The scientific evidence for HIV/AIDS


More substantial features and articles written by AIDSTruth contributors

Ben Goldacre: The Doctor will sue you now

Bad ScienceThis is an extract from BAD SCIENCE by Ben Goldacre, Published by Harper Perennial 2009. You are free to copy it, paste it, bake it, reprint it, read it aloud, as long as you don’t change it – including this bit – so that people know that they can find more ideas for free at

The Doctor Will Sue You Now

This chapter did not appear in the original edition of this book, because for fifteen months leading up to September 2008 the vitamin-pill entrepreneur Matthias Rath was suing me personally, and the Guardian, for libel. This strategy brought only mixed success. For all that nutritionists may fantasise in public that any critic is somehow a pawn of big pharma, in private they would do well to remember that, like many my age who work in the public sector, I don't own a flat. The Guardian generously paid for the lawyers, and in September 2008 Rath dropped his case, which had cost in excess of £500,000 to defend. Rath has paid £220,000 already, and the rest will hopefully follow.  Nobody will ever repay me for the endless meetings, the time off work, or the days spent poring over tables filled with endlessly cross-referenced court documents.

Thabo Mbeki, HIV/AIDS and bogus scientific controversies

by Martin Weinel (Originally published on Politicsweb.)

Almost every day governments around the world have to make political decisions that depend on scientific or technical knowledge. Where and how to store nuclear waste? How to respond to global climate change? Should a particular medicine be made freely available to the whole population or should its use be highly restricted or even banned? These and countless other 'science policy decisions' show that policy making is highly dependent on scientific knowledge.

"With the stroke of a pen" – Andrew Maniotis's bizarre email to the Gates Foundation

Sometimes AIDS denialists do such a good job of discrediting themselves that we don't have to do much to counter them. See this email from Andy Maniotis to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an attached document that he claims to have also sent to President Obama (while offering to serve as Mark Dybul's replacement).

From: Andy Maniotis [redacted]

Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2009 12:21:38 -0600
To: [redacted]
Subject: With the stroke of a pen

Dear Mr. or Mrs. Gates,

I am deeply concerned about the information you have been receiving regarding the scientific basis upon which several of your global policies are based.

Mr. Dybul, Mr. Bush's World AIDS coordinator has just been fired. In a letter to President Obama's team, I have offerred to serve as his replacement.

Christine Maggiore and Eliza Jane Scovill: Living and dying with HIV/AIDS denialism

by David Gorski
This post first appeared on Science-Based Medicine.

Before she became an HIV/AIDS denialist, Christine Maggiore was a successful businesswoman. In 1986, she started what ultimately developed into a multimillion dollar inport/export clothing company, Alessi International, which is based in Italy. However, her life changed in 1992, when during a routine medical examination she was found to be HIV-positive. Initially, she became involved with AIDS charities, including the AIDS Project and Women At Risk, but then in 1994 she met Peter Duesberg, the biologist who, arguably more than anyone else, started the whole phenomenon of HIV/AIDS denialism. By that time she also had had other HIV tests that varied from negative to indeterminate to positive, which had made her start to question whether she really had HIV. After being “converted” by Duesberg, she became an HIV/AIDS denialist and activist, founding Alive&Well, an organization dedicated to providing “information that raises questions about the accuracy of HIV tests, the safety and effectiveness of AIDS drug treatment, and the validity of most common assumptions about HIV and AIDS.” She herself refused to take antiretroviral drugs and discouraged other at-risk mothers from doing so–or from even permitting themselves to be tested for HIV–under the guise of “telling both sides.”

