HIV denial update #1: shake-up in South Africa

There have been some interesting updates in the field of HIV politics and denial recently. First, after having several months of moving forward with a real plan to combat AIDS in South Africa, the deputy minister of health, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, has been fired. For those who follow this area, Madlala-Routledge stepped into the limelight when she took over for her boss, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, while she had surgery. Tshabalala-Msimang, you may recall, is the one who sided with President Thabo Mbeki regarding causes of AIDS (and cures for it), advocating treatments such as a recipe of garlic, beetroot, lemon and African potatoes to combat AIDS while underplaying the role of anti-retroviral drugs. Madlala-Routledge had been working to swing things the other way, and it seems this is a part of what got her fired; more after the jump.

Though the New York Times now has an article of their own up, noting:

For nearly a year, Ms Madlala-Routledge has been leading the Health Ministry's campaign against AIDS while the health minister was sidelined by illness. AIDS workers say that Ms. Madlala-Routledge was partly responsible for ending five years or more of government indecision and occasional denial of the scope of the epidemic.

Christine Gorman, however, beat the NY Times to the punch, and further discusses what the loss of Madlala-Routledge may mean to South Africa:

The most immediate casualty, apart from the deputy minister herself, may be South Africa's newly developed National Strategic Plan for AIDS (2007-2011), a highly regarded and forward-thinking blueprint for tackling the crushing HIV epidemic in that country. Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge played a major role in getting the plan pulled together, which was developed with input from many health experts inside and outside of government as well as civil society leaders.

Exactly why she was fired remains unclear. The "official" story seems to be that she took an unauthorized trip at taxpayer expense, but Gorman notes that this is murky:

...rumors were rife in South Africa that she had been given permission to go, which was then revoked while she was in the air. As soon as she learned about the change, she took the next available flight home, without even attending the conference.

Meanwhile, Madlala-Routledge had recently taken another trip, also said to have angered Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang:

The last straw for Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang, who has apparently made a full recovery, was when the deputy minister of health made an unannounced visit to a maternity hospital in the Eastern Cape. There, Madlala-Routledge found that the appalling conditions described by a local newspaper report were in fact true and that mothers and babies were dying needlessly.

Madlala-Routledge's call for reform at the hospital was treated as insubordination by the Minister of Health. The ANC newsletter attacked the press reports as "dramatic but false" even as the Minister of Health began launching many of the needed changes.

Not surprisingly, groups nationally and internationally are criticizing Mbeki's action; this will reverberate for a long time yet.

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More here (The Mail & Guardian is one of the better papers available in SA). According to this, the approval for the trip was withdrawn on the day Madlala-Routledge was flying to Spain.

Madlala-Routledge found that. . . .that mothers and babies were dying needlessly.

I find this horrible. Only to think that all one has to do is merely feed mothers and babies the life-saving miracle killer-drugs to keep them all alive and well (All of them, no exceptions here!) instead of garlic and potatoes, man, it makes me go off my rocker.

By dontgetmewrong (not verified) on 13 Aug 2007 #permalink

you were off your rocker way before this!

The only ones off their rocker are the ones pushing compromising and life ending experimental trials in South Africa.

Nevirapine is being tested around Africa as a preventive for HIV transmission from mothers to newborns in breastfeeding. Only South Africa has made an effort to hold out and prevent such a trial taking place.

A $7.5 million trial, sponsored by the NIH and led by Daya Moodley at UKZN, aims to test the effectiveness of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine as a treatment to block HIV infection in babies breastfed by HIV positive mothers.

The AIDS Apologists would think twice if their own wives and sweethearts were faced with the choice of this horrible, debilitating toxic therapy or nothing, when told that the scientific papers show that nothing is at least as good and often better..........

Coutsoudis A et al. Influence of infant-feeding patterns on early mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Durban, South Africa. Lancet 354:471-476, 1999, showed that women with HIV who were breastfeeding transmitted at lower rates than women with HIV who did not breast feed, rates lower or comparable to the rates later claimed for pregnant women who were being given nevirapine (in a study without proper placebo control, as is usual in AIDS drug research). In other words, women who breastfeed already lower their rate down to or below the rate for women who are given nevirapine when pregnant.

I think all you AIDS supporters should re-read the Harpers article for the sheer reminder you are and with out a doubt the perpetuators of death and dying!

Carter refers to "Coutsoudis A et al." But, doesn't look like carter read about Anna Coutsoudis.

What does Anna Coutsoudis say about Nevirapine?

