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← AIDS denialism and scientific freedom of speech

SteveN's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by SteveN

Linda, I don't know where you are getting your information, but a lot of what you wrote is simply wrong, I'm afraid. Assuming that you are genuinely interested in the subject, I will address your points individually.

I don’t have an opinion about what causes AIDS. I have not seen the scientific documentation either way.

The scientific documentation directly or indirectly supporting the fact that HIV causes AIDS runs into the many tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers. There really is no doubt about this. If you would like to see a scientific rebuttal of the AIDS denialists, please check out the following link:

Peter Duesberg questioned a hypothesis and that caused the scientific community to reappraise a hypothesis.

No. He caused a storm in the media that prompted scientists to explain why he was wrong. The evidence was already overwhelming by the end of the 1980's and continued to accumulate exponentially thereafter.

Duesberg thinks that HIV does not cause AIDS, it is just a passenger virus. I’m speculating but that would mean that there is an unknown factor involved. Something carried by the HIV virus, but I can’t be sure because I can’t ask Duesberg.

If we inject purified DNA coding for SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) into macaques it will transfect cells and code for the production of viral particles that will then cause a full-blown infection and AIDS. This disproves the carrier hypothesis.

It is theoretically possible that HIV infection activates another unknown virus present in every human being, and that it is this virus that actually causes AIDS. The amount of this unknown virus would have to be direclty linked to the amount of HIV present (because HIV viral load correlates with disease and suppressing HIV replication prevents AIDS). If this were the case (and there is absolutely no reason to think it is) whether or not HIV would be said to 'cause' AIDS would be a matter of semantics, not science.

What’s wrong with raising questions?

Nothing at all. But the same could be said for raising questions about the validity of evolution, the germ theory of disease, heliocentrism etc etc. When the evidence is so overwhelmingly on one side, continuing to question the validity of a scientific fact as Duesberg does puts him into the ranks of a deluded crank. When others use his arguments to deny medical aid to untold thousands of people who then die a horrible, unnecessary death, there is something quite obviously wrong.

HIV is a virus and there is no known cure for any virus.

Well, that depends on your definition of 'cure'. Tamiflu, if given early enough can prevent flu symptoms and rid the virus from the body, possibly with the help of the immune system. Acyclovir will prevent herpesvirus replication. HAART in HIV infected patients keeps the level of viral replication below the detection limit (although nothing can yet eliminate the silent, integrated proviruses that can reemerge once HAART is stopped).

My question is why if you have a virus when it goes away you retain antibodies even when the symptoms are gone, but you can’t infect others when you are not symptomatic. HIV is a virus that causes AIDS, but you are contagious when you are not symptomatic thorough bodily fluids. That would mean this virus is like no other virus.

The immune system, of which antibodies are just a part, remains its memory of previous infections to prevent them occurring again, ideally for the entire life of the individual (hence the relative immunity of the elderly to the recent H1N1 swine flu). You most certainly can infect others with HIV when asymptomatic. That is actually the biggest problem with HIV - people can be unknowingly infected and contagious for many years before the immune system finally breaks down and AIDS symptoms start. This is true for many other viruses.

Most scientists affirm that HIV causes AIDS, but rigorous and independent assessment of other hypothesis have not occurred. There are treatments to prolong life but that’s about it.

A rigorous and independent assessment of what other hypotheses? There are none that I know of that are not glaringly false based on all the data we have. If you wish, please state what alternate hypothesis you find worthy of assessment and I'll try to explain why it would be a waste of time and resources to address it.

I think that scientists should question a lot of things. I question if chemo is the best cure for cancer. Especially since so many people are dying and there is no cure.

Scientists thrive on questioning a lot of things (that's our job) and the highest accolades are reserved for those who question the 'dogma' and turn out to be right (e.g. prions, plate tectonics etc). Chemo is for many forms of cancer the only game in town and for some forms of cancer such as childhood leukaemia the cure rate is actually extremely high.

Hope this all helps.


Sun, 09 May 2010 16:16:43 UTC | #468084