Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dissident lies about Padian laid to rest at last

The 1997 paper by Nancy Padian (Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Northern California: results from a ten-year study) is often selectively quoted by dissidents in an attempt to convince their readers (and perhaps themselves) that HIV is not transmissible through sex. They quote a single line from the abstract, without taking the time to read or comprehend the actual study aim:

"Over time, the authors observed increased condom use (p < 0.001) and no new infections."

But the point of the paper wasn't to see if HIV could be sexually transmitted - that was already known! The research was aimed at showing that with counselling HIV transmission might be stopped, and it was.

There are several studies that show that HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse, with increasing risks for oral, vaginal and anal sex respectively. Examples include
  1. Downs AM, De Vincenzi I. Probability of heterosexual transmission of HIV: relationship to the number of unprotected sexual contacts. European Study Group in Heterosexual Transmission of HIV. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1996 Apr 1;11(4):388-95.

  2. Wiley JA, Herschhkorn SJ, Padian NS. Heterogeneity in the probability of HIV transmission per sexual contact: the case of male-to-female transmission in penile-vaginal intercourse. Stat Med 1989;8:93-102.

  3. Gray RH, Wawer MJ, Brookmeyer R, Sewankambo NK, Serwadda D, Wabwire-Mangen F, Lutalo T, Li X, vanCott T, Quinn TC; Rakai Project Team. Probability of HIV-1 transmission per coital act in monogamous, heterosexual, HIV-1-discordant couples in Rakai, Uganda. Lancet. 2001 Apr 14;357(9263):1149-53.
In a move that is highly unusual, Dr Padian actually took the time to respond directly to the dissidents who are misrepresenting her work, and suggesting that Padian herself is either tactitly acknowledging that HIV cannot be transmitted sexually, or that her work is ignored by the mainstream in our "ignorance" of the science.

Dr Padian demolishes both those suggestions in this article at

It's about time that a researcher who's work has been so abused by the dissident camp stood up for what it actually meant and put something, however succinct, into print so that the issue can be dropped once and for all.


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