HIV/AIDS denialism is deadly - The sick bastards have another victim

If anyone has been deluded into thinking HIV/AIDS denialism isn't dangerous or deadly, all one has to do is look at the fruits of their labor on the AIDS myth exposed message boards. Their latest monstrosity is to convince an HIV positive mother to refuse medical care and testing for her and her child. Momma2girls82 writes on their message board about becoming a denialist and asking for help from the denialist community:

So I've always been one to go 'against the grain'. I firmly believe that one should question everything they are told 'just is' and determine their own beliefs based on their own research. And so here I am, questioning, learning everything I can because my life (or quality thereof) and that of my husband and children truly depends on it.

It seems so.... EASY to just believe HIV doesn't really exist. I've just essentially been told that I have a fatal disease and that I will certainly die, quite possibly along with my beloved infant. Having that hanging over my head may likely cloud my judgment. I want desperately to really believe that this really is all a myth, but I'm afraid it's just that I'm really seeking a feasible source for denial. Am I alone there - that this is all just too easy?

What I've come to understand is that the basic belief of a dissident is that HIV is in fact NOT the cause of an immune system debilitation that is killing people all around the world, but that HIV is just a form of antibodies found (naturally or otherwise) in some people but is not actually detrimental. The true cause of all the illness and immune deficiency is more likely caused by the toxins people are constantly bombarding their bodies with. So if everyone in the entire world ate healthful diets consisting of whole, raw foods, we would find that no one died of AIDS. Am I getting this right?

For those of you who are "positive" - do you ever question yourself and ask yourself "what if I'm wrong?" What if HIV really does exist, really does cause AIDS, and without medication, you might die? Are there some of you out there that truly believe, without any doubt, that you are right? Does just reading other people's stories about 'feeling better than ever before' even with a t4 count of like, 25, convince you that this is all really true? What did it take to really convince you?

...

As for where I'm at right now... we are avoiding speaking to anyone except those from dissident groups until we can really get a good grasp on this incredible amount of information. I intend to learn quickly how to eat a truly healthful diet - my husband was raised on whole/raw foods so he'll be a good resource - and I will make the necessary changes to ensure my family is getting the right foods. I have told my friend that was going to be tested tomorrow not to go, though I'm afraid she will anyway. I've ordered Stephen Allen's video, I intend to speak with Christine [-ed Maggiore] as soon as possible, and order a copy of her book as well. I'm nursing my baby and have no plans to stop as of yet.

True to form, the denialists reassure her that her gross negligence is the correct course of action. They feed her the standard lies that they always do about the tests, safety of HAART, etc. Their replies are the same mixture of total nonsense and biological mumbo jumbo you always see from these cranks.

The truth is testing during pregnancy is perfectly accurate, antiretrovirals extend life and decrease the probability of maternal transmission to children, and since she got a confirmatory result this is no fluke.

The worst part is this woman is HIV positive and is breastfeeding her child which will increase the risk of the child acquiring HIV (studies have shown about 11% transmission, as high as 15% if breastfeeding is extended to the second year, and this is worsened by her refusal to take anti-retrovirals). It is not recommended for HIV + women to breastfeed children when viable alternatives exist, and the denialists are encouraging her to do so anyway - this is telling her to risk her child's life for no good reason.

More below:

One should note one of the initial commenters is "RebeccaVeronica", which is an interesting psuedonym considering those are the first two names of well known HIV/AIDS denialist Rebecca Veronica Culshaw. Sadly, the University of Texas at Tyler still tolerates the presence of this pseudoscientist on their faculty. "Rebecca Veronica" writes:

Regarding breastfeeding, you should know that even among the "orthodoxy", there is very little agreement as to the efficiency of hiv transmission by this route (or even if it occurs at all - if you want hard references you might contact David Crowe of Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society, he has a wealth of knowledge on this particular issue). Most sources say it happens "rarely" - regardless I know you are aware that the benefits of breastfeeding are enormous.

This is total nonsense. Breastfeeding causes HIV transmission at rates as high as 15% and is responsible for as many as half of all infant HIV infections worldwide. It is only recommended in locations in which there is no viable alternative, and in the US there are viable alternatives which could save her child's life.

