Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Is that your final answer?

Orac and others have been all over the death of AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore, so I won't try to re-invent that particular wheel. I'll just give you a brief summary. Maggiore was a young woman who became infected with HIV and then had the very bad fortune to meet wacko pseudo-scientist Peter Duesberg, who persuaded her that HIV does not cause AIDS but antiretroviral drugs do. She refused to take AZT to prevent transmission of the virus to her baby Elizabeth, who subsequently died of AIDS at the age of 3, although Maggiore claimed the cause was something else. She went on to become a crusader against antiretroviral drugs and personally contributed to the deluding of South African president Thabo Mbeki and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Maggiore herself has now died, apparently of AIDS-related pneumonia although, as one who walks in the light of reason, I won't jump to any definite conclusion about that unless we get more evidence -- which her family is withholding, of course.

I will use this as the occasion for what was going to be my next post anyway. As I have written previously, it is understandable that the experience with AZT monotherapy caused some people to doubt the standard HIV story. However, I simply do not see how anyone can remain in denial following the introduction of so-called Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), in which protease inhibitors and other classes of drugs are used in conjunction with AZT-like drugs.

When these regimens were introduced in the late 1990s, the results were absolutely incontrovertible. People all over the country who were days or hours from death, some who had been administered last rites, suddenly, seemingly miraculously, rose up and were healed. This was called the Lazarus Syndrome, and I have personally spoken with many people who experienced it for themselves, people who has ordered their lives around preparing for death and suddenly had to figure out how to live again. Until then, AIDS had been all about dying, and the institutions that grew up around the epidemic were hospices, and workshops about how to face the end, and grotesque financial instruments whereby people with AIDS would collect payments from people who wanted to gamble on their date of death.

With the introduction of HAART, the community had to completely reinvent itself around problems of living. The hospices went out of business, to be replaced by living centers, medication adherence counselors, and Positive Prevention programs to help people avoid being reinfected or transmitting the virus to others. The problem of paying for HAART therapy became a major focus of HIV-related activism. Face it Duesberg: people stopped getting AIDS, and they stopped dying, when they started taking the drugs. QED. End of story. Everything else the denialists say is equally bullshit. Yes, the virus is present in the blood and elsewhere of people who test positive for HIV antibodies, in virtually 100% of cases. Yes, the level of virus particles in the blood correlates strongly with progression of HIV disease. Yes, people who take the drugs faithfully have suppressed viral loads and they don't get AIDS. People who don't take the drugs do get AIDS. The sun rises in the east.

So the question is why this weird movement persists. Partly it's just that people get dug in to a position and they can't face up to their responsibility for error. To admit that you have contributed to mass slaughter is undoubtedly difficult. But they also attract followers who don't share that initial responsibility, but who somehow find the dissent appealing, as a symbol of resistance to authority, perhaps, or personal distinction. Whatever the psychology, it's extraordinarily frustrating -- quite similar to the thimerosal thing, and broader anti-vaccination activism. Some things we just know.


Karri said...

Check out my story, and provide me with some answers on my health condition, if you can.
So far, Nick Benntt and cohorts cannot.

Cervantes said...

Sorry Karri, I know that you are mistaken. HIV disease often progresses slowly, so it's not surprising that you haven't developed obvious symptoms of AIDS yet, but with a T-cell count of 96 it's only a matter of time. Yes, the drugs have side effects, but if you do develop AIDS symptoms, I sincerely hope you'll change your mind and start taking them again. A competent physician can try different regimens and you may find one you tolerate better.

Good luck, but please stop listening to quacks and crackpots. They aren't your friends.

Jonathan Barnett said...

It's all about perspective, I guess.

You wrote "So the question is why this weird movement persists. Partly it's just that people get dug in to a position and they can't face up to their responsibility for error. To admit that you have contributed to mass slaughter is undoubtedly difficult."

Those words could just as easily apply to the AIDS promoters like yourself as far as I'm concerned.

Oh, who am I? A gay rights and AIDS activist for the past 30 years who has spent time on the so-called "life-saving drugs", and now five years ARV-free. Finally healthy after two hard years of recovery from those poisons.

Yeah, Christine died. I'm going to die. You're going to die. None of that is proof of anything.

Those of you sick and tired of being sick and tired on your drugs, check out livingwithouthivdrugs. You owe it to yourself to learn both sides. Jonathan B. is my story and there's a link to email me if you want.

Karri said...

Thanks for your attempt, Cervantes. I figured I wouldn't get much more than that. When you just don't have answers OR the proof, things get a bit sticky.

By the way, I've been "infected" for about 20 yrs. At the time of diagnosis, my t-cell count was at 29. Just exactly how low does it have to get, and how "slowly" does this viral, killer epidemic progresss? Seems that by now, with "no functioning immune system", as they say, I'd have some sort of opportunistic infections. I DON'T live under a rock, ya know.

Believe me,I'm not bragging about that, it's just that people get sick, every day, all over the world, for a variety of different reasons. We all die.
To call it 'HIV', and say it's a death sentence, and it's just "a matter of time", is called psudo-science at best, and "bone pointing" at worst.
You should all be ashamed.

And on a final note, this is the ONLY dis-ease in THE HISTORY OF MANKIND, that you get name-called and slammed for being "well", or overcoming. Your only a "victim and a hero if you shut your mouth and die like you've been told.

So Cervantes, carry on and be a 'good little soldier'. The rest of us shall live, healthy, alive and well.

Many Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

With dozens of AIDS apologists such as you coming out of the wood work over Christine's death is at least a very good testament and demonstration about how hypnotized everyone's become. Better hypnotized than informed? Maybe you should read her book “What if Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong” before you comment about her.

Cervantes said...

We aren't "coming out of the woodwork." How asinine. Scientists have been studying HIV and AIDS since the disease was first recognized in the early 1980s. The AIDS denialist movement is just incomprehensible to me -- reading your comments, I'm afraid, is not shedding any light on the matter. You proffer no evidence, you just shout.

Karri, HIV disease progresses at different rates in different people. Since you spent many years on ARV drugs, obviously that gave your immune system a chance to rebuild, which is why your T-cell count is higher now than when you were diagnosed. There's nothing mysterious about that. How fast the disease will now progress in your case is impossible to predict.

Nobody is "slamming you," you can make your own decisions about your own health and health care, but misleading others is another matter.

Karri said...

Well, I'm done here.

But still, no one can quite explain how one "virus", can be so selective, affect so many people, so many different ways, some slow, some fast, some intermediate, with so many different types of (old) diseases, depending on who you are, and where you live, and what your particular risk factors are, affecting (mostly) a select people group or type....etc

Is there any other disease in history that "acts" quite like that?

And the ARV'S "gave my immune system a chance to build", are you kidding.
I looked and felt like shit. The longer I was on them, the more I looked like an AIDS patient. But, that was to be expected, that's what they do to the body.

I look, and feel, totally and completely different now. And that's just the surface.

You have a right to believe what you believe about HIV, but misleading people, to their demise, is another matter.

Signing off.

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