In the news

These stories appearing in the mainstream media are considered relevant by the AIDSTruth team.

Video: Consequences of HIV/AIDS Myths

A short video commissioned by the US State Department:

Video: Debunking HIV/AIDS Myths

A short video commissioned by the US State Department:

Study Refutes Claims on NYC foster children's participation in AIDS Drug Trials

The claims made by some denialists over 'experimentation' on New York City foster children (and which convinced some civil rights campaigners and City Council members) have been comprehensively debunked in an independent report conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice.

Update: The Vera report is available here (or read only the executive summary). The NYC Administration for Children's Services' press release has been appended to this story.

The New York Times reports:

An investigation into the participation of New York City foster children in clinical drug trials for H.I.V. and AIDS over a nearly 20-year period has found no evidence that any children died as a result of the trials or that the foster children were selected because of their race.


After interviewing dozens of people involved in the trials and reviewing hundreds of thousands of pages of case files, documents and correspondence, the Vera Institute concluded that none of the 532 children in the trials died as a direct result of the medications. (Twenty-five children receiving treatment as part of the trials died during the trial years.)

The report also found that foster children were not removed from their families by the city because a parent had refused to consent to a child’s treatment, as some had alleged.

In addition, the study said that researchers did not specifically select foster children for enrollment in the trials. And while the foster children were overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, as some critics emphasized, that profile mirrored the demographics of children with H.I.V. infection in the city at the time.

Read the full New York Times article.

Martin Delaney has died

Martin DelaneyMartin DelaneyIt is with great sadness that the team learned of the death of veteran AIDS activist and AIDSTruth contributor Martin Delaney. Martin was recently honoured by the NIAID for his ceaseless efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. The organisation he founded, Project Inform, has released a statement announcing his death:

Martin Delaney, key figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS, dies at age 63

Martin Delaney, who in 1985 founded Project Inform, a leading national HIV patient advocacy organization, died today in San Rafael, California. Delaney, who served as the agency’s Director until January 1, 2008, was 63 years old at the time of his death from liver cancer.

“When the final history of AIDS is written, there is no question that Martin Delaney will be one of the key figures who brought this great human tragedy to an end,” said Dana Van Gorder, Project Inform’s Executive Director. “Marty rose brilliantly to the challenge of persuading sometimes reluctant government agencies, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies to respond in a compassionate and urgent way to the needs of thousands of people dying of AIDS. The fact that we now benefit from a very strong arsenal of medications to treat HIV infection, and from information about how to use them effectively, is largely attributable to this great man. Those of us living with HIV feel deeply the loss of our chief guardian and friend.”

Martin Delaney honoured by the NIAID

Martin DelaneyMartin DelaneyMartin Delaney, long-time AIDS activist, Project Inform founder and AIDSTruth contributor has been honoured with an award for his contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. From the NIAID's press release:

Martin Delaney, the founder and longtime director of the HIV advocacy/education organization Project Inform, has been presented with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director’s Special Recognition Award for his many contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Delaney in 1985 founded Project Inform, a leading national HIV treatment and public policy information and advocacy organization based in San Francisco, and served as its Director until 2008. He was a member of the NIAID AIDS Research Advisory Committee from 1991 to 1995, served on NIAID’s National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Disease Council from 1995 to 1998, and also has served in other advisory roles for the Institute.

Anthony Fauci's tribute to Martin Delaney:

Health24 on Christine Maggiore

Christine Maggiore with Thabo MbekiChristine Maggiore with Thabo MbekiMarcus Low of has published an insightful piece on Christine Maggiore's death, including her impact in South Africa. He writes:

Like Maggiore, denialists often claim they are exercising freedom of speech and that mainstream medicine is silencing dissent – Maggiore herself at times claimed only to be presenting an alternative – there is clear evidence of the impact that pseudoscience and Aids denial has had on the health of South Africans. Last year Harvard researchers said it was a conservative estimate that more than 330 000 lives had been lost to HIV/Aids in South Africa between 2000 and 2005 simply because the government failed to implement a feasible and timely antiretroviral treatment programme.

In addition, an estimated 35 000 babies were born with HIV during that same period because of government's reluctance to introduce a mother-to-child transmission prophylaxis programme using nevirapine (an anti-Aids drug).

Not implementing such programmes is of course exactly what Maggiore was campaigning for.

More reaction to Christine Maggiore's death

Some reaction in blogs and the press:

Peter Singer: The Tragic Cost of Being Unscientific

World-renowned bioethicist Peter Singer writes in New Europe about the tragic consequences of former South African president Thabo Mbeki's AIDS denialism:

Mbeki is culpable, not for having initially entertained a view held by a tiny minority of scientists, but for having clung to this view without allowing it to be tested in fair and open debate among experts. When Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, South Africa’s leading black immunologist, warned that the president’s policies would make South Africa a laughingstock in the world of science, Mbeki’s office accused him of defending racist Western ideas.

