Jun 2, 2006
Dear Dr. Bob: 1) There is a wide spread attitude to be vaccinated against hepatitus. On the other hand I heard that this vaccination may lead to reading "positive" as far as HIV is concerned. Thus, I will be vaccinated against hepatitus but will be considered positive on HIV. Is that right? (I am negative on HIV and practice full abstinence: do not trust condoms.) 2) Finally, there is a growing movement of HIV denialists, here in Europe, who claim that HIV is a harmless virus and AIDS is a scourge ony for folks with non conventional sexual orientation. 3) Why is Dubja still very popular in Europe as a mighty leader?
Response from Dr. Frascino
1. No. Being vaccinated against hepatitis A and/or B will not cause you to "be considered positive for HIV."
2. The AIDS denialist movement is pure fantasy. I'll repost a question from the archives that addresses this. In addition, I suggest you watch the documentary "The Age of AIDS." It can be viewed online at the following link:
3. Well, if someone is deluded enough to believe, after 25 years of the AIDS pandemic, that HIV does not cause AIDS, I suppose they may just be whacked enough to believe Dubya is a mighty anything. (On second thought, I suppose he just might qualify as a mighty liar or mighty nitwit . . . .)
Prove it. Mar 9, 2006
I assume you are familiar with Dr. Peter Duesbergs research. He provides strong evidence that HIV has absolutley nothing to do with AIDS. Not to mention that AIDS is just a new name for 25 old diseases with an HIV+ test...which could mean the virus is long gone and antibodies are present. He also shows evidence that it is nearly impossible to spread HIV sexually. He has documented cases of HIV infected people remaining healthy after 10 years of no treatment. He also documents the almost 5,000 HIV- AIDS patients. Do you think it is safe to provide treatments such as AZT etc to HIV+ patients when the HIV/AIDS hypothesis has still not been proven after 20 years?
Response from Dr. Frascino
You are correct: I am well aware of Peter Duesberg, but that's the only thing correct in your post.
Duesberg does not have "strong evidence," but rather half-baked theories that have been disproved over and over ad nauseum for many years. For instance, the tired old theory about the virus being long gone and only antibodies being left behind would not account for results seen with RNA PCR viral load tests. These tests have nothing to do with anti-HIV antibodies, but rather measure RNA, the genetic material of the HIV virus itself. As for "nearly impossible to spread HIV sexually," well, that would come as quite a surprise to the over 40,000,000 people infected worldwide today, considering that's how the vast majority contracted the virus! As for "documented cases of HIV-infected people remaining healthy after 10 years of no treatment," again, this is very old news. It is not at all uncommon for HIV-infected folks to remain essentially asymptomatic for a decade. Regarding antiretroviral therapies, there has been a dramatic drop in HIV-related morbidity and mortality since HAART came into wide use in mid-1996. These are facts. Whether you choose to believe them or not is totally up to you. And whether you or Duesberg choose to believe fact over fantasy does not change the validity of science. I'll reprint a few posts from the archives for your edification and enlightenment.
Opinion about Duesberg Oct 5, 2004
You can't imagine how stubborn can be a lot of people here in Italy. They always talk about Peter Duesberg, and they say that he has shown HIV does not cause AIDS. Sometimes it seems that people just want to say something original, without verifying if it is true! I think that what Duesberg says is really bullshit. What about you? How did he receive all this fame? Which newspaper helped him? Anyway, I suspect that just some Italians are so stupid to believe this nonsense. They talk about lobbies, about the "AIDS myth", created by corporations, and rubbish like that.. They would be able to call themselves "innovators" just because they think apples fall because they have to be eaten!
Response from Dr. Frascino
Peter Duesberg is not a medical doctor. He is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He is part of a larger group we refer to as "AIDS denialists." For the past 15 years, this group has claimed that HIV does not cause AIDS; that AIDS is not contagious; that HIV is either harmless or does not even exist; that the treatments for HIV/AIDS are poisons, which themselves are the cause of the disease; and that the AIDS epidemic is a medical fraud promoted by the pharmaceutical companies. How did such "bullshit" fantasy garner so much fame? This misinformation program has behind it hidden funding, and even some celebrity endorsements, who managed to get these myths publicized in the mainstream media. AIDS denialists do not conduct research or take care of patients, but rather spend their time and money merely propagating and rehashing issues that were settles years ago in the scientific and medical communities.
