Yet another peculiar feature of the HIV/AIDS gospel is how much of
hear, and even much of what doctors and researchers believe to be
true, is so far removed from what is documented in the scientific literature
that when one learns what really is
in the literature, the immediate reaction is disbelief.
I doubt that very many ordinary citizens – or god forbid, medical practitioners – are aware that in HIV antibody test kits are warning sentences saying things like: “EIA [Elisa] testing cannot be used to diagnose AIDS.” I doubt that many people who submit to this testing have any knowledge that their very future, their ability to obtain insurance, to bear children naturally, to travel, or to live without fear, are hanging on the results of a test that has not even been approved to diagnose HIV infection without being “confirmed” by numerous similar tests, all of which work in the same way, and all of which contain similar warnings.
But I doubt even more that the majority of medical practitioners are aware of the subtle but significant shift in the language used in HIV test kits since the beginning of the AIDS era. For example, from 1984 until the very recent past, test kit inserts contained the unambiguous statement “AIDS is caused by HIV”. In 2002, the OraSure toned down that statement to say: “AIDS, AIDS-related complex and pre-AIDS are thought to be caused by HIV.” (Italics mine)
But just this year, in a remarkable – and potentially significant – shift in thinking, the trend seems to be toward making an even less committal statement. For example, Abbott Diagnostic’s ELISA test insert contains the following sentence: “Epidemiologic data suggest that the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by at least two types of human immunodeficiency viruses, collectively known as HIV.”
Vironostika appears to be even
less willing to support a true causal role, as their 2006 test kit insert says: “Published data indicate a
strong correlation between the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
and a retrovirus referred to as
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).” (Italics mine)
What this is telling us is
that twenty-two years later, we’ve still got nothing. As the recent Rodriguez et. al.
virus levels (as dubiously measured by viral load tests) have almost
zero influence on CD4+ cell decline, and these are the cells that have
so long been believed to be dying at HIV’s behest. As Zvi Grossman
stated in a recent paper, “The pathogenic and physiologic
processes leading to AIDS remain a conundrum.” In other words, we
still have no clue what HIV actually does. Where are the T-cells going?
No one knows. What is viral load, anyway? No one knows.
After twenty-two years, we’re back to correlation – back to epidemiology. Yet we’re still stuck in the same pattern of promoting these tests that may measure something – but no one really understands what it is. Worse yet, we’re using the results of these tests to literally ruin people’s lives. Something is very, very wrong.
Perhaps the most disturbing trend of late is the “strong recommendation” that all pregnant women be tested for HIV. And if she doesn’t get tested for HIV during her pregnancy we’ll strongly recommend that she be tested while she is in labor. Am I the only person disturbed by this? To terrorize and intimidate women when they are at their most vulnerable – while they are pregnant and while they are giving birth – is a sign of a society that is suffering a worse sickness than the one that so terrorizes it.
This is made worse by the fact that pregnancy is documented in the medical literature as a source of false positives on the HIV antibody tests. What might seem at the time a caring decision made on behalf of one’s unborn child actually ends up being an uninformed decision, because most expectant mothers are not aware that their chances of registering falsely positive will increase (and the increase appears particularly striking among black women). Most will not know that a positive result will deny her child the opportunity to receive optimal nutrition via breastfeeding. Most will not be aware that they will be coerced to take drugs whose long term effects on either her or her child are not even known.
At its worst, this type of medical terrorism results in situations such as the tragic case of Joyce Ann Hafford (as chronicled to such devastating effect by Celia Farber in her recent article in Harper’s magazine), who died as a result of nevirapine toxicity. The fact that Hafford may well have been falsely positive only makes the loss all the more gruesome. And we cannot forget the fact that we have no idea what will happen in the long term to children who receive these drugs in utero. We have no idea, just as we have no idea whether they would even get sick if they did not receive the drugs.
When all is said and done, the only support we have for any role HIV may play in AIDS is an epidemiological correlation. Worse, it is a correlation between manifestations of a particular clinical syndrome and the results of an antibody test that has never been standardized, never been verified against true viral isolation, and which is not even approved for diagnosis of HIV infection. For this test we have put all manner of discriminatory laws on the books, but we don’t even know what the tests mean. And if we don’t know what they mean, any correlational data that might be obtained from them must be looked on with caution, if not thrown out entirely. When all is stripped away, as we slowly begin to understand just how uncertain the foundations of the entire HIV/AIDS industry are, all we are left with is nothing.
Rebecca V. Culshaw worked on mathematical models of HIV infection for almost ten years. She received her Ph.D. in mathematics (with a specialization in mathematical biology) from Dalhousie University in Canada in 2002 and is currently an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Tyler. She is a celebrated internet author as a result of her writings on Lew Rockwell, and "Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?", a book based on those essays is due this December. [The miniature at the top left is Hypatia of Alexandria (370-415), famous as the first woman known to have made a substantial contribution to the development of mathematics.]