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  Home arrow The NIH Investigation arrow Hiv Testing arrow Reductionism On Trial: Liam Scheff Answers Mainstream AIDS History Researcher  
 
Reductionism On Trial: Liam Scheff Answers Mainstream AIDS History Researcher PDF Print E-mail
In late May, 2006, I received a complaint about an article I had written for Cruxmagazine in Fall 2004, on the Incarnation Children’s Center (ICC) investigation. ICC is an orphanage in New York City where orphans, often children of drug abusers, were being used in National Institutes of Health clinical drug trials, on the assumption that they had AIDS.

The drugs in use at ICC were and are extremely toxic drugs, so admitted by the manufacturers, and by years of trial results in adults. Physicians give the drugs on the remarkable assumption that the children’s death is a foregone conclusion, and that extraordinarily toxic drugs are the only thing to prolong their lives. This is the basic assumption of the AIDS diagnosis, which I find to be shocking in its arrogance and cruelty.

The belief that the drugs are absolutely necessary is so strong that the drug regimen is strictly enforced, without lenience. Children in ICC who do not want to take the drugs, which cause high rates of severe vomiting and diarrhea, have the drugs force-fed by mouth, or through nasal and surgically-inserted gastric tubes1.

The 2004 Cruxmagazine article was called “HIV Negative: Noble Doctors Try New Drugs on AIDS Orphans2.” In the article, I predicted that “Noble Doctors” would be the title or spin on the story, if it were reported in The New York Times, a paper which has long censored fair and ethical reporting about AIDS medicine.

In July, 2005, that is exactly what happened.

 On July 17, 2005, The New York Times printed a national front-page story, credited to authors Janny Scott and Leslie Kaufman, called “Belated Charges Ignite Furor Over AIDS Drug Trial”

In the story, Scott and Kaufman claim that the drug trials, though unheard of prior to my investigation, were, in fact, a rousing success, with no negatives to show. They also reported that I, the reporter who broke the story, was an internet renegade of some sort, who should not be taken seriously.

The Times piece was more notable for what it omitted, than what it included. The Times writers, Scott and Kaufman, both interviewed me at length, but nothing of my actual interview made the paper however, except one or two comments helpfully taken wildly out of context.

In the weeks between interview and publication, I was in regular contact with the Times writers, and provided them, as per their request, with copious referenced research on the drugs and diagnosis. None of this was reported.

In fact, the Times article reported nothing negative about any drug used on the children at ICC, as though these drugs were as mild as candy, (and better for you). The Times had also interviewed legal guardians/family members of children who were or had been at ICC, but likewise omitted any mention of these interviews, or of the observations and concerns of the children’s caretakers.

The Times did interview the doctor who established the clinical trial center at ICC, Dr. Stephen Nicholas, who gave a glowing testimony in defense of the drugs and the program. In the entire Times’ piece, not a single negative or cautionary word was printed regarding AZT or any of the other drugs used on the children, though the majority of these are FDA black-box drugs, meaning they have caused severe illness and death in patients taking them. Nicholas is currently receiving funds from ICC’s parent hospital, Columbia Presbyterian, to run similar trials in the Dominican Republic3. This was also unreported.

The Times’ also omitted any mention of the stomach surgery used on children who can’t or won’t take the drugs.

In late May, 2006, Stephen Inrig, a PhD candidate at Duke University, specializing in AIDS history, wrote Cruxmagazine to lodge a complaint against my 2004 article. He stated that my characterization of the drug AZT was incorrect, primarily because I did not report that AZT, besides being toxic, also reduced what he calls mother-to-child transmission.

That much is true. In that article, I did not get into the use of HIV tests to measure either putative infection or transmission4. I had done so, at length, in other pieces, and felt that I didn’t have to revisit that long discussion in the Crux piece.

If I had, it would have looked something like this: “There is no standard for evaluating what constitutes ‘transmission’, because there is no standard for evaluating what is ‘HIV positivity,’ based on what we, I think mistakenly, call HIV tests.” That’s a hell of statement to make without sufficient explanation however, and I did not want to derail the piece, which was primarily about media spin and drug toxicity.

What follows is the discussion between myself and Mr. Inrig, elaborating the two views of the AIDS paradigm. The conversation took place over about a week in emails. The tone is informal, for the most part, and is as often cordial it is invective and ad hominem. It is absolutely characteristic, however, of discussions between the medical authority and those who wish to challenge it, between reductionism and what I will call "the broad view," regarding this apparently unchallengeable paradigm.

Notes

1 The ICC Investigation Continues, section 7: | Still On Trial, NY Press 2005 | Inside Incarnation, NY Press 2005

2 HIV Negative: Noble Doctors Try New Drugs on AIDS Orphans Cruxmag Fall 2004

3 Dr. Nicholas in the D.R.

4 HIV Testing | Test Interpretation by Risk-Group | Critics on Testing and Diagnosis

From Stephen Inrig to Cruxmag editor Bobby Maddex, Friday, May 26, 2006.

Mr. Maddex,

I am writing with deep concern about the article I read on your site: HIV Negative, “Noble Doctors Try New Drugs on Orphans,” by Liam Scheff. Let me first say that I am an evangelical, deeply committed to my faith, and in harmony with much of your project’s mission. I am also a PhD candidate in the history of medicine and the husband of a practicing physician.

The problem with the Scheff article is that it is so full of inaccuracies – of both a historical and clinical nature – that you really should pull the article. Not only does Scheff get the facts wrong about reverse
transcriptase (it isn’t common to human cells, but only retroviruses, hepadnaviruses, caulimoviruses, and some other “bugs.”), Stevens-Johnson syndrome (many drugs can cause this – not merely AZT or other RTI’s), and several other things.