Not surprisingly, when she became pregnant with her second child Eliza Jane, she similarly refused to take antiretroviral drugs in order to decrease the risk of maternal-fetal transmission of HIV. Indeed, she even appeared on the cover of Mothering Magazine sporting her pregnant belly with the word AZT in a circle with a slash through it and the headline HIV+ Moms Say NO to AIDS Drugs. The issue featured Maggiore in an article entitled Safe and Sound Underground: HIV-Positive Women Birthing Outside the System and included other articles about AIDS, such as Molecular Miscarriage: Is the HIV Theory a Tragic Mistake? and AZT in Babies- Terrible Risk, Zero Benefit. (Mothering Magazine’s promotion of HIV/AIDS denialism and antivaccine misinformation may well make a topic for a future post in and of itself. Suffice it to say that Christine Maggiore was very much into “alternative medicine” and refused to vaccinate her children, making Mothering, which is well-known for its promotion of antivaccine views, the perfect venue for her.) After EJ was born, Maggiore refused to allow her to be tested for HIV and insisted on breast-feeding her, even though breastfeeding results in an unacceptable risk of virus transmission to the baby. The stage was thus set for the tragedy that was to come.

Christine Maggiore's Death: Lessons from A Tragedy

Christine Maggiore with Thabo MbekiChristine Maggiore with Thabo MbekiThe death from pneumonia of AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore, 52, is eliciting sadness but no surprise from HIV researchers, AIDS activists, and clinicians.  The known facts of the Maggiore case follow the tragic arc of HIV disease in untreated HIV-infected women.  Christine Maggiore was HIV-positive, rejected medical care, gave birth to two children, one of whom died at three of AIDS, and then died herself, about 16 years post diagnosis, of prolonged pneumonia, which is a common consequence of HIV infection.1 These events are consistent with mother-to-child transmission and HIV disease progression to where antiretroviral treatments are not available.

These untimely deaths were unnecessary: they could almost certainly have been prevented by appropriate medical treatment.  The still greater tragedy is that Christine Maggiore spent almost 15 years persuading other people with HIV to follow her example, and many of these have died.  We hope that the terrible lesson in the deaths of Eliza Jane and Christine will be heeded by those who are still alive: HIV will almost always lead to AIDS and death in those who are untreated, and refusing to believe that this is so offers no protection from the virus.

Discovery of HIV recognised with Nobel prize

Luc MontagnierLuc MontagnierThe Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi for their work on the isolation of HIV (as well as Harald zur Hausen for the discovery of Human Papillomavirus as a cause of cervical cancer).

A brief history of discovery of HIV may be helpful in putting the recent awarding of the Nobel prize in perspective. There has been a great deal of controversy over the award recognizing the contribution of the French team while ignoring the contribution of the US/Gallo team. The real story of the history is not well understood by either the media or the public. Unfortunately, it seems that the Nobel Committee also lacks some of the facts, or has chosen are narrow interpretation of what was important in the early discoveries.

Zackie Achmat: Crimes of the great denialist

by Zackie Achmat

Zackie Achmat: South African AIDS activistZackie Achmat
South African AIDS activist
On September 20 2008, as South Africa’s newly acquired Gripen fighter jets took off from a local air show to parade across Cape Town skies, residents would awaken to one of the most remarkable days in the political history of the republic. The Mbeki-Pahad monolith had collapsed.

The decision by the ANC to recall President Thabo Mbeki represents the downfall of the most hubristic executive in contemporary South Africa, and one that has been characterised by the unrelenting denialism of the greatest threats facing our country -- the mounting failure of the criminal justice system to prosecute and convict criminals, the increasingly disturbing nature of violent crime, burgeoning inequality and unemployment, the HIV/Aids catastrophe and the culture of impunity for corrupt and incompetent public officials.

The imposed resignation was long overdue. There were valid reasons to impeach Mbeki even before the Chris Nicholson judgement on three particular charges, all of which in their own right provide enough justification for such action.

