AIDS-denialist Christine Maggiore, 52, founder of the nonprofit organisation Alive & Well Aids Alternatives, died at her Los Angeles home Saturday after she was treated for pneumonia for six months. Her official cause of death is pending.
county coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter said on Tuesday it was unclear as yet whether her death was AIDS-related. She was diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus in 1992.
For a year after her HIV-positive diagnosis, Maggiore was a volunteer at AIDS shelters and spoke about the risks of the virus at health fairs and schools. She began to change her views in 1993 when she had more HIV tests that gave contradictory results, some negative and some positive. Also see recent other similar case here
"The more I read, the more I became convinced that Aids research had jumped on a bandwagon that was headed in the wrong direction," she wrote on the website of her non-profit organisation, Alive & Well Aids Alternatives.
She was heavily influenced by Peter Duesberg,a biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the United States of America. Duesberg argues that AIDS is caused not by HIV, but by long-term consumption of recreational drugs or even AZT, a compound used in Aids treatment. And he writes that "African AIDS" is an old disease in a new jacket - and that a 'relatively immune population' will re-emerge from the ashes. It is, he writes, a 'nutritionally or environmentally caused" disease .
This anti-AIDS denialism in turn greatly influenced ex-President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and had him take disastrous health-care decisions together with his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang - including declining five year long free supplies of antiretroviral drugs to stave off HIV-AIDS in the next SA generation.
Mbeki contacted Duesberg's ally, David Rasnick - and their work formed part of the basis for a speech Mbeki made to Parliament which blamed the AIDS-suppressive drug Nevirapine for a series of deaths in clinical trials. See
Maggiore founded her non-profit organisation, which challenges mainstream medical views about the causes and treatment of Aids. She wrote a book, What If Everything You Thought You Knew About Aids Was Wrong, and appeared on national television to promote her view that pregnancy, alcoholism, drug use and even common viral infections could cause false positives on HIV tests.
Maggiore refused to take anti-retroviral drugs. She breast-fed both her children, despite the accepted view that it increased the risk of spreading HIV.
In 2005, her daughter, Eliza Jane Scovill, died at age three. The girl had never had an HIV test. The county coroner's office concluded she died of "pneumonia related to an advanced case of Aids".
The county district attorney's office in 2006 declined to file criminal charges, noting that the girl's parents had taken her to several doctors. A toxicologist who served on the advisory board of Maggiore's group concluded the girl died as a result of an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.
Maggiore sued the county last year, contending that the conclusion of the autopsy lacked proper medical and scientific evidence. The case is pending. In addition to her husband, Maggiore is survived by a son, Charles. Both have tested negative for HIV.