A slim volume by a young, female mathematician in Tyler, Texas, published by an "unknown" press has shaken the board room of Aids, Inc. like nothing since Celia Farber and Harper’s (1). At the top of the Amazon page for this book is a quotation from one of the most respected names in mathematics education.
"Every mathematician knows that by changing the definition of something, you can change the entire truth about that thing. Rebecca Culshaw describes how the HIV = AIDS 'orthodoxists' have abused this idea. As in a shell game, they keep moving the definitions around, so that anything can be true and everyone will be confused. The abuse of science that has been documented here is itself very frightening. But when we learn that the standard treatment for HIV-positives -- antiviral therapy -- will substantially increase their risk of dying, it's even scarier." -- Dan Fendel, professor of mathematics, emeritus, San Francisco State University
At the top of the "AIDSTruthiness" site these days is a long list of tags that because of the content to which they are attached remind one more than a little of certain other yellow identifiers in modern history. Prominently tagged is a 66-page PDF pretending to refute the arguments of the book’s author. (2) Although the file is almost as long as the book it seeks to destroy, stripped of innuendo, rhetoric, personal attack, distraction and redundancy it would reduce to a few paragraphs of whining complaint.
It begins by declaring that science has been "outsold" by "breathtaking ignorance" and "maddening naivete"; that Culshaw believes the "lies and distortions of HIV/AIDS denial", and is "fighting the good fight...struggling against a conspiracy as powerful and evil in the denialist mind as it is nonsensical and nonexistent in reality". What follows are 66 similar pages produced by Ken Witwer, helped by the "insightful comments" of Robert C. Gallo and John P. Moore. (2)
After several pages devoted to a tirade and detailed tabulation of its contents, Witwer attempts to address Culshaw's very destructive, easy to understand, and difficult to waffle for Aids, Inc. argument -- HIV (the cause of the AIDS epidemic) has itself never been epidemic in the United States, as the curve below shows.
Witwer begins his “analysis” of the “deceptive” graph by whining that it is the only figure appearing in the book. But it is the only figure which needs to appear in the book. And the few points represented in the graph are compiled from a long list of primary sources. It hardly matters if some of the points are moved up or down a bit. Nothing resembling a pathogen prevalence curve that is consistent with HIV as the cause of AIDS can be constructed from 15 years of CDC data.
Nonetheless, he confidently asserts that the curve is a shameful invention of the author and her “denialist” conspirators. "It is apparent that HIV prevalence has risen steadily since the discovery of the virus." (2)
The reason he, and every other establishment AIDS researcher concerned with the epidemiology of their favorite infectious meme is so perturbed by the data is that if the HIV prevalence curve is as Culshaw shows, the following statement, which appeared along with the graph the first time it was presented to an internet audience at Dean's World in January, 2005, is inarguably true.
"If HIV is the cause of AIDS, and the number of infected individuals is constant, then, other things being unchanged, the number of cases must remain constant. Although there are reasons why a virus might stop causing a disease (such as immunity, or drugs that confer resistance -- although neither apply in this case), there is no defensible reason in the clear light of these data for thinking that HIV ever began to cause one in the first instance." (3)
Witwer attempts to alter the shape of this curve. Since 2 + 2 = 4, and two points a line determine, he has his work cut out for him. What follows is a superficial critique of his “argument”.
As noted above, he doesn’t like Culshaw’s source for the curve, and implies other data would give a more epidemiologically "acceptable" contour. Would they?
Estimates for HIV prevalence from various sources (other than those used by Duesberg et al (4)) are available for the years 1985 to 2005 even though “…there is no representative national surveillance system for prevalent infections, so estimates are based on a reporting of new HIV infections from states with reporting laws, on a variety of serological surveys, and on mathematical models that make use of reported AIDS cases." (5)
A tabulation of such data from the literature shows a maximum (estimated) prevalence in 1986 of 1.5 million, and a minimum of 630,000 estimated for 1993. The most frequent estimate is the unchanging, and unchangeable, one million.
Further: "These data [on HIV seroconversion in homosexual/bisexual men in the late 1980s and early 1990s] led to the inference that incidence rates among homosexual men in the major urban centers in the late 1980s and early 1990s were fairly constant at rates centering around 1% per year -- that the epidemic had become endemic among homosexual men. A similar conclusion was reached from studies of injecting drug users where similarly low but relatively steady incidence rates were observed in a number of communities... the prevalence of HIV infection [in the mid-1990s], therefore, was thought to remain more or less constant year to year...the epidemic was in something approximating a steady state in the mid-1990s." (5)
The data from the CDC show that HIV prevalence has not increased appreciably since the mid-1990s. Nevertheless the "advent of more effective therapy in 1996" and "increasing risk [behaviour]...not reflected in CDC's estimates of the number of annual infections" is postulated to account for an increase in prevalence, against all available data, and in spite of the fact that "the lack of good national data on infection rates makes it difficult to judge any of these estimates...we currently do not have good projections of the future of the epidemic in the U.S. or of the present rate of new infections." (5)
Given the acknowledged limitations of estimating HIV prevalence, there is a direct test of the claim that "HIV prevalence has risen steadily since the discovery of the virus" -- we should look at specific groups of individuals which have been tested over time (e.g. blood donors, military recruits, etc.). If HIV prevalence is "rising steadily", then each (or most) of the groups should reflect this increase. In fact, every such group that has been tested since "the discovery of the virus" does not show an increase (6, 7). For example, HIV prevalence among blood donors in the United States (based on tens of millions of tests!) decreased from about 0.0225% in 1985 to about 0.0075% in 1993 (7).
