JPANDS and HIV denialsim

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


BPSDB
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?

"References"
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!

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I always wondered why social conservatives were so keen on denying the HIV/AIDS connection. I guess it's part of the push to decry sickness as an inevitable part of the "gay" (and African?) "lifestyle".

Keep on skewering JPANDS. Very entertaining and informative reading. And the sad part is, I actually have met some people online who think it's a serious scientific journal.

Hmmm. I remember a Henry Bauer as a chemist at VA Tech when I was a grad student there, uh, a while ago.

Oh, crap. Google is our friend...

So essentially these people assume that because other things could conceivably cause AIDS HIV isn't the culprit? So just because anyone could rob my home we shouldn't arrest the gent I have on tape robbing me?

I assume that anything that attacks the immune system directly (like HIV) would cause a condition that would meet the definition of AIDs correct? And I am also assuming in the above that so far the HIV family are the only known viruses that do that.

Re Henry Bauer

So Prof. Bauer used to be a professor of chemistry at VPI. The founder of the ICR, Henry Morris was a professor of civil engineering at VPI. Must be something in the water in Blacksburg.

In the publications listed on the main wikipedia article, you see crap about the Loch Ness Monster, psychics, and magnetic healing. We may have another stark example of crank magnetism on our hands...

Adrienne said:

I always wondered why social conservatives were so keen on denying the HIV/AIDS connection. I guess it's part of the push to decry sickness as an inevitable part of the "gay" (and African?) "lifestyle".

I've never understood the attempt to link diseases with god's approval/disapproval of anyone full stop - they're not exactly precision weapons are they? This is especially true of HIV since, if you look at the statistics (assuming that God likes the people who have lower levels of HIV infection) then God's chosen people are . . . . Lesbians.

Somehow I don't think that this is quite the result that the family-values crowd have in mind!

By Lilly de Lure (not verified) on 02 Apr 2008 #permalink

I know it's been a few months since this was first posted, but I noticed that you did not mention the most egregious false statements in Bauer's article.
He tells us that antiretrovirals don't improve patients' health, saying

"people treated with HAART tend to have earlier onsets of AIDS-type events, and 'a reduction in the median time to AIDS' to only 2 months after beginning therapy, as well as 'a significant increase in combined AIDS/AIDS-related deaths."

That sounds pretty serious, and he cites an article in the Lancet. But the article cited is a cohort study of only HAART-treated patients. There is no comparison of treated to untreated, only HAART treated in some times and places to HAART treated in other times and places. It finds that some of these patients (mostly those who were sicker when treatment was initiated and are less compliant with treatment) have worse outcomes than others. But all of them have hugely better outcomes than any historical data on the prognosis of untreated HIV patients.

An update:

The article mentioned in this post is now merely the first of four HIV/AIDS denialist articles penned by Bauer and published in JPandS - two in the last two issues.

In 2008 he published Incongruous Age Distributions of HIV Infections and Deaths from HIV Disease: Where Is the Latent Period Between HIV Infection and AIDS? where he completely botched his epidemiological analysis to conclude that there is no period of clinical latency between testing HIV positive and dying with AIDS. Earlier this year he informs us that HIV Tests Are Not HIV Tests.

In the most recent one Iatrogenic Harm Following âHIVâ Testing he claims that a high proportion of HIV diagnoses are false positives - mainly based on his almost complete ignorance of diagnostic procedures. He also claims that about 50% of people with HIV are long term non-progressors - but clearly has not the slightest idea what the term means.

Most bizarrely of all, he's recently managed to get an article published in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, ostensibly arguing that the risk of HIV transmission through cadaveric dissection is low in South Africa - but claiming that this is because a large bulk of HIV diagnoses there are false positives. This article isn't on PubMed yet, but you can read a scanned copy linked from Bauer's own website, HIV/AIDS Skepticism.

Of course, he was also a co-author on Duesberg's laughable Medical Hypotheses paper last year, and which was ignominiously withdrawn by the publisher and resulted ultimately in the recent sacking of the editor Bruce Charlton when he refused Elsevier's demand to institute a proper review system for submissions.