Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Read Now: Expert Opinions on HIV Cure Research
  
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

U.S. News

Massachusetts: Symposium Explores HIV Denial, Conspiracy Theories

October 26, 2009

AIDS denialism -- the belief that HIV is not the causative agent of AIDS or that the AIDS pandemic is the result of a conspiracy -- is widespread and destructive, said researchers at a recent Harvard University symposium.

Challenging the role of HIV infection in AIDS, for example, discourages both testing and treatment, according to researchers who met at the school's Carpenter Center for Visual Arts. The symposium was held in conjunction with an exhibit of printed material produced by ACT UP/New York during the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

People who subscribe to denialist beliefs are more likely to have symptoms of HIV, are less likely to embark on a treatment protocol, and are less likely to adhere to a medication regimen even if they do initiate care, the panelists said.

Advertisement
South Africa is the site of one of the most damaging instances of AIDS denialism. The audience learned how, acting on his denialist beliefs, former President Thabo Mbeki helped block the initiation of large-scale AIDS drug treatment in the country and thus allowed rapid expansion of the epidemic there. Mbeki's failure to distribute HIV drugs throughout his country between 2000 and 2005 brought about the unnecessary death of 330,000 people and HIV infection in 3,500 infants, research has estimated.

Denialist beliefs are particularly popular among black South African men, according to preliminary data presented by Nicoli Nattrass, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit and economics professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

The Internet, with its unprecedented ability to spread and promote denialist beliefs, is a preferred source of denialist information, panelists said.

Also on the panel were Seth Kalichman, professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, and Pride Chigwedere, a global health consultant and former Oak Foundation Research Fellow at Harvard AIDS Institute.

Back to other news for October 2009

Adapted from:
Harvard Gazette (Harvard University)
10.20.2009; Alvin Powell


  
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS Denialism

Tools
 

Advertisement