His history of the discovery and development of the drug is deeply flawed, he neglects the reasons why AZT doesn’t “cure” AIDS (viral mutation; nothing cures AIDS), and he ignores the important fact that AZT has been shown to cut perinatal transmission of HIV in pregnant mothers from 30% to about 6%.

Should your magazine have an article about HIV/AIDS? undoubtedly. Should your journal investigate pharmaceutical price gauging and the battle over generic drugs? Yes. Should your journal ask difficult questions about the power-politics that have always surrounded AIDS, AIDS policies, and AIDS
research? Clearly. Should you keep Scheff’s article on your website in its present form? No.

I hit upon your website on my way to subscribe to Salvo as a gift to my father (which I seem not to be able to do thus far). Please do not interpret this letter as a criticism of your project or any other work on
the website. The Scheff article just seemed so egregious that I felt I had to write.

Keep up the good work,

Yours,

Stephen Inrig

From Bobby Maddex to Stephen Inrig and Liam Scheff, Tuesday May 30, 2006.

Mr. Inrig:

Thanks so much for your comments. I have copied the article’s author to get his response and would appreciate access to your exchange. We haven’t had any other complaints about the piece thus far, but I do want to be sure that we are providing accurate information. Again, thanks for contacting me; I will monitor your discussion and make the appropriate changes thereafter.

Yrs.,

Bobby Maddex
Editor
Salvo

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, the same day (5-30-06)

(all letters also were copied to Bobby Maddex, Cruxmag editor)

Hi Bobby, Hello Mr. Inrig,

Thanks for your note. Sorry if this is a bit rushed, I’m headed to a radio interview.

First, the work is more than accurate. But I’ll try to walk you through some of the background.

I think Mr. Inrig, that you are coming from a view that is called the standard paradigm. Perhaps you’re not used questioning it, or seeing it questioned, so it seems incorrect or shocking or offensive.

My hope is that you are simply unfamiliar with the idea that public health athourities/aids inc/big pharma likes to lump groups together that have very little to do with each other, in creating disease definitions. And they like to sell drugs. And that most media doesn’t take the time to look into the chasmic flaws.

I’d politely, respectfully ask that as you’ve taken the time to write a complaint, that you further investigate the issues that concern him.

For starts, have a look at this British Medical Journal debate on AIDS and Sex, to see the views writ large by researchers in the field.
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e

To the idea of reverse transcriptase (RT) – ain’t so. Howard Temin, who won a nobel prize for work in the field, forwarded that argument – that RT was unique to certain viruses. He then recanted it publicly, saying it was a ubiquitous cellular enzyme. Which it is, because material goes both ways – into and out of DNA.

AZT does not cure AIDS because it suppresses the immune system. It does not cure perinatal transmission of anything known, but in the study you cite, PCR tests (in this case, non-specific, non-standardized partial genetic strand cloning techique) was viewed to go down a little in some cases. On the other hand, there are equally valid studies (and more of them), where PCR was unaffected, or went up.

On the other, other hand – people, babies, infants, fetuses, mothers, given the drug do worse, die faster, get sicker, more often. According to the standard medical literature.

You can see some of that cited in the footnotes of this article:
http://www.gnn.tv/articles/2272/Does_The_New_York_Times_Want_to_Kill_Gay_Men

About the new trend in Aids medicine – drugging the perfectly healthy and hiv negative.

Here are a few to consider:

“The probability of developing severe disease at 3 years of life was significantly higher in children born to ZDV+ [Zidovudine, AZT treated] mothers than in those born to ZDV- [no AZT] mothers…The same pattern was observed for severe immune suppression…

“Finally, survival probability was lower in children born to ZDV+ [AZT treated] mothers compared with children born to ZDV- [no AZT] mothers. ”

Rapid disease progression in HIV-1 perinatally infected children born to mothers receiving zidovudine monotherapy during pregnancy. AIDS. 13(8):927-933, May 28, 1999.

“Children of study women who were prescribed ZDV [Zidovudine, AZT] had increased adjusted odds of any anomaly…[T]he lack of data on potential adverse effects of this therapy is still a concern…

“Babies whose mothers had ZDV [AZT] exposure during pregnancy had a greater incidence of major malformations than those whose mothers did not. ”

Newschaffer CJ et al. Prenatal Zidovudine Use and Congenital Anomalies in a Medicaid Population. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2000 Jul 1; 24(3): 249-256.

“The study cohort included 92 HIV-1-infected and 439 uninfected children…Antiretroviral therapy (nonprotease inhibitor) was independently associated with FTT [Failure to Thrive] in our cohort…
ZDV [Zidovudine, AZT], in particular, alters mitochondrial metabolism and may have direct nutritional effects.”

Miller TL et al. Maternal and infant factors associated with failure to thrive in children with vertically transmitted Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 infection: the prospective, P2C2 Human Immunodeficiency Virus Multicenter study. Pediatrics. 2001 Dec; 108(6): 1287-96.

You can see some of the effects of another drug, Nevirapine here:
http://liam.gnn.tv/articles/1011/Exclusive_The_Truth_about_Nevirapine

You can look into HIV testing here:
http://liam.gnn.tv/articles/1035/The_Hidden_Face_of_HIV_Part_1

There’s more than can be summed in an email. Mr. Inrig, I appreciate your concerns, you faith, your ethical motivations. But there’s more here than meets the eye, or is reported in the standard literature.

I have to add, you didn’t comment on the idea that these children are being force-fed, and surgically-force-fed very toxic drugs, and I find that a little troubling, to be honest.

As reported here:
http://www.nypress.com/18/30/news&columns/liamscheff.cfm

Be well, please look at the work sent, and I’ll be happy to engange in further dialogue, once you’ve had a look.