The problem is not just that of a lunatic fringe (which they are), but also their organized efforts to practice bizarre and dangerous medicine by telling people with a major illness to reject care entirely. Denialists have convinced some pregnant women or mothers of HIV-positive children to reject treatment universally recommended by their doctors. In the United States and other countries where treatment is available, the denialists have found few who are willing to sacrifice their own lives. However, in South Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, the denialists are seeking to deny medical care and medications to HIV-infected people who have no voice in the decision. They are also thwarting public health prevention campaigns to slow the spread of the epidemic. Duesberg and his colleague David Rasnick suggest AIDS is in fact several separate epidemics lumped together. However, even a cursory glance at the medical literature quickly dynamites all of Duesberg's claims. How the denialist can claim "AIDS is over" when someone's life is snuffed out every 10 seconds by HIV/AIDS is beyond belief, beyond logic, and clearly delusional.
No question: Comment on Eliza Jane Scovill death Dec 6, 2005 http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Current/Q169304.html More recent developments, Maggiore and Scovill hired a veterinary pathologist AIDS denialist Mohammed Al Bayati to read the coroner's report and make up alternative theories about what might have killed Eliza Jane. http://justiceforej.com/ej-chronology.html http://oracknows.blogspot.com/2005/11/hivaids-skeptic-questions-my-honesty.html It is likely that Christine and Robin will have a court date at some time, to answer for this. Brian HIV Databases http://www.hiv.lanl.gov
Response from Dr. Frascino
A "veterinary pathologist AIDS denialist???" Hmmm . . . and he's been hired to "make up alternative theories????" This case is becoming more and more tragic as it plays out. For our readers who don't know the story of AIDS denialists Christine Maggiore and Robin Scovill, their deceased three-year-old daughter Eliza Jane Scovill, or even what an "AIDS denialist" really is, I'll reprint a recent article from Project Inform below.
A case such as this is in equal parts heartbreaking and infuriating.
A Denialist's Dilemma November 2005 Christine Maggiore is a name well known in the subculture of people who believe that HIV is a harmless virus that doesn't cause AIDS. Her short book,What if Everything You Thought You Knew about AIDS was Wrong? has been a relatively big seller. She and her partner, Robin Scovill, produced a DVD promoting their AIDS denialist beliefs and she has appeared widely in the media. Part of her story is her belief that AIDS is not a concern for her, despite testing positive for HIV, because she does not believe the virus causes harm and that the tests are inaccurate. She contends she can support this belief with research. She tells of how a meeting with discredited UC Berkeley professor Peter Duesberg, more or less the father of the HIV denialist movement, changed her life. Few begrudge her the right to believe whatever she'd like, even if she is apparently ignoring hundreds of scientific papers demonstrating the role of HIV in AIDS. AIDS educators, including Project Inform, have been less sanguine about her public promotion of such views. Whatever her intentions, promotion of these views increases the risks of unprotected sex and discourages people from seeking necessary medical care until it is too late to help them. While Ms. Maggiore certainly has a right to espouse and even profit off the spread of misinformation about HIV, how all of this might affect her two children is something many felt was of grave concern. Apparently because of her belief that HIV is harmless, Maggiore rejected anti-HIV drugs to reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission and made a public display over her decision to breast feed, which has been shown to add another 10 to 15% risk of HIV transmission to a child. Whatever the parents might wish to believe, their children were in no position to make their own informed choices. Their mother's ill-founded beliefs, and only her beliefs, determined their fates. Since their birth, Ms. Maggiore has pointed to their apparent good health as evidence of her belief that HIV is harmless. Anyone aware of the natural history of HIV knew this proved nothing since only a relatively small percentage of children born to HIV-positive mothers acquired HIV even without the use of anti-HIV drugs to prevent transmission. Still, Maggiore persisted in promoting her children's health and her actions as a model for other HIV-positive women who sought to have children. By her own accounting, she convinced as many as 50 women to avoid the short course of anti-HIV therapy recommended during pregnancy and childbirth and a few subsequent weeks of treatment for the newborn. In the media and at public speaking engagements, Maggiore boasted of her refusal to employ common, proven methods for blocking mother-to-child transmission of HIV and of her refusal to have her children tested for HIV. She simply dismissed the