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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New mainstream coverage of rethinkers


Piece in Charlotte SC paper lays out issue fairly

Remarkably clear account by Greg Hambrick

Is South Carolina a hotbed of enlightened comment on national issues which are distorted by power and money in the power centers of this country?

Suddenly the Charleston City Paper, an arts and entertainment weekly in Charlotte, has published this morning (Wed Mov 29) Rethinking AIDS: Doubters abandon traditional HIV/AIDS theories and treatment, a very matter of fact, well written and surprising reliable account of the vexed HIV?AIDS dispute in which reporter Greg Hambrick doesn’t seem to have heard of Dr Anthony Fauci of NIAID and his edict that no media coverage of this topic is allowed.

Telling both sides

Instead of kow towing to the mainstream wisdom as a matter of course and repeating all their quotes deploring HIV debunkers as scientific Luddites, Greg swiftly balances any rude remarks from spokesmen of the official line with a counter quote from an HIV critic such as Peter Duesberg or Henry Bauer.

The scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, says Jennifer Ruth, spokeswoman with the National Center for HIV, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention.”Infection with HIV has been the sole common factor shared by AIDS cases throughout the world among men who have sex with men, transfusion recipients, persons with hemophilia, sex partners of infected persons, children born to infected women, and occupationally exposed health care workers,” Ruth says.

Henry Bauer, a retired chemistry and science professor and an ardent rethinker, says history has shown reversals in science when the orthodoxy was challenged by mounting questions.

“When the questions get to a critical mass, it’s a revolution,” he says. “But it’s often a bloody revolution.”

For someone presumably new to the topic Greg has done a nifty job of summarising the to and fro so that any newcomer can catch up with what is going on, and we expect this piece will have some influence in helping to keep the sputtering debate going.

Noreen Martin’s breakaway

The heroine of the piece is none other than Noreen Martin, who has been active in comments here recently as well as on Hanks You Bet Your Life.

Everything known about AIDS suggests that Noreen Martin is near death. The 53-year-old Lowcountry woman was diagnosed with AIDS three years ago. Her viral load, the rate of HIV in her blood, is at more than 100,000 — 200 to 500 is good and an undetectable number is even better. Her CD4 rate that gauges the number of “helper” cells in her system is at 136 — healthy people run between 600 and 1,200. Martin’s doctors have begged her to take antivirals, but she’s refused the drugs since March and the numbers keep heading in the wrong direction.The puzzler is that Martin looks great. She feels great. She says it’s no surprise. She claims it’s because everything known about AIDS is wrong. She says HIV is a harmless retrovirus that can’t be sexually transmitted, that AIDS medicine can cause the very disease it is expected to fight, and that the government knows this and is ignoring the facts.

The only big blot on the page is the inevitable paragraph on Christine Maggiore reporting that her daughter Eliza died from an “AIDS related” illness, which of course as anyone who is familiar with the case knows is not true, whatever the incompetent and politically influenced coroner might have announced (she died of allergy to a common antibiotic).

This is a great pity since it goes without saying that this misreporting of Christine’s tragedy gives the naive reader a strong impression that rethinkers are flouting conventional wisdom at a heavy cost, in this case the death of a young daughter.

Then there is the tribute Martin pays to antiretrovirals saying they probably saved her life. This is another statement that will stick in the mind of the reader as proof that the established paradigm is correct after all.

The matter is more complicated than that, as readers of this blog will appreciate, since long term use of the drugs is universally acknowledged dangerous to the health especially of the liver, sometimes causing fatalities (half or more of US AIDS patients who die actually die of drug related symptoms such as liver failure not on the list of AIDS symptoms).

Short term use yields effects which patients are convinced are beneficial but which may simply reflect the effect of poison on infections, although the power of protease inhibitors to restore trace element balance in support of the immune system is a known benefit (this may be because the medication as a broad spectrum antibiotic kills infections interfering with digestion). There are also known antioxidant effects.

“It didn’t cure me, but it certainly helped,” Martin says. “On the chelation days I could at least get off the couch.”But her overall health continued to decline and when she finally got to the infectious diseases doctors, they rushed to get her on an antiviral medicine that Martin concedes likely saved her life.

“I had about three different viruses going on at the same time, so these things were a godsend,” she says, though noting that the success of the medicine was in tandem with healthy living and natural supplements.

But her doctors weren’t supportive of Martin’s alternative supplements, which sent her looking elsewhere for answers and eventually to the rethinkers movement.

“The more I read, the more things just weren’t adding up,” she says.

The even handed competence with which Greg Hambreck has covered the issue is generally impressive, though, especially since his last story on AIDS in September, Kicking AIDS Local photographer captures fight for Africa’s future was the usual stenographic piece acting as a mouthpiece for establishment thinking about AIDS in Africa.

Moore and Padian’s false claims

What good will this piece do? Given the extensive coverage of John P. Moore of Cornell, perhaps not as much as it might. This professional spanner-inserter is allowed to do a muted version of his usual smear job and the piece goes on to repeat the false claims on the AIDSTruth.org site, in particular the laughable attempt of Nancy Padian to disavow the conclusion of her own study which found no transmission whatsoever in six years between fifty seven heterosexual discordant couples that didn’t use condoms.

Earlier this year, after what they saw as a one-sided story on rethinkers in Harpers magazine by a writer immersed in the rethinkers movement, Moore and other HIV scientists and doctors began the website www.aidstruth.org to refute the claims in the article. They have since updated the website to combat other claims by the rethinkers, whom they refer to as “denialists.””These people are basically being persuaded to kill themselves,” Moore says.

On the other hand readers are not going to miss the figure that Noreen draws attention to, the 1 in 1000 acts rate of transmission that the study found (after finding no transmissions during the study, transmission before the study was guessed at probably to provide some figure higher than zero, which would have been far too embarassing to the paradigm and lost Padian her high status among the officers of the palace guard of that unfounded theory).

And Hambrick does quote Noreen’s prize remark that scores a bullseye on the prima facie ridiculous core at the heart of the HIV∫AIDS panic, the claim that a fatal epidemic is being transmitted by the HIV antibodies that the test detects, which as we know are normally accompanied by a virtual absence of virus, if any at all:

“Everybody’s immunity is different,” she says. “I can’t give somebody my immunity any more than I could give them my toothache.”

But the Padian rebuttal is then given play and the reader is likely to conclude that Padian is the one with the authority:

It’s Padian herself who refuted these arguments earlier this year on www.aidstruth.org. She notes that her study regarded couples that were counseled to use protection, not avoid it.”Individuals who cite the 1997 publication … in an attempt to substantiate the myth that HIV is not transmitted sexually are ill-informed, at best,” she stated. “Their misuse of these results is misleading, irresponsible, and potentially injurious to the public.”

Padian notes that HIV transmission between couples can be as high as 20 percent, depending on risk factors including other sexually transmitted diseases. Cornell professor Moore says that Padian is not alone and that certain lines from scores of studies have been selectively cited to further the rethinkers movement.

“Then these things become urban legends,” Moore says.

Report likely to please both sides

Equally misleading statements are quoted from the NIH Web site, so all in all it seems unlikely that the article will be thought of as anything but buttressing the defense of the paradigm by the average HIV∫AIDS official or health worker, while the AIDS critics will probably be pleased at receiving a modicum of balanced coverage.

We like to believe that this rather exemplary article may even be included in the information handed out on Friday (World AIDS Day) at the booths on campus at the College of Charleston’s North Campus, Trident Technical College’s Main Campus, The Citadel, and at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Hambrick is unusually evenhanded and clear, and writes in a dispassionate, business like style which may allow it to be mistaken as standard information on the paradigm, which it is in a way, a good guide to its claims and flaws as well as first class journalism easily followed even by readers who have never heard of the controversy before. Let’s hope it is widely distributed.

Meanwhile critics have a chance to set the record free from the misleading statements of Moore and Padian in Comments on the Web under the article, with Professor Bauer already having corrected a few errors, none of which, he says, “should detract from my praise of Greg Hambrick for a balanced account of an enormous and difficult topic”.

Well done Greg Hambrick, and all those like Professor Henry Bauer and Noreen Martin who briefed him so he got the picture so well.

Rethinking AIDS: Doubters abandon traditional HIV/AIDS theories and treatment:

(show)
Charleston City Paper

Charleston SC Newspaper –

Arts Entertainment Weekly

NOVEMBER 29, 2006

FEATURE STORY | Rethinking AIDS

Doubters abandon traditional HIV/AIDS theories and treatment

BY GREG HAMBRICK

Everything known about AIDS suggests that Noreen Martin is near death. The 53-year-old Lowcountry woman was diagnosed with AIDS three years ago. Her viral load, the rate of HIV in her blood, is at more than 100,000 — 200 to 500 is good and an undetectable number is even better. Her CD4 rate that gauges the number of “helper” cells in her system is at 136 — healthy people run between 600 and 1,200. Martin’s doctors have begged her to take antivirals, but she’s refused the drugs since March and the numbers keep heading in the wrong direction.

The puzzler is that Martin looks great. She feels great. She says it’s no surprise. She claims it’s because everything known about AIDS is wrong. She says HIV is a harmless retrovirus that can’t be sexually transmitted, that AIDS medicine can cause the very disease it is expected to fight, and that the government knows this and is ignoring the facts.

It should be said early that this is not the generally accepted understanding of HIV and AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health point to thousands of studies that show HIV is primarily a sexually transmitted disease that depletes the body’s immune system, opening it up to one or more AIDS-defining opportunistic infections.

At first glance, “AIDS rethinkers” like Martin seem to be buying into an elaborate conspiracy theory. Most rethinkers contend that the man who discovered HIV stole it from the French, many gay men get AIDS because of poppers and other recreational drug use, and most notably, there’s no AIDS epidemic.

Their argument is based on one disputable fact: No scientific study has been done that proves that HIV causes AIDS.

An argument that is contested, of course, by HIV and AIDS researchers. There are thousands of articles that prove the connection between the virus and AIDS, says Cornell University professor John Moore, even if there isn’t a singular paper that draws the line between the two.

“It’s like a moon rocket,” he says. “You’re not going to go to the web and find one five-page paper on how to build a moon rocket, but you know that it has been done.”

The scientific evidence is overwhelming and compelling that HIV is the cause of AIDS, says Jennifer Ruth, spokeswoman with the National Center for HIV, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention.

“Infection with HIV has been the sole common factor shared by AIDS cases throughout the world among men who have sex with men, transfusion recipients, persons with hemophilia, sex partners of infected persons, children born to infected women, and occupationally exposed health care workers,” Ruth says.

Henry Bauer, a retired chemistry and science professor and an ardent rethinker, says history has shown reversals in science when the orthodoxy was challenged by mounting questions.

“When the questions get to a critical mass, it’s a revolution,” he says. “But it’s often a bloody revolution.”

“Rethinkers”

The underground scientific controversy over AIDS began in the disease’s earliest days. On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control reported the deaths of five gay men in Los Angeles from a rare type of pneumonia and a month later, they reported more than two dozen cases of gay men with Kaposi Sarcoma, another very rare disease. As the AIDS table grew to include drug users and hemophiliacs, scientists scrambled to find answers.

Rethinkers say American Robert Gallo claimed in 1984 to have found HIV, but his findings were based on a French group’s 1983 study of the virus. Gallo’s perceived deception is a sticking point for rethinkers because they say it is only the first in a string of lies regarding the disease.

In 1986, the Australian-based Perth Group claimed there was no proof that HIV existed. A year later, American scientist Peter Duesberg joined the argument, acknowledging that HIV existed but claiming it was harmless and that AIDS did not show signs common to contagious diseases.

“It’s so anti-scientific when you read these studies,” Duesberg says of more than 20 years of AIDS research. “As a scientist, you have to ask all the questions.”

Duesberg’s theory would gather support over the years as reports on his ideas continued to grow. But they were far outpaced by studies that furthered the popular counterargument that HIV depletes T-cells, which work to fend off disease in the body, ushering in AIDS typically within a decade of transmission.

Those only modestly familiar with HIV and AIDS can be excused for not hearing about rethinkers, but a quick search for information on HIV or AIDS on the internet will show various chatrooms, blogs, and internet sites dedicated to furthering Duesberg’s message.

Bauer has been collecting HIV and AIDS data compiled since the onset of the disease.

“What that data shows is that the rate at which Americans test positive for HIV has been the same for 20 years,” he says. “Therefore it’s not a spreading epidemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control’s findings mirror Bauer’s claim, noting that the number of people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in 2004 was about the same as it was in 2001 in the 35 states that compile these figures. But a recent United Nations AIDS report notes that HIV infections continue to grow in Africa, but now at a slower pace than eastern Europe and central Asia, where there were 270,000 infections in 2006 compared with 170,000 in 2004. With the expectation that many HIV-positive people don’t know they’re positive, UNAIDS estimates that 39.5 million people are living with HIV worldwide and 4.6 million people were infected in 2006 alone.

