About AIDS

AIDS Denialist Claims, III: Ignorance + Faulty Logic

Last week an AIDS-denialist reader demanded to have his position aired, as sent to the Chronicle. OK, I will use his own first two points to illustrate: (1) why they are wrong; (2) how misunderstanding or ignorance of the topic, combined with outright nontruths, form his arguments; (3) how the points often don't really concern the issue of HIV causing AIDS.

Drawing from Peter Duesberg, Andy writes: "AIDS started out in the homosexuals, marked by Kaposi Sarcoma. Supposedly, HIV ... got into the blood supply and was transferred to the hemophiliacs. The hemophiliacs, even the ones with AIDS, never get Kaposi Sarcoma! Hmmmm."

Don't you love the "Hmmmm" part! To dissect: (1) First, the name is Kaposi's (possessive) sarcoma. KS is a cancer of endothelial cells and (in the U.S.) is indeed associated with AIDS, primarily among gay/bi men. (2) KS is caused by a herpes-family virus (HHV8, discovered in 1994) and is associated with sexual transmission, especially (in the U.S.) by unprotected anal intercourse. Hemophiliacs acquired HIV infection using the blood clotter, factor VIII; they didn't have sex with an HHV8-infected partner and thus didn't get HHV8. So why should they have KS? (3) Even at its peak, KS only impacted about 20% of people with AIDS; to have AIDS does not require having KS. (4) As is typical, this entire point is completely tangential to the HIV/AIDS debate. (5) A minor note, KS wasn't what initially marked AIDS among gay men; it was Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.

Andy's point No.2: "There is no known case of an HIV+ hemophiliac's mate getting AIDS. Hmmmm."

Sorry, but this statement is just plain false, whether it's a deliberate lie or just misinformation. Hemophiliacs infecting their spouses was already well-demonstrated by the time Duesberg first spoke up, and I have observed it personally, as well.

Early on, one could have forgiven these dissident views as well-meaning skepticism resulting from inadequate knowledge and understanding. However, the information needed to answer their particular claims became available long ago. Advocacy outside the box can be useful and creative, but before declaring war on orthodoxy, one had better check out the conventional facts first.

(An excellent resource for any AIDS-related topic is www.Aegis.com. Operated by a group of cloistered nuns devoted to compassion, it is the world's largest repository of AIDS information. In particular, AIDS denialists who are computer geeks should check it out.)

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