'Discussing science' with HIV-1 Deniers

HIV-1 deniers-- They love Orac. They love Tara. Even like haunting the Hoofnagle brothers a bit.

They dont like ERV.

Never have.

*sad face*

I really cant figure out why. (I bet its cause Im mean and kannut com00nicates scienz).

Three years ago, today, I posted a challenge to HIV-1 Deniers. A simple test of basic HIV-1 literacy and competency. Three years ago... and it only has three comments. One from a supporter, one from me, and one from an HIV-1 Denier... who didnt answer the question. Just linked to the nutty Perth Group and hoped something Perth said stuck (nothing on the linked page was related to The Challenge, sry).

Alllllll those HIV-1 Deniers stalking Silvia... allllll those HIV-1 Deniers blabbing on other science blogs... they have no idea what that picture is. Dont know what it is, so cant figure out what it means. Stock-standard image that is in a million HIV-1 publications, they dunno what it is.

But they know HIV-1 doesnt cause AIDS. Or it doesnt exist. Or something.

Maybe expecting people with such passionate opinions be even modestly educated on the topic they are so passionate about is too much to ask.

So here is an even easier challenge. Ill even include some links to make this really, really fucking easy.

293T cells were transfected with an infectious molecular clone of HIV-1, where EGFP was inserted between env and nef. The resulting viruses contain genomes that contain the EGFP gene, thus the EGFP gene is permanently inserted in the host genome after infection.

This is what happens to cells 'infected with HIV-1' (raw image)

This is what happens to cells that only get media off untransfected 293Ts (raw image)

If HIV-1 does not exist:

  • How did the EGFP gene get into the PBMCs genome?
  • Why are these cells now producing EGFP, as well as progeny virions that can go on to infect new cells and turn them green?
  • Why are all those EGFP positive cells going to be dead tomorrow, while the not-green cells are snug as bugs in rugs?

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"How did the EGFP gene get into the PBMCs genome?"

Why are these cells now producing EGFP, as well as progeny virions that can go on to infect new cells and turn them green?
Big Pharma makes them do that!

Why are all those EGFP positive cells going to be dead tomorrow, while the not-green cells are snug as bugs in rugs?
Because it's all a giant conspiracy!

The gene got in by Horizontal Gene Transfer ( unless you hold the petri dish vertically, in which case they get in by Vertical Gene Transfer.)

The cells are producing EFGP because of, um, oxidants. Yes.

The cells will die because when they glow, the ninja can see them.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 01 Mar 2010 #permalink

You're first mistake was alerting the denialists to the fact that it is a "molecular clone". They hate that! They think "clone" means it is some made up protein. Just some "piece" floating in the human body with no verifiable source. Liam Scheff, the pseudo~journalist, recently wrote a post describing this in which his "proof" was a link to, as he called it, the HIV Genome Databank. His link was actually to the NIH Reagent Program. According to Scheff, those were all just pieces and parts of proteins floating around. He and many other denialists do not understand HIV is truly an intact virus.
So, Abby, don't hold your breath on the denialists answering truthfully on this. Althuogh, I bet you get a good guffaw and belly laugh or two if they chose to unleash their particular brand of "logic".

The cells will die because when they glow, the ninja can see them.

Son, that's some excellent sciencing.

I have a probably dumb question.... In the first image, what are the small red glowy bits? Is that an artifact from the imaging, or something else?

The problem with challenges is that cranks issue them too.

The cells will die because when they glow, the ninja Chuck Norris can see them.

There, fixed it for you.

By The Chimp's Ra… (not verified) on 01 Mar 2010 #permalink

The gene got in by Horizontal Gene Transfer (unless you hold the petri dish vertically, in which case they get in by Vertical Gene Transfer.)
Posted by: Stephen Wells | March 1, 2010 6:19 PM

BWAHAHAHA! Damn you, Wells! You literally made beer come out of my nose. Ouch!

