangerous.

“We cannot let the pendulum swing back to a time when we didn’t spend a lot on AIDS,” said Dr. Kevin De Cock, director of the AIDS department at the World Health Organization. “We now have millions of people on treatment and we can’t just stop that.”

Still, De Cock once worked on AIDS projects in Kenya, his office just above a large slum.

“It did feel a bit peculiar to be investing so much money into anti-retrovirals while the people there were dealing with huge problems like water and sanitation,” De Cock said.

In fact, it now seems that many senior AIDS players are a little ashamed about how much of the public purse they have commandeered:

Halperin recently wrote a commentary in The New York Times on the imbalance and said he was astounded by the response. Most were positive, he said, with many AIDS experts agreeing it was time to re-examine spending.

But the truth is that AIDS money has anyway gone directly or indirectly to many other health programs in Africa, so not all of it is being wasted on delivering toxic mismedications to unsuitably grateful natives, courtesy of Bush and the two Bills.

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul told the House Foreign Relations Committee last year that the AIDS money contributes, directly or indirectly, to a wide range of nutrition, TB, malaria, women’s health, clean water and education programs.(Manchester Guardian:Fight Looms Over Global AIDS Program)

One way or another, it seems, happily, that the Marcus Cohen Solution to African AIDS is being implemented.

Laurie’s good influence

Interestingly, Laurie Garrett in her article The Challenge of Global Health in the Jan/Feb Foreign Affairs a year ago came to much the same conclusion about first spending more on infrastructure combating African health problems, although she was referring to its impact on AIDS ie the need for spending on infrastructure before delivery of ARVs could be effective everywhere in Africa.

1-lauriegarrett.jpgUnfortunately, the hazel eyed (for an extreme close up of the pleasing features of this hardworking medical correspondent, check our photo by clicking on it twice to expand it to the full), strong minded ex-Newsday reporter who became a much prized author of books on The Coming Plague and other alarmism predicting the imminent downfall of Western civilization in the face of mutating viruses, expanding air transport and broken health bureaucracies and infra structure in faraway places around the world (see earlier posts) has long been one of the most prominent hosts of the HIV=AIDS meme, which took occupation of her neural networks twenty three years ago and has apparently never been disturbed by any ray of light or impulse from the part of the brain normally activated by skepticism in a good reporter.

But paradoxically, Laurie’s line of thinking in this case, where she was considering the right thing to do in regard to African AIDS, is perfectly in line with the paradigm dissent she has resisted for twenty years. And she has taken the microphone on its behalf, urging spending on infrastructure as a priority in Africa whenever she has been on stage since, so in that respect she is now a very good influence in avoiding the very worst effects of the conventional belief paradigm she credits so unthinkingly.

When it all will end, knows God

With all agreeing that building up African health infrastructure is a top priority, the outlook for African AIDS has never been rosier. The chances that in general African health will improve and “AIDS” numbers will dwindle even further are very good indeed. Over the long term, this might lead to the final downfall and replacement of this scientifically laughable paradigm, which the scientific literature contradicts from top to bottom.

But somehow we doubt it, since surely the scientists of HIV=AIDS and their fellow traveling bureaucrats at NIAID and executives at the drug companies involved will ascribe the ultimate defeat of the global pandemic of “AIDS” to the delivery of the ARVs for which Congress is now anxious to provide $50 billion.

Given that the reputation of science itself will hang in the balance if this appalling affair comes to light, perhaps this is all to the good.

The heroic Mbeki is departing

thabo-mbeki.jpgWhether in the interim large numbers of hapless black Africans will be rescued from being the unfortunate recipients of harmful AIDs drugs is of course another question. Since President Mbeki’s power seems to have survived the troublesome setback of losing his party leadership to a rival recently, one noticeably without his intellectual qualifications, presumably he will continue his effort to discreetly brake distribution of these noxious and uncalled for medications despite the rabid efforts of South African activists to force his hand. His presidency is up in 2009, however.

One day, we confidently predict, Mbeki will be considered a heroic figure in South African history – indeed, in world history – for having the inclination to look into the matter for himself, rather than trust to expert advice or inadequate staff, and then take a stand against AIDS ignorance despite its great influence in South African politics.

The Times story on malaria is Nets and New Drug Make Inroads Against Malaria or click this:

The New York Times
February 1, 2008
Nets and New Drug Make Inroads Against Malaria
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

Widespread distribution of mosquito nets and a new medicine sharply reduced malaria deaths in several African countries, World Health Organization researchers reported Thursday.

The report was one of the most hopeful signs in the long battle against a disease that is estimated to kill a million children a year in poor tropical countries.

“We saw a very drastic impact,” said Dr. Arata Kochi, chief of malaria for the W.H.O. “If this is done everywhere, we can reduce the disease burden 80 to 85 percent in most African countries within five years.”