The rethinkers movement received attention in 2000 when the government of South Africa began a public debate on HIV, AIDS, and antiviral medicine and called in Duesberg and other rethinkers to help determine how the country would combat the disease. AIDS activists have since worked around the government to get antiviral medicine and HIV education to the people.

Australia will soon have its own debate over the validity of HIV. That country’s Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case where an HIV-positive Australian man claimed that he could not have infected a woman and endangered two other sex partners because HIV hasn’t been proven to exist.

The rethinkers movement took a blow last year when outspoken rethinker Christine Maggiore, who had refused antiviral medicine for years, even while pregnant, and decided against testing her two small children for HIV, lost her three-year-old daughter to an AIDS-related illness. Her son has since tested negative.

AIDS rethinkers exchange news on these stories and various AIDS findings through a growing number of websites that offer support for rethinkers, which heartens Martin.

“When I did it, I had to do it the hard way,” she says.

Noreen’s Story

Among a varied collection of antique books in Noreen Martin’s library is an old, thick book from the Library of Health that she considers one of her favorites because of the inscription on the book cover: “You can do nothing to bring the dead to life; but you can do much to save the living from death.”

Martin, a Hanahan housewife who does some reporting for the community paper as a hobby, has been fighting off injuries and illness for years, including a herniated disc and pinched nerves, cancer, an ear infection, and various allergic reactions to medicine she was taking to combat these problems.

“I’ve forgotten a lot, which is a good thing,” she says. “It’s part of the healing process. The mind has a way of blocking out the negative things or bad memories.”

In 2003, her health further deteriorated, as she began experiencing fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, breathing troubles, weight loss, and continued memory loss. Doctors pressed her to get a bone biopsy and blood tests to determine if she had cancer. The tests came back indicating she was cancer-free, but further tests found she had HIV and AIDS.

“After months and months of being sick, I was relieved,” Martin says. “I just wanted to know what was wrong.”

Martin was told to wait two months for an appointment with an infectious diseases doctor. Not wanting to wait around, she went to a health food store, where the owner told her about an alternative doctor who performs chelation therapy, a hours-long cleansing of sorts for the blood that targets proteins and is supposed to help with blood flow. Chelation therapy has its own controversies, with the American Heart Association and the FDA stating there is no medical benefit to the practice and the CDC attributing the deaths of two children to a chelation drug called Endrate. But Martin says it was one of the few things that helped her in the early months after she was diagnosed.

“It didn’t cure me, but it certainly helped,” Martin says. “On the chelation days I could at least get off the couch.”

But her overall health continued to decline and when she finally got to the infectious diseases doctors, they rushed to get her on an antiviral medicine that Martin concedes likely saved her life.

“I had about three different viruses going on at the same time, so these things were a godsend,” she says, though noting that the success of the medicine was in tandem with healthy living and natural supplements.

But her doctors weren’t supportive of Martin’s alternative supplements, which sent her looking elsewhere for answers and eventually to the rethinkers movement.

“The more I read, the more things just weren’t adding up,” she says.

The picture of health – Noreen Martin has AIDS, but she’s refused antiviral medicine and believes her disease is based on a natural immune deficiency

Where Martin had first thought that she had HIV, she now doubts that initial test and believes that she contracted AIDS through a natural immune deficiency.

“Everybody’s immunity is different,” she says. “I can’t give somebody my immunity any more than I could give them my toothache.”

Feeling better, Martin decided to go off the antiviral medicine in early 2005, but soon returned to it after pressure from the doctors and her husband. Last March, she decided that she would get off the medicine and not look back. She is now taking Low Dose Naltrexone, a drug that helps people with immune deficiency diseases, that was prescribed by another physician.

Though he’s not familiar with the rethinkers movement, Robert Cantey, director of infectious diseases with the Medical University of South Carolina, says an AIDS patient ditching their drugs isn’t uncommon.

“That’s a typical response when someone has a good response to the medicine,” he says, but notes it was more common years ago when the side effects were more severe.

Martin says she’s been in great health since going off her antivirals, but the blood tests paint a different picture as her CD4s, the helper cells that ward off diseases, continue to fall and her viral load climbs from less than 100 to more than 100,000. Cantey says the numbers are now in the range where Martin is susceptible to brain, lung, or bloodstream infections that are common among AIDS victims. He says Martin’s late diagnosis likely contributed to her quick drop in CD4s.

“The worse those numbers are when you go on the medicine, the faster they’ll drop when you go off the medicine,” he says.

Meanwhile, Martin’s advice for others is to stay healthy and don’t get tested for HIV.

“People’s lives are being ruined by this very faulty test,” she says. “You get the results and it’s downhill from that point on. Doctors need to treat symptoms, but they don’t do that. All they care about is if you’re positive. If you’re positive, you’re screwed.”

“Denialists”

Rethinkers have been combated quietly over the last 20 years, but more high profile attention on the movement in the past few years has prompted scientists that support the link between HIV and AIDS to openly refute the rethinkers’ claims. Facing the public doubts of the South African government in 2000, 5,000 scientists, doctors, and researchers, including several Nobel Prize winners, signed the Durbin declaration that reaffirms that HIV causes AIDS.

Earlier this year, after what they saw as a one-sided story on rethinkers in Harpers magazine by a writer immersed in the rethinkers movement, Moore and other HIV scientists and doctors began the website www.aidstruth.org to refute the claims in the article. They have since updated the website to combat other claims by the rethinkers, whom they refer to as “denialists.”

“These people are basically being persuaded to kill themselves,” Moore says.

The argument begins with what causes AIDS. Rethinkers attribute the disease, in large part, to drug use. Duesberg notes drugs have long been known to deplete the immune system and an early study of AIDS cases among gay men found a large number of them used recreational drugs, primarily poppers, an inhaled drug used as a sexual stimulant.

“It’s a matter of dose and time and genetic constitution,” Duesberg says, noting that drugs effect different people in different ways the same way that smoking does.

But a 1993 study that followed 715 gay men for more than eight years found that 350 men who never acquired HIV noted “appreciable” drug use. Another 2005 study found a strong link between poppers and unprotected sex among San Francisco gay men, suggesting that even though the drug may not cause HIV/AIDS, it could place users at increased risk of contracting HIV through unsafe sexual intercourse.

If drug use causes AIDS, rethinkers then note that the concerns of sexual transmission are moot because it cannot be spread this way. Martin says that she does not use protection during sex with her husband. She points to a study by California scientist Nancy Padian that studied heterosexual couples where one was HIV-positive and one was HIV-negative and found that transmission of the disease was far less than one percent (as low as 1 in 1,000) among heterosexual couples.

It’s Padian herself who refuted these arguments earlier this year on www.aidstruth.org. She notes that her study regarded couples that were counseled to use protection, not avoid it.

“Individuals who cite the 1997 publication … in an attempt to substantiate the myth that HIV is not transmitted sexually are ill-informed, at best,” she stated. “Their misuse of these results is misleading, irresponsible, and potentially injurious to the public.”

Padian notes that HIV transmission between couples can be as high as 20 percent, depending on risk factors including other sexually transmitted diseases. Cornell professor Moore says that Padian is not alone and that certain lines from scores of studies have been selectively cited to further the rethinkers movement.

“Then these things become urban legends,” Moore says.

Rethinkers also claim that the standard HIV test is woefully unreliable, claiming that as many as 70 factors can cause a false-positive.

“HIV has never been isolated in its pure form,” Bauer says, “which means that these tests have never been validated.”

This claim by rethinkers is based in fact. The majority of HIV tests aren’t designed to identify HIV. They actually find HIV antibodies, or proteins the body creates to defend itself against HIV.

Moore says that technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the virus was first identified and that the rethinkers often base their logic on outdated data. To combat inaccuracies, HIV tests have been confirmed through a second, different test for several years. The Centers for Disease Control notes that the two tests together have a 99 percent accuracy rate, and Cantey says he’d put the accuracy rate at 99.9 percent.

Not only is the HIV test quackery, rethinkers argue, but so are the drugs HIV and AIDS patients are given to battle the disease.

Much like the test, medicines to combat the viral load have evolved as older drugs, which time has shown to be less effective, are replaced with newer drug regimens. Some rethinkers say that drugs like AZT cause AIDS and others say that the toxic side effects of the drugs have led to death.

“It’s an example of the old saying that the operation was a success, but the patient died,” Bauer says.

Today HIV and AIDS patients are typically given a cocktail of medicines. “Use of potent anti-HIV combination therapies has contributed to dramatic reductions in the incidence of AIDS and AIDS-related deaths in populations where these drugs are widely available,” the NIH’s website states. “An effect which clearly would not be seen if antiviral drugs caused AIDS.”

Africa’s high-profile struggle with AIDS has also received the ire of the rethinkers. People with AIDS in Africa are dying from the same diseases that have always plagued them: wasting, malnutrition, and tuberculosis. Rethinkers claim this is because AIDS is not an epidemic in Africa and that the perceived plight is just a way to pull money to the region and bolster the global fight against AIDS.

“I’ve seen commercials of kids starving in Africa,” Martin says. “That’s nothing new. Now they have something new they can blame it on.”

But just as AIDS-defining illnesses in America began appearing at much higher rates than seen before, these diseases in Africa are showing unusual trends when it comes to AIDS patients, attacking them at much younger ages and including those middle-class groups who aren’t malnourished. A 1995 study found that HIV-positive people in Cote d’Ivoire were 17 times more likely to die from tuberculosis than those not infected with HIV.

Rethinkers also note that the disease is affecting different races and regions differently, something uncommon with communicable diseases. The NIH and others note various reasons for the difference, including in what groups the disease was first recognized and sex practices.

These and other attempts to refute the claims of the rethinkers have done nothing to quell their continued belief that everything the world has been told about HIV is wrong. Noreen Martin is active daily on a number of rethinker web forums and she has started her own website to further the cause and chart her own progress.

“Let people make up their own mind,” Martin says. “I made up my mind and I’m not turning back.”

Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day Charleston Events

On Friday, the world gathers to combat the spread of HIV during World AIDS Day. In Charleston, Lowcountry AIDS Services and other groups will expand this year’s events to two days.

Events will begin on Thurs., Nov. 30 with information booths set up from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the College of Charleston’s North Campus, Trident Technical College’s Main Campus, The Citadel, and at the Medical University of South Carolina, which will also host a luncheon with guest speaker Dr. Preston Church.

On Fri., Dec. 1, there will be events at MUSC’s horseshoe from 11:30-1:30, at the College of Charleston from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Rivers Green, and from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Trident Technical College Palmer Campus. Roper Medical Center and St. Francis Medical Center will also have panels of the AIDS quilt on display from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

A candlelight march and rally will begin at Marion Square near the Embassy Suites at dusk, around 5:30 p.m., with marchers walking to the Cistern at the College of Charleston where they’ll have the opportunity to call there loved one’s name publicly. There will be an area of healing and comfort at the Cistern with lay pastors and counselors and refreshments for those that need assistance.

Glass luminaries dedicated to those lost from HIV/AIDS are also available for $10. Their names will be labeled onto the luminaries, which can be retrieved at the end of the event. For more information, contact Mark McKinney at 849-8531.

A little more than a week later, on Sat., Dec. 9, more than 100 red ribbon retailers in downtown, West Ashley, and Mt. Pleasant will host Shopping with Friends, a fund-raiser for Lowcountry AIDS Services where 10 percent of the sales on that day will be donated to the AIDS organization.

The event starts with a kick-off party from 5-8 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Saks Fifth Avenue on King Street. On Saturday morning, there will be a brunch from 9 a.m. to noon at the Renaissance Hotel with complimentary gift bags. For more information on the events, visit Lowcountry AIDS Services online at www.aids–services.com/shopping.html or look for the posters in participating stores. –Greg Hambrick

AIDS By the Numbers

Worldwide

•39.5 million people in the world are living with HIV and 4.3 million were newly infected in 2006.

•Eastern Europe and Central Asia are outpacing Africa in the number of new AIDS cases, with 270,000 in 2006, compared with 170,000 in 2004.

Nationwide

•1.2 million people in the U.S. had HIV in 2005.

•Men still account for about 73 percent of the HIV diagnoses in the U.S., with almost two-thirds of those infections attributable to unsafe sex between men.

Statewide

•There were 13,508 people living with HIV/AIDS in South Carolina by the end of 2005.

•560 people tested positive for HIV/AIDS statewide in 2005, compared with 832 in 1995.

Locally

•4,156 people were tested for HIV in Charleston last year. Of those, 51 tested positive, about half as many as a decade ago.

•Berkeley and Dorchester had a combined 1,831 HIV tests, but accounted for less than 1.2 percent of the positive tests statewide, compared with more than 3 percent in 1995.

