January 6, 2009
Christine Maggiore, an HIV-positive woman and an AIDS denialist, died late last month in her California home at the age of 52. Maggiore, who refused to take HIV medications and was outspoken in her belief that HIV did not cause AIDS, was diagnosed with HIV in 1992. Her official cause of death has not yet been made official, though she had reportedly been treated for pneumonia in the past several months.
Initially an HIV/AIDS activist, within a few years of her HIV diagnosis Maggiore became a critic of evidence-based science regarding HIV. Although she had no formal training in science or medicine, she insisted that HIV did not cause AIDS, and thought that other viral illnesses, pregnancy or even flu shots could trigger an HIV-positive test result. She also posited that HIV medications themselves may cause a person to develop AIDS. None of these theories has ever been scientifically proven, but Maggiore persisted in her beliefs; she even compiled them in a book entitled What if Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong? She also founded a nonprofit organization and a Web site, Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, which is dedicated to supporting HIV-positive people who question established scientific evidence regarding HIV and who strive to avoid the use of HIV therapy.Maggiore practiced what she preached. She took no HIV medications during her two pregnancies and breast-fed her children after they were born, decisions that run sharply against well-established medical recommendations for developed countries. Maggiore's son, Charlie, was born in 1997 and tested negative for HIV. Maggiore's daughter, Eliza Jane, was born in late 2001; Maggiore refused to have her tested for HIV. Tragically, Eliza Jane died in 2005 at the age of 3 of what the Los Angeles County coroner's office stated was AIDS-related pneumonia. Maggiore and her husband, Robin Scovill (who is HIV negative), were investigated for possible child neglect, but no charges were brought against them.
You can read a more complete story of Maggiore's life in this Los Angeles Times article. There's also an editorial in the same newspaper that provides a little perspective on the story, as well as a poignant article in the online publication Science-Based Medicine. For more background on the AIDS denialism movement, browse through the wealth of articles you can find on TheBody.com.
What's your take on Maggiore's life and death? Do you think her passing will have any effect on the AIDS denialist movement, or is she just another name to add to the ever-growing list of HIV-positive denialists who died? Please share your thoughts below.
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