fact that "apparent" good health for many years is the normal course of HIV infection and that most HIV-positive people remain symptom free for many years, even without treatment. Events of the year 2005 put an entirely new spotlight on Ms. Maggiore's beliefs and advice, and on the role of the medical establishment in dealing with parents who hold similar views. In May, three-year-old Eliza Jane Scovill, Christine's daughter, died from an apparently sudden and unexpected illness, just seven weeks after Maggiore reported that her children were in "excellent health" in a radio interview. Fast and furious seems an apt description of whatever happened to Eliza Jane. Though reports are sketchy, Maggiore was first concerned when her daughter came down with a runny nose. She brought Eliza Jane to a pediatrician who was filling in for one of her regular physicians, Dr. Paul Fleiss, best known as the father of "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss. Dr. Fleiss had been convicted of hiding profits of Heidi's enterprise from the IRS and served three years on probation. Like all of the physicians who examined Eliza Jane before her death, he had a reputation as a somewhat "unconventional" physician. Some say the children's physicians were chosen more for their acceptance of Maggiore's views than for their skill in treating children with HIV. No treatment was recommended that day, though the doctor claims that Eliza Jane's lungs were clear. Five days later, when the condition seemed to have worsened, she brought her daughter to another pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon, who had treated the child since birth. He diagnosed her with a self-limiting ear infection. Had Eliza Jane been known to be HIV-positive, a deeper approach to diagnostics might have been employed. Dr. Gordon apparently made no effort to have the child tested for HIV, not shortly after birth, nor then. According to a report in the LA Times, it is a decision he now regrets. Shortly afterward, Maggiore asked yet another doctor sympathetic to her views, Philip Incao, who was visiting from Denver, to look at her daughter. He recommended treatment for an ear infection with amoxicillin, a mild, first level antibiotic. Pediatricians questioned by the LA Times said that, had a physician known the child might be HIV-positive, a much stronger antibiotic would have been called for. A day later, her conditioned worsened as she began vomiting and was turning pale. The next morning, Eliza Jane Scovill was pronounced dead at Van Nuys Hospital. The grief of parents who have lost a child is enormous, whatever the cause, whatever the history. This does not, however, make it possible to simply overlook the situation surrounding the child's death. Little information was available about the cause of death for months afterward and all parties respectfully avoided public speculation and accusations. The period of silence, however, ended in late September when the LA Medical Examiner declared the cause of death to be "AIDS-related pneumonia". The implications of the diagnosis were explosive. To our knowledge, the medical examiners report has not been made public. Thus we can only base comments on what has been reported in the LA Times. The Medical Examiner needs to declare how evidence of HIV infection was determined and what kind of pneumonia they are talking about it. Some types, such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), are all but unique to HIV since they occur only in the presence of a severely weakened immune system. In the years before HIV testing became available, a case of PCP was the signature event that announced the presence of advanced AIDS. Prior to the appearance of HIV disease in the late 1970s, PCP was so rare as to be virtually unknown to most physicians and the drugs used to treat it so rare as to be available only by special request from the Centers for Disease Control. The appearance of clustered cases of PCP was in fact key to the realization that a new disease had appeared in the population. If PCP was truly found in Eliza Jane Scovill, the medical examiner's report might easily end there as a proven case of AIDS. However, if it was another form of pneumonia, other tests would be needed to confirm that death was due to AIDS. For now, we simply lack the specifics on the cause of death and can only presume that the Medical Examiner's office knows what it is talking about. And if it does, the diagnosis raises devastating questions about child endangerment, improper medical care by physicians, and a failure of child welfare agencies to protect a child who need not have died. Moreoever, it makes a profound statement that HIV denialism is more than a misguided opinion; it is deadly and dangerous misinformation. Using today's tools, blocking mother-to-child transmission of HIV is all but fool proof. Moreover, treatment of HIV in those infected has an extremely high success rate. So the question that must be answered is "What went so tragically wrong as to result in the death of this innocent child?" Maggiore says of herself "I am a devastated, broken, grieving mother, but I am not second-guessing or questioning