We can find out because she wrote about it with some other people in Lancet March 23 2002 "Vertical HIV Transmission in South Africa"

Does she say breastfeeding doesn't make any difference in HIV transmission? No she says,

Vertical (mother-to-child) transmission of HIV in South Africa ranges from 19 to 36%, depending on whether the child is breastfed or not. In 2000, the prevalence of HIV infection in antenatal clinic attendees in public health services was 24·5%, and the government estimated that about 75 000 infants were born with HIV-1 infection in South Africa. About half these infections could have been prevented if short-course antiretroviral treatment had been available. The South African Government has claimed these interventions cannot be universally implemented because of cost, toxicity, drug resistance, breastfeeding, and the capacity of the health service to implement programmes.

Does she say these AIDS apologists are trying to forcefeed this poisinous thing to mothers and babies so they get more grants from greedy drug companies? No she says,

The manufacturers of nevirapine have offered the drug free over the next 5 years to countries in Africa to reduce vertical transmission.

Does she say Nevirapine or other drugs isn't going to help its too expensive? No she says

antiretroviral therapy to prevent vertical transmission is cost effective.

Does she say nevirapine doesn't help? Does she say it's too toxic? No she says

Short-course regimens used to prevent vertical transmission have been shown in several studies to be safe with minimum side-effects. Follow-up of mothers and children many years after receiving zidovudine showed an acceptable safety profile. A decision analysis model has shown that nevirapine is beneficial even if its toxicity was up to 42 times that observed in clinical trials, and concluded that implementation of nevirapine should not be delayed by toxicity concerns.

Does she say keep this toxic drug away from our mothers and babies? No she says

We applaud the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng for announcing that nevirapine will be widely available within the next few months.

ITs just like noreen with Amy Justice. Amy Justice didn't say those things she supposedly said. IT was alive and well that said them.

Anna Coutsoudis never said these things carter says she did. If you don't believe it ask her. Or just read what she wrote instead of copying something from alive and well or whatever internet site carter likes.

When Study after Study from orthodox AID$ science say the exact opposite of what was meant to find or portray, all you can do is show the presupposition that these drugs work, (HIV causes AIDS) with assumptions and empty claims that they are beneficial, which they are not. They are TOXIC and DEADLY and you deny it for no other reason then to support genocide.

And I bet you think Nancy Padian didnt say "no-seroconversions" too.

carter, do you deny that the Perth Group said "one has no choice but to also accept that Koch's postulates have been fulfilled which means that HIV is the cause of AIDS."?

jeez carter I just quoted Anna Coutsoudis. You never read anything she wrote on breastfeeding or nevirapine did you. You never heard her talk at a conference or wrote her an email or anything did you. You just say wrong stuff about her work, what you WANT to be true, no proof no evidence no backup.

Read that article Anna Coutsoudis cowrote and look up the references she has. And compare all the evidence all those tens of thousands of kids who don't have HIV or AIDS today because of nevirapine and other drugs, with what you got, some crap yellow "journalism" from Farber, who says one woman died from nevirapine. Supposedly.

Or and this is what you WILL do i know, say "I know you are but what am I" say it real loud and put your fingers in your ears and close your eyes and stick out your tonge. That'l teach those scientists with their Studies after Studies!

carter said:
Coutsoudis A et al. Influence of infant-feeding patterns on early mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Durban, South Africa. Lancet 354:471-476, 1999, showed that women with HIV who were breastfeeding transmitted at lower rates than women with HIV who did not breast feed, rates lower or comparable to the rates later claimed for pregnant women who were being given nevirapine (in a study without proper placebo control, as is usual in AIDS drug research).

adele copy AND pasted bits from the actual article Coutsoudis said that 100% disagrees with what carter just said.

carter then goes on to say:
When Study after Study from orthodox AID$ science say the exact opposite of what was meant to find or portray, all you can do is show the presupposition that these drugs work, (HIV causes AIDS) with assumptions and empty claims that they are beneficial, which they are not. They are TOXIC and DEADLY and you deny it for no other reason then to support genocide.

Note, adele referenced the actual paper, carter did not reference anything, and even after being shown that the paper he referenced completely disagrees with his statements he does not go and look it up to give the correct quotes. This appears to be a fairly blatant example of denial. If carter was not in denial, and actually had evidence that HIV does not cause AIDS or that these drugs were as negative as he claims they are he would actually have quotes from papers to prove this, not solely his opinion.

I am unsure how anyone can see carter as anything other than someone under severe denial, and thus an AIDS denialist.