Bests,

Liam Scheff

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, the same day (5-30-06)

Hi –
sorry for the spelling errors in the letter! Was in a rushing to the phone, but wanted to respond in a timely manner.

Liam

From Stephen Inrig to Liam Scheff, Wednesday May 31, 2006.

Mr. Scheff

Thank you for the respect you paid me to reply to my letter. Hopefully my response will approach your civility and grace. Feel free to continue dialoguing on this matter if it suits you. Please also feel free to
correct me where I am, far too often, wrong (as you can tell, per his request, I have cc’d Mr. Maddex on this letter).

I don’t think I fit into the standard paradigm you suggested, but you never know. I understand that it is associated in your mind with some monolithic activity by public health authorities, “AIDS Inc.,” and Big Pharma, but I may be mistaken. I am certainly familiar with the idea that these groups like to lump groups together, etc., but I confess that view seems a little simplistic and reductionistic to me: Some public health authorities may like to sell drugs, for example, but others don’t, since drug costs often deplete local and state budgets. Some AIDS organizations like to sell drugs, but other organizations want them for free. Some drug companies want to sell drugs, and some other drug companies sue in federal court to overturn patents so they can sell the same drugs for cheaper. I am sure I could question things more thoroughly, and this interchange has forced me to go back through my notes to question what I thought I knew. I’m not afraid to question things, though.

With that said, I have read over the comments you have made and followed the various links you have provided. My hunch is that you will be as unconvinced by what I say as I was by the things you had me read. Hopefully you will understand this letter not to be a personal attack. Forgive me if I sound like a boorish fool.

I did go to the first site you suggested (British Medical Journal debate on AIDS and Sex, http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e) and I read largely the entire page. I may be wrong, but this page doesn’t appear to present “the views writ large by researchers in the field,” nor is it really a discussion by researchers in the field at all, but I found it interesting in a “non-peer-reviewed blog” sort of way. Since it addresses things far afield our discussion, I will press on to your Crux Project article.

Liam Scheff wrote:

“To the idea of reverse transcriptase (RT) – ain’t so. Howard Temin, who one a nobel prize for work in the field, forwarded that argument – that RT was unique to certain viruses. He then recanted it publicly, saying it was a ubiquitous cellular enzyme. Which it is, because material goes both ways – into and out of DNA.”

To a certain extent, you are right and I was wrong, or at least I misspoke. Humans do have reverse transcriptase integrated in their genome, or at least pro-virus, but most of it is canceled out by human anti-bodies, so it isn’t affected by nucleoside analogues. In at least one case, a cellular enzyme (telomerase) does use a reverse transcriptase as catalytic subunit (Human telomerase reverse transcriptase or hTERT) though this seems to be unique among human polymerases (feel free to correct me if I am wrong here, my doctor wife didn’t even know this one). Most normal cells, however,
have undetectable levels of telomerase activity and also fail to express hTERT. Contrary to your suggestion, then, reverse transcriptase does not appear to be ubiquitous in human cells. Presumably, Temin retracted his statement because he had claimed reverse transcriptase was unique to retroviruses, which is patently not the case. It is a ubiquitous enzyme in nature, found in a variety of viruses, bacteria, introns, etc. That said, it is not ubiquitous in human cells.

AZT and other nucleoside analogues have side-effects for a much simpler reason: they are nucleoside analogues. As such, they resemble nucleoside, a basic building block of DNA. Thus AZT and other analogues (often called “false nucleosides”) can trick healthy cells that are in the process of reproducing, get integrated into human DNA, and prevent the further production of new cells. Why does this happen? Because the human enzyme closest to viral reverse transcriptase, known as DNA polymerase, likes these false nucleosides, although HIV’s reverse transcriptase likes them more. This means that while HIV will gobble up most of the AZT, human polymerase will snarf some, sometimes crippling normal cellular processes like cell division (even here, however, human cells have the ability to remove enzymatic mistakes, which they often do).

Where AZT (and similar drugs) appear to do their most damage is in the mitochondria, where a second set of human DNA is found (often referred to as “mother’s DNA’). Mitochondrial DNA uses a different enzyme – polymerase gamma – which is particularly susceptible to nucleoside analogues, thus rendering mitochondrial DNA vulnerable to the drugs. What difference does it make? Since the mitochondria provides the cell with energy, AZT can impeding the cell’s energy source and even kill the cell. The mitochondria has other functions too, so Peripheral neuropathy and pancreatitis are also common side-effects. AZT also appears to affect Bone marrow cells – perhaps because they are rapidly-replicating cells that require more energy – rendering a person exposed to AZT vulnerable to anemia and neutropenia.

My point with all of this is that the hazards of AZT are well-known, have been well-known for some time, and are not associated with the presence of reverse transcriptase in humans. I have no problem with you investigating HIV drug toxicity. I just think you need to fix the mistakes you’ve made in your article on this point.

The history of AZT is also important here, because scientists generally consider the enzyme telomerase to be implicated in enabling cancer cells to attain cellular “immortality” and reproduce themselves at astronomical rates (Telomerase, as you remember, is [as far as I know] the only major – but not ubiquitous – reverse transcriptase in humans). This cancer-inducing process was the mechanism Jerome Horowitz was trying to stop when he created AZT in 1964. AZT, however, proved ineffective against cancer – it didn’t stop the human reverse transcriptase! This is because different nucleoside analogues behave differently, and don’t necessarily have the same effect on similar cells or enzymes. AZT was shelved for almost 15 years, therefore, owing to its ineffectiveness – not its toxicity, as you suggest. Burroughs Wellcome bought rights to the drug in the 1970s, but their efforts to use the drug against bacteria likewise proved fruitless, and again they shelved the drug. One of the scientists on the project, Janet Rideout, did notice it had anti-viral properties, however, and she included it in the AIDS compound study that Burroughs Wellcome initiated in the spring of 1984, after Gallo confirmed Montaignier’s findings on HIV. Burroughs Wellcome discovered that AZT alone – of the 80 drugs they tried – worked against retroviruses. The learned this in November of 1984, after the NCI called on drug companies to test any drugs they had against HIV. Subsequently, researchers at Duke, NIH, and Burroughs Wellcome all learned that the drug worked on HIV in humans in 1985, and they stopped their phase II AZT trial several months early when the drug prolonged the life of the non-placebo group (over 10% of the control group had died, less than 1% of the AZT group had died).

