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article imageDoes HIV really cause AIDS? Fierce debate is rekindled Special

By Andrew John     May 7, 2010 in Science
The fierce row over whether HIV really does cause AIDS has been rekindled in a UK-based humanist publication in which a leading American AIDS dissident takes on what he calls the “AIDS Establishment.”
And he has also told Digital Journal that the US Centers for Disease Control issued “flawed statistics” in 1984, leading to the controversy over claims for HIV as the cause of AIDS.
AIDS dissidents – sometimes called “AIDS denialists” – believe that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) doesn’t cause AIDS, but is a harmless “passenger virus.”
The American writer and critic John Lauritsen was one of the first to express scepticism about HIV as the cause of AIDS. He has written widely on the subject, and sparked controversy in the UK-based quarterly Gay & Lesbian Humanist in 2004, when he wrote an article titled “AIDS: A Death Cult.” Now he has revisited the subject in the same magazine.
“As long as there has been ‘AIDS’ there have been critics of the orthodox AIDS model: ‘AIDS dissidents’,” he wrote in his 2004 article. “For the most part our voices were silenced. As AIDS became a religion, a death cult – with sacred commodities, dogmas, rituals and sacrifices – any expression of scepticism was tantamount to blasphemy.”
After an article in the British publication New Humanist last November by Seth Kalichman, a clinical psychologist who has written several books on AIDS and set up his own blog, Lauritsen asked for a right of reply on behalf of AIDS dissidents Kalichman had criticised. He was refused one.
Kalichman is highly critical of AIDS dissidents in the article, saying there is now “no rational basis” for disputing “established facts,” and that dissidents claim there is legitimate debate among experts, when “in fact there is none.” Effectively, he seems to be closing the door to any further debate.
Gay & Lesbian Humanist – now an online-only publication edited from the UK by Mike Foxwell – has just published Lauritsen’s rebuttal article, however, in which the writer accuses Kalichman of being an “attack pit bull for the AIDS Establishment.” (Digital Journal talks to both Lauritsen and Foxwell later in this article.)
Goes for the jugular
“Kalichman goes for the jugular,” writes Lauritsen, “portraying us [AIDS dissidents] as warped, devious, evil people. According to him, we are responsible for untold deaths of those who, following our ideas, avoid ‘anti-HIV’ drugs.”
He seeks to defend the reputation of the AIDS dissidents Kalichman attacks, saying: “We are not bad people, who in some sinister (if unspecified) way are profiting from the stands we have taken. This is the opposite of the truth. Believe me, there are no financial rewards for attacking the AIDS cash cow.
“The AIDS dissidents I know have been motivated by a concern for truth and a desire to save lives. All of us have taken hard knocks; all have suffered social, professional and financial losses. AIDS dissidents have been ostracised and slandered; fired or had grants cancelled; driven into bankruptcy; physically assaulted.”
Profits from what Lauritsen calls the AIDS industry run into “many billions of dollars every year. This is where the money is.” The interests of the AIDS establishment, he says, clearly lie with “Big Pharma.”
He adds: “People with meagre qualifications have become rich as ‘AIDS experts’, heads of AIDS organisations, or ‘treatment activists’.”
Drugs cause malaise, deformity and death
Lauritsen quotes a German AIDS dissident, Erhard Neubert, who said: “The virus doesn’t kill, the diagnosis does.” Lauritsen’s latest article continues:
Healthy people who receive “HIV-positive” diagnoses are prescribed drugs that cause malaise, deformity and eventually death. Many deaths among “HIV-positive” people now occur from liver cancer or other forms of organ failure caused by “HIV treatments”. Since many of these “HIV-positives” never acquire an “AIDS-indicator” condition, they are not counted as “AIDS” deaths, thus perpetuating the myth that “AIDS” deaths are dropping thanks to “anti-HIV” drugs. The reality is that “HIV treatments” are killing people who were healthy before taking them.
The main drug used to treat AIDS sufferers is AZT, which Lauritsen and fellow AIDS dissidents say is a known carcinogen. There is, he says, a strong correlation between long-term AZT therapy and cancer of the lymph system.
“In the United States alone, upwards of a third of a million gay men have been murdered through AZT,” Lauritsen writes. “I say murdered, because the drug was criminally approved for marketing on the basis of fraudulent research, and because it was promoted through fraudulent claims that the ‘HIV-positives’ would have better and longer lives. Most of these gay men would be alive today if they had avoided AZT and had taken appropriate health measures – for example, giving up cigarettes and drugs (including poppers [amyl nitrates]).”
