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AIDS denialist defamatory comments results in donation to TAC

26 September 2010

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In October 2009, a politically right-wing British magazine, the Spectator, published a blog entitled "Questioning the AIDS consensus". The blog announced that the Spectator Events Division would be screening the AIDS denialist documentary, House of Numbers, to which the author of the blog appeared to be sympathetic. This was not the first time the Spectator had published or promoted nonsense about AIDS. In the early 2000s they published a piece by Rian Malan, replete with errors and misrepresentations, purporting to debunk AIDS statistics.

In response to the October blog, two well known AIDS denialists (Michael Geiger and Clark Baker, writing under pseudonyms) posted abusive, false and defamatory comments on the Spectator website attacking the integrity of leading HIV scientist, John Moore. This is a common tactic employed by some leading AIDS denialists. Moore asked the Spectator to remove these clearly libelous posts, but the magazine failed to do this fully and in a timely manner. Pressed by lawyers, the Spectator eventually removed the libelous posts, apologised to Moore, paid his legal costs and agreed to make a donation to a charity of Moore's choice as a token of regret. Moore, a long time friend of the TAC and outspoken critic of AIDS denialism, nominated our organisation as the recipient of these funds, which will be used to further help people in South Africa obtain antiretroviral drugs to treat their HIV infections.

AIDS denialists should take note and perhaps be more careful about their defamations in the future.