Source: UNAIDS, SCDHEC

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1 comments posted for this article

Henry H. Bauer, Virginia 11/29/2006 – 2:16pm

Greg Hambrick did a great job in covering in a balanced way a huge story, about which gross misinformation is so common. Naturally he could not give details on every point, so I should like to add these: –John Moore’s comparison with moon rockets is plain silly. A better analogy is that lots of bad data don’t make even a tiny bit of good evidence. Many HIV-positive people never got ill in two decades, and many people with AIDS symptoms are HIV-negative, in particular people with Kaposi’s sarcoma which was a “signature” AIDS disease. Even the mainstream now says Kaposi’s is caused by a different virus –Ruth’s statement about HIV being common to all cases is demonstrably untrue. She should cite all the scientific articles on which she bases that assertion. (They don’t exist.) –No one claims to know how HIV kills T-cells, after 2 decades of research –All the cited numbers of infections are from computer models, they are not actually observed and counted cases. The models rely on innumerable doubtful assumptions, and have been demonstrably way off the mark in a number of specific instances. –Even the computer estimates by UNAIDS give the same rate of HIV infection in 2006 as in 1996, for sub-Saharan Africa as well as other regions of the world –Christine Maggiore’s child did NOT die of an AIDS-related illness. The coroner concerned has long been regarded as unreliable. –Recent scientific publications (August and September) showed that people on “cocktail” therapy got AIDS events EARLIER than those not on therapy; and that while the “surrogate markers” of CD4 counts and “viral load” improved, the patients’ health got worse –More than a dozen studies besides Padian’s, in Africa and Haiti and Thailand as well as in the USA, have never shown sexual transmission of more than a few per thousand acts; and where use of condoms was controlled for, they made no difference None of these comments should detract from my praise of Greg Hambrick for a balanced account of an enormous and difficult topic.

(citypaper@textgenie.com), NYC 11/30/2006 – 2:17pm

An excellent article, giving an unsually clear and even handed review of a debate that is not widely covered in the media, because the scientists in tehe field actively fight reexamination of their theory, an attitude which the comments of John Moore, Nancy Padian and other spokesmen in the article betray. The Charlotte City Paper and reporter should be congratulated for bringing such level headed coverage to their readers. This is one issue in science where the critics have established that there are very serious problems with the conventional wisdom, and with lives at stake it is depolorable that scientists should resist public review. As Professor bauer points out, the points made in defense quoted in the article include many which are wrong, especially Nancy Padian’s attempt at refuting her own study, which showed that heterosexual transmission of AIDS through sex is far too weak to sustain any epdiemic, let alone a world wide pandemic. Readers who have been alerted by this article to the possibility that standard medicine is wrong in HIV/AIDS will want to visit Peter Duesberg’s site, Virusmyth and the two most active science blogs, Barnesworld You Bet Your Life and New AIDS Review for more information.

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Michael, Downtown 11/30/2006 – 8:09pm

Right On Greg!

You did a great job balancing both sides of a very touchy issue. But make no mistake. Nobody has ever died of AIDS. AIDS is a definition, not a disease. AIDS is NOT a disease! It is a definition that includes about 30 common diseases that even HIV negative people die from all of the time, like pneumonia. Once diagnosed with the flakey and faulty HIV tests as HIV positive, a patient is not allowed to catch the flu or get pneumonia without blaming it on HIV and calling it AIDS.

Yet most of the death certificates of those who died of what is called AIDS almost always say “complications of AIDS” which is a convenient way of saying they were poisoned to death by the AIDS medications. Liver failure is the most common cause of death in American HIV positives, not anything viral! Kidney failure and heart failure are right up there as well. All due directly to the AIDS drugs, yet the pharmaceutical companies making and selling these drugs have not even taken responsibility for even a single death!

Those doctors and scientists and drug companies who have cashed in on the hundreds of billions of dollars dumped down the AIDS hole will not go down without one helluva fight! Their bank accounts and overly inflated egos are at stake! Do you think any doctor that has handed out toxic and deadly AIDS drugs to his patients will ever admit to having helped to do his patient in? Not in your life!

It’s about time somebody speaks out on this. How many people scared themselves to death, and how many doctors scared their patients to death over this very issue. By the way, the number of AIDS deaths in the US did not come down until high dosages of AZT were taken out of the doctors hands in about 1995. But the scientists say it is because today’s drugs are better at controlling HIV. Bull! The drugs are simply less toxic than the AZT that was given in 1200mg dosages to patients from 1987 to 1995, the years of massive death said to be due to HIV. Today the leading cause of death in American HIV positives, according to a 2002 study by University of Pittsburg AIDS researcher Amy Justice, is liver failure, which is not due to a virus, it is directly due to drug poisoning.

But the issue is even deeper than this. Ever wonder why HIV and AIDS hits 99% gays and blacks? Do you really suppose a virus knows the difference between white and black or between gay and straight, or drug adicts of any race? How come it is not ravaging West European and American heterosexuals, as it does in poor poverty stricken and starving Africa? That is one genius of a virus that knows how to tell the difference between race and sexuallity and also knows if you are a hardcore drug abuser or not, dontcha think?

The pharma companies make money selling the ingredients for making crystal meth to the public and then cash in again when the ravaged bodies of the addicted are diagnosed as having HIV AIDS.

I don’t believe death by AIDS will ever stop unless and until big pharma is reigned in and unless and until our gay sons and brothers and friends are accepted just the way they are, instead of being disowned and shamed to death by the so called moral majority.

AIDS in Africa will not stop until hunger, dirty water, and hopelessness are eradicated. Any time you find people living in shame, starvation, squalor and hopelessness, you find disease and death to be rampant. Back in the 1950’s we just called all the dead drug addicts “junkies”. They were found dead all the time back then, and we rightfully condemned the drug use. None of them were called HIV/AIDS, which is what they are called today.

The population of Africa just so happened to have doubled during the last 25 years of the so-called AIDS epidemic, and the starvation and hopelessness and water pollution has doubled as well.

America’s bigoted answer to this is to put all of Africa on toxic and deadly AZT and Nevirapine. No wonder South Africa’s president Mbeki is an AIDS Rethinker! At least President Mbeki can think for himself and see what is at the core of the problems in South Africa for himself, which is more than I can say for the imbeciles who lord over the more developed countries of the Western Hemisphere.

What was Bush’s answer for AIDS? First to put the CEO of Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals in office as the AIDS Czar, which did not even raise an eyebrow of 99.9% of supposedly intelligent Americans. Second to throw 15 billion dollars at HIV AIDS as long as it was spent on American pharmaceuticals.

Excuse me, but Gee, I fail to see how this will help Africa come up out of poverty. It will only clean out their national treasuries trying to pay for these drugs for exploding pulations. I fail to see how this will help American drug addicts to overcome their addiction and self loathing. I fail to see how this will help us all to love and care for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, exactly as they are. And I fail to see how it will end the bigoted and racist attitudes that still drive many blacks even in developed countries to overcome the handicap of being born black and poor.

The only thing Bush and Clinton and any other elected official throwing Money at HIV and AIDS will do, is to make the poor poorer and the rich richer, and we regular tax paying fools out here, who elect these morons to continue to keep us ignorant, will continue to pay for it all.

And then we have the problem of many who were diagnosed as HIV positive, cash in big time on their diagnosis. Free medical, free food, free dental, free housing, and perks galore for lots of them, disablilty checks, welfare, etc. These people are not about to give up their diagnosis of HIV. It gives a lot of them a free ticket to skate through life. Lots of others get stuck up on the self pity and the pity poured on them by others. For a lot of them, it is the first time they ever “felt loved” by all those pity filled friends and folks close to them. Not that pity is love, but its the closest that a lot of many of these often self loathing and self destructive people will get to it. Not anywhere near the majority of HIV positives, but many fall into this spell. But what the heck, lots of them are still untreated drug addicts, and/or disowned gay sons of the self righteous moral majority.

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Immauelk, USA 12/ 1/2006 – 3:05pm

Mr. Hambrick,

Two questions:

1. Did you actually SEE the results of Ms. Martin’s laboratory tests?

2. Will you please write a follow up story and tell us how Ms. Martin fares? And if she ultimately chooses conventional therapy?

I wish her well, but the published AIDS literature suggests that her prognosis is not good. Let’s hope that there is something different about her case that keeps her well.

Manny Kimmel

AIDS Activist

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Greg Hambrick (greg@charlestoncitypaper.com), Downtown 12/ 2/2006 – 6:54am

Yes, I have seen the results and we do plan to stay in touch with Noreen and check in on how she’s doing.

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Kamileon 12/ 2/2006 – 11:30pm

In your statewide statistics on infection, you have HIV/AIDS grouped as HIV/AIDS. Statistically speaking, this is VERY inaccurate and can be quite misleading. When you say that 13,000 and some people are infected with HIV/AIDS, what the hell does that mean?!

First of all, you can only be infected with HIV.

Second, not all people with HIV have AIDS.

Lastly, you can’t say all the people with HIV will get AIDS.

So what is it? Do the 13,000 some-odd people have HIV or AIDS?

Hey don’t worry about it, you’ve only been brainwashed by the HIV establishment into grouping your statistics into the “HIV/AIDS” realm, something they are notorious for.

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Michael, Downtown 12/ 3/2006 – 9:24pm

Hey Kamileon. As far as whether they are HIV or AIDS in the state listings, Lets also remember that once anyone who has been diagnosed as HIV positive comes down with any of the 29 common and supposedly “AIDS” defining diseases such as common pneumonia, they are forever after defined as having “AIDS” for the rest of their life. They are NEVER removed from the AIDS listing category, no matter how healthy or illness free that they ever become for the rest of the remainder of their lives. The state likes it that way, and so do the individual counties, as they both tap the federal government for funding every year based on these bullcrap and phoney baloney numbers. It’s a convenient little shell game to keep the bucks flowing. If HIV causes anything at all, it is most definitely the cause of fundraisers and money shuffles to keep the game going.

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Kicking AIDS: Local photographer captures fight for Africa’s future:

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Kicking AIDS

Local photographer captures fight for Africa’s future

In Zimbabwe, the average lifespan was 61 years in 1990. Today, the average adult dies at 39 with only 3.5 percent of the population making it to 65. The reason? HIV/AIDS. Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have orphaned one million children in the country — 20 percent of all Zimbabwe’s children — and that will likely continue considering that 20 percent of pregnant women were HIV-positive in 2003. According to UNICEF, more than half of the patients in Zimbabwe are hospitalized with HIV/AIDS-related illnesses and more than 120,000 children under the age of 15 have HIV, the retrovirus that causes AIDS. Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit that includes a Charleston photographer among its ranks, focuses on preventative education for 12-year-olds in Zimbabwe, using interactive programs and engaging volunteers whom the children will listen to with rapt attention — their soccer heroes.

There are lots of tools to fight HIV/AIDS, but usually soccer’s not one of them. That is, until Thomas Clark created Grassroot Soccer. Clark, an American who spent his early teenage years in Zimbabwe while his father coached soccer, fell in love with the country and eventually played for the same team his father coached. After returning to America for medical school, Clark decided to create Grassroot Soccer as a class project in 2002 after realizing that soccer could be used to reach children who are dealing with the realities of AIDS.

“It’s a way for the cultural love affair with soccer to be harnessed for something good,” he says.

The Grassroot program is loaded with informative games and information for children, but Clark says the focus is on community involvement and utilizing these children’s idols.

“Otherwise it’s a series of games and points anyone could do, but the special sauce is getting the role models involved.”

Though Grassroot Soccer is only one of several initiatives intended to spur HIV/AIDS education in Zimbabwe, the message appears to be getting across. In the last two years, the HIV prevalence rate has dropped from 24.6 percent to 20.1 percent, according to UNICEF.

“It’s certainly not solely due to our efforts, but it’s due to prevention education,” Clark says.

An independent evaluation of the program by Stanford University in 2004 found the program “significantly improves student knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of social support related to HIV/AIDS.”

Denny leads a Grassroot Soccer session about HIV and AIDS prevention at St. Michael’s Primary School

The study found that students who participated in the program had a more positive attitude toward condoms and HIV testing and had more negative feelings about unprotected sex. There also seemed to be a decrease in the number of students with prejudice toward those with HIV and AIDS.

Welcome to Zimbabwe

The country was formed in 1980, but democracy never really took off in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, the nation’s first prime minister, has ruled the country of 12 million for nearly 20 years. He rigged presidential elections in 2002 and quelled labor strikes calling for his retirement in 2003. His political arm, ZANU-PF, stole March 2005 parliamentary elections to allow it to change the constitution at will, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. A month later, Mugabe would institute Operation Restore Order, displacing 700,000 mostly poor supporters of the opposition, by United Nations’ accounts.

Immigration isn’t a problem, because the unemployed, who account for about 80 percent of the population, are leaving the country for economic opportunities in neighboring South Africa and Botswana. In response, South Africa has militarized its border and Botswana has installed electric fences to deter the exodus. News from Zimbabwe is sparse in America — the government raids last summer weren’t reported in The New York Times until November.

Aside from the political strife, the Central Intelligence Agency notes environmental nightmares, including deforestation, soil erosion, land degradation, air and water pollution, and poaching. Poor mining practices have also left the country with toxic waste and heavy metal pollution.

This was the backdrop last May as Alice Keeney’s plane pulled into a hangar in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city. A soccer player for the College of Charleston before graduating in 2004, Keeney had spent a year learning photography in Paris until some friends suggested that she travel to Africa for a month and document the work of Grassroot Soccer.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “I went over there pretty naive, to be honest.”