@7 The Chimp's Raging Id
Chimp, your ninja denialism is not only tiresome, but also dangerous. GTFO and take your tin foil hat and fictional "Chuck Norris" with you.

Cain @ #9,

HA! My tin foil hat is protecting me from the mind control rays Obama is transmitting from HAARP to get you accept the takeover of America by Big Pharma the Illuminati the Antichrist damn dirty commies the New Caliphate.

You can go on about "ninjas" all you--

*brain asplodes*

By The Chimp's Ra… (not verified) on 01 Mar 2010 #permalink


You forgot Mexican reconquistadors.

By Tyler DiPietro (not verified) on 01 Mar 2010 #permalink

"There, fixed it for you."

Chuck Norris doesn't believe in microscopes because they aren't in the Bible.

Ergo, the greens have nothing to fear.

Clearly the cells that glow green are some kind of deviants. Why elese would they glow green?

Probably they have been taking drugs which explains everything.

Well done for this post Erv. I spend far to much time arguing with AR nuts but even I blanch at the idea of trying to argue with the cesspit of nonsense that is HIV/AIDS denialism.

I salute you!

On the Recent Comments panel at the left I can see multiple comments by known HIV/AIDS denialist trolls posting on other threads. Why are they avoiding this one?

By Scientizzle (not verified) on 02 Mar 2010 #permalink

Thanks Abbie. Great post.

Jellyfish transgenesis is wonderful.

It makes it possible to say things like "There stupid. See it now? It freakin glows in the dark!"

Lanza is a genius to have done it to all his clones so that when the whack jobs came out of the wood work to claim he was perpetrating some kind of fraud all he had to do was shout "Hit the lights!"

By Prometheus (not verified) on 02 Mar 2010 #permalink

The red spots in the first picture are from the laser sights of the Special Forces assassins who are the REAL reason the cells are dying!!!!!1!!eleventy!!

By Among the cows… (not verified) on 02 Mar 2010 #permalink

Lemme try.

First, of course we never said HIV wasn't real (except for those of us who did). We just said it doesn't hurt anybody. Yeah it infects cells, so if course the fact that you added the glowy gene will make the cells make glowy protein (except for those of us who think the gene itself literally glows), but that doesn't prove anything! In fact, you actually HELPED these cells by adding a neato cool feature (glowiness) (unless ninja or Chuck Norris are around, but Chuck would also point out this just proves goddidit 'cause an intelligent human had to make the cells glowy so he can kill them see it's all god's plan.)

Second, you've never proven these "HIV" viruses are doing anything in real people. Until you show me actual unbroken video of an individual virus going from the secret government lab to infecting one person to infecting another, I won't believe it does anything.

Third, of course the cells died! You infected a bunch of cells in a dish, not a real person! Untill you do a million-patient controlled double-blind clinical study testing innoculation with your so-called "virus," you'll never prove to me those dish cells weren't just depressed over their lot as lab rats.

How did I do? I started out trying to be serious as I could, but the silly just kept creeping in...

They're green. Obviously you made them angry.

I don't like them.

I have several standing bet offers for Scientologists about psychiatry, for 2012ers or Rapture types about the end of the world, etc. Amazingly, nobody ever shows up for those just like the HIV denialists don't seem interested in taking up this challenge. I used to like the debates but they never go anywhere, and these kinds of challenges at least have the virtue of shutting people up, at least in the conversation they're having with you.

Whats the big deal hhv-6 does horrible things in a petri dish but is totally harmless in human being. Montagnier did an experiment in 1990 that showed HIV does not even kill cells, which caused him to say "hiv might be benign" at the 1990 aids conference, he might have changed his mind since then, but his experiment is still pretty telling.

cooler steps in it again:

"Whats the big deal hhv-6 does horrible things in a petri dish but is totally harmless in human being."


A very few moments or research on the intertubes reveals:

"HHV-6 primary infections account for up to 20% of infant emergency room visits for fever in the United States[3] and are associated with several more severe complications, such as encephalitis, lymphadenopathy, myocarditis and myelosuppression.