You suggest that, with AZT, “the FDA approval process was easily corrupted,” but you don’t suggest how that was the case with AZT. You can argue that Burroughs Wellcome’s pricing scheme or patent laws were unethical, I think you would have a point. You provide no real evidence that Burroughs Wellcome corrupted the FDA approval process, and there is little substantive evidence to back up your claim “that trials were marred by false reporting and a total breakdown of study controls.” It seems you have extrapolated backwards from the fraud foisted by the makers of Nevirapine (and your arguments are ironic in light of 1980s AIDS activism, which called for an accelerated, less stringent research plan for AIDS drugs). That is why I considered your historical discussion of AZT to be “deeply flawed.” I think you must also change this part of your article.

Liam Scheff wrote “AZT does not cure AIDS because it suppresses the immune system. It does not cure perinatal transmission of anything known, but in the study he [sic – should be ‘you’] cites, PCR tests (in this case, non-specific, non-standardized partial genetic strand cloning techique) was viewed to go down a little in some cases. On the other hand, there are equally valid studies (and more of them), where PCR was unaffected, or went up.”

This paragraph is a little tricky, inasmuch as some of the grammar confuses me. I can’t tell if you are saying AZT suppresses the immune system, or AIDS. I also don’t know if the “he” in the paragraph refers to me (I don’t discuss the Nevirapine trials in Africa; in fact, I know little about them).

My point was that, thus far in the epidemic, nothing “cures” AIDS. Indeed, no responsible scientists have claimed that they have a cure, although David Ho came close in 1995.

But you seem to use the “[insert name of drug] DOES NOT CURE AIDS” statement as a smoking gun – if the drug doesn’t cure AIDS, why do we use it? Particularly if it seems toxic?” You may not mean this, but that was how I interpreted the rhetorical point I thought you were trying to make.

If that was your point, then it is doubly faulty. First, it is a straw man argument: no one is making that claim, so you can’t set it up just to knock it down. Second, it ignores the transformation of medicine in the 20th Century. Since the 1870s, humans have increasingly been able to prevent diseases and in some cases “cure” them. This has meant that the human disease burden has shifted – at least in the western world – to chronic diseases that medicine can manage but not cure. HIV infection is one of these. Countless drugs have pages of toxicity warnings today, it is quite common. To lambaste drugs because they don’t cure a disease (when they don’t claim to), or when they have toxic side effects (which they acknowledge) is rhetoric at the expense of analysis. Since you use this tactic in almost every one of the articles you provided links for, I would suggest you revise it in the Crux Project article.

Additionally, I don’t know what study you think I cited, but I was referring to ACTG 076, which wrapped up in 1994, and the numerous papers that emerged from it. That study indicated that perinatal transmission of HIV (transmission of HIV from mother to fetus, newborn, or infant) dropped from 25% – 30% to 6 – 7% when mothers took AZT. We are now able to reduce perinatal transmission to about 1 – 2%. Since the placebo group retained a 23% transmission rate, few scientists question the results of the study.

Admittedly, taking AZT poses risks for both fetus and mother, but most ethicists agree that dramatically decreasing the HIV transmission rate outweighs the side-effects caused by AZT. I will return to this point
later (I know Nevirapine is supposed to work better than AZT blocking perinatal transmission, but I know little about Nevirapine).

Liam Scheff wrote “On the other, other hand – people, babies, infants, fetuses, mothers, given the drug do worse, die faster, get sicker, more often. According to the standard medical literature. You can see some of that cited in the footnotes of this article:

http://www.gnn.tv/articles/2272/Does_The_New_York_Times_Want_to_Kill_Gay_Men

This seems to be one of the key points of your argument (both here and in your article). I am not sure how careful your analysis is at this point:

Your GNN article quotes one part of Ross McKinney’s article, for example, but ignores its conclusion – that “Zidovudine has been shown to be an effective antiretroviral treatment in adults with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. … the resultant clinical, immunologic, and virologic improvements in children are similar to those reported with zidovudine in adults.” You take a similar tack with the few articles you list for me to consider:

Liam Scheff wrote “The probability of developing severe disease at 3 years of life was significantly higher in children born to ZDV+ [Zidovudine, AZT treated] mothers than in those born to ZDV- [no AZT] mothers…The same pattern was observed for severe immune suppression…Finally, survival probability was lower in children born to ZDV+ [AZT treated] mothers compared with children born to ZDV- [no AZT] mothers. ”
Rapid disease progression in HIV-1 perinatally infected children born toothers receiving zidovudine monotherapy during pregnancy. AIDS. 13(8):927-933, May 28, 1999.”

As I mentioned above, using ZDV+ (or AZT) greatly reduces the transmission of HIV. It doesn’t remove it completely. Thus, the researchers studied how HIV progressed in those children who were born HIV+. In both cases, obviously, the mothers were HIV+. Thus, for those HIV+ children born to mothers who took AZT, their HIV has (tragically) already become resistant to AZT. It may be because of the type of HIV their mother had, but likely it was because they themselves grew resistant in the womb or soon after birth. Thus, they have fewer defenses against opportunistic infections, and they suffer the additional side-effects common to people taking AZT (see above). So the ethical question is, would you rather have one or two HIV+ children who will likely die within three years, or 25 – 30 HIV+ children who will die by age 5. American researchers have chosen the former. Your paper largely ignores this, suggesting that drug money drove this decision, and I thought that was egregious.