They're also encouraging her to avoid talking to the CDC, refuse to treat her child, and put her in touch with Christine Maggiore - whose own HIV-positive daughter died of PCP pneumonia when Maggiore refused to test or treat her for HIV.

The behavior of the HIV/AIDS denialists is monstrous. The result of their advice to this woman may very well be the death of her and her child (they may join the ranks of other HIV/AIDS denialists who died of AIDS). There is no question, HIV/AIDS denialism is deadly. Sadly there is very little one can do in this instance. The woman is anonymous, and there is no reasoning with these people. I am left feeling helpless as the HIV/AIDS denialists claim another victim with their aggressive ignorance.

(Note, we don't argue with cranks and denialists here, posts from HIV/AIDS denialists or repeating their debunked nonsense and lies will be disemvoweled immediately)

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You know I wonder if Momma2girls82 is real, her post seems too good to be true. I suspect that she's been invented as an "unbeliever" that the denialists will then hold up as convert after enough "reasoned argument".

Think of it as a modern version of those medieval dialogues between a Christian and a "learned Moor".

Keep us posted on developments.

I am sickened and saddened. The term "denialist" is apt, as they are professionals at what all of us do naturally. An ill mother with an ill child will naturally resort to denial at some point in her illness, but a mature person moves on so that the denial doesn't cause injury or death. These murderers help perpetuate her natural denial to the point of death.
Believe what you want, but don't infect others with your dangerous ideas.

They really are murderers as far as I'm concerned.

Thank you, Mark and Chris, for covering this story, a tragic reminder of how HIV/AIDS denialism isn't an "alternative viewpoint": regardless of intentions, it's a sickness and death advocacy movement.

That the cynical members of Maggiore's organization "Alive and Well" (sic) and elsewhere choose pediatric HIV/AIDS as their focus is especially disturbing, since so many strides have been made in fighting the infection in children. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV has dropped to nearly zero because of the very methods Christine Maggiore opposes. Health of pediatric HIV-positive patients has improved greatly because of medication, including prophylaxis (against, for example, PCP, the AIDS-defining pneumonia that killed Maggiore's 3-year-old daughter).

Christine Maggiore and other pediatric AIDS denialists need new young "subjects" like momma2girls82's little girl...to justify the foolish, arrogant mistakes they made with their own health or their own childrens' health. I can only hope that momma2girls82 will find better sources of information about HIV and AIDS than a woman who ignored both as her own daughter died of AIDS.

Momma2girls82: if you are reading this, you know there are many people who are concerned about your health and your baby's health. I can help you find some of them if you have questions about HIV and AIDS. Please feel free to contact me at my gmail address.

Senior officials at the University of Texas, Tyler were contacted about Rebecca Culshaw's activities earlier this year by over a dozen AIDS research professionals. Among the points raised in various letters were her professional competence, the quality of the science underlying her statements about HIV and AIDS, and whether the University should want to be publicly associated with these statements. A detailed expose of the incompetence she displays in her book, including howlers in mathematics (supposedly her area of expertise), is posted on the AIDS Truth web site (http://www.aidstruth.org); it was brought to the attention of the University leadership.

The response of the university administration was based solely on the issue of "academic freedom" - the letters back stated that Rebecca Culshaw has the right to say what she likes, how she likes, where she likes. That, however, was not the central point raised by most of the people who wrote to the university: The expressed views of many of us were that a professional academic, when speaking out publicly on issues of public health, or offering advice to a specific individual on matters relating to her welfare, owes it the public and her employers to be competent. Using one's academic credentials to try to mislead the public is not in the public's (or the university's) best interests. The university chose to ignore this point.

One wonders how her university would have responded if Culshaw were advocating that cigarettes be given to children in the local schools, with an encouragment to smoke them, on the grounds that the science behind the linkage between cigarette smoking and cancer etc was all a product of "Cancer Inc" driven along by physicians corrupted by Big Pharma?

Anyone who thinks that Rebecca Culshaw is using her professional credentials to drive an HIV-infected mother into following a course of action that could lead to the death of her child should consider writing to the University of Texas, Tyler, to make this point.