After primary infection, latency is established in myeloid and bone marrow progenitors and exists for the life time of the host. The virus periodically re-activates from this latent state, with HHV-6 DNA being detectable in 20-25% of healthy adults in the United States. In the immunocompetent setting, these re-activations are often asymptomatic, but in immunosuppressed individuals there can be serious complications.

HHV-6 re-activation causes severe disease in transplant recipients and can lead to graft rejection, often in consort with other betaherpesviridae. Likewise in HIV/AIDS, HHV-6 re-activations cause disseminated infections leading to end organ disease and death. Although up to 100% of the population are exposed (seropositive) to HHV-6, most by 3 years of age, there are rare cases of primary infections in adults. In the United States, these have been linked more with HHV-6A, which is thought to be more pathogenic and more neurotropic and has been linked to several central nervous system-related disorders."

This was in wikipedia, but there's a lot of other information out there, revealed with a simple google search for hhv-6. This appears to be beyond the capabilities of our cooler here.

"Infection with HHV-6 is very common, approaching 100% in seroprevalence. "

Human Herpesvirus 6: An Emerging Pathogen
Gabriella Campadelli-Fiume, Prisco Mirandola, and Laura Menotti
University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Wow Lee we are all infected with HHV 6! We are all going to die! Whats the latent period on this one, 200 years? I'm scared!

So, cooler, you're really so stupid that you can't see any possibilities other than "completely harmless" and "100% fatality rate"?

You said it was harmless. It's not. You were wrong. It's that simple. Deal with it, or fuck off.

By phantomreader42 (not verified) on 04 Mar 2010 #permalink

Its is harmless you Loony tune, it only causes disease if you are seriously ill or immnocompromised with something else. And the point is it does bad things to cells in culture but for the most part is harmless in healthy people.

So, it's harmless, but it causes disease. Thanks for answering my question, cooler. Yes, you ARE that stupid.

By phantomreader42 (not verified) on 04 Mar 2010 #permalink

Montagnier did an experiment in 1990 that showed HIV does not even kill cells

Wrong. His experiment showed that HIV killed cells faster when in the presence of mycoplasma.

And I note that cooler is still too chicken to address my simple question (here rephrased):

When you ask for a description of the studies proving HIV is lethal, are you asking for studies proving AIDS is lethal, or for studies proving that HIV is the cause of AIDS?

No read HIV is guilty from the miami herald. Montagnier said HIV became harmless to cells when he treated the petri dish with antibiotics causing him to say "hiv might be benign" at the 1990's aids conference. Here is the study, note that the cytopathic effect of HIV was only present with the mycoplasma cofactor.

"cytopathic effect was observed only in association with mycoplasmal contamination."

Here is the reference.

Role of mycoplasma infection in the cytopathic effect induced by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 in infected cell lines.
M Lemaître, Y Henin, F Destouesse, C Ferrieux, L Montagnier, and A Blanchard
Viral Oncology Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.

In addition to previously reported tetracycline analogs, other antibiotics known for antimycoplasmal activities inhibited the cytopathic effect in CEM cl13 cells infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) or HIV-2 but were unable to block virus replication. A contaminating mycoplasma was isolated from our CEM cl13 cells and identified as a strain of Mycoplasma fermentans. Following infection of lymphoblastoid (CEM) or promonocytic (U937 and THP1) cell lines with HIV-1, cytopathic effect was observed only in association with mycoplasmal contamination. Moreover, HIV-1 infection of U937 cells after experimental inoculation with a human isolate of M. fermentans led to pronounced cell killing. We have verified that this effect is not merely an artifact caused by arginine and/or glucose depletion in the cell culture medium. These results confirm that mollicutes, in particular M. fermentans, are able to act synergistically with HIV-1 to kill infected cells in some in vitro systems.