LA Times: Christine Maggiore and the price of skepticism

The LA Times writes in an editorial:

In some instances, these debates are interesting but not terribly consequential. But sometimes they are of staggering significance. When the theory in question is about the cause of climate change or AIDS, misplaced skepticism, whether cynical or well-intentioned, can lead to grave results. For years, the South African government joined with Maggiore in denying that HIV is responsible for AIDS and resisting antiretroviral treatment. According to a new analysis by a group of Harvard public health researchers, 330,000 people died as a consequence of the government's denial and 35,000 babies were born with the disease.

AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore dies at 52

Christine Maggiore and daughterChristine Maggiore and daughterThe Lost Angeles Times reports that Christine Maggiore has become the latest HIV-positive AIDS denialist to die after refusing AIDS treatment. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but is likely to be AIDS-related. Maggiore founded the "Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives" denialist organisation and wrote and self-published a book What If Everything You Thought You Knew about AIDS Was Wrong? Her 3-year old daughter Eliza Jane Scovill died of AIDS-related pneumonia after Maggiore had refused to take medication to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV or to have the child tested for HIV. For more information, see our page on denialists who have died.

Update: The Bay Area Reporter quotes Matthew Sharp sharply criticising Maggiore's denialist activities:

Of course it is a personal decision to choose not to take medical treatment for life threatening conditions but for a person with HIV to go on a personal crusade to brainwash people into believing HIV does not cause AIDS and fooling them to disbelieve life saving treatment is pure insanity," Matthew Sharp, a longtime AIDS activist and former member of the now-defunct ACT UP/Golden Gate and its later incarnation, Survive AIDS, told the Bay Area Reporter. "However, Maggiore, like several other well-known HIV-positive denialists, made their own choices and consequently dug their own graves.

New book: 'Denying AIDS' by Seth Kalichman

A new book on AIDS denialism by Seth Kalichman will become available in March 2009. AIDSTruth will post a review. Update: Read Seth's blog about AIDS denialism.

Denying AIDS coverThe publisher's details:

Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy

Seth C. Kalichman, University of Connecticut

Paralleling the discovery of HIV and the rise of the AIDS pandemic, a flock of naysayers has dedicated itself to replacing genuine knowledge with destructive misinformation—and spreading from the fringe to the mainstream media and the think tank. Now, from the editor of the journal AIDS and Behavior, comes a bold exposé of the scientific and sociopolitical forces involved in this toxic evasion. Denying AIDS traces the origins of AIDS dissidents’ disclaimers during the earliest days of the epidemic and delves into the psychology and politics of the current denial movement in its various incarnations.

Widespread AIDS quackery in South Africa exposed

An 'immune booster' sold in South AfricaAn 'immune booster' sold in South AfricaThe South African Health-e news agency has exposed widespread preying on people with HIV by quacks who peddle fake AIDS cures. Their TV documentary “Quack Alert” was broadcast on popular current affairs programme "3rd Degree" on 25 November. The script of the documentary can be read here. Their article "Quacks do good business in SA" describes how fake doctors openly advertise AIDS cures and swindle desperate (and mostly poor) patients out of large amounts of money. Some even promise to solve financial and relationship problems or improve sexual performance. They also expose how the provincial Minister of Health in South Africa's worst-affected province supports quacks and wants the fake AIDS cure "Ubhejane" distributed in a state-funded hospice. AIDSTruth contributor Nathan Geffen writes about the humorous side of quackery in a piece titled "Why Ozone Rectal Therapy is not the next cure for AIDS".

The importance of epidemiology in the early days of the HIV epidemic

Harold Jaffe's new article "The early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the USA" emphasises the power of the epidemiological method to gain an understanding of disease pathogenesis by recounting some of the work done before the isolation of HIV. He says,

Although the importance of [the discovery of HIV] cannot be underestimated, it is also important to understand the epidemiological work that preceded the discovery. It was this work that established AIDS as being most likely caused by a transmissible agent, defined the transmission routes of the agent, suggested its natural history and also provided the basis for initial prevention guidelines.

Another fraudulent "AIDS treatment" advertisement banned in South Africa

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) has upheld a complaint by the Treatment Action Campaign against an advertisement for fraudulent treatment for HIV which appeared in the Sowetan newspaper on 6 June 2008.

Carter glad to see Mbeki go

The Daily Dispatch reports that former US President Jimmy Carter has said of former South African President and AIDS denialist Thabo Mbeki, “Frankly I am glad to see him gone.” Carter also reportedly said that the closest he had ever been to a fist fight was when Mbeki told him that anti-retrovirals for mothers infected with HIV/Aids was a plot of white people against black people.

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