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Death by denial: Brian Deer on the believers who continue denying HIV causes AIDS

28 February 2012

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Brian Deer writes in The Guardian:

Karri Stokely is a poster girl for a different way to look at health. After receiving an Aids diagnosis in 1996, at the age of 29, she was treated for 11 years with a cocktail of drugs. But then she saw an internet video saying that HIV was a hoax, stopped taking her medicines – and felt terrific.

"I'm not getting any answers from the mainstream as to why I'm healthy, and why my husband is negative, and why I can quit these drugs," she explains in her own video, which is currently being promoted online. "I think it's a crime. It's crimes against humanity."

Her doctor was aghast – HIV treatment is for life. "He looked me right in the eyes and said: 'You have done a very stupid thing, and you will be dead very soon,'" Stokely recalls. "My response to him was: 'That's funny, because right now I'm feeling pretty good.'"

That was in April 2007. She died four years later, so her comments are a postcard from the past. "Karri Stokely passed away on April 27th 2011," explains a website run by London journalist Joan Shenton. "She said she wouldn't go quietly so we are keeping her moving interview below on our homepage."

But Stokely's path (via pneumonia) was already well trodden. Dying in denial is a phenomenon. The first traveller on this path I knew was an American singer, Michael Callen, author of a self-help book, Surviving Aids. It was published by HarperCollins in 1990. Three years later, Mikey died.

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