Your opinion of me is none of my business and furthermore, it's very evident anything you point out in your flawed Science of HIV/AIDS is riddled with subterfuge, deceit and foundationalism. Others are very capable of picking apart you're contradicting studies just as I have. You won't have just me to thank when your house of cards comes crashing down.

The likes of your camp, your mantras, your perversion of AIDS-Medicine, contradictory constructs and irrationalism, just to name a few, is what lead my friends down a death path of iatrogenic poisoning and into the hands of ATZ pushing doctors hell bent on their belief In the almighty HIV.

Every day I witness many people like this person:

"I am currently deeply involved in researching a new writing project that centers around the growing debate about the HIV=AIDS=Death paradigm. At over 2000 pages of research now - including the books by Culshaw and Farber - I am feeling fairly well educated on dissident views. If it matters to anyone - this journey began for me when I was watching Angels in America on DVD. I had this furled-brow moment where I realized: I haven't seen anyone with KS in years and years; all my friends who are living HIV-positives are on no HIV meds; all those who have passed were on AZT and/or cocktail therapy. I am now so blown away by what was until this moment a secret world to me - that I must act upon it."

See ladies and gentlemen, people are waking up to the fact that your utterly convoluted crap you've been feeding the public for decades is pure nonsense. You might want to start trying another line of work.

Others are very capable of picking apart you're contradicting studies just as I have.

So if I understand correctly, you (and others) are capable of picking apart contradictions in studies. Your method of doing this involves claiming a study agrees with your dissident view, being told via quotes from the study that it actually does not, and then calling the study contradictory? You are aware that in order to pick apart a study, you must actually read it?

On another note, anecdotes are not proof of anything. I know it seems like the more people that agree with you, the more correct you are but at one point the entire world believed that the sun was spinning around the earth. But when you're the next galileo, I guess you expect to be persecuted for your beliefs!

The title of the thread misses the point to some degree.

A key part of the reason for Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge's dismissal was her unannounced visit to the Frere hospital to investigate allegations of substandard care.

Google "frere hospital" "Madlala-Routledge"

The issues were not HIV infection but basic medical care - the very same basic care that HIV denialists claim is the problem.

By exposing the problem and declaring it to be a national emergency Madlala-Routledge embarrassed the government.

The SA government's answer was a) deny that there is any problem b) dramatically increase funding for staff and equipment at the hospital c) sack Madlala-Routledge.

It is both bizarre and hypocritical that HIV denialists are defending the autocratic Mbeki on this issue.

By Chris Noble (not verified) on 13 Aug 2007 #permalink

Uhhh,... Chris?

"It is both bizarre and hypocritical that HIV denialists are defending the autocratic Mbeki on this issue."

It may be hypocritical, but I hardly find that bizarre.

By Roy Hinkley (not verified) on 13 Aug 2007 #permalink

It may be hypocritical, but I hardly find that bizarre.

I'm not totally surprised. I'm just suffering from having my frontal lobes twisted trying to understand the self-contradictory viewpoints held by the Denialists.

By Chris Noble (not verified) on 13 Aug 2007 #permalink

Since only your camp feels like Nevirapine is safe and effective, I thought I would remind you all it's not so honky dorie for you in that regards and if Mbeko is smart he'll have nothing to do with it nor listening to the same old rhetoric spewing about like water from Niagara Falls... You can talk amongst yourselves now, pat yourselves on the back and continue on with your sermons.

I'm not even talking about Nevirapine anymore, i'm talking about the fact that you stated a study said one thing, then were obviously shown you were wrong then you claim the study is contradictory. If the study is so contradictory then why did you even cite it in a pro-denial argument? Why would you cite such a poor reference? And if Adele is wrong about the article why didn't you look up the article and prove Adele wrong? But no, insead of facts you have to make zero sense and talk about whatever you think is right and not what the facts say.

apy, you want denialists to quote from the literature?

Maybe we should clone some dinosaurs instead that'd be alot easier.

The denialist arguments are usually more like,
Chris Noble can't get laid.
Adele is married to Dale and she's fat and ugly.
Franklin is ummm lets see what scientist should we say he is today because BY GOD THAT'LL disqualify him!
Well we dissidents have people joining us every day!
You're gonna get executed at Nuremberg, you're death dealers.
Jeesh idiot A. Miller is twentieth century literature not eightienth!

I feel a little left out there Adele. Let's not forget that apparently the big insult to me is misspelling my name 'apey'. I guess I'm very ape like?

actually apy, I left you out because they probably think we're the same person. Someone called you "ady" once didn't they and that's close to Adele. So in the denialist mind we're the same person living in Utah and married to Dale.