Keeney was the first off the small plane, greeted in the hangar by men with automatic weapons.

She had her $30 cash in hand — she’d been told that having the processing fee ready would help her move through customs quickly. She told them she was vacationing. Working photographers and aid workers can sometimes get a hard time from the government — while she was visiting, an American photographer was being held prisoner by the government.

“I never felt extremely unsafe,” Keeney says. “But, being there and hearing about it are two very different things.”

Tommy Clark, the director of Grassroot Soccer, also didn’t know what to expect from Keeney’s trip.

“There’s always someone going over there,” he says of media attention for the group. “I was just hoping nothing bad would happen to her.”

Keeney was introduced to the Grassroot staff in Zimbabwe, comprised almost entirely of locals.

“They’re either group leaders for after-school programs or professional soccer players,” she says.

Team Zebra takes part in “The Final Game,” in which the students answer questions that test their overall knowledge about HIV and AIDS at the end of the eight-day session with Grassroot Soccer; Each team of about seven players must answer each question correctly in order to then have the chance to complete a section of the obstacle course

While most Americans would be hard-pressed to name one of our soccer heroes from the past 20 years, Zimbabweans have a quick answer — M. Khupale. Known as Mr. Khupa to the masses, M. Khupale draws crowds and cheers everywhere he goes. The excitement is no different when he works with the Grassroot program, Keeney says.

“When he walks in to a classroom and starts teaching kids about HIV and AIDS, their attention is just wrapped around him,” she says.

The Program

In an age when some people push undeterred for abstinence education for teenagers, it’s impossible to imagine the Grassroot program of HIV/AIDS education will ever take place in the United States. In America, the realities of AIDS can be easily avoided by most any seventh grader.

“You walk into a classroom in the U.S. and you talk about sex and condoms, there’s giggles everywhere,” Keeney says.

But in Zimbabwe, where the darkness of AIDS takes family, friends, and neighbors hourly, let alone daily, children can’t be children anymore. “They realize they can be a victim of it.”

The Grassroot program lasts eight days over a two-week period. The students spend the first day in the classroom, answering true and false questions to dispel dangerous rumors long removed from American perceptions of HIV, but still prevalent in Africa.

“A lot of them have misconceptions, like you can get it easily through a mosquito bite,” says Keeney. They also might think HIV is contracted easily through schoolyard horseplay or that dangerous traditional healing practices will purge the disease, she notes. “It’s just a huge lack of education, really.”

After day one is complete, the rest of the program is chock-a-block with activities.

“It makes the kids think,” Keeney says. “That way they’re not just being told.”

One of the more effective games is “Hide the Ball,” where students are lined up shoulder to shoulder and a tennis ball with HIV/AIDS scrawled on it is passed behind their backs. Someone yells stop and a student left out of the line is asked to pick who has the ball.

“The point is you can’t see it,” she says. “It’s impossible to look at someone and see that they have HIV or AIDS.”

In “The Transmission Game,” the students learn the value of protection as students mingle in the classroom as if the people they speak with are sexual partners. At the end of the lesson, students learn that only three of them given a “condom” pass at the beginning of the class would survive if the game was actually intercourse.

Other games include “My Supporters,” which focuses on the community as a support system for those with HIV and AIDS in an area where many with the disease are still ostracized. In “Juggling My Life,” students learn how to make positive choices for themselves, and in “The Final Game,” the students use what they’ve learned in a team-style trivia game where correct answers move them through an obstacle course.

Along with the games, Grassroot Soccer also works with Ray of Light, a dance troupe of teens that help the students learn about HIV and AIDS through dance.

Once the program is completed, parents and family members are invited to a graduation ceremony where students are congratulated for their work. In one instance, parents told Clark that having their children go through the program gave them the courage to tell the children that both parents were HIV-positive.

“There’s such a stigma about HIV and AIDS,” Clark says. “Stories like that are so encouraging.”

Grassroot Soccer graduates put their hands together on June 3, 2005, after completing a two-week HIV and AIDS education course at Mawaba Primary School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Grassroot also has a sister program for U.S. students called KickAIDS. Through the program, sports teams coordinate an education campaign that includes HIV/AIDS awareness, but focuses more intently on helping America’s young people understand the plight of Africa’s youth.

“It was a notion that it’s important that American kids understand what’s going on over there,” Clark says, “and encouraging them to be advocates in their community.”

The program includes a viewing of A Closer Walk, a documentary about Africa and AIDS narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith. Students then organize fund-raisers, be they juggle-a-thons for soccer players or swim-a-thons for swim teams, with the proceeds going to Grassroot Soccer.

The group does have one American superstar contributing to its mission, although he’s better known for his reality TV appearances then his soccer skills. Ethan Zohn, a two-time Survivor competitor, including his $1 million victory in Africa, has used almost all of his stardom to highlight the programs of Grassroot Soccer, including wearing a T-shirt with the group’s logo during his stint on Survivor All-Stars. Zohn now coordinates the group’s American programs.

Heading back

Keeney returned home with photos of the hope that children in Zimbabwe get from the program. Grassroot now uses the pictures for fund-raising events and on the website to garner attention for the plight of Africans struggling with HIV/AIDS and the need for preventive education for Africa’s future. Clark says he has Keeney’s photos on his cellphone and his computer.

“She continues to be a big part of the organization,” he says. “She’s made herself invaluable.”

Keeney also notes the importance of pictures to show Zimbabwe’s children confronting their country’s struggles.

“A lot of the images you see from Africa are really desperate pictures,” she says. “Kids with flies all over their faces, which is definitely happening. But there’s also the other side of the story, where there is so much hope and desire for change.”

The response to the work of Grassroot has been very positive in Charleston, Keeney says, likely stemming from the program’s proactive approach.

“People like to see an organization that is doing something positive on the prevention side,” she says, noting the photographs she brought back show the realities of AIDS in Africa. “It helps having pictures. It puts a face to a name.”

Since her trip, Keeney has given Grassroot free use of her photos, providing about $10,000 in fund raising. Through local programs, she’s tried to educate South Carolinians about the dangers of HIV and AIDS a world away and here at home.

“It’s become a big part of me,” she says. “It’s nice to do something I love and help out a good organization.”

From the time she stepped foot on the plane to come back to the states, Keeney says she was ready to plan another trip back. She’ll be returning to Africa in a few weeks for a two-month stay with the help of local contributors, including Kudu Coffeehouse owner John Saunders.

The trip will begin in Botswana and Zambia, where she will document Grassroot Soccer’s other programs before heading back to Zimbabwe. She’ll then visit South Africa, where Grassroot is working with local mining camps to expand the AIDS education program. After harsh rebukes towards South Africa during the recent AIDS summit, education is a top priority.

“There’s a lot of pressure to set it up,” Keeney says. Grassroot will be a good fit for South Africa, with the 2010 World Cup planned in the country.

Before she goes, Keeney is holding two special events this weekend to go toward her work with Grassroot. On Saturday, Sept. 9, Kudu Coffee House will host a fund-raiser from 6-8 p.m. with prints for sale, a silent auction, door prizes, and music by Toca Toca. Beer and wine will be served. Keeney will also have a table set up at the Charleston Battery game against Rochester at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10, at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island. All profits from both events will go to Grassroot Soccer.

One teen that helps Grassroot Soccer with its education programs told Keeney that these children take the message just as seriously as the adults do.

“He said, ‘We’re the future of Zimbabwe. If we don’t make change, there won’t be a Zimbabwe,'” she says. “They realize something has to be done.”

For more information, visit

www.grassrootsoccer.org or www.kickaids.org.

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1 comments posted for this article

jdewars411, Downtown 9/ 6/2006 – 4:35pm

With so many people dying from this terrible disease, I am glad to see some coverage on those who are working so hard to fight back. As a young individual, Alice Keeney’s efforts to help with aids awareness through Grass Roots Soccer is truly inspiring. If only there were more people like her in this world…

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148 Responses to “New mainstream coverage of rethinkers”

  1. Truthseeker Says:

    For the population of voluntary blood donors in the study, the prevalence was much lower than 1 in 300, so there were 9 false positives for every true positive.

    Which is, of course, why nobody is recommending EIA alone for screening of low risk populations.

    Well, let’s hope the CDC is right in its unvarying estimate of around 1 million HIV positives year in and year out in the US since whenever in the 80s they started making this guesstimate, which is in itself a fatuous thing – a steady prevalence is not the characteristic of a spreading epidemic, and certainly not a declining one, unless the rather remarkable circumstance obtains whereby those carted off feet first ie dying each year equals the number newly infected, which is hardly on the cards.

    Anyhow if this absurdly consistent guess is accurate and there are 1 million positives in the US, then according to this there will be 350,000 needlessly panicked people following their initial Elisa in your proposed nationwide sweep, who will presumably calm down after their WBlot fails to confirm their new status, but who will then take a great interest in what is up in this unreviewed caper.

    If however as you frankly note the rate is closer to that of blood donors ie 9 wrong for one right, you will have up to 9 million panicked people, which is certainly too many dissatisfied and angry customers for even the soothingly authoritative Anthony “Just ask me” Fauci to contend with.

    No wonder no one is recommending an Elisa sweep, without WBlot confirmation (not that 100% reliable, let’s note, probably have to be two each), but have your fellow club members considered what level of exposure of unreliability in the media this will achieve, and what the public will think of it, especially the 9 million?

    Perhaps there will be fewer, five or four million, but that is still enough people enquiring as to what is under all the shells of this shell game to give Tony “We know best” Fauci pause, wouldn’t you say?

  2. pat Says:

    “How is this prevalence determined?

    “In the study I cited by EIA and Western blot, followed up with serology and PCR.”

    Voodoo?

  3. kevin Says:

    trrll wrote:

    there simply is no substitute for becoming familiar enough with the methodology and terminology to read the primary literature.

    I’ve read the “primary literature”, and I find it lacking. It won’t impress me until they sequence the HIV genome from an isolate of human origins. Growing it in a lab is not the same as extracting it from a human, particualarly when the human is said to be in a state of ill-health caused by the pathogen in question. I still believe that causation requires the presence of that actual virus, not residual DNA, but I guess I’m old-fashioned, that way.

    You can’t capture the gist of how HIV is sequenced for the same reason that you can’t capture the offending organism in AIDS patients…because it doesn’t exit in any significant quantities unless it is grown in a lab. Lots of things can be grown in a lab that are not pathogenic to human beings.

    Kevin

  4. kevin Says:

    Trrll wrote:
    It is a mathematical certainty the the percentage of positives that turn out to be false will depend upon the prevalence of the disease.

    Such mathematical certainties are only relevant if the disease in question is legitmately described. That is where the HIV hypothesis falters; it has failed to prove that the prevelance of positivity actually determines an eventual disease state. Thus, prevalence is dependent upon proving caustion. Consequently, assumptions based on correlation, as opposed to causation, have been given inappropriate status, and the perverted science supporting the HIV establishment is built upon these assumptions of dubious value.

    Of course, this critique is presented in laymen terms and thus may be beyond your comprehesion, Dr. Trrll.

    Kevin

  5. trrll Says:

    Such mathematical certainties are only relevant if the disease in question is legitmately described. That is where the HIV hypothesis falters; it has failed to prove that the prevelance of positivity actually determines an eventual disease state. Thus, prevalence is dependent upon proving caustion.

    No, that’s nonsense. Prevalence is a completely different question from causality. Even a harmless infection has prevalence, and is subject to the same mathematics as a deadly one.

    Your fringe belief that HIV infection poses little threat would reasonably influence your decision of whether to treat the infection if you have it, but it has nothing to do with the frequency of false positives.

  6. trrll Says:

    I’ve read the “primary literature”, and I find it lacking.

    Odd. So if you have read the primary literature and done the background reading to understand it, why were you asking me to explain it to you in layman’s terms? Why didn’t you seem to know that HIV has been sequenced multiple times?

    You can’t capture the gist of how HIV is sequenced for the same reason that you can’t capture the offending organism in AIDS patients…because it doesn’t exit in any significant quantities unless it is grown in a lab. Lots of things can be grown in a lab that are not pathogenic to human beings.

    You keep using that word “culture,” but I don’t think it means what you think it means. To “culture” an organism means “to grow it in a lab.” Whether or not something can be cultured has nothing whatsoever to do with its pathogenicity. Many harmless organisms can be cultured from human tissue.

  7. trrll Says:

    Anyhow if this absurdly consistent guess is accurate and there are 1 million positives in the US, then according to this there will be 350,000 needlessly panicked people following their initial Elisa in your proposed nationwide sweep, who will presumably calm down after their WBlot fails to confirm their new status, but who will then take a great interest in what is up in this unreviewed caper.

    Why would you want to worry people by reporting a partial result before the full test is completed? Carry out the full series of assays and report the final result.