By John Moore (not verified) on 03 Dec 2007 #permalink

John, the problem is that if RebeccaVeronica is indeed Culshaw, which is not clear but appears likely based on her contributions on the board, as a pseudonymous poster she's not using her professional credentials. At least not as far as I can tell from searching through the message board.

So, unless we could definitively prove it is her, or that she uses her credentials to suggest these deadly behaviors, then action is unwarranted. I think the name is too much of a coincidence to be an accident, but I'll happily retract if someone can show otherwise.

Yes, Mark, you're right that on this occasion, she's not using her professional affiliation, either because she's been told not to, or because she's not considered it relevant to. She's not the only AIDS denialist recently to have stopped posting over the name of a university, because of action from above.

I am convinced that RebeccaVeronica is Culshaw. Her analyses of AIDS science (sic) uses material taken straight from her book, she says she's from Texas, and she says she has a five-month old son. The chances of there being another person with the same characteristics seem about the same as her being right about the science she comments on.

But, as I say, you're right that she's not used her credentials openly on this occasion.

By John Moore (not verified) on 03 Dec 2007 #permalink

Speaking of denialists, I find the actions of the South African government more appalling. They practically abandoned the idea of using antiretroviral drugs in lieu of eating bananas. :|

If an HIV positive woman knowingly breastfeeds her child, is that considered reckless endangerment? I mean, what if I forced my infant to participate in an unnecessary activity that had, say, a 15% chance of death over the course of a year? If the infant gets HIV from that, is it manslaughter? Anybody?

I am convinced that RebeccaVeronica is Culshaw.

Yes. RebeccaVeronica is Culshaw.

This thread amongst others demonstrate that the Denialists go far beyond just "providing information" or "giving the other side".

It is also depressing to read when people come back to the webboard after coming down with opportunistic infections. Again they are instructed not to seek appropriate medical attention but instead are told to try numerous dubious "alternative" medicine modalities.

Need help from this group

People should know that if they follow the advice given to them from other Denialists and progress to AIDS they will end up in the same situation as this person. They'll be instructed to realign their chakras or drink their own urine or other stupid things. Even worse, they will be blamed for their own illness.

By Chris Noble (not verified) on 03 Dec 2007 #permalink

Chris Noble:

... it is my understanding that the "crime" occurs in KNOWINGLY "infecting" someone.

In this case surely criminal negligence would apply, in particular negligent endangerment of a child, wouldn't it? Any legal scholar here?

Laws vary from state to state in the USA. And then the prosecution of laws also varies even within a state. Christine Maggiore was never charged with any crime in the death of her daughter. In Maine Valerie Emerson was allowed to not treat her son Nikolas, who died at age 12 or 13. Parents with religious leanings can let their children die while withholding transfusions of other medical treatments if their religion claims they are sinful or whatever.

The way to fight these problems is not by punishing individuals who are already damaged enough. It is the organizations that promote the bad actions of individuals that should be changed.

This is rather old news now, the problem has already been solved, but it is related to this topic of tactics used by the AIDS denialists. In March of 2007, the Dissident Action and AIDS Myth Exposed groups on MSN organized an attack against the YAHOO! Answers site, with the aim of convincing schoolchildren that HIV does not cause AIDS and that condoms are dangerous. The relevant posts have since been deleted from the Dissident Action Group, but remain on the aidsmthexposed group:

http://groups.msn.com/aidsmythexposed/activism.msnw?action=get_message&…

"The way to fight these problems is not by punishing individuals who are already damaged enough. It is the organizations that promote the bad actions of individuals that should be changed."

Sounds like a potential RICO lawsuit. The advantage is that it could also be brought as a civil case by private parties if D.A.s won't touch it.

"Parents with religious leanings can let their children die while withholding transfusions of other medical treatments if their religion claims they are sinful or whatever."

Truely a pro-family policy.

If these people are stupid enough to beleive that hiv does not cause AIDS, or that statins kill you, or that ssri's should never be taken, or that one should never take an antibiotic even when you are sick, are they really worth saving? I mean this idiotic crankery is all over the internet.

I remember listening to a psychiatrist on the radio who encountered a women who refused to take antibiotics, even though she would die without them, his response was the genepool would be served better because of her stupidity to die needlessly.

