“It’s just murder…It’s really just that simple.”
-Anthony Fauci on the HIV/AIDS denialist Peter Duesberg
I think that one of the clearest examples of denialism, and of the harm that anti-scientific attitudes can have, is in HIV/AIDS denialism. But who in this day and age can continue to promote such a thoroughly absurd idea that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and worse yet, actively discourage those infected with the virus from pursuing treatments that have been proven to extend life?
I’ll tell you who. The denialists.
Any discussion of HIV/AIDS denialists has to start with Peter Duesberg who has been the major source of denialism about the link between HIV and AIDS. In 1987 he wrote this paper in Cancer research and a subsequent paper in 1989 in PNAS suggesting that the cause of AIDS was due to more likely due to promiscuity and intravenous drug use than a virus. These papers have been the major sources of denialist selectivity for ignoring the evidence that HIV causes AIDS for the last two decades. While the science linking HIV and AIDS progressed to produce more and more evidence that AIDS had a viral cause, Duesberg did not relent. To this day, he still has defenders who insist that he was improperly victimized because he opposed scientific orthodoxy, but the fact of the matter is long after he was proven wrong on HIV and AIDS, he has been a source of misinformation on the causes of AIDS and as a result people have died. One glaring example is that of Christine Maggiore who Duesberg convinced that HIV was not a cause of AIDS and as a result her daughter died of AIDS-related pneumonia. Even worse, in South Africa, anti-retroviral medications were delayed for years because of the denialism of politicians such as Thabo Mbeki, who believe in conspiracies about the origin of AIDS and in quack remedies for its treatment.
In short, the continued denialism about HIV and its link to AIDS has led to death and denialists like Duesberg are to blame. Duesberg has been quiet lately on HIV and AIDS, preferring to publish about aneuploidy and cancer from a sadly black-and-white perspective. But many HIV/AIDS denialists carry the torch, continuing to spew disinformation based on the ignorance of decades of research demonstrating the link between HIV and AIDS, and, in our opinion, causing nothing but death and misery as a result.
Recently, HIV denialists suffered a major setback in a court case in Australia in which they attempted to defend a sociopath who infected women with HIV by trying to suggest the HIV virus doesn’t exist (consistent with the tendency of cranks not caring about consistency). Again this shows how denialism can in some instances be deadly, and the purveyors of such psuedoscience deserve nothing but scorn.
We watch and track those who continue to promote HIV/AIDS denialism. The major players in this particularly despicable field of denialism include:
Peter Duesberg of course.
The Perth Group – who deny HIV exists.
Barnes World, the most active HIV/AIDS denialist blog
Deans World, a general conservative site run by Dean Esmay, who frequently promotes Duesberg in his endeavors.
Lew Rockwell another conservative site that features HIV/AIDS denialists articles.
Rethinking AIDS run by Etienne de Harven, an HIV/AIDS denialist crank.
Alive and Well the source of HIV/AIDS information for those like Christin Maggiore who want their kids to die unnecessarily.
AIDS myth exposed the message board for cranks who like to reassure themselves of their idiotic beliefs.
Virusmyth a crackpot resource site.
Heal AIDS, another source of deadly propaganda.
Reviewing AIDS, the AIDS denialist wiki.
New AIDS review, a crank blog.
Roberto Giraldo, a quack HIV/AIDS denialist.
Rebecca Culshaw author of Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS? She uses the math to show HIV was never an epidemic therefore it doesn’t exist or something. A thorough rebuttal (PDF), and a description of her plagiarism problems from AIDStruth. (Thanks ERV)
Gary Null a crank “Documentary filmmaker and health expert”, conspiracy theorist and nutrition quack who uses his diploma mill degree to suggest he’s a doctor when he’s not being pursued for fraud by the FTC. (Thanks Edward)
David Crowe’s Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society – more active than most sites.
And finally, the reason I’ll never read Harper’s magazine again, Celia Farber’s disgusting denialist piece on HIV that shows how even insidious HIV/AIDS denialism can make it into mainstream publications. For a thorough refutation go here (PDF).
I’m happy to say since I’ve been tracking HIV/AIDS denialist sites, several have died, hopefully demonstrating how absurd it is to persist in such disgusting denialism in this day and age. But cranks are never truly convinced of their error, one can only wait for them to die or get bored of being internet cranks, and such patience in the face of murderous idiocy is difficult to maintain.