my understanding of the issue." No one questions the first half of her statement. Her pain is no doubt real and she has surely suffered. But when the first half of her statement is placed back to back with the second half, it causes one's jaw to drop. She has paid the ultimate price for her ill-founded beliefs and for spreading life-threatening misinformation to thousands -- she has paid with the life of her own child. Yet she clings to her beliefs, beliefs that contradict the universal conclusions of the world's most knowledgeable scientists and physicians. Perhaps it's easier to cling to these misguided beliefs than to face one's culpability. She continued in the LA Times: "Would I redo anything based on what happened? I don't think I would. I think I acted with the best information and the best of intentions with all my heart." Leaving her intentions aside, unless she knows something about the Medical Examiner's report that is shielded from everyone else, the statement speaks of an astonishing intellectual arrogance. How can anyone conclude that the tiny smattering of claims made by denialists, almost none of whom are experts in the field or people who have actually conducted any AIDS research, constitutes "the best information" She is convinced that her personal reading of a field of science, in which she has no training or credentials, is right and thousands of the best trained scientists on the planet are wrong. She remains so convinced of her own "rightness" perhaps because to do otherwise now would force her to acknowledge that her beliefs and stubbornness may have played a role in the death of her daughter. Given that she also achieved a degree of fame and financial gain from these beliefs, it will be interesting to see what the L.A. Country District Attorney has to say about the death of her daughter. We have read her book, studied her website and followed the lines of thinking proposed by the scientists she claims to respect. We find nothing new, nothing deep, nothing challenging. We see only a restatement of claims made mostly in the 1980's by Peter Duesberg and long since repeatedly refuted and rejected by the scientific community. We find her arguments against the role of HIV in AIDS to be facile, easily answered and overcome. They are views and conclusions that only make sense if you know little or nothing of the actual science of AIDS. Once you become familiar with great bulk of the research on AIDS, it is easy to see why so many scientists consider the beliefs of the denialists to be "pseudo-science." Similar cults of pseudo-science exist in most fields. Seldom, however, do people bet their own lives and the lives of their children on such beliefs. Is it right, is it fair, for a child to pay with her life for this level of arrogance on the part of a parent? There should be no surprise that child welfare officers are investigating the case. And what of the three doctors who stood by and saw only a minor illness as this child slipped from life to death? The only thing that can be said in their defense is that apparently none had much, if any experience, with the diagnosis or treatment of HIV disease. The blame for the selection of such physicians must also fall upon the parents. Doctors were apparently selected based on their willingness to accept the parent's unconventional views, rather than on their competence in treating two children who may have been exposed to HIV through birth. Still, physicians take an oath to do no harm. These three must answer to that oath. Surely, the word denial has seldom had a more clear definition that what is seen here. Ms. Maggiore and her partner face a terrible dilemma in their grief. They are faced with acknowledging the possibility they have been horribly wrong but so far have not done so. By definition, every honest respecter of science acknowledges the possibility, even the likelihood of error. What could motivate Maggiore and Scovill to close off all possible admission of error? Just one thing: if they acknowledge error, they must accept responsibility for the loss of their daughter. A denialist dilemma indeed. Yet perhaps nothing is more disturbing than the final comment made by Ms. Maggiore herself on a website she posted about the loss of her child: "Why our child -- so appreciated, so held, so carefully nurtured -- and not one ignored, abused or abandoned?" she wrote. "How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less -- impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables -- will happily stay?" What to make of that final sentence, wondering why this happened to her daughter, who, we learn repeatedly, was cherished and given the finer things of life, when it didn't happen to "impatient distracted parents," people who put their children in "a small apartment on a busy street" and used "extended day care" and gave them "Oscar Mayer Lunchables" (instead of organic meals?). What is she saying, perhaps that it would have been more appropriate for a poorer family to lose their child? Maybe that poorer family had the wisdom to listen to their doctor. Who, indeed, were the wiser parents?
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