  8. AF Says:

    Trrll: The nurse who tested me told me I am definitely positive after a positive ELISA and a reactive WB. She never said ANYTHING about *confirming* my ‘diagnosis’ with serology and PCR. Of course, I had written that I am a sexually-active gay man on the questionnaire.

    So, I am a true positive, right? Couldn’t my results have been caused by antibody cross-reaction (even on the WB)? Why does a soccer mom get off the hook if her antibodies cross-react, but I am somehow truly infected?

    I understand almost everything you’re saying about testing, but determining ‘real’ positives seems like too much interpretation and circular reasoning. People should be able to take these tests without divulging their sexual orientation, sexual history, etc. Until that time, I will think the interpretation of these tests is biased.

  9. trrll Says:

    Trrll: The nurse who tested me told me I am definitely positive after a positive ELISA and a reactive WB. She never said ANYTHING about *confirming* my ‘diagnosis’ with serology and PCR. Of course, I had written that I am a sexually-active gay man on the questionnaire.

    So, I am a true positive, right? Couldn’t my results have been caused by antibody cross-reaction (even on the WB)? Why does a soccer mom get off the hook if her antibodies cross-react, but I am somehow truly infected?

    Remember that the chance of a false positive by both tests is less than 1 in 100,000. So it could be some sort of cross reaction, but the chances are not good, particularly if you are in a high risk group, where your risk of infection is much greater than that. But for somebody in a low risk group, whose chance of infection might itself be 1 in 100,000, a positive result is much less convincing.

    I know that it is frustrating to be told that something so crucial to your health is a matter of statistics, but that is the way the mathematics work, not just for HIV but for all diagnostic testing. If you want to pursue greater certainty with further testing, you can certainly do so, but don’t get your hopes up.

  10. MacDonald Says:

    Remember that the chance of a false positive by both tests is less than 1 in 100,000.

    So Trrll, out of 100,000 who test positive less than one is a false positive, is that what you’re telling AF?

    Or would it be that out of 100,000 tests, positive, negative, indeterminate, tentative etc. there’s less than one false positive?

    If the latter be the case, wouldn’t you say “hard mathematics” reveal false positive odds quite different from those you peddle for individuals who’ve already tested positive , since I suppose it’s in that group you find your false positives?

  11. Truthseeker Says:


    A nationwide sweep with Elisas will result in havoc until the millions of false positives are denied by WBlots, not only in the period for each individual between the two tests (certainly there is a delay with at home tests, and one assumes with most Elisas), but afterwards, when the customers will still be agitated and complain vociferously.

    If you want to pursue greater certainty with further testing, you can certainly do so, but don’t get your hopes up.

    Hopes up? What is this, a discussion of whether the premise of all this testing is valid, or a discussion where the meme rules without any question? A discussion of whether the tests have any real meaning, or whether they work or not? If they do work only with repeated confirmation, and perhaps not even then, does it really matter when the whole set of assumptions behind them are faulty in the extreme, not only according to the critics but according to mainstream literature, which continually adds (eg JAMA and NEJ recently) evidence that they are theoretically corrupt and of no scientific significance?

    There is no reason in the literature, and countless reasons against, to take tests seriously, even if they work, which is doubtful, and mean
    anything in themselves as evidence of a virus, which seems to be ever more questionable the more one looks into it.

    “Hopes up”, indeed. The reason for hope is that the whole performance is meaningless, except as a dance of the witchdoctor. There is no excuse for any Harvard graduate to support this scheme, if reason and science are still valued there, which admittedly seems doubtful with professors of flying saucers and presidents who are kicked out for raising a purely scientific point about the possible difference between girls and boys in mathematical interest and performance, on which he took no position himself.

  12. kevin Says:

    Trrll wrote:
    You keep using that word “culture,”

    I haven’t used the word “culture” even once. You’re the one who apparently cannot read. I used the word “capture” a couple of times, but if you look closely you’ll see that two of the vowels are different, thereby creating an entirely different word!

    My post:
    Lots of things can be grown in a lab that are not pathogenic to human beings.

    Your post:
    Many harmless organisms can be cultured from human tissue.

    These two claims are not mutually exclusive. A harmless organism is a harmless organism, regardless of origin. However, a pathogenic organism is only pathogenic if it is shown to be destructive to human health, in some way. You must prove the nature of that destruction, otherwise it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the organism might very well be harmless.

    Your fringe belief that HIV infection poses little threat would reasonably influence your decision of whether to treat the infection if you have it… –Trrll

    It is even more reasonable that one’s decision not to be tested should be influenced by twenty years of failed science. Then the treatment decision is not given first billing, even though it may break the heart of pharmaceutical reps around the world. Besides, a fringe belief based on logic and reason is far more compelling than a mainstream belief built on lies and deception.

    Trrll wrote:
    Odd. So if you have read the primary literature and done the background reading to understand it, why were you asking me to explain it to you in layman’s terms? Why didn’t you seem to know that HIV has been sequenced multiple times?

    I knew that HIV had supposedly been sequenced, but I just wanted to hear an expert such as yourself explain the process…you know, capture the essence of the process for the layman, but alas you were unwilling or is it unable? Yeah, that’s what you said:
    …there simply is no substitute for becoming familiar enough with the methodology and terminology to read the primary literature. –Trrll
    Pity. I wish I could just accept the methodology and the terminology, but after all the specious science conducted in the name of HIV, you can color me skeptical.

    Now, if HIV is ever extracted from an actual human being and then sequenced from that specimen, then my skepticism might dissolve. Until then, then burden of proof is still unfulfilled and I stand by my previous statement, particularly with regards to establishing prevelance:

    Such mathematical certainties are only relevant if the disease in question is legitmately described.

  13. Martel Says:

    Lise,

    I’m sorry if you are insulted by the everyday references I used to illustrate my points. I assure you: that these examples were the first to come to my mind tells you alot more about WHO I AM than what I think about you.

    (As an aside, why would anyone (with one or two specific exceptions) on this site think I’m a man, a sexist male pig at that? Can only men be verbose? Maybe you’ve put my turgid writing style through some FBI program that ID’ed me as a man?)

    I gave my examples after you, Lise, claimed an unfamiliarity with molecular biology. Think of me whatever you like, but be assured that I mean to insult no one.

  14. Martel Says:

    Hello John,

    Please forgive my inability to adequately understand your position. I really want to comprehend it, and would very much appreciate some clarification.

    If you don’t mind, please help me out and let me know if you AGREE with the following statements, and, if not, on which points you disagree:

    1. Diagnostic protein-based tests for HIV like ELISA or Western blot often come up positive because they are actually measuring normal human proteins and/or human proteins that have somehow been altered (cleaved or even mutated) because of an underlying disease state (e.g. one that would cause oxidative stress as outlined in Eleni’s 1988 paper that you linked).

    2. PCR-based diagnostic tests that come up positive are NOT amplifying HIV genetic material; rather, they artefactually amplify small segments of the human genome that are nearly or completely identical with segments in the “HIV” genome, or else are amplifying small segments of the human genome that have hypermutated into near-identity with “HIV” sequences as a result of an underlying disease state like oxidative stress.

    3. “HIV” is not a transmissible virus, and may not even exist outside the laboratory. It is a construct that evolved under highly artifical, highly mutagenic conditions in cancerous, aberrant cell culture in the lab by hypermutation from many small segments of the human genome…and was “isolated” or even partially fabricated from these highly contrived cell cultures by scientists like Bob Gallo.

  15. trrll Says:

    Now, if HIV is ever extracted from an actual human being and then sequenced from that specimen, then my skepticism might dissolve.

    I’m curious as to where you imagine that the many sequenced isolates of HIV were obtained from, other than actual human beings?

  16. trrll Says:

    I knew that HIV had supposedly been sequenced, but I just wanted to hear an expert such as yourself explain the process…you know, capture the essence of the process for the layman, but alas you were unwilling or is it unable?

    Because there is not a single answer. HIV has been sequenced many times, from a variety of sources, using a variety of sequencing methods. So yes, I am unable in a few paragraphs to “capture” the methodology and results of dozens of studies in a way that is in “layman’s terms” but nonetheless carries enough detail for it to be evaluated.

    As I said before, sometimes there is just no substitute for actually reading the primary literature.

  17. trrll Says:

    So Trrll, out of 100,000 who test positive less than one is a false positive, is that what you’re telling AF?

    Or would it be that out of 100,000 tests, positive, negative, indeterminate, tentative etc. there’s less than one false positive?

    The latter. I think that this was pretty clear, but you could always actually look at the paper I cited if you didn’t understand what I meant.

    If the latter be the case, wouldn’t you say “hard mathematics” reveal false positive odds quite different from those you peddle for individuals who’ve already tested positive, since I suppose it’s in that group you find your false positives?

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. The odds of any individual test giving a false positive result are constant. However, the odds that the person who receives a positive result is actually infected by HIV depend both on the odds per test and on the prevalence of the disease. So for the example I cited, if the prevalence of the virus is less than 1 in 100,000, then false positives will outnumber true positives. If the prevalence of the virus is greater than 1 in 100,000, then the true positives will outnumber false positives. The number of false positives is the same in either case; all that differs is the number of people who are actually infected.

  18. Martel Says:

    I don’t think Trrll answered this part of Kevin’s question:
    “has it also been established as to whether or not those proteins are unique to HIV?”

    The HIV proteins are not unique to HIV. In the laboratory, many HIV proteins can be functionally substituted for comparable proteins (orthologs, I suppose) of closely-related retroviruses, such as the different SIVs, Visna-Maedi virus (affecting sheep), and Caprine retrovirus (goats).
    However, the HIV proteins ARE unique in the sense that no HIV protein has been found encoded in the human genome. The human genome of multiple individuals has been sequenced in its entirety, multiple times over. No sequences that significantly match any part of HIV have been found. Not even in the non-coding sequences (the majority of the human genome) from which no proteins are made.

  19. Martel Says:

    TS wrote,

    A nationwide sweep with Elisas will result in havoc until the millions of false positives are denied by WBlots, not only in the period for each individual between the two tests (certainly there is a delay with at home tests, and one assumes with most Elisas), but afterwards, when the customers will still be agitated and complain vociferously.

    The FDA has not, to my knowledge, approved ANY home test in which results are read by the tested individual. ALL approved home tests involve taking one’s own blood sample via finger-prick and sending the blood to a laboratory. EIA or ELISA is performed and followed up with a Western blot in the case of a positive result.

    Neither in the case of these so-called “home tests” nor in the case of any other HIV test should an individual be informed of a positive EIA or ELISA result before confirmatory tests like WB are also performed to confirm or deny the original result.

  20. john Says:

    Hello Martel,

    Here my answers :

    1. Diagnostic protein-based tests for HIV like ELISA or Western blot often come up positive because they are actually measuring normal human proteins and/or human proteins that have somehow been altered (cleaved or even mutated) because of an underlying disease state (e.g. one that would cause oxidative stress as outlined in Eleni’s 1988 paper that you linked).

    These proteins are for me initially normal proteins then altered by the oxydative stress. Where from the background noise of all the tests ” HIV “.

    2. PCR-based diagnostic tests that come up positive are NOT amplifying HIV genetic material; rather, they artefactually amplify small segments of the human genome that are nearly or completely identical with segments in the “HIV” genome, or else are amplifying small segments of the human genome that have hypermutated into near-identity with “HIV” sequences as a result of an underlying disease state like oxidative stress.

    These fragments would be only small segments of the human genome that have selectively hypermutated or obtained by frameshifting as result of oxidative stress.

    3. “HIV” is not a transmissible virus, and may not even exist outside the laboratory. It is a construct that evolved under highly artifical, highly mutagenic conditions in cancerous, aberrant cell culture in the lab by hypermutation from many small segments of the human genome…and was “isolated” or even partially fabricated from these highly contrived cell cultures by scientists like Bob Gallo.

    A priori, I do not really agree with them. I think that the culture with phytohemagglutinin amplifies a latent phenomenon of oxidation, and that this amplification is all the more important as the initial oxydative stress is important.

    From this paper, we obtain the evolution of the rate of T4 in cultures resulting from persons considered as infected and as not infected, with or without phytohemagglutinin.

    Without PHA, non infected :
    Day 0 : 34, Day 2 : 38, Day 6 : 25
    With PHA, non infected :
    Day 0 : 34, Day 2 : 28, Day 6 : 10
    With PHA, infected :
    Day 0 : 34, Day 2 : 30, Day 6 : 3

    We should reasonably conclude from this that the AIDS is a quantitative (metabolic) and not qualitative (viral) phenomenon.

    However now we give the central role to the oxidative stress (and not whatever, but the one who leads to the forming of nitrogen monoxide and peroxynitrite), we can explain how he appears according to every type of risk.

    For example, here is a publication among others which shows that the presence of phytohemagglutinin is associated with an increase of the synthesis of NO.

    Better, it was also shown that the antimycobacterial effects of isoniazide, the tuberculostatic very used in Africa… This discovery can better allow to understand those of Guisselquist and al. result from its metabolic oxidation there NO.

    Méthamphétamine, a secondary amine, and cocain, a tertiary amine are easily oxidized in hydroxylamine and N-oxyde, themselves source of NO.