Witwer claims "Culshaw selects the lower bound of the CDC's estimated range of 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 HIV infected persons in the United States in 2003 , rounds it down, and calls it one million," (What else would anyone do?) where reference  is a CDC publication (8) in which the 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 figure is based on a conference talk, "Estimated HIV prevalence in the United States at the end of 2003. National HIV Prevention Conference; June 2005; Atlanta." (9) However, the abstract of this talk states:
"Routine surveillance data do not directly provide total HIV prevalence for the United States (U.S.), but can be used to estimate of the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS, both diagnosed and undiagnosed. Previous estimates stated 850,000-950,000 persons were living with HIV at the end of 2000, approximately 25% of whom did not know they were infected. These estimates, based on a variety of data sources, used projections that assumed a constant number of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths annually since 1998. Newer back-calculation methods take advantage of increasing availability of information on HIV detection before progression to AIDS. We present here the estimated number of persons living with HIV infection in the U.S. at the end of 2003, and the proportion which were undiagnosed, using two estimation methods." (9)
In short, the figure 1,039,000-1,185,000 quoted by Witwer is based on "back-calculation" models, not on actual seroprevalence data. Moreover, the authors admit: "Using either estimation method, there were approximately one million persons living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. at the end of 2003" [my emphasis] (9) so maybe Witwer should call up the authors and tell them they were wrong to arrive at "approximately one million" as well!
- In all his verbal 3 card Monte, Witwer is trying desperately to obscure this fact: Using any estimates, high low or otherwise, that he wants, neither he nor anyone else can construct anything resembling an acceptable potential, pathogen prevalence curve from data collected over 25 years in the world’s most “advanced” country, with the finest medical infrastructure, and the best statistics, statisticians and everything else that 50 billion can buy.
The only 'data' Witwer can find to reify his hope that HIV prevalence is not constant but "rising steadily" come from Canada (a country with no more than 60,000 cumulative HIV positive diagnoses, 20,000 cumulative AIDS cases, and 15,000 cumulative AIDS deaths! (10)). He reproduces a figure from a CCDR [Canada Communicable Disease Report] (11) that 'approximates' a more familiar shape for a pathogen prevalence curve. However, The CCDR states:
"We used multiple methods to estimate national HIV prevalence and incidence in 2005, including the workbook method, an iterative spreadsheet model and two statistical modelling methods. The workbook method multiplies an estimated prevalence or incidence rate by an estimated population size, the statistical models back-calculate estimates of HIV incidence by relating the timing of HIV positive testing with timing of HIV infection and testing behaviour, and the iterative spreadsheet model incorporates elements of the other two methods.... National estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence for years before 2005 were obtained by determining the 2005 estimates as described above and then using the results from modelling to describe the past distributions of HIV prevalence and incidence relative to the 2005 estimate. Bounds of uncertainty for the national HIV estimates were developed based on a conservative consideration of results from a variety of scenarios." (11)
In other words, all the data contained in the Figure 1 cited by Witwer are based on back-calculation ("statistical models"), and not on actual surveillance data. Even worse, no details are given regarding the nature of these statistical models, nor is any reference given to published papers in the literature where "2005 estimates" and the "statistical modelling methods" used to generate the data in the CCDR report (and hence the figure) can be verified by independent investigators. The only references to such models are two unpublished conference talks from the previous summer (12).
Nevertheless, the authors of the CCDR assure us:
"Estimates published in this report for years before 2005 replace all previous estimates that we have published concerning HIV prevalence and incidence in Canada because new data and methods have permitted an improved analysis of the epidemic and more reliable estimates." (11) Yet no reasons are given why this "improved analysis of the epidemic" should replace "previous estimates".
In summary, all the available data show that HIV prevalence is not "rising steadily", and that testing positive on HIV antibody tests is endemic, not epidemic. It is curious that after nearly 20 years of Robert Gallo running away from Peter Duesberg in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (13), he feels confident enough to take on an assistant professor of mathematics at a small school in Texas. If this shell game is the best he can do, it is obvious why he ran away for so long.
It is also interesting that a dissident movement that got its first real traction in the world through the free-speech medium of the Internet, with this simple demonstration that 2 + 2 = 4 no matter how many “experts” claim differently (3), should have grown so discomforting to the HIV/AIDS establishment that it became necessary to launch a special website to broadcast its propaganda, as though complete control of the print and television media had somehow become insufficient.
Finally, YBYL’s editor wanted me to add this: “Bob, quit picking on "girls" and point out the errors in my book°. You are mentioned frequently afterall.”
Darin C. Brown (the webmaster of the AIDS Wiki) received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2004. His dissertation was in algebraic number theory, and his "mathematical lineage traces to Stark and Chebyshev".