There have been earlier reports of success with nets and the new medicine, artemisinin, a Chinese drug made from wormwood. But most have been based on relatively small samples; this is the first study to compare national programs.

“This is extremely exciting,” said Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “If we can scale up like this everywhere, we should be able to eliminate malaria as a major public health threat in many countries.”

The report was done by a team from the World Health Organization for the Global Fund, the chief financing agency for combating malaria. It looked at programs in four countries that tried to distribute mosquito nets to the families of every child under 5, and medicines containing artemisinin to every public clinic.

In Ethiopia, deaths of children from malaria dropped more than 50 percent. In Rwanda, they dropped more than 60 percent in only two months.

Zambia, Dr. Kochi said, had only about a 33 percent drop in overall deaths because nets ran short and many districts ran out of medicine. But those areas without such problems had 50 to 60 percent reductions, he said.

Ghana was a bit of a mystery, according to the report. It got little money from the Global Fund, Dr. Kochi said, and so bought few nets and had to charge patients for drugs. Malaria deaths nonetheless fell 34 percent, but deaths among children for other reasons dropped 42 percent.

Holding drives to distribute insecticide-impregnated nets is a growing trend, now that the Global Fund, the President’s Malaria Initiative, United Nations agencies, the World Bank and private fund-raisers like AgainstMalaria.org have offered hundreds of millions of dollars. Such drives must be continuous because “permanent” nets wear out after three to five years.

The report, finished in December, was an effort to find hard data, which has long been a problem with malaria, especially in rural Africa, where anyone with fever is often presumed to have malaria and medical records scribbled in school notebooks are rarely forwarded to the capital. For this study, researchers tallied only hospitalized children whose diagnoses were confirmed.

Rwanda, a small country that handed out three million nets in two months in 2006, had 66 percent fewer child malaria deaths in 2007 than in 2005.

Ethiopia, much larger, took almost two years to hand out 20 million nets; it cut deaths of children in half.

In Africa, malaria is a major killer of children, but so are diarrhea and pneumonia, which have multiple causes, as well as measles, which has been declining as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization has expanded.

Until the recent infusions of money from international donors and the reorganization of malaria leadership at the W.H.O., the fight against malaria had been in perilous shape, with nets scarce, many countries using outdated or counterfeit medicines, spraying programs dormant and diagnoses careless.

Even the most commonly cited mortality figure — one million deaths of children a year — has always been no more than an educated guess.

3 Responses to “Malaria measures wildly successful”

  1. Michael Says:

    It was just presented today that Vitamin A reduced malaria in children by one third:

    Scientists have shown that when young children in New Guinea were given vitamin A supplements, they had 30 percent fewer malaria attacks and the number of malaria parasites in their blood dropped by 36 percent. The study appeared in the July 17, 1999 issue of The Lancet.

    http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/PR_1999/vit_A_malaria.html

    Would it be rude of the dissidents and rethinkers to say “We told you so” as regards illness in Africa and malnutrition?

  2. Michael Says:

    Ohhh my! Excuse me. I presented the now almost 10 year old and yet ignored study that showed Vitamin A reduced malaria by 1/3rd.

    I meant to present the latest study which shows Vitamin A and Zinc have even more additional benefits in reducing malaria:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205123828.htm

    “Jean-Bosco Ouedraogo of the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS) in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, and colleagues explain that vitamin A and zinc play a critical role in the normal function of the immune system, and may even play a synergistic role for reducing the risk of infection including malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum.”

    Journal reference: Major reduction of malaria morbidity with combined vitamin A and zinc supplementation in young children in Burkina Faso: a randomized double blind trial Augustin N Zeba, Hermann Sorgho, Noel Rouamba, Issaka Zongo, Jeremie Rouamba, Robert T Guiguemde, Davidson H Hamer, Najat Mokhtar and Jean-Bosco Ouedraogo. Nutrition Journal 2008, 7:7. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/7/1/7

  3. alan2102 Says:

    While we’re sharing stuff along these lines (thanks, Michael), here’s one for the files:

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/109/1/e6

    PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 1 January 2002, pp. e6

    Vitamin A Supplements Ameliorate the Adverse Effect of HIV-1,
    Malaria, and Diarrheal Infections on Child Growth

    Eduardo Villamor, MD, DrPH et alia

    [snip]

    Conclusions. Vitamin A supplementation improves linear and
    ponderal growth in infants who are infected with HIV and malaria,
    respectively, and decreases the risk of stunting associated with
    persistent diarrhea. Supplementation could constitute a low-cost,
    effective intervention to decrease the burden of growth
    retardation in settings where infectious diseases are highly
    prevalent.

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