I think we should start betting pools on how denialists will misrepresent papers coming out. I've got $10 on the next paper that shows Nevirapine helps reduce HIV spread from mother to child is used to say that the children end up looking like Chunk from Goonies.

No, like Chucky from Chucky, the good guy's doll...

Hell Tara, Have you read Dr. Henry Bauers Latest Book?

"The Origin, Persistence, and FAILINGS of HIV/AIDS".

This very recent book is also VERIFYING THAT MBEKI IS CORRECT, and clearly discerns how and why the ORTHODOX HIV/AIDS-aholic believers that HIV is the cause of AIDS, are proven to be in error in continuing to promote that HIV is the cause of AIDS. His evidence comes right from the 200,000 plus studies of HIV/AIDS. The "Mountain Of Evidence", if you will.

Bauers latest book shows you to perhaps and most likely be brainwashed by having heard the slogan: "HIV, The Virus That Causes AIDS" one too many times, without having bothered to educate yourself as to the many and horrendous flaws in believing such.

Now it is not MY JOB to educate you as to the reasons why you are still of the mistaken belief that HIV is the cause of AIDS. It is YOUR JOB to educate yourself. For this very reason, Dr. Bauer has written his book, that just came out about four months ago, titled "The Origins, Persistence, and FAILINGS of HIV/AIDS". Perhaps you should read it.

Undoubtedly Mbeki has read this one as well as the other 30 plus books by dissidents including ones that have been written by scientists, including leading Nobel Laureates and Mathematicians, showing over and over and over that the belief that HIV is the cause of AIDS is WRONG. Is there some part of that that YOU do not understand? Is there some intelligent reason that YOU HAVE FAILED to educate yourself as to what the thousands of dissident scientists and doctors have said, and WHY they say it?

Mbeki is the ONLY leader of state to have fully educated himself on both sides of the issue. Mandela is the ONLY national health department director to have educated herself on the issue. And while you and many others are quite welcome to remain ignorant of the dissident evidence, and you are quite welcome to believe anything you like, that does not mean that the very educated people are wrong, who happen to believe other than what you and the other uneducated masses believe.

As you know, I am a gay man. I have been out in the gay communities of San Diego, LA, San Francisco plus many visits to New York and Philadelphia since 1978. I know the American HIV/AIDS affected. I know what they died from. It was not from HIV. And for your information, the vast majority of American AIDS deaths were from 1987 to 1995. The very same years of High Dosage AZT Monotherapy. Those taking this poison lived an average of 8 months to 1-1/2 years.

Now you might wish to tell me again that the newer drugs are better or are "life-saving". They are NOT BETTER. They simply kill more slowly. The leading cause of death in American HIV positives since AZT monotherapy ended in 95, has been liver failure directly related to those who take the more current drugs. Liver failure is NOT due to a virus, but due to toxins. This had been verified in 2002 by Dr. Amy Justice, who looked at 5700 American HIV positive deaths to find out the leading cause of death. She found it to be LIVER FAILURE ever since the new drugs came out. She presented this at the 2002 Barcelona AIDS conference, and it was promptly ignored and swept under the table.

May I ask if you Tara, are perhaps a homophobe, in that you have seemingly not thought the poisoning of more than 300,000 gay men by AZT is newsworthy or of any importance?

And you wonder why Mbeki did NOT WANT his people taking AZT or any of the other HIV drugs? Are you rascist as well, in that perhaps you would like to see the uneducated blacks in Africa taking this poison?

I am sure you are worldly enough to know: The world of medicine and health is rife with vested interests - sometimes it is personal, some times it is cultural, and almost always it is financial.

Perhaps you might consider repeating these words to yourself over again until you understand how they apply to HIV/AIDS and all of the fast tracked HIV drugs that have been sped through with almost zero oversight due to the hype and hysteria and panic and fear of the words "Global AIDS Epidemic".

And just to que you in again, on what it is you think you know about HIV/AIDS, because it seems to have gone over your head:

Perhaps you do not recall the years just before AIDS. Anita Bryant began to rouse the heterosexual community in her rants against gays. Millions supported her. Shortly thereafter, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell and the entire "moral majority" joined in. By the late 70's, the hatred for homos was picking up a lot of steam. College students were wearing shirts saying "kill a queer" and "bury a fairy". There was even a movement to instill the death penalty for homosexuals that gained a lot of backers.