Ad hominem
He accuses Kalichman of being ad hominem in his articles and his 2009 book, Denying AIDS. Kalichman attacks the persons, but not the ideas, of AIDS dissidence, says Lauritsen, co-author of Death Rush: Poppers and AIDS, and author of Poison By Prescription: The AZT Story and The AIDS War: Propaganda, Profiteering and Genocide from the Medical-Industrial Complex.
“Kalichman portrays ‘HIV/AIDS denialists’ as mentally ill individuals, filled with suspicion and paranoia, who are obsessed with other kinds of ‘denialism’ and conspiracy theories,” Lauritsen writes.
In his New Humanist article last November, “How to spot an AIDS denialist,” Kalichman says: “AIDS denialism tells us what anyone would want to hear – that HIV does not cause AIDS and that if you live a ‘healthy lifestyle’ (whatever that is) you won’t get AIDS. None of which is true. In fact, there are an estimated 33 million people in the world living with HIV infection.”
He says people are living longer lives as a result of early detection through antibody testing and treatment programmes.
Hall of Shame
“All denialism is defined by rhetorical tactics designed to give the impression of a legitimate debate among experts when in fact there is none,” Kalichman writes.
Kalichman’s article features a “Hall of Shame” in which he names several AIDS dissidents, although Lauritsen isn’t one of them. Among them is Peter Duesberg, author of Inventing the AIDS virus, who is seen as the most important figure in AIDS dissidence. He has written widely on the subject, including an article in Science in July 1988 baldly titled “HIV is not the cause of AIDS” (online access to the article requires subscription).
In his latest Gay & Lesbian Humanist article, Lauritsen says: “Kalichman, both in his New Humanist article and in his books, does not want his readers to know the real arguments of AIDS critics or where to find them. Notably missing are references to our books or URLs to our websites.
Lively letters
After his 2004 article in that Gay & Lesbian Humanist’s print edition, there was uproar, and some critics took issue not only with the article itself, but even the magazine’s decision to publish it in the first place. The magazine printed several pages of lively letters under the title “AIDS: A live debate,” including one from the then editor defending publication, and a reply from Lauritsen.
Lauritsen told Digital Journal today: “As an AIDS dissident for a quarter of a century – my first major AIDS article appeared in February 1985 – I regard ‘AIDS’ as the greatest blunder, and hoax, in medical history.”
We asked him when he first felt that something was wrong with the orthodox view. He said: “About 1984, when it became quite clear on epidemiological grounds that ‘AIDS’ is not infectious, when the Public Health Service intransigently refused to consider toxicological causes, when the Centers for Disease Control issued flawed statistics, which construed ‘AIDS’ as an infectious disease, rather than a drug-induced condition.”
We asked: “What brickbats have you suffered since you first published your own views and your defence of Duesberg?”
Lauritsen – who was also co-editor with Ian Young of The AIDS Cult: Essays on the Gay Health Crisis – said: “I’ve been shouted down, insulted, and ostracised. But I’ve also received my share of praise, so it hasn’t been all bad.”
He thinks the AIDS establishment will come around to his and Duesberg’s way of thinking only “when Hell freezes over.” He adds. “If any of them are rational, they are dishonest. If any are honest, they are delusional.”
Bogged down
He concludes: “We can get bogged down in molecular-biology technobabble. To me the important things are these: ‘AIDS’ has never been defined rationally, and the surveillance definitions have changed radically over time; whatever ‘AIDS’ is, it is not infectious; the premier AIDS drug, AZT, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration on the basis of fraudulent research. AZT has horrible toxicities, which have directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the United States alone.”
Digital Journal asked Mike Foxwell, editor of Gay & Lesbian Humanist, why, if the debate was closed, he published Lauritsen’s article. He said Gay & Lesbian Humanist stood for “free and open debate,” adding: “There are no sacred cows and no political correctness. Unfortunately, not every publication holds these values.
“Sound science delivers knowledge that is always provisional, never final or certain. Most, if not all, of the critics of the HIV–AIDS dissidents seem ignorant of this fact. They don’t want to debate the facts, and this is dishonest and downright unscientific,” he said.
Did he believe HIV caused AIDS?
“If indeed HIV causes AIDS and this is as clear and incontrovertible as the HIV–AIDS supporters claim, why do they not simply provide the same sort of definitive causal evidence required of other diseases brought about by infection?” he said.
“In the absence of this evidence it is a moral duty to continue fearlessly the debate, something that Gay & Lesbian Humanist is proud to do.”
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