Liam Scheff wrote “Children of study women who were prescribed ZDV [Zidovudine, AZT] had increased adjusted odds of any anomaly…[T]he lack of data on potential adverse effects of this therapy is still a concern…. Babies whose mothers had ZDV [AZT] exposure during pregnancy had a greater incidence of major malformations than those whose mothers did not. ” Newschaffer CJ et al. Prenatal Zidovudine Use and Congenital Anomalies in a Medicaid Population. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2000 Jul 1; 24(3):249-256.”

Again, while you accurately site the negative aspects of AZT use, you ignore the larger ethical and public health context outlined in the paper: “Given this 10-fold difference plus the certainty with which the ZDV
benefit in preventing vertical transmission compares against the uncertainty regarding teratogenic effects, there seems little doubt current guidelines regarding ZDV use in pregnancy represent best public health
practice. … Questions of the tradeoffs between possible adverse consequences of prenatal antiretroviral therapy and prevention of vertical transmission are potentially may become more complicated and more frequent.… Of course, anything learned about adverse consequences of in utero exposure to ZDV must be balanced against the considerable morbidity avoided and the lives saved by the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV.”

It seems to me you can’t quote an article but disregard its findings. You can argue against its findings, but it hardly seems appropriate to use a study but ignore its major conclusions.

Liam Scheff wrote “The study cohort included 92 HIV-1-infected and 439 uninfected children…Antiretroviral therapy (nonprotease inhibitor) was independently associated with FTT [Failure to Thrive] in our cohort…ZDV [Zidovudine, AZT], in particular, alters mitochondrial metabolism and may have direct nutritional effects ” Miller TL et al. Maternal and infant factors associated with failure to thrive in children with vertically transmitted Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 infection: the prospective, P2C2 Human Immunodeficiency Virus Multicenter study. Pediatrics. 2001 Dec; 108(6): 1287-96.

Whatever else this study shows, it doesn’t suggest HIV+ women should stop taking AZT or that children should stop taking it. It just acknowledges that AZT, as a nucleoside analogue, has physiological risks associated with nucleoside processes and that clinicians must take that into consideration when treating HIV in children. The clinical options include nutritional supplementation or, more likely, switching from AZT to protease inhibitors. Your article makes no mention these options for clinical care, which again leads me to appeal for you to revise your article accordingly.

Liam Scheff wrote “About the new trend in Aids medicine – drugging the perfectly healthy and hiv negative.”

I don’t know much about this, but it seems to me giving drugs to perfectly healthy people is essential to test drug toxicity, and it also seems to be important in testing the prophylactic uses of a drug. Let me suggest two examples where I think it could be valuable. Studies indicate that people with sexually transmitted infections transmit HIV 8 – 10 times more efficiently than those with no sexually transmitted diseases. If someone with HIV and STIs takes a drug as a prophylactic, and it cuts the transmission efficiency down to 3, this at least seems a promising step to take. Additionally, if a drug can protect someone exposed to the virus from getting infected – as AZT apparently can do with fetuses or compromised medical workers – then it might be something a high-risk person would want to take routinely, not unlike a birth control pill. Your penchant for seeing something odious or conspiratorial here is disappointing, though not surprising.

Liam Scheff wrote “You can see some of the effects of another drug, Nevirapine here:
http://liam.gnn.tv/articles/1011/Exclusive_The_Truth_about_Nevirapine

This might be the best stuff of yours I’ve read, and my hunch is this is how you got into covering HIV, but again, where is the cost-benefit analysis of Nevirapine’s liver toxicity versus morbidity and mortality,
comparative use, etc.? As well, where is the discussion of decreased liver toxicity when WHO standards are applied in Africa? You criticize the mainstream media for failing to ask the difficult questions, but you seem only to ask different questions, not better ones.

Liam Scheff wrote “You can look into HIV testing here:
http://liam.gnn.tv/articles/1035/The_Hidden_Face_of_HIV_Part_1

There is so much in this article that is problematic, but I will leave it alone since I wrote in response to your Crux Project article and to include my thoughts on your use of statistics would take us too far afield.

Liam Scheff wrote:

“There’s more than can be summed in an email. Mr. Inrig, I appreciate your concerns, you faith, your ethical motivations. But there’s more here than meets the eye, or is reported in the standard literature.”

“I have to add, you didn’t comment on the idea that these children are being force-fed, and surgically-force-fed very toxic drugs, and I find that a little troubling, to be honest.”

I appreciate this comment, as I know it indicates you have done much of your work out of compassion for very needy and marginalized children. There are two reasons I didn’t comment on the idea. The most important is that while you may have discussed it at length in your NY Press article, you only briefly mentioned it in your Crux Project article. Since you went into no detail on it, I had very little to comment on – how could I? Surely you don’t hold that against me.

The second reason flows from the first – since I disagree with you about the worth of the drug regimen these children may be on, since I know nothing about what type of “force-feeding” takes place, and since you do nothing to lay out the legal or ethical rules that this clinic has violated (“force-feeding” implies these children have actually said “no, I do not want this care” yet are given it against their will), I have very foundation to comment on the idea that you put forward. That you considered this sentence an important part of your article, yet took so little time to explain or defend it, frustrates me.