Theres not much that can be done, What Am I supposed to do, spend so much time on these fools, while sacrificing my time that could be spent helping normal people become healthy through my research?

I agree that the innocent child should be protected and taken away from the negligent mother, and these idiot denialists should inform all their partners that they are positive, if they dont they should be jailed.

All I can do is refer these people to the NIH fact sheet etc and tell them that Duesberg was debunked 20 years ago, if they want to die just because a small group of delusional people with PHD's like duesberg have some wacko theories they need take more responsibility for beleiveing such nonsense.

As far as getting people like Culshaw fired, that might backfire, shell be a martyr, and will bring more attention to her stupid book, and as gullible as young people are today (you wont beleive how many people on my campus think 9/11 was an inside job) theyll probably become aware of her debunked theories and some of them will probably believe them.

I dont think its worth the time and resources that could be better spent helping those that want to be helped, just get these denialists away from our children and if they want to die without HARRT so be it, theres only so much one can do after giving these people the facts about HIV.

Dr. Duke: 'The way to fight these problems is not by punishing individuals who are already damaged enough. It is the organizations that promote the bad actions of individuals that should be changed.'

I partially disagree. I feel compassion for the mother for her tragic disease, but that does not relieve her of her responsibility to take care of her child in a responsible manner. She is still alive, and coherent, and responsible for her actions. The organizations who encourage this behavior are culpable, but they have a right to free speech too. (Stupid speech is still protected speech)

HIV is just a form of antibodies found (naturally or otherwise) in some people but is not actually detrimental. The true cause of all the illness and immune deficiency is more likely caused by the toxins people are constantly bombarding their bodies with. So if everyone in the entire world ate healthful diets consisting of whole, raw foods, we would find that no one died of AIDS.

Mark, I'm a PhD student a WashU in St. Louis and like you, am nearing 'the end', as I expect to defend and graduate this May. I have spent over five years in a lab, working till 2 in the morning, constantly pushing, striving to do good science. When I read things like what I italicized, I can almost feel all my work slipping through my fingers like sand.

No matter what we prove, the Idiots will be there, trying to suck us dry.

I partially disagree. I feel compassion for the mother for her tragic disease, but that does not relieve her of her responsibility to take care of her child in a responsible manner. She is still alive, and coherent, and responsible for her actions. The organizations who encourage this behavior are culpable, but they have a right to free speech too. (Stupid speech is still protected speech)

From my observation the "rethinker" movement relies on a steady stream of HIV+ people that want to deny that they have a serious problem and a few HIV- "rethinker" scientists. It is a symbiotic relationship both need each other. The scientists like Duesberg provide (false) hope and HIV+ "rethinkers" provide the adulation and recognition that Duesberg wants. Unfortunately many of the HIV+ like Raphael Lombardo come and go while Duesberg remains.

By Chris Noble (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

For a good review of the flaws in HIV/breastfeeding science, see the review by myself, Dr. George Kent, Ted Greiner and Pamela Morrison at http://www.anotherlook.org/papers/g/english.pdf.
Note that the drug recommended to reduce (not eliminate) the generation of HIV footprints (antibodies, RNA etc.) in children is a DNA chain terminator with well documented adverse reactions (in mothers and children in particular): http://aras.ab.ca/azt-perinatal.html.
Note that around the world mainstream AIDS organizations are rapidly backpedaling on their recommendations to formula feed as they have created a huge wave of death and illness in their wake (there was a recent Washington Post article on this). Recommendations are now focusing on exclusive breastfeeding which is, surprise, surprise, the same recommendation given to HIV-negative women.
depp=true
notiz=[you are an idiot and your deathmongering isn't tolerated here]

By David Crowe (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink

So I've always been one to go 'against the grain'.

OK, I'm getting around to posting this late, but what the heck. The first sentence shows an important factor at work here. I think part of what we're seeing here is a desire to be the recipient of some secret knowledge, some "deeper truth", that the mainstream doesn't have access to. It's a need to feel superior, either morally or intellectually.

It just seems that this woman's need to go "against the grain" is more pressing than the real facts. The denialist community gives feeds that rebelliousness.

Did anyone see Responsible Journalism at the Toronto AIDS conference?

By TheLayman69 (not verified) on 28 Dec 2008 #permalink