JPANDS and HIV denialsim

This entry needed migrating from the old blog. Thank you for your indulgence. –PalMD

JPANDS, the mouthpiece of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, is a well-known organ or quackery, so it seemed like a good idea to see what they’ve been up to lately. It’s not good. The most recent issue publishes a screed on HIV denial that is so blindingly stupid, I developed a cluster headache on reading it. Now that I’ve recovered, let’s risk a closer look.

The Author

Henry Bauer is a chemist, or at least I think so. He doesn’t have a CV on his website. He says that he is the editor-in-chief of a journal that “provide[s] a critical forum of rationality and observational evidence for the often strange claims at the fringes of science.” It’s basically a journal of the paranormal. It’s not clear if the “Journal of Scientific Exploration” is still extant. He is a un-repentant HIV denialist, and doesn’t think that HIV is sexually transmitted. In other words, he’s an idiot who is stepping out of his field of expertise to comment on something he clearly doesn’t understand. That being said, a stopped clock is right twice a day. What does his article have to say?

The Article

The article is divided into several sections, but not in any particularly logical way. The introduction basically states that because some non-denialists are big meanies, denialists might be right.

The first section after the introduction continues the whine. It is entitles “Personal attacks on skeptics” and goes on about how nasty people are to denialists.

The next section, and probably my favorite, is called “On being certain”. If you are a fan of denialists, and who isn’t, you know where this is going. First, he keeps using a shorthand of “HIV=AIDS”. I suppose we could consider forgiving him for confounding a virus and the disease it causes. It’s probably a semantic thing, but no medical professional would ever do it. But he isn’t a medical professional (or an expert on HIV disease), so we’ll let it slide. The section is has a few major themes, most of which are familiar. One theme is the Galileo fallacy. The other is a nonsensical list of supposed contradictions that bring into doubt the fact that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

First, he raises the usual canard that not all people with AIDS have HIV. Since part of the definition of AIDS is infection with HIV, this is false.

Next he gets cranky about Kaposi’s sarcoma, an AIDS-defining illness. KS, which is caused by a human herpes virus, was known long before HIV. It is common in advanced AIDS, and is also seen outside the setting of HIV disease. His point reveals his medical ignorance. KS has never been considered either necessary or sufficient to diagnose AIDS.

Next he gets his panties in a bunch about people with HIV who don’t progress to AIDS over the course of many years (so-called long-term non-progressors). He takes this as evidence against HIV causing AIDS. Of course, real scientists look at actual, well, science. I don’t know if this guy knows CCR5 from an oak tree, but I don’t think he really cares.

Of course, he doesn’t stop there. He asks nice, stupid questions, like “Why is there an epidemic?” (answer: people fuck…a lot); “Why does antiretroviral treatment not improve patients’ health?” (it does, douche-bag); “Why no vaccine?” (because it’s really, really hard).

This guy is clearly an idiot. Any publication that would give him bloviation-space is clearly guilty of aiding and abetting an idiot. And to piss off this guy just a little bit more, there is a reason we get mad at folks like you—you are dangerous. Occasionally, deluded world leaders listen to you and fuck up health policy. Occasionally, patients listen to you and die. You are deluded, dangerous, and shameless. Is that clear enough?

Henry H. Bauer, Ph.D. Questioning HIV/AIDS: Morally Reprehensible or Scientifically Warranted? Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 12 Number 4, Winter 2007. Available online. You know where google is so find it yourself!