To be honest, I regret ever sending a letter in the first place. I appreciate you writing me and engaging on these issues. Even though I dramatically disagree with you on the above issues, this process has reminded me that you are a very real person with real passions and real concerns. I just feel like your article, in its present form, has too many holes, errors, and omissions. Clearly you disagree, but I base my reasoning on what I have said above. You will have to decide for yourself the extent to which you think I am mistaken.
As I mentioned to Mr. Maddex, I feel you have touched on a number of dramatically important issues, and
they each require investigative journalism. You are likely to maintain your position, as I have mine. But at least know that whatever you choose to do with your Crux Project article, individuals such as my self will
remain dissatisfied with the your article unless you address at least some of the problems I have outlined above.

I appreciate the grace and civility with which you have conducted yourself, and I hope I have not been too much of a Cretan in this. Mostly I have appreciated, from the few articles I have read of yours, the spirit,
passion, and demand for justice with which you have written. Whatever else remains in your article, please do not lose that component of your writing.

On that point certainly, as on many others, we agree.

Respectfully,

Stephen Inrig

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, the same day (5-31-06)

Greetings Mr Inrig,

A long and thoughtful response.

I am pressed (!!) for time, my apologies, I will throw in a couple ideas.

Inrig: “I did go to the first site you suggested (British Medical Journal debate on AIDS and Sex, http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e ) and I read largely the entire page. I may be wrong, but this page doesn’t appear to present “the views writ large by researchers in the field,” nor is it really a discussion by researchers in the field at all, but I found it interesting in a “non-peer-reviewed blog” sort of way. Since it addresses things far afield our discussion, I will press on to your Crux Project article_.”

I don’t consider it afield the discussion. The discussion is, essentially, ‘what is aids?’

The idea of it being either perinatally or sexually-transmitted disease is first and foremost. Many of the MD and PhD participants in the BMJ debate are, indeed, researchers in the field, on both sides of the debate.

Our idea of what AIDS is, is shot through with a priori’s, assumptions, holes, errors, gross exagerations – and it’s good to view those ‘writ large’ in a contentious debate.

I’d say have a look down the line, with the question – what is this thing we call AIDS? How has the definition developed.

Inrig: “Contrary to your suggestion, then, reverse transcriptase does not appear to be ubiquitous in human cells. Presumably, Temin retracted his statement because he had claimed reverse transcriptase was unique to retroviruses, which is patently not the case. It is a ubiquitous enzyme in nature, found in a variety of viruses, bacteria, introns, etc. That said, it is not ubiquitous in human cells.”

It’s ubiquitous in placental cells, and in other human biologic processes – but I will look further and get back to you. Thanks for looking into it.

Inrig: “AZT and other nucleoside analogues have side-effects for a much simpler reason: they are nucleoside analogues. As such, they resemble nucleoside, a basic building block of DNA. Thus AZT and other analogues (often called “false nucleosides”) can trick healthy cells that are in the process of reproducing, get integrated into human DNA, and prevent the further production of new cells. Why does this happen? Because the human enzyme closest to viral reverse transcriptase, known as DNA polymerase, likes these false nucleosides, although HIV’s reverse transcriptase likes them more. This means that while HIV will gobble up most of the AZT, human polymerase will snarf some, sometimes crippling normal cellular processes like cell division (even here, however, human cells have the ability to remove enzymatic mistakes, which they often do).”

HIV doesn’t gobble up anything.

Here’s what HIV does:

Dr. Joseph McCune reported in Nature in 2001;

“We still do not know how, in vivo [in the patient], the virus destroys CD4+ T cells… Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the loss of CD4+ T cells, some of which seem to be diametrically opposed.”

Dr. Mario Stevenson reported in the “20 Years of AIDS Research” July, 2003 “Special Edition” of Nature Medicine:

“Despite considerable advances in HIV science in the past 20 years, the reason why HIV-1 infection is pathogenic is still debated… considerable efforts have gone into identifying the mechanisms by which HIV-1 causes disease, and two major hypotheses have been forwarded.”

“There is a general misconception that more is known about HIV-1 than about any other virus and that all of the important issues regarding HIV-1 biology and pathogenesis have been resolved. On the contrary, what we know represents only a thin veneer on the surface of what needs to be known.”

Nobody knows. The term HIV is used to describe the results of non-specific antibody tests, non-standardized PCR tests, bits and pieces of perhaps retroviral genome, or human endogenous retroviral sequences. It is used to describe cluttered laboratory photos of inappropriately-sized and shaped particles, culled out of leukemia T-Cell cultures, never shown to be pathogenic, but always assumed to be ‘always fatal’ and sexually-transmitted.

Sexually-transmitted, even though we have these statistics to deal with:

Take this 1988 review from the Journal of the American Medical Association:

“[N]one of the husbands of four seropositive [HIV positive] women were infected despite regular sexual contact for as long as three years. In another study involving 12 couples, no transmission from the infected woman to the male partner occurred after more than 100 sexual contacts. Thus, vaginal intercourse may carry a low risk to the insertive partner, as does anal intercourse. ” (JAMA, 1988; 259(20))

 

From the January 17, 2002 Journal of Infectious Disease:

“The study…of 17 women who remained uninfected, despite a history of heavy exposure to HIV through repeated, unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner, and 12 of their regular, male HIV-positive partners.”