Well, as a gay man, I, and every other young gay, got the message quite clearly. I was seen by the hetero majority as less than, and as a thing to be despised. Many gays came from these homophobic families. And many thousands were disowned by their families for simply being gay. And these men suffered extreme emotional problems. Depression, drug and sex addiction to escape from the emotional pain and depression of anxiety, self loathing, shame, guilt, and fear. Drugs and sex and more drugs to escape the painful feelings of being gay in a world that hated gays. Followed by std's and lots of antibiotics.

Eventually a lot of these gays sickened physically. Not from HIV, but from the result of intense emotional stress and from depression, and drug addiction, poor diets, and antibiotics overuse, shame, guilt, and fear, and most of all from the broken hearts suffered by many many thousands who found themselves rejected by their own families, friends, churches, and society. Many thousands even eventually had serious death wishes from all of the stress.

And of course, the greatest stressor of ALL is the diagnosis of HIV or AIDS in and of itself. The very diagnosis is so stressful that many of the diagnosed needed to be carried out of the doctors office upon receiving this death hex of a diagnosis. The intense panic and fear and neverending hysteria that many are subjected to in such a diagnosis, puts their bodies immediately into a state of greatly lowered immune function due to the stress and panic alone.

Now you know what AIDS is. It is stress. It is internalized homophobia and a desire for self destruction. It is the physical result of stress causing the lowering of the function of the thymus gland which oversees immune function.

In Africa, the population has doubled every 25 years since 1950. It doubled from 1950 to 1975, and doubled again right through the AIDS "epidemic". The population explosion in these undeveloped countries is LETHAL. There are vast slums where millions live in hopeless and helpless poverty. Poor nutrition, dirty water, poor hygiene, and lives of perceived hopelessness and helplessness. The leading cause of death is Tuberculosis, which is 80 percent of reportable illness in Mbeki's South Africa. It is the leading cause of death for the last 50 years. TB is also WELL KNOWN and PROVEN to cause HIV tests to show positive. Furthermore, in Africa only a single Elisa test is given to diagnose HIV. This alone would get an American doctor disbarred from practicing medicine were he to apply this standard to Americans. That is not to say the other HIV tests are accurate, because they are not. There are more than 60 factors that are known, and proven, and listed in science journals as causing false positives on ALL HIV tests. This is the reality of AIDS in Africa. It is a direct result of the stresses involved in living there in such helpless hopeless Africa.

Mbeki knows this full well, even if YOU and ALL of America and All of the West choose to ignore it or remain uneducated and complacent over it. However, even if the entire world goes on ignoring it, your or their ignorance does NOT change the facts.

Michael A Geiger
Board of Directors
HEAL San Diego

Great galloping monkey-jesus, Tara. I like your blog, and I've tried to do a better job following it, but, frankly, I keep getting scared off by the fact that you have, like, the worst comment threads ever.

It's just... unrelenting stupidity and really repellent crankery of the most depressing sort on every single thread. I feel bad for you, honestly. PZ gets his share of cranks, sure, but he has a fairly consistent stable of consistently stable commenters to keep the ratio decent.

I hesitate to mention it, as I can't imagine that you haven't already thought about it at length, but, maybe a bit of comment "stewardship" could be in order?
By that, of course, I mean: how do you manage to, apparently, be such a light touch on the ban-hammer?

Fox1, yeah, the HIV threads always descend into this. I don't ban or delete because, really, I think it shows the absolute inanity of the deniers' "arguments" by having them showcased and "defended" in the way they do. Give a person enough rope...

On the non-HIV threads, the comments are much better typically (though of course, much fewer in number). Hit those for some much more interesting discussions.

I have no idea where Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Thabo Mbeki's strange ideas about HIV/AIDS comes from. Neither of them seem to be qualified to make a scientific judgement on this issue. They do seem to be willing to ignore the recommendations of their own Medical Research Council.

However, the one good thing about Ms Madlala-Routledge being fired is that it has put our (South Africa's) Department of Health and the Health minister under scrutiny. As it turns out, our Health minister has a drinking problem that may have screwed up her liver. Despite getting a new liver, she hasn't stopped drinking.
In addition, it has been revealed that she was fired for stealing from patients while she worked in Botswana ( Not exactly the person you want to champion the fight against HIV.

It has already been noted by commentators over here in SA that the only reason that Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has not been fired is that her husband is in charge of ANC finances (the ANC is the current ruling political party in SA). Thabo Mbeki is fighting a succession battle in the ANC and therefore can't loose the favor of the money man.

All the while people are dying. God save Africa.