    Even the “virological” properties of the ARV’s can be explained by the involvement of NO and peroxynitrites.

  21. MacDonald Says:

    I don’t know what they teach at Harvard these days apart from wilful misunderstanding. But just like you I’m curious as to whether you noticed that your dodgy little question to Kevin:

    I’m curious as to where you imagine that the many sequenced isolates of HIV were obtained from, other than actual human beings?

    appeared only a couple of inches under this:

    It is a construct that evolved under highly artifical, highly mutagenic conditions in cancerous, aberrant cell culture in the lab by hypermutation from many small segments of the human genome…and was “isolated” or even partially fabricated from these highly contrived cell cultures by scientists like Bob Gallo.

    I conclude you have a special interest in a dialogue with Kevin since this wasn’t good enough. We also have a special interest in a dialogue with you. Allow me to repeat from Michael Geiger’s letter:

    You are bright enough to admit in your own words in the link above, the cellularly destructive ability of meth as regards brain cells, and are seemingly completely unable (or more like unwilling) to suppose that it may also destroy the immune system, and instead choose to wholly blame HIV for the supposed AIDS destruction of the immune system, wasting, and dementia claimed to be due to HIV. You are obviously able to see the harm caused by meth use in brain cells and you ignorantly suppose that the damage stops there. Is there some intelligent reason to consider the ravaging effect of meth on the immune system? Is there some intelligent reason why you wish to blame the obvious damage on the immune system strictly on HIV?

    Terrell G, a real scientist, presented with all of the information that you have been presented with by the AIDS Dissent community, would never stop questioning the mainline HIV = AIDS hype or mindlessly spout that he knows what is going on with it all as you regularly seem to do on NAR, especially after seeing the damage in animals due to meth. Are you just getting old or lazy, or what?

    As someone who is so quick to pounce on and wilfully misinterpret any little ambiguity in other people’s formulations, as evidenced by your infantile question to Kevin, you should work a little on your own writing skills. Here’s what you told AF when he said he’d tested positive on Elisa and WB:

    Remember that the chance of a false positive by both tests is less than 1 in 100,000. So it could be some sort of cross reaction, but the chances are not good, particularly if you are in a high risk group,

    Your read and comprehend skills obviously haven’t improved either, so I restate my point, which you must be the only one in the world (apart maybe from Chris Noble) who didn’t get the first time:

    What the f… has the 1 in 100,000 figure got to do with the odds that AF is false positive?

    The REAL question is, out of the (initially) positive tests ONLY, how many turn out to be false positive?

    That figure is NOT 1 in 100,000, not even for ‘high risk’ groups, is it now?

  22. john Says:

    According to Gigerenzer and Hoffrage, the percentage of false positive tests in non-risk groups is below 50%, after Elisa and WB.

  23. john Says:

    I have make an error :

    According to Gigerenzer and Hoffrage, the percentage of false positive tests in non-risk groups is above 50%, after Elisa and WB.

  24. trrll Says:

    What the f… has the 1 in 100,000 figure got to do with the odds that AF is false positive?

    I fail to understand why you don’t see the relationship between the frequency of false positive outcomes and the odds that a person’s positive outcome is false. Perhaps if you could explain your point of confusion in more detail?

    The REAL question is, out of the (initially) positive tests ONLY, how many turn out to be false positive?
    That figure is NOT 1 in 100,000, not even for ‘high risk’ groups, is it now?

    Actually it works out to be very close to that The actual figure from the study that I cited was 1 false positive in 250,000 assays. The CDC has reported the prevalence of HIV among men who have sex with men is about 25%. So out of 250,000 men in that group, one will have a false positive result, and 100,000 will have true positive result, giving a net probability than an individual positive result is false of 1 in 100,000. Of course, all of these estimates have statistical uncertainty associated with them, but not large enough to alter the conclusion that the probability that the result is correct is very high.

  25. trrll Says:

    Oops. A quarter of 250,000 is of course 62,500, not 100,000. And since I’m now doing it carefully, I should really adjust for the fact that only those who are actually negative are eligible to be false positive. So that gives odds of 1 in 83,000 that a positive result is false in this group.

    (Not that it really matters; I wouldn’t trust a calculation of this nature closer than within order of magnitude, anyway)

  26. Martel Says:

    John,

    Thanks for your clarification; I think something is starting to get through my thick skull.

    How would you rewrite the following statement to represent your own views?

    “HIV”…is a construct that evolved under highly artifical, highly mutagenic conditions in cancerous, aberrant cell culture in the lab by hypermutation from many small segments of the human genome…and was “isolated” or even partially fabricated from these highly contrived cell cultures by scientists like Bob Gallo.

    Would this be more like it?

    “‘HIV’is an chain of small pieces of human DNA, excised from the genome, recombined, and hypermutated under conditions of high oxidative stress.”

  27. john Says:

    exactly…

  28. MacDonald Says:

    Thanks Trrll.

    Always a pleasure doing business with you.

    And now that the numbers have been adjusted, some doubled, some halved, and statistical inaccuracies allowed into the equation that’s dooming real people, what about these questions

    “There is ample evidence that it is possible for psychoactive drugs – and stimulants in particular – to harm the brain,” said Dr Terrell G, of the Boston University School of Medicine, whose research has shown that high doses of amphetamines can cause brain damage in animals.

    You are bright enough to admit in your own words in the link above, the cellularly destructive ability of meth as regards brain cells, and are seemingly completely unable (or more like unwilling) to suppose that it may also destroy the immune system, and instead choose to wholly blame HIV for the supposed AIDS destruction of the immune system, wasting, and dementia claimed to be due to HIV. You are obviously able to see the harm caused by meth use in brain cells and you ignorantly suppose that the damage stops there. Is there some intelligent reason to consider the ravaging effect of meth on the immune system? Is there some intelligent reason why you wish to blame the obvious damage on the immune system strictly on HIV?

    Terrell G, a real scientist, presented with all of the information that you have been presented with by the AIDS Dissent community, would never stop questioning the mainline HIV = AIDS hype or mindlessly spout that he knows what is going on with it all as you regularly seem to do on NAR, especially after seeing the damage in animals due to meth. Are you just getting old or lazy, or what?

    I find it odd, Dr. Trrll, that you’re so enthusiastic and helpful when it comes to HIV/AIDS, an issue that’s self-admittedly not your forte, but disinclined to discuss the points where it does intersect with your own research.

  29. Truthseeker Says:

    The REAL question is, out of the (initially) positive tests ONLY, how many turn out to be false positive?

    That figure is NOT 1 in 100,000, not even for ‘high risk’ groups, is it now? macD

    The actual figure from the study that I cited was 1 false positive in 250,000 assays. T

    (Or would it be that out of 100,000 tests, positive, negative, indeterminate, tentative etc. there’s less than one false positive?) The latter. I think that this was pretty clear, but you could always actually look at the paper I cited if you didn’t understand what I meant. T

    Not being in the library we can nevertheless report from a reliable informant who examined said study, False-Positive HIV-1 Test Results in a Low-Risk Screening Setting of Voluntary Blood…Kleinman et al. JAMA.1998; 280: 1080-1085, that it reveals the following remarkable fact:

    When two Elisa’s score positive in succession on a sample, and one hundred such double positive samples are subjected to the rigors of the Western Blot, 91 are revealed to be negative, ie false.

    REPEAT: Even double Elisa’s are 91% false in blood donors, the low risk population was sampled in that study, according to the followup Western Blot.

    REPEAT: Even double ELISA’s are 91% false.

    According to the very study you quoted!

    Let’s think about this for a second. How about Africa?

    We have either NO test in Africa or ONE Elisa in Africa! Oh dear.

    We must investigate how many Elisa’s were used in the original handful of natal clinics in South Africa from which the figure for how many positive people there were in sub Saharan Africa was extrapolated.

    Could it be they extrapolated to all men and wmen in sub Sahara the figures of Elisa tests of pregnant women in natal clinics in South Africa, which are a) 91% false and b) probably even more often false since a) pregnant woman tend to generate retroviral material (see recent research) from their placentae, and b) the Western Blot is somewhat fallible too, finding 5% positives where none are there.

    Could it be that the entire African (and by extension Asian) HIV∫AIDS scare, the world wide, global, all encompassing AIDS pandemic about to swallow us all up if we will only agree to be tested, is at least 91% null and void ??!! An empty claim, a dead parrot of a pusillanimous petrified pandemic, a pandemic that is no more than a result of a NIAID Gallo Essex Baltimore shell game aided by the decline in Harvard education now exhibited by one of its staunch supporters.

    One who has the temerity to quote a study revealing this truth to all under the misapprehension that it supports the current paradigm.

    A paradigm which appears to behave rather like an egg boiled dry under the constant flame of AIDS dissent, exploding and covering the faces of its supporters with shame and degradation?

    Does the pandemic paradigm go pouf?!

    Tell us it aint so, Trrll, if it is still your shift, or are you going to retired exhausted and let Noble have his turn in the stocks? Do you arrange this by email behind our backs?

    Surely not. But solo or duo it is certainly a fruitful act. Thank you for it. You contribute a great deal.

  30. trrll Says:

    REPEAT: Even double Elisa’s are 91% false in blood donors, the low risk population was sampled in that study, according to the followup Western Blot.

    REPEAT: Even double ELISA’s are 91% false.

    And your point is what? That ELISA is not adequate to reliably diagnose HIV infection in a low-risk population, and needs to be followed up by (at least) Western blot?

    Haven’t I already said that? Several times?

    Let’s think about this for a second. How about Africa?

    So now you want to talk about Africa?

    I certainly agree that IF the incidence of HIV in Africa were as low as in the population of voluntary blood donors in the US, with a true positive rate of under 0.01%, then ELISA would give a quite inflated estimate of HIV incidence in Africa. So is that the case?

    In fact there have been studies that confirmed ELISA with Western blot in Africa. For example, this study found incidence in Central African Republic towns ranging from 5 to 20% so the false positive rate of 0.1% (per assay) or so from ELISA is not going to have much impact on the statistics.

    Another way to look at that false positive rate from ELISA is that it can’t account for more than a fraction of a percent of HIV positives, no matter what the population incidence. So once you start seeing numbers substantially larger than that, you cannot appeal to ELISA false positives as an explanation.

    Whether anti-HIV treatment in Africa should be based solely on positive ELISA without follow-up confirmation is a complex social, economic, and ethical question, balancing monetary costs of assays and drugs against the human costs of false positive diagnoses. This is not a question on which I feel qualified to comment, and there is not much point in discussing it around here, anyway, since I imagine that most discussants on this board would oppose treatment even if the test were completely infallible.

  31. Truthseeker Says:

    Whether anti-HIV treatment in Africa should be based solely on positive ELISA without follow-up confirmation is a complex social, economic, and ethical question, balancing monetary costs of assays and drugs against the human costs of false positive diagnoses

    With a failure rate of 91% in a low rate population, it is hardly a complex question. As a matter of interest, why is the 91% failing Elisa going to show a better performance in a higher rate population in any meaningful sense, since the higher accuracy is simply the result of random success, is it not? Amid so many false ratings, the true ones become questionable individually too.

    The study you quote shows that the false tests are drowned amid the true positives, so the accuracy obviously is higher.

    A total of 2,259 persons were tested from 17 sites from 10 cities and towns. Between 2.7% and 30.7%, by site, were positive for HIV-1 by repeat EIA and Western blot confirmation (Table). A higher HIV-1 prevalence (25.3% to 30.7%) was observed among STD clinic attendees, whereas the prevalence among women at prenatal care clinics was generally >5% and as high as 16.7% (the exception was the lower rate in women from the prenatal care clinic in Gamboula.

    We have to agree with what you say in saying that

    there is not much point in discussing it around here, anyway, since I imagine that most discussants on this board would oppose treatment even if the test were completely infallible.

    but the question remains, what is causing all these positive tests? 30.7% positive for HIV-1 approaches evidence that this is not HIV-1 actually causing the tests to react, we have to say. One third of the population have somehow contracted an agent that is sexually intransmissible?
    Perhaps someone should look into who is running the hospitals there and using so many dirty needles, would you say?

    Absurdity piled on absurdity, from where we stand. Anyhow, you seem to take the point that Elisa’s are wildly inaccurate except in populations with a high prevalence of HIV. Judging from the figure of 91% plus, your statement of

    That ELISA is not adequate to reliably diagnose HIV infection in a low-risk population, and needs to be followed up by (at least) Western blot?

    Haven’t I already said that? Several times?

    is completely inadequate.

    The correct statement is that ELISA’s are worse than useless in a low risk population, quite apart from the design of these things being justified in a circular fashion, which this comment thread has now exposed, among other indications that the whole construct of an epidemic let alone a pandemic is a fantasy.

    Cute how you make small admissions though.

  32. trrll Says:

    With a failure rate of 91% in a low rate population, it is hardly a complex question.

    Certainly not, so I’m not sure why you are obsessing about it.

