Friday, June 20, 2008


So there isn't really much to say once the conspiracy ideas start flowing (most sensible readers will ignore anything further from that side of things), but I thought it would be fun to pose a few questions:

Who is more inappropriate to comment on medical research regarding HIV, a physician with a research background in HIV, or an online "journalist"?

Since the commentators are quite right that an "email club" couldn't possibly convince the BBC to retract their program on the ICC, is it perhaps more likely that they simply saw they had been duped once the Re-Appraising AIDS denialist group started praising the story (and they realized that the "experts" quote in the story were in fact merely AIDS denialists)?

I leave the reader to judge.


Blogger Dineisha said...

Dear Dr. Bennett,
I’m pos and do prevention in my community. Its got lots of conspiracy beliefs about AIDS that make prevention harder, like denialism. I know conspiracy and denialism isn’t the same, but they make the same problems. I like your site because it explains with science why a belief must be wrong, which somethings I have to explain to others. I was hoping you would help me explain to others why HIV could not be bioengineered virus from sex between visna virus and HTLV virus, or other retrovirus. I believe that HIV is natural and came from monkeys, but I do not really know how to explain to others why the bioengineered virus story is not correct thruough science.

Just to throw my opinion, AZT isn’t close to worst nuke. DDI and D4T are much much worse. Truvada has two different ones and I have no side effects at all. Same too boyfriend on epsicom.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Bennett said...

Hi Dineisha,

Your comment about AZT is true - one red flag that the AIDS denialists aren't posing questions based on facts, but instead based on myths (AZT's infamous toxicity was started by Duesberg's book where he misinterprets it's history).

The best way to counter the argument about HIV's engineering is that it's genetic sequence is quite different from Visna and HTLV I/II. Although it was originally thought to be more closely related to HTLV (and Gallo called it HTLV III initially) this was based on some antibody cross-reactivity and the fact that it grew in T lymphocytes. On closer inspection of the genetics it's clear that that's where the similarity ends.

The bigger question is "why?". Why would someone bioengineer HIV? As a bioweapon it's a really really crappy one. It takes on average a decade to kill, is hard to easily spread without very close contact. It has no intrinsic ability to infect one set of people over another. Much of the bioengineered stories attempt to sell these ideas without really asking the core questions. Robert Lee has written a book specifically pushing this idea as HIV being engineered by work based on Visna/HTLV and other viruses, and that it was designed to target Africans. Part of his theory for example is that tyrosine is an amino acid used to make melanin, which makes dark skin, and therefore any and all research involving tyrosine kinases (a huge group of signalling proteins that are common to all humans) must somehow be related to targeting people of color.


If you have any further questions I'd be happy to help.


10:42 AM  
Blogger AidsIsOver said...

Dear Dr. Bennett,

You asked:

Who is more inappropriate to comment on medical research regarding HIV, a physician with a research background in HIV, or an online "journalist"?

Let me answer your question with another:

"Who was right about the threat of a global heterosexual AIDS epidemic - the medical scientific HIV/AIDS establishment or AIDS activist David Pasquarelli?"

I ask that in light of the recent admission by Dr. Kevin De Cock, head of the W.H.O HIV/AIDS Dept. that the threat of a global heterosexual AIDS epidemic is over!

(Independent UK - June 8th, 2008)

For many years, AIDS-skeptic activists have maintained that the official position on heterosexual AIDS was wrong.

For example, in an interview in 2000, Dave Pasquarelli said:

"Non-drug heterosexuals have a greater change of being struck by lightning than of contracting AIDS"

So it turns out that a "non-professional" AIDS activist was correct and the AIDS establishment was wrong. How can that be?

The answer is that humans tend to hold entrenched positions based on their peer group and predisposition -sometimes in direct contravention of the evidence.

One might as well ask:

Who is better qualified to speak of divine law, a Muslim or a Christian?

Such is human nature. That is why a free and open debate -such as happens when you post my comment- is the best defense against error.

I invite you engage in a calm and measured discussion of these and other issues about HIV/AIDS in an audio interview on

My email is fintan@ that website.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Bennett said...

Sure, we can have a polite "debate", when you admit that the Independent story was a good media tale which needed to have the quoted scientist put out a reprimand to them.

"The story in the Independent on Sunday titled: "Threat of world AIDS pandemic among heterosexuals is over, report admits" contained a few seriously misleading statements that have led to inferences and conclusions that bear no relation to the highly complex realities of the HIV epidemic."

Arguably, and I do argue this, the fact that the heterosexual epidemic was slowed (not stopped) in the Western world was directly as a result of the warnings given out to the population in the 1980's. Where such warnings were not given (e.g. South Africa, which was doing rather well until AIDS denialism crept into the politics there) heterosexual AIDS is rampant. Where policies were adopted mid-epidemic, the HIV rates have dropped (e.g. Uganda).

I would certainly trust someone other than the late David Pasquarelli - someone who denied that his own HIV infection was crippling his immune system to allow the PCP, thrush, meningitis, mycobacterium and disseminated CMV which eventually killed him.

CMV incidentally is harmless in just about everyone who it infects, unless they have immune compromise. Just as well, seeing as about half the human race is infected with it.

My real answer to you is that I tried the polite debate thing for a decade, and clearly it didn't work since people such as yourself still exist, so I'm not wasting my time any more :o)



4:49 PM  
Blogger AidsIsOver said...

Thanks for responding. I would like to come back to you on a couple of points. You said:

Sure, we can have a polite "debate", when you admit that the Independent story was a good media tale which needed to have the quoted scientist put out a reprimand to them.

That so-called 'correction' looks good until you examine what it says:

First and foremost, the global HIV epidemic is by no means over.

But in his comments in the Independent, Dr. De Cock never said it was! Why correct what he didn't say?

What he did say was that the threat of a global heterosexual AIDS epidemic is over.

And the 'correction' does not refute that.

The 'correction' also says this:

"Worldwide, HIV is still largely driven by heterosexual transmission."

Again, Dr De Cock didn't say it wasn't! But it is a very interesting point.

Because, as the W.H.O. says, heterosexual transmission is the primary infective vector, and Dr. De Cock's uncorrected statements say that vector is vapor ware.

It always was.

Moving on, you said:

"Arguably, and I do argue this, the fact that the heterosexual epidemic was slowed (not stopped) in the Western world was directly as a result of the warnings given out to the population in the 1980's."

Do I need to cite the presistently high STD rates in the Western world? You know, the ones that show people did not heed the 'safe sex' message.

HIV in the developed world was not halted by condoms. It was halted by its less-than-miniscule heterosexual transmission.

The AIDS skeptics were right about that. Deal with it.

As to why Mr. Pasquarelli died, I don't have his medical history at hand to make definitive prognostications or even to do a differential diagnosis. Do you? It's off-topic anyway. We are talking about the facts on global heterosexual AIDS, not GRID or David Pasquarelli's health.

All I am saying is that the AIDS establishment can, and has, gotten it horribly wrong.

That's a systemic problem you can help address. In all our interests.

The persistence of opinions you do not share may not be due to intransigent AIDS-skeptics.

It may be due to errors (or lies) like the now dubious predictions of a global heterosexual AIDS epidemic.

3:00 PM  
Blogger AidsIsOver said...

As you have declined to publish my comment in reply to you, I've posted it on It's here:

Nick Bennett's Double Standards

7:23 PM  
Blogger Bennett said...

And this will blow your mind - but, blimey, I actually have a life outside of blogging about AIDS denial.

So your comments got posted. And your complaints are now made to look foolish. Heheh.

The AIDS skeptics have driven the AIDS rate in South Africa sky high by the spread of their message that HIV is a myth and/or harmless (they can't even agree among themselves about that). HIV does have a lower transmission rate that other STD's - so what? That doesn't make it impossible. Some STD's have transmission rates as high as 25% (e.g. gonorrhea). It would take an act of God to shut down that kind of transmission.

Ah but I'm forgetting that the "Abstinence only" message abstains from teaching about proper prevention, so maybe God isn't the one to ask....

I would argue absolutely that the opinions persist because of intransigence, because I can't convince AIDS denialists with solid irrefutable science, therefore they're intransigent (more specifically they are apparently intentionally ignorant, as they simply don't WANT to hear the truth...). It amazes me that people are STILL touting lines from Duesberg's first book which didn't make sense (or were downright wrong) when they were written down, and have been disproven over and over again since then in any case. What else would explain that persistence in error?

The late David Pasquarelli: his list of ailments is listed on his online obituary. It's also on the AIDSTruth site, along with the stories of other denialists who suffered from their beliefs.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Bennett said...

I should have pointed this out fact I did.

The WHO doesn't correct de Cock's statement, as you seem to be saying.

de Cock himself corrects the Independant's spin on his statements.... An entirely different thing that you failed to grasp.

You see, he signed the original rebuttal.

The point is that there is an ongoing global HIV epidemic. It won't be over until people stop getting infected with HIV....

Get it?

By putting out spin headlines the media (and AIDS denialists) are simply promoting unsafe sex. The youth of the 2000's knows less about HIV/AIDS than the youth of the 1980's and 1990s - that's been shown in several surveys. They don't need the information void filled with bullshit - they need proper education.

If, or when, we get on top of HIV then we can start celebrating. Putting out misinformation won't make that any sooner.


10:49 PM  
Blogger jtdeshong said...

Dr. Bennett,
I love you!! I find you extremely intelligent and graceful in the way you deal with these topics and especially the way you deal specifically with the dissidents. AND, more importantly, I find you have a great sense of humor! I have also started a blog very recently which is a 100% satirical look at dissident ideas regarding HIV/AIDS.
Please check it out and let me know what you think @:
A Satirical Look at a Serious Subject.
J. Todd DeShong

9:03 PM  

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