Read "Confronting Aids" by the IOM and NAS that came out in 1986. They mention the words epidemic and that a sizable proportion with HIV will die and a catastrophe was imminent and billions in funding was needed. So HIV was at this time said to be a lethal microbe for most infected, since it was said to be proven that HIV causes AIDS and AIDS is usually fatal, too bad the virus hunters like Gallo had the same type of evidence that the XMRV virus hunters have now..... not much.

"So, it's harmless, but it causes disease. Thanks for answering my question, cooler. Yes, you ARE that stupid."

Yeah moron HHV-6 is harmless if you are healthy. I mean water can be fatal if you drink too much, doesn't mean water is fatal. Are you that STUPID?

Montagnier followed those two studies with several studies in 1993 and 1994 that revealed that he hadn't waited long enough to observe the base CPE.

And I note that you still haven't answered my question. Here, I'll make it real simple, a yes/no answer:

Is AIDS lethal?

Answer the question, Cooler.

cooler continues to demonstrate how truly clueless and ignorant of reality he is:

:"Its is harmless you Loony tune, it only causes disease if you are seriously ill or immnocompromised with something else."

cooler, HHV-6 causes nearly 1/5 of of infant hospital admissions for fever. Those kids are seriously ill, yes - they are seriously ill with HHV-6. HHV-6 causes rare but serious illness in otherwise healthy adults as well:

" In immunocompetent adults, infection or reactivation of HHV-6 at sites other than the salivary glands is rare. Occasionally, infection results in lymphoadenopathy, fulminant hepatitis, mononucleosislike syndrome, or generalized infection. "

This is simple, cooler. You made an absolute claim that HHV-6 "s totally harmless in human being."

You were wrong.

When shown that you were wrong, you retreated to "Its is harmless you Loony tune, it only causes disease if you are seriously ill or immnocompromised with something else."

You were wrong again.

When once more shown that you were wrong, you made the exact same claim that : "Yeah moron HHV-6 is harmless if you are healthy."

You're still wrong, cooler. HHV-6 is a frequent and sometimes serious cause of infant fever in otherwise healthy inffants, and sometimes of accompanying diseases such as encephalopathy, febrile seizure, and so on. It is a rare cause of serious adult disease in otherwise healthy adults.

Wrong. Shown you were wrong, repeat the claim, wrong again, shown you were wrong again, repeat the claim and insist you were right, shown you are wrong again.

I'm sensing a pattern, cooler. And it is really fucking similar to the pattern you have about HIV.

HHV 6 is harmless you moron, try extending your research further than copying and pasting from a wikipedia page. Thats why everyone is infected and totally healthy. I mean chocolate can kill people with genetic defects, but it is not dishonest to say chocolate is harmless for 99.99999999999999999% of people. Try reading the study you spammed about infants, only 14% of the infants with fever had HHV-6, the rest had fever without it, hardly proof of anything.

Fine I admit there is a .0000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance Chocolate, HHV-6, space aliens, etc can cause you some serious illness.

Yes Kevin according to the CDC AIDS is lethal. According to some skeptics AZT is lethal as well. And Severe drug abuse cab be lethal as well. Who cares what my opinion is anyways, find another hobby. I'm just asking questions about some major Parodoxes in the government run science establishment. Can you give me the references where Montagnier debunked his prior work?

Did you notice how when scientists agree on things, for the denialists that's evidence of a conspiracy, but when scientists have disagreed on things and debated them openly, that's also evidence of a conspiracy?


By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 04 Mar 2010 #permalink

Hello, my name is John D. Sutton. I have a question about HIV-1 deniers. Okay, if HIV-1 does not cause AIDS according to these people, what do they think is happening to people who have HIV-1 or to people who are dying of AIDS? Are they saying "God did it!" or something just as ridicules? Reading your blog all they seem to do is deny without explanation. What is their "reason for people with these diseases?