AIDS Denialists Lie About More than HIV: Deception and Duplicity among the “Dissidents”

HIV denialists boast that they oppose the science-driven “AIDS orthodoxy,” and many people who distrust medicine find this self-ascribed rebel stance appealing. But the denialists paradoxically idealize the very “establishment” they claim to reject. This is manifested in a striking pattern of exaggerations and outright lies from denialists about their institutional positions, scientific qualifications, and publications, and their false and often fraudulent claims of support from legitimate scientists and doctors. Some of these lies are symptoms of denialists’ delusions that they are knowledgeable and important, while others are part of a systematic effort to deceive a vulnerable public. In both cases, the denialists’ lies about themselves are a dimension of their lies about HIV and AIDS.

Read the full article.

Mr Duesberg goes to Washington

News reaches us of yet another farcical event in the life of the 'Rethinking AIDS' group. RA's media expert (sic), David Crowe has been trumpeting the news that Peter Duesberg and Celia Farber were supposed to collect "Clean Hands" awards from the Semmelweiss Society, as part of "Whistleblower Week in Washington". These awards come from a fringe group, and have no scientific or political significance. And yet even this non-event turned into farce, as it so often does when RA gets involved. We would like to thank Liz Ely for bringing us into the loop with another misrouted email (Hey Liz, are you being taught by Andy Maniotis?). In any case, you're doing a fine job as RA's new publicist, so well done on your first major project! It won't be long before you're as successful in this role as David himself was. We think back fondly to when he gave AIDSTruth such valuable help in winning the "Battle of the BBC" with his brilliantly judged, superbly timed press release!

Mbeki's AIDS denial - Grace or folly?

by William Gumede

This is a chapter from William Gumede's book Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC.

Part I

For too long we have closed our eyes as a nation, hoping the truth was not so real. For many years, we have allowed the HI virus to spread, and at a rate in our country which is one of the fastest in the world. – Thabo Mbeki, 9 October 1998

Now ... the poor on our continent will again carry a disproportionate burden of this scourge – would if anyone cared to ask their opinions, wish that the dispute about the primacy of politics or science be put on the backburner and that we proceed to address the needs and concerns of those suffering and dying. – Nelson Mandela, 13 July 2000

It is important that we recognise that we are facing a major crisis and that we want to invest as many resources as we did when we fought against apartheid. This is not a state of emergency but it is a national emergency. – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 30 November 2001

As his international AIDS Advisory Council met for the first time, Thabo Mbeki mulled over the words of Irish poet Patrick Henry Pearse: ‘Is it folly or grace?’

A response to Rian Malan's "last ever AIDS piece"

Rian Malan continues to befuddle AIDS statistics
by Eduard Grebe

I should be very happy if Rian Malan's so-called “last ever Aids piece” (noseweek, nose88) is truly his last, since he shows no sign of changing his habit of serious errors of logic and deliberate distortions when writing on Aids.

His disingenuous suggestion that the shocking rise in in the number of registered deaths is merely the result of improved death registration and therefore nothing to worry about, is based on misinterpretations and what can be none other than deliberate distortion of the data.

A Massive Illusion: Review of Celia Farber's 'Serious Adverse Events'

by Robert K. Funkhouser
Posted to, Nov. 7, 2006

Serious Adverse Events. By Celia Farber. Melville House: 2006, Pp. 345

In Serious Adverse Events, activist-author Celia Farber combines the unproven claims of Professor Peter Duesberg with her own ignorance and manipulates the facts to produce a massive illusion that people not familiar with the issues may naively accept as true.

Even though the scientific understanding of HIV and AIDS is built upon solid, peer-reviewed research (thousands of peer-reviewed papers and over 40,000 HIV or SIV genetic sequences in Genbank), the author skillfully plants doubts about the validity of the science and the honesty of the scientists involved, employing phrases like: "wished or dreamed into existence", "retroviral faith", "entrapped millions of minds", "the core catechism", and so on.

Letter to South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki

Mr Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki
Republic of South Africa
Union Buildings
West wing
2nd Floor
Government Avenue
4 September 2006
By fax: +27 12 323 8246 and +27 21 461 6456

Dear President Mbeki


We are members of the global scientific community working on HIV/AIDS who wish to express our deep concern at the response of the South African government to the HIV epidemic.