    The (not complex) answer is that ELISA alone will not give valid numbers in a low prevalence population, which is why nobody is using it for that. With appropriate follow-up assays, however, reliable HIV testing can be carried out even in low prevalence populations. This obviously is irrelevant to Africa. If prevalence in Africa were so low that it could reasonably be appreciably confounded by ELISA false positives, then nobody would be concerned about HIV in Africa.

    As a matter of interest, why is the 91% failing Elisa going to show a better performance in a higher rate population in any meaningful sense, since the higher accuracy is simply the result of random success, is it not?

    Depends upon what you mean by “better performance.” The probability per assay of a false positives is the same in either population, so in a certain absolute sense its performance is the same. On the other hand, its predictive power (the probability that a positive result indicates the presence of the virus) is much higher in a high prevalence population, as it is for all diagnostic tests, so even though its performance is the same, its usefulness is much greater.

    The role of random factors is basically the same as for any kind of measurement of anything. Any measurement will have some level of random “noise,” and a signal can be measured reliably only if it is above the noise. As a result, the measurement will give meaningful results only when the signal being measured is in an appropriate range for the method of measurement being used.

    but the question remains, what is causing all these positive tests? 30.7% positive for HIV-1 approaches evidence that this is not HIV-1 actually causing the tests to react, we have to say.

    You are obviously using the word “evidence” in a manner very different from the way in which I understand it. What you are saying seems to translate to “The study indicates a higher frequency of positives than I want to believe, so this is evidence that something else must be causing that high percentage of positive results.”

  33. Chris Noble Says:

    The correct statement is that ELISA’s are worse than useless in a low risk population, quite apart from the design of these things being justified in a circular fashion, which this comment thread has now exposed, among other indications that the whole construct of an epidemic let alone a pandemic is a fantasy.

    Any test that is less than 100% specific has a reduced PPV in low prevalence populations. This is why there is so much debate about what age to start giving women mammograms, what age to give men tests for prostate cancer (if at all). In low risk groups most ‘positive’ mammograms will be false positives. It is a very, very simple fact that is completely obvious to most people.

    For some reason which is not apparent you are not denying the existence of breast cancer and prostate cancer when exactly the same arguments could be applied to these conditions.

  34. Dave Says:

    Ebola virus kills 5,000 gorillas!

    Wow! Must be a really deadly bugger killing all those primates. Hmmm. Reminds me of certain incongruent facts involving another “deadly” virus……….

    Were these gorillas deemed “Ebola positive”?
    Were antibodies to Ebola detected in these gorillas?
    Is it impossible to culture the Ebola viruses from these infected gorillas?
    Is the Ebola virus transmitted by anal sex? Or dirty needles?
    Does the Ebola virus kill gorilla cells through classical lysis (infecting the cell and replicating) or does it kill cells through unknown, indirect methods?
    Do they use PCR to detect the Ebola “viral load”?
    Would AZT have saved these unfortunate gorillas?

    These are many penetrating questions I have:)

  35. chase Says:

    CN, I’m sorry that the completely reasonable statement you made below was followed by some ranting on Ebola:

    Any test that is less than 100% specific has a reduced PPV in low prevalence populations. This is why there is so much debate about what age to start giving women mammograms, what age to give men tests for prostate cancer (if at all). In low risk groups most ‘positive’ mammograms will be false positives. It is a very, very simple fact that is completely obvious to most people.

    For some reason which is not apparent you are not denying the existence of breast cancer and prostate cancer when exactly the same arguments could be applied to these conditions.

    These kinds of run-of-the-mill facts are too often ignored for political, not scientific reasons.

  36. Truthseeker Says:

    In low risk groups most ‘positive’ mammograms will be false positives. It is a very, very simple fact that is completely obvious to most people.

    For some reason which is not apparent you are not denying the existence of breast cancer and prostate cancer when exactly the same arguments could be applied to these conditions.

    Even to you, it seems, that very, very simple fact is completely obvious, Chris, so congratulations on that. But on your second puzzlement, the “some reason” may include the fact that breast cancer rates are not yet at 30% in any population, are they? Sorry to hear it if they are.

    These kinds of run-of-the-mill facts are too often ignored for political, not scientific reasons

    Not sure that the run of the mill fact that Elisa’s are hopelessly inaccurate in low risk populations is being ignored for political reasons by the general population or by anybody at all except the authorities, but certainly there are other things being ignored for political and not scientific reasons.

    One might be the overwhelming evidence against HIV’s capacity or inclination to hurt a fly, a blood cell, a human being or even Chase, which that distinguished poster is still not sure about, last we heard, so he is not thanking anyone for pointing it out for years, yet.

    Another might be that the African countries where doomsday scenarios of disastrous declines in population were predicted a while back based on HIV rates of 30 per cent in prenatal clinics originally detected by… none other than Elisa tests, we believe, instead have boasted embarrassing gains in population, which have helped raise the population of the whole subSahara over the last two decades plus by some one third to three quarters of a billion people, as we recall.

    Of course their portion of the sixty or is it a hundred million now slated to die of AIDS in the next ten or twenty years won’t make much of a dent in that total, so maybe it is time for UNAIDS and WHO back office statistical fiction writers to raise the bar a bit, if they expect African AIDS to continue to be in the headlines once Gates and Clinton have realized how much more important malaria and TB is in the dark continent now being illuminated by the American scientists and journalists who believe that virus hunting in the most important way of raising African health and living standards.

  37. Dave Says:

    Oops. My bad – I thought it was kind of an open thread here, since the discussion has run far afield from the great article about Noreen.

    No more mention of “ebola positive” gorillas.

  38. kevin Says:

    Thanks to McDonald and to Martel, too, for taking the charge to challenge Dr. Twill and his avoidance of my questions. I was busy living and unable to respond until now, but you both filled in more than admirably, particularly the following from Martel:

    I don’t think Trrll answered this part of Kevin’s question:
    “has it also been established as to whether or not those proteins are unique to HIV?”

    The HIV proteins are not unique to HIV. In the laboratory, many HIV proteins can be functionally substituted for comparable proteins (orthologs, I suppose) of closely-related retroviruses, such as the different SIVs, Visna-Maedi virus (affecting sheep), and Caprine retrovirus (goats).

    I appreciate your willingness to answer this most important question–one that Dr. Twill characteristicly avoided. However, isn’t it also true that these proteins can be found in the tissue of many HIV negative individuals, i.e. hasn’t p24 been found in the brain tissue of HIV negative patients?

    __________________________________________________________

    Dr. Twill wrote:

    No, that’s nonsense. Prevalence is a completely different question from causality.

    Talk about nonsense…I’m gonna make this real simple for the doctor and perhaps he’ll come down from his high horse long enough to consider the true intent of my criticism on this point.

    Causality is absolutely related to prevelance when considering the accuracy of HIV tests. You are trying to argue that prevelance can be be established without first proving causality, but the reasons you cannot prove causality forbid you from meaningfully discussing prevalence. First and foremost, you cannot prove the presence of the virus in individual cases; therefore, you have no right to make claims about HIV’s prevelance in larger populations. Furthermore, you don’t even have the right to make claims about the prevalence of HIV atibodies until you first prove that those antibodies are specific to the proteins that are claimed to be specific to HIV. This collossal lack of specificity is indeed damning, if not laughable, and biased scientific rhetoric will not change that, no matter how familiar one becomes with the “terminology.” I hate to repeat myself but since your comprehesion skills evidently fail to function outside of the world of HIV pollyanna, I offer the following simplified complaint:

    Once an organism is legitimately describe, only then can its prevalence in larger populations be accurately estimated. Fortunately, the legitimate description of a pathogenic organism usually entails causation, and, then and only then, will a discussion of prevelance be both relevant and meaningful.

    Kevin

  39. trrll Says:

    First and foremost, you cannot prove the presence of the virus in individual cases

    While no assay for any virus or other infectious agent is absolutely free from some level of statistical error, HIV assays approach the limits of reliability for any such assay. The PCR test, with appropriate replicates and controls can indeed prove the presence of the virus.

    Furthermore, you don’t even have the right to make claims about the prevalence of HIV atibodies until you first prove that those antibodies are specific to the proteins that are claimed to be specific to HIV.

    No antibody assay for anything is absolutely free of cross reaction. Nevertheless, correlation of antibody results with PCR demonstrates that the antibody assays have an error rate of well under 1%. Again, this is quite good for an antibody test. It is truly remarkable that two tests, using entirely different methods (antibody assays detect the presence of antibodies against HIV proteins; PCR assays detect the presence of specific nucleic acid sequences that are found only in the virus and nowhere in normal human DNA) should agree to such a great extent. If the early claims of HIV critics had been right, and the antibody tests were not actually detecting infection, then the whole story would have collapsed once PCR became available. Critics of the test must now argue that antibody tests and PCR tests are both producing artifactual results by different mechanisms which–purely by coincidence–happen to agree to better than 99%. Quite a remarkable coincidence!

    Once an organism is legitimately describe, only then can its prevalence in larger populations be accurately estimated. Fortunately, the legitimate description of a pathogenic organism usually entails causation, and, then and only then, will a discussion of prevelance be both relevant and meaningful.

    Everything about an organism is ultimately encoded in its genome. Therefore, there can be no more complete or legitimate description of an organism than genome sequencing. This has been done for HIV, not once, but many times, placing it within the select group of organisms that have been described at this extreme level of detail.

  40. Martel Says:

    Kevin, you wrote:

    …isn’t it also true that these proteins can be found in the tissue of many HIV negative individuals, i.e. hasn’t p24 been found in the brain tissue of HIV negative patients?

    I have not heard of HIV-1 p24 being found in uninfected brain tissue. If you have a reference for this, please let me know and I’ll check it out.

  41. trrll Says:

    Kleinman et al. found 11 cases out of 5 million that exhibited positive Western blots for env and p24, but were HIV negative based on PCR and follow-up serology. Of course, this doesn’t indicate the presence of p24 itself, but rather of antibodies that cross-react with p24. Cross reactivity between p24 and some non-HIV viral proteins has been reported, so infection by one of these viruses might be one way in which such antibodies could arise in HIV-negative individuals.

  42. Martel Says:

    trrll,
    Thanks for the reference.
    There is certainly a difference between cross-reactivity and presence of the antigen the antibody is supposed to recognize.
    Cross-reactivity of anti-HIV antibodies has been shown in humans exposed to sheep and goat retroviruses, and even rabies.
    Cross-reactivity has also been shown to occur in brain tissue, although not with p24 antibodies (that I’ve been able to find, anyway). The brain cross-reactivity involves anti-gp120 and anti-gp41 antibodies that recognize proteins found, for example, on the surface of astrocytes (the most abundant cell type in the brain). These cross-reacting proteins, when examined more closely, are clearly of human origin and are the wrong size for HIV-1 proteins.
    Again, if anyone has an example of an HIV protein found in uninfected patient samples–as opposed to mere cross-reactivity–please let me know.

  43. MacDonald Says:

    Trrll,

    The PCR test, with appropriate replicates and controls can indeed prove the presence of the virus

    Can or does? How come authorities say PCR can’t be used to establish the presence of HIV? The gold standard for ELISA is WB. What’s the gold standard for WB? where’s the gold standard for PCR? When and where was HIV isolated? Come on, straight answers for the world to see now that we have your name and affiliation.

    Why is all your language empty? Is that the scientific way?

    It is truly remarkable that two tests, using entirely different methods (antibody assays detect the presence of antibodies against HIV proteins; PCR assays detect the presence of specific nucleic acid sequences

    Take the assumed conclusion, “HIV”, of the equation and tell us what’s so remarkable.

    Why is all your language empty?

    PCR assays detect the presence of specific nucleic acid sequences that are found only in the virus and nowhere in normal human DNA

    What’s with the imprecise language here? Please Define “normal” and “abnormal” scientifically. And please tell us where’s the whole virus?

    Why is all your language empty?

    Critics of the test must now argue that antibody tests and PCR tests are both producing artifactual results by different mechanisms

    Explain “different mechanisms”. Why would it be remarkable to produce corresponding artifactual results by different mechanisms?

    Is all your language empty, Trrll?

    Everything about an organism is ultimately encoded in its genome.

    “Everything”, “ultimately” is that the language of science or religion? Are you a priest Dr. Trrll, or just an old shool genetic determinist – meaning a priest without the human dimension? Is that why you’re practically retired Trrll, because you’re unable to comprehend complex systems?

    Why is all your language empty?

    Critics of the test must now argue that antibody tests and PCR tests are both producing artifactual results by different mechanisms which–purely by coincidence–happen to agree to better than 99%. Quite a remarkable coincidence!

    Agree better than 99% with what? ELISA, WB, the isolated WHOLE virus? What’s remarkable about one thing corresponding with another, and how exactly does it prove a third? Come on Mr. Logic, don’t just suggest or imply, spell out the syllogism for us in detail.

    Why all your language empty?

    How about this coincidence?(for John in particular if he hasn’t seen it:

    http://barnesworld.blogs.com/gr.5565706v1-1.pdf

    Martel,

    Nice to see you’re always onto the essential issues whether you’re wearing skirt or pants at the moment.