Just a little about myself. I'm a student at OU trying to be a paleontologist(childhood dream). We have met before briefly. At the Sam Noble Museum last year when Luskin(don't you get a lump in your throat when you say of think his name?)gave his "lecture". I came to you after the questioning for you website(I mentioned Phil Plait and you both are on scienceblog). No need to be nervous I'm not trying to ask you out (neither of us probably can't make time with our schedules and I naturally assume you have standards). This is just to say we've met before. I'll understand if you you don't remember, especially after Luskin's performance.

Thank your for taking you time to answer my question, John.

P.S. Do you have a regular e-mail address I could write to you with or is it now only through blog comments?

By John Sutton (not verified) on 05 Mar 2010 #permalink

Congrats, John. You win the prize for most unintentionally creepy blog post ever. You've washed your hands since that day at the Same Noble Museum, right?

@#5, I don't know Abby's scope but my guess: the red bits are very likely artefacts, but not from the imaging. They are likely from bits of random stuff on or in the preparation. When you do fluorescence microscopy you generally use filters that exclude colours of light that you do not want to see. BUT it's common to label cells with red and green simultaneously, to look at two proteins at once, so some people use filters that will show red and green. This means you can get red artefacts in a green-only image. Also some cheapy green-only filters don't exclude the far red because hey, you're not supposed to have far-red in a green-only image anyways, right? Well the random dust in your lab doesn't always agree.

Yes I have washed my hands. I've also showered with ajax and steel wool and then washed my ears out with Liquid Drano( the foamy kind) after listening to Luskin. If you think that is bad, you don't want to know what I did after Jonathan Wells lecture. All that aside this still does not answer my question about the HIV/AIDS deniers.

By john Sutton (not verified) on 10 Mar 2010 #permalink


I know that at least some HIV deniers claim that it's the medicines themselves that cause the symptoms. I don't know how they explain people being untreated dying much more quickly, though.

By Christina (not verified) on 14 Mar 2010 #permalink

We don't need to convince deniers that AIDS is really caused by a virus. Why not just convince them that it has been show to be treated and prevented in several ways - like antiretrovirals and condoms/abstinence/etc. Find something we can all agree on that prevents the spread of HIV.

Clearly this endless "but can't you SEE it you moron" attitude is not achieving anything.

@43: you're making the mistake of assuming that denialists are arguing in good faith. Even talking about "the spread of HIV" gets problematic when the Perth Group claim to be still uncertain whether the virus even exists.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 15 Mar 2010 #permalink


So if the medicines are causeing the symptoms the people were just fine before according to these people. I can't seem to wrap my mind around this. What do doctors come to these people home and tell them they have AIDS then give them the medicine? Is this a plot from Big Pharma? I hate to hear what other reasons of denial are. Thanks for helping me out on my questions.

By john Sutton (not verified) on 15 Mar 2010 #permalink

Could one not grant HIV deniers fame, fortune and proof of their claims? A simple pilot experiment would enliven this debate:

Locate an adequately sized sample group of deniers, inject same with a generous quantity of several variants of HIV and follow each for 10 years so as to prohibit intake of any toxic, unnecessary anti-HIV poisons (drugs). Thus will they become the great debunkers they believe themselves to be.
Or not.

By Quite Simple (not verified) on 17 Mar 2010 #permalink

@46: the deniers have the advantage that they know that we can't, ethically, do anything like that. You would think, however, that some of them would have the courage of their convictions and do it themselves, thus proving their point... but they won't.

By Stephen Wells (not verified) on 18 Mar 2010 #permalink

"How did the EGFP gene get into the PBMCs genome?"

Because global warming is a liberal lie! (Somebody had to tell the truth.)

By Desertphile (not verified) on 19 Mar 2010 #permalink

I posted a link to this challenge for a longtime creationist poster in the talk.origins newsgroup who recently came out as an HIV-denier. Strangely enough, he didn't seem interested in taking the challengeâ he just blustered for 500 words and then ran away...

By Pocket Nerd (not verified) on 20 Mar 2010 #permalink

I'd like to know is it important to show a picture with HIV inside the cell instead of the ones which are budding?

where can I get the picture with HIV within the infected cell?