 

male to male:

An April 1996 study in Nature Medicine focused on 24 hetero- and homosexual men who’ve remained HIV negative despite “histories of multiple high-risk sexual exposures to HIV-1,” including “sex with multiple HIV-1-infected partners,” or “long-term relationships involving unprotected sexual intercourse over many years [with] predominantly a single HIV-infected partner.” “All subjects were HIV-1 negative,” even though “several [of their] partners succumbed to AIDS.” (Nature Medicine. 1996 2(4))

longer studies:

“At Kenyatta National Hospital [Kenya] …out of 31 couples tested, 23 were discordant [one positive, one negative]. Some of them have stayed in a sexual relationship with the infected partner for more than six years without the infected one passing the virus to the other. And when these discordant couples brought their children for testing, all of them were free of the virus…” (Horizon Magazine, December 18, 2003)

larger studies:

“[W]e studied 50 sexually active couples with discordant antibody results [one positive, one negative]...seronegative partners continued to have negative results in all tests for a mean follow-up period of 17 months despite ongoing sexual relations with their seropositive partners….approximately one-half of each group reported some instances of
unprotected intercourse…intercourse with outside partners was uncommon in both groups, as was current illicit drug use. (Clin Infectious Disease. July, 1995;211)

longer and larger studies:

From a study called “Heterosexual Transmission of HIV in Northern California: Results from a Ten-Year Study”: “We followed up 175 HIV-discordant couples over time, for a total of approximately 282 couple-years of follow up.…No transmission [of HIV] occurred among the 25% of couples who did not use their condoms consistently, nor among the 47 couples who intermittently practiced unsafe sex during the entire duration of follow-up…We observed no seroconversions after entry into the study [nobody became HIV positive]”(American Journal of Epidemiology. August, 1997.)

And then we have the definition, the roving definition of AIDS. The Bangui, from 1985 in Africa – fever, diarrhea, itching, coughing.

The old definition, pneumonia, and kaposi’s sarcoma (in gay men who’d done far too many drugs, too much partying, for a long, long time).

I don’t see how the ‘twain meet.

Inrig: “Where AZT (and similar drugs) appear to do their most damage is in the mitochondria, where a second set of human DNA is found (often referred to as “mother’s DNA’). Mitochondrial DNA uses a different enzyme – polymerase gamma – which is particularly susceptible to nucleoside analogues, thus rendering mitochondrial DNA vulnerable to the drugs. What difference does it make? Since the mitochondria provides the cell with energy, AZT can impeding the cell’s energy source and even kill the cell. The mitochondria has other functions too, so Peripheral neuropathy and pancreatitis are als common side-effects. AZT also appears to affect Bone marrow cells – perhaps because they are rapidly-replicating cells that require more energy – rendering a person exposed to AZT vulnerable to anemia and neutropenia.

My point with all of this is that the hazards of AZT are well-known, have been well-known for some time, and are not associated with the presence of reverse transcriptase in humans. I have no problem with you investigating HIV drug toxicity. I just think you need to fix the mistakes you’ve made in your article on this point.”

I’ll have a look. Your points are interesting. But I’ll have to research.

AZT is defined and built as a DNA-chain terminator. Its mitochondrial effects were gleaned through much error (and trial). It was built to be a mock thymidine [sic – thymine]. So, I think what I’m saying is accurate. But I will have a look.

Inrig: “You provide no real evidence that Burroughs Wellcome corrupted the FDA approval process, and there is little substantive evidence to back up your claim “that trials were marred by false reporting and a total breakdown of study controls.” It seems you have extrapolated backwards from the fraud foisted by the makers of Nevirapine (and your arguments are ironic in light of 1980s AIDS activism, which called for an accelerated, less stringent research plan for AIDS drugs). That is why I considered your historical discussion of AZT to be“deeply flawed.” I think you must also change this part of your article.”

No, there’s good evidence, from researchers and investigators other than myself.

John Lauritsen was one of the first to break the AZT story. You can read his investigations here:
http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/index/jlauritsen.htm

(in fact, you can read a great deal on this and related subjects, from a myriad of sources and authors here:
http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/find.htm
Though I admit, i do not like the name ‘virusmyth’, because I think it leads the discussion in a mocking and wrong direction).

You’re also excluding a look at nearly every other AZT study that followed the FDA Burroughs trial,(like Concorde, and other european trials) which found the drug quite toxic, ineffectual, and not useful in any early treatment programs (that’s how it was and is used – then for adults, now for fetuses).

The Concorde trial also chipped away at another Aids dogma, and recommended that the use of TCells as a surrogate marker be less favored, or discouraged.

Inrig: “My point was that, thus far in the epidemic, nothing “cures” AIDS. Indeed, no responsible scientists have claimed that they have a cure, although David Ho came close in 1995.

But you seem to use the “[insert name of drug] DOES NOT CURE AIDS” statement as a smoking gun – if the drug doesn’t cure AIDS, why do we use it? Particularly if it seems toxic?” You may not mean this, but that was how I interpreted the rhetorical point I thought you were trying to make. If that was your point, then it is doubly faulty.”

The drugs don’t just ‘not cure’ Aids. They cause death, disease – and acquired immune deficiency. The AZT label, among others, states that the long-term effects of the drug are indistinguishable from what is called (a priori) Aids.

Then again, it’s always assumed that persons who test HIV positive, are actually infected with a virus, and will certainly die, no matter what (unless they are some of those mysterious LTNP’s, who nobody likes to talk about. Like my many friends and associates who have tested positive years ago, but never took the drugs).

Why might they have remained positive [sic – I meant ‘healthy]? Because they were infected with nothing. The tests are not accurate, therefore any discussion of decreasing or increasing perinatal or other transmission is rendered absolutley meaningless.

I’m sorry, but I’m not flexible on that position, and I really recommend that you read thoroughly these articles about testing:
http://gnn.tv/articles/article.php?id=1035
http://www.gnn.tv/articles/1210/Sex_Crimes

and these citations about testing:
http://www.aras.ab.ca/test.html

and these published papers about the tests:

http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/data/epwbtest.htm

and the a priori – hiv positive equals aids equals death:

http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/data/epgallo.htm

It’s a lot to read. I don’t know if you will, but it’s worthwhile.

You seem like a decent fellow, and it may fall out that we simply are on different sides of an idea. I appreciate the time you’ve taken, and thoughtfullness you’ve applied.