  44. trrll Says:

    How come authorities say PCR can’t be used to establish the presence of HIV? The gold standard for ELISA is WB. What’s the gold standard for WB? where’s the gold standard for PCR?

    Who, specifically, says that PCR can’t be used to establish the presence of HIV? It is not well suited to mass screening, because of its cost and the requirement for trained personnel, and for many practical purposes it amounts to overkill. Nevertheless, it is the most sensitive and specific test available. Moreover, since it employs an entirely different technology from antibody methods, it is not influenced by cross-reactivity. Its sensitivity imposes one drawback, in that particular care must be taken to avoid cross-contamination between samples, as it can detect even a few molecules of viral nucleic acid.

    When and where was HIV isolated?

    HIV has been isolated and sequenced multiple times. References may be found in this compendium

    Explain “different mechanisms”. Why would it be remarkable to produce corresponding artifactual results by different mechanisms?

    Let us suppose, purely for the sake of argument, that there was some kind of error with antibody based assays such that they reported frequently reported HIV where it was not present. PCR is a completely different technology. Whereas antibody reactivity reflects the “shape” of a part of a protein, PCR does not detect viral proteins or antiviral antibodies at all, but rather amplifies and reads off the fundamental viral gene sequence. So the likelihood that these two completely different methods of measuring completely different biological products (protein vs. nucleic acid) would both yield wrong results, yet happen by pure chance to agree with each other so closely, is essentially nil. The agreement of PCR results with those obtained using antibody methods is therefore a remarkable validation of the antibody approach.

    What’s with the imprecise language here? Please define “normal” and “abnormal” scientifically. And please tell us where’s the whole virus?

    Certainly. In this context “normal” means a human not infected with HIV. “Abnormal” means infected by HIV.

    Agree better than 99% with what?

    With each other (PCR and antibody reactivity based assays)

    “Everything”, “ultimately” is that the language of science or religion?

    This is pure science. All of the characteristics of an organism are encoded in its genes. The genomic sequence is thus the most precise description of an organism biologically possible.

    How about this coincidence?(for John in particular if he hasn’t seen it: http://barnesworld.blogs.com/gr.5565706v1-1.pdf

    Nice paper, but I don’t see what you imagine to be “coincidental” about it. Basically, the authors showed that by assembling bits and pieces it is possible to reactivate a human endogenous retrovirus remnant in the genome. However, it is not HIV, and would not be confused with HIV in a PCR assay.

  45. Truthseeker Says:

    The Comments of our stalwart defenders of the faith seem to us to be nothng more than the worms one encounters when one opens the can of testing and its accuracy.

    There seems to be some lack of intellectual honesty here, whether intended or not ie whether with other people or with oneself, as they conduct defense after defense which misses the main point, which is a) are these tests a good guide to the presence of actual HIV or not, and b) do they show the quantity present?

    It seems quite clear and admitted that Elisa tests in a low risk population are over 91% incorrect when they detect HIV antibodies. That means to us that they are probably totally useless in a situation such as testing Africans where cross reactions due to antibodies to many other diseases are very prevalent.

    So Elisas are totally useless in Africa.

    Then the argument seems to be, well they are OK if they are confirmed by Western Blot as in the US. But the Western Blot is not very widely available in Africa, is it? Testing in Africa is either none or Elisas.

    Assuming there is Western Blot available, however, the outcome doesn’t seem much better. Western Blots tested in 1993 on those in a low risk population (blood donors) who scored negative on an Elisa turned out 20-40% indeterminate as to whether positive or negative. An insert from the WB from Epitope/Organon Teknika Corporation famously reads “do not use this test as sole basis of diagnosis of HIV-1 infection.”

    Then you seem to believe that PCRs come in to save the day. But these will be uniformly positive for HIV detection if the dilution cutoff is low enough, is that not so? Copies of HIV sequences will be detected in all of us. It is hard to see how a PCR test like Roche’s Amplicor can be that useful in screening (which you seem to have said) when its insert says “not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of HIV infection.” Why would Roche Diagnostic Systems print that if it could do either? Yet we are told that is the insert.

    Apparently it was forced to.

    Checking on the Web we find on PR Newswire from 1996

    “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved for marketing Roche Molecular Systems’ (RMS) AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR(TM) Test, the first test to accurately and precisely measure quantities of HIV-1 RNA in the blood (viral “load”). Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, a process that allows the amplification and identification of specific DNA or RNA sequences, the AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR(TM) Test is able to quantitate viral load levels accurately and reproducibly over a broad dynamic range.”

    But then we read also:

    “DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

    Public Health Service

    Food and Drug Administration

    1401 Rockville Pike

    Rockville MD 20852–1448

    March 2, 1999

    Alex Wesolowski

    Roche Molecular systems, Inc.

    1080 US Highway 202

    Branchburg, NJ 08876

    Re: BP950005, Supplement 3

    Product: Roche AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test

    Date Received: June 24, 1997

    Amended: 10-APR-1998

    Dear Mr. Wesolowski:

    The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed its review of your response of April 10, 1998 to our comments. We are pleased to inform you that your premarket approval application (PMA) supplement for the AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test intended to be used as an aid in management of patients on anti-viral therapy for HIV disease is approved subject to the conditions described below and in the “Conditions of Approval” (enclosed). You may begin commercial distribution of the device upon receipt of this letter.

    The post-approval conditions to which you have agreed in your December 14, 1998 faxed letter include the following:

    The Intended Use Statement should be modified to read as follows:

    The AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test is an in vitro nucleic acid amplification test for the quantitation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) RNA in human plasma. The test is intended for use in conjunction with clinical presentation and other laboratory markers of disease progress for the clinical management of HIV-1 infected patients. The test can be used to assess patient prognosis by measuring the baseline HIV-1 RNA level or to monitor the effect of antiviral therapy by serial measurement of plasma HIV-1 RNA levels during the course of antiviral treatment. Monitoring the effects of antiviral therapy by serial measurement of plasma HIV-1 RNA has been validated for patient swith baseline viral loads ≥25,000 copies/mL.

    The AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test is not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of HIV infection.” (Bold added).

    So PCR is hardly a screening test for HIV.

    Since it must have something to amplify, however, presumably it only works if whatever it is amplifying is there. The question is, is that something indicating HIV antibodies or antibodies from any one of many other cross reactive diseases?

    The bottom line appears to be, these darn tests simply dont know what they are detecting – whether it is HIV antibodies or some other kind.

    That fits in perfectly with the HIV debunkers, whose view is that all that is happening in Africa is that AIDS testing (what there is of it) whether real or imaginary (assumed) is simply tracking other illnesses across Africa, which is a warm continent which has bred all kinds of ills to attack the poor and inadequately fed.

    All the HIV testers are doing in a poor and ill fed population in Africa is finding (other than pregnancy) illness – leprosy, dengue fever, diarrhea and other parasitic infections, worms and parasites, and dozens of others which result in high levels of response which all Elisas measure.

    You are simply finding all present and past illness in Africa and calling it AIDS and dumping expensive ARVs on them.

    Perhaps you ought to reflect on your contribution to human welfare.

  46. YossariansGhostbuster Says:

    TS,

    You are on a roll, go for it. You’re right, they do not have a valid wasserman and they’re passing out the bismuth for life.

  47. trrll Says:

    Assuming there is Western Blot available, however, the outcome doesn’t seem much better.

    Kleinman et al., using Western blot with a criterion of 3 positive bands plus env found zero false positives out of over 5 million samples in an ultralow prevalence population. That strikes me as rather good.

    Then you seem to believe that PCRs come in to save the day. But these will be uniformly positive for HIV detection if the dilution cutoff is low enough, is that not so?

    I suppose that if you are really determined to get the wrong answer, you can certainly find conditions under which PCR (or indeed, any kind of assay) will give you incorrect results. But why would you want to? Of course, in practice these assays are done with positive and negative controls, so if you somehow screw up the assay conditions, you’ll know.

    It is hard to see how a PCR test like Roche’s Amplicor can be that useful in screening (which you seem to have said) when its insert says “not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of HIV infection.” Why would Roche Diagnostic Systems print that if it could do either?

    This is a doubtless financial issue. It would cost a huge amount for Roche to do the studies to prove to the FDA that the test works for this purpose, and the potential return on that investment is small, because (as we saw above) for most practical purposes, ELISA backed by Western blot works quite well, so it is not a large potential market. It simply isn’t worth the investment to the company. You’ll see this for a lot of drugs as well. The company will only do the tests to qualify a drug for the largest market, even though it may also work for a lot of other indications. Doctors who use the drug for other indications do it “off label.” But even though Roche may not want to pay for the studies, research studies by individual investigators have confirmed the validity of PCR for evaluation of HIV infection. Indeed, PCR is now firmly established as the standard method for measuring nucleic acid sequences of any sort, not just HIV. Such independent studies are more convincing than studies paid for and carried out by the manufacturer, anyway.

  48. Truthseeker Says:

    Kleinman et al., using Western blot with a criterion of 3 positive bands plus env found zero false positives out of over 5 million samples in an ultralow prevalence population. That strikes me as rather good.

    Sorry, a copy of this 1998 study in JAMA not in front of us now, but according to our notes this showed only a 9% confirmation by Western Blot of each 100 (91% false) of the 4,650 double checked positives Elisa yielded, which you have acknowledged, and then when 9% of them seemed questionable (“possible false positivity”) and were checked by PCR half of them proved false, ie 4.8% (20 out of 39) were invalid, ie about 1/2 per cent more were invalid.

    So nearly 92 per cent of the original Elisas were wrong. Half of the questionable WBlots were wrong too – 20. How many more were there that were not examined? 380. How many were wrong? We don’t know. Where do you get zero from in all this?

    Your expression above seems to be incorrect and perhaps you should refine it. To repeat, 5% of the WBlot confirmations were wrong. But only 9% of the Elisa doubly tested positives were examined. So half those questionable were wrong. How many of the others would have withstood checking is unknown but other indications suggest PCR does not correlate very well with Western Blot.

    So where do you get your 100% faith in WBlot in very low prevalence populations?

    You keep saying that problems arise only in low prevalence populations. But Harvard’s Max Essex and colleagues found 80 per cent Elisa and 80% WBlots in the Congo with its high prevalence population were invalid.

    They concluded that high exposure to bacteria gives a high level of cross reactions and false positivity – such as TB, leprosy and others. There is tremendous TB in these areas, maybe as much as half the population. And that’s just one interfering factor. Another is hypergammaglobulinemia ie high levels of immunoglobulin G or IgG from multiple assaults on the system. How can anyone expect these tests to be meaningful at these rates of error, even if HIV did any damage? Of course, it is the high rates of error that suggest it isn’t HIV that is the problem at all.

    Readers should pop over to Hank’s You Bet Your Life and check out the Maniotis post today, a brilliantly written Brief Guide to the History of AIDS, in which he reminds all of the numerous disastrous deficits of logic and evidence in the paradigm that have emerged year after year, all swept under the carpet by the ruling clique.

    Just the ones to do with testing are enough to bring this thread to a screeching halt:

    Thus it has been about 22 years since Dr. Gallo rushed that same day to patent the first “HIV” test kit, and was subsequently convicted of scientific misconduct by the Dingell Commission and the Office of Scientific Integrity of the NIH for attempting to steal Luc Montagnier’s so-called “HIV-virus isolate [1].”

    It has also been about 22 years since chimp colonies were injected with “isolates” of “HIV” obtained from AIDS patients, but have yet to become ill, as they sit in their new 27 million dollar retirement homes [2].

    At the beginning of HIV testing, it was known that “68% to 89% of all repeatedly reactive ELISA (HIV antibody) tests represent false positive results among sperm donors [3], and 14 years ago, it was reported that “HIV-like sequences exist in normal in human, chimpanzee, and rhesus monkey DNAs” [4]. That same year, it was reported that the hepatitis B vaccine causes false positive “HIV” test results [5].

    It has been 11 years since it was reported that flu vaccines cause false positive “HIV” test results [8]

    t has also been about 7 years since it was known that goats and cows test “HIV-positive” [11].

    2 years since the Red Cross reported that even after repeated testing using different test kits, low-risk populations, such as blood donors (or military recruits) will typically yield 12 (PCR) positive or 2 (ELISA) positive results out of 37,000,000 samples, leaving potentially 10 out of 12 false positives, depending on which test kit you believe [15].

    Andrew Maniotis is a Program Director in the Cell and Developmental Biology of Cancer unit of the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Bioengineering, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago. He first appeared to us when he wrote a letter supporting the Al Bayati autopsy review of Eliza Jane. He is also the author of the ABCs of AIDS Denialists featured on The AIDS Wiki.

    We especially like the point he brings up about goats and cows testing positive for HIV. This also applies to dogs, we happen to know. Why have Anthony Fauci and his drug company friends in the politics of HIV∫AIDS not exploited this fact before now? There is a vast market for antiretrovirals which is being totally neglected.

    Save our cows, goats and dogs from HIV now!

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