I still am a little disturbed that you are not disturbed at the notion of force-feeding children these drugs via forced-surgical tubes. But I appreciate your dedication to truth and honesty in reporting science.

I feel comfortable that I meet those standards.

A final case-in-point:

Inrig: “Of course, anything learned about adverse consequences of in utero exposure to ZDV must be balanced against the considerable morbidity avoided and the lives saved by the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV.” It seems to me you can’t quote an article but disregard its findings. You can argue against its findings, but it hardly seems appropriate to use a study but ignore its major conclusions.”

This is the crux (as it were) of the problem.

I am not disregarding its findings. I am holding the study to a very real standard:

There are no standards for determining what is or is not ‘hiv’ transmission based on the tests in use. The interpretation of data is flexible, based on assumptions of prevalance, which are in turn, based on assumptions of prevelance.

I am a white male who dates girls (when I don’t alienate them with looong conversations about technical and controversial subjects!) I am not a victim of the belief that sex equals death. We hold that belief for gay men, black people, and now indians, and chinese.

For these people, we use these rapid, rapid-fire, hyper-reactive antibody and PCR tests with abandon.

In persons like myself, the use of these tests is fundementally discouraged.

You noted that the testing articles I sent were problematic for you. I will assume you take exception to material being cited in brief, but the articles are accurate.

The tests are based on non-specific protein reactions, and who-knows-what gene fragments they copy that can get them to rise and fall in these cloning tests, so that they rise in persons infected with worms, and decrease when worms are treated.

“Treatment of Intestinal Worms Is Associated With Decreased HIV Plasma Viral Load.” (J.AIDS, September, 2002)

Or read this in the November 16, 2001 MMWR. A review of PCR tests used for Aids patients, showing that the tests give wildly different results from a single blood sample, as well as different results with different test brands. (CDC MMWR, November 16, 2001)

There’s more, but we apparently each lean in a particular direction. I hope you will review some of the papers sent. I think AIDS, as we call it, is probably the greatest disservice the medical establishment, and the liberal social establishment, has forced and foisted on the poor, struggling people of the world.

It’s not a disease to me, it’s a religion, supported primarily by gay men, for whom it is a strange kind of social salvation and pennance, all in one, and by researchers, whose training and tendency is to focus on minutae and ignore the tableau.

I’m sorry for what I may have missed in your letter. It is a time constraint issue. I will look at it further at some near date.

Thanks for your time and effort.

Be well,

Liam

From Stephen Inrig to Liam Scheff, the same day (5-31-06)

Mr. Scheff,

Thank you again for the kind reply. I think for me, this will be the end of my input on all this, however. I had hoped, when I first encountered your article, that behind it wasn’t lurking the “AIDS myth” debate, because you raised some important ethical issues about cost-benefit analysis in pediatric AIDS therapies (though clearly I thought you handled them poorly). Your latest email to me, however, indicates your larger frame of reference, and I honestly don’t have time to enter a debate on HIV as the cause of AIDS. I think the evidence is sound that HIV causes AIDS; you clearly don’t. We don’t have much more to discuss.

What troubled me about your responding email is that you again misuse research studies to imply a conclusion directly opposite the article’s actual conclusion (your McCune quotation is most egregious, which leads me to believe you haven’t actually read the article but just copied quotes off of AIDSmyth.com).

You also accept the work of a writer whose work is rejected by every major AIDS historian in the field (Lauritsen is as reliable on AIDS as Oliver Stone is on the Kennedy assassination), you fail to understand the nature of epidemiology (because some serodiscordant couples don’t pass on HIV doesn’t disprove HIV as the cause of HIV infection, just like the fact that some people didn’t get TB from their family members doesn’t disprove the fact that Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes TB), you fail to comprehend the historical transformation of disease definitions (Rheumatic Fever and Black Lung have both “moved around”, but few people deny they exist as diseases), you badly misunderstand the Concorde study (it didn’t prove AZT ineffective, in did show that use of AZT as a monotherapy early in one’s HIV progression allowed the virus to become resistant earlier, rendering the drug useless in when serious opportunistic infections developed; AZT taken alone generally only added two years to a person’s life), and your theory relies on a faulty reconstruction of AIDS history (the earliest public health, AIDS Inc., BigPharma theories of HIV infection steered away from the viral hypothesis, not toward it). Since 1983/84 we have known that HIV causes immune deficiency, which various infections exploit for their reproductive benefit (opportunistic infections). The discussion, then, really stopped being “what is AIDS” by 1987, and certainly by 1992. It has now become “how and in what ways does HIV infection express itself in the human species?”

I really think you should redo your article on Crux Project, and that it is historically, medically, and philosophically unacceptable in its present condition. It really does raise some important questions, however, and I really do wish you will address them. I will leave that to you and your editor, however.

Again, however, I appreciate the civility with which you have conducted our discussion.

Best,

Stephen Inrig

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, the same day (5-31-06)

Stephen,

And here it goes. I send paper after paper, study after study, and you see what you want to see, what you are pre-disposed to see. Have you read every paper I sent? Do you understand what it means that these tests, given to pregnant women in poor, struggling countries, have no standard, are cross-reactive, and yet, are used to inform them that they are going to die, no matter what? And that that’s stamped with the all-knowing, inflexible, dogmatic, saturnine, punitive ascension of the world health authority?

You don’t want to talk about ‘aids myth’ debates. You want to split hairs about whether AZT is poisonous, and shortens life, in study after study, and yet somehow can save the lives of pregnant women and their children.

You’re right, we’re opposite sides of this. I asked you to look at material.
You dismiss it as incorrect or irrelevant. On the other hand, you wrote in, asking that something that offended you be taken down, censored, or altered, for your comfort.

What can I say? I’m pleased to be on the side that I’m on. The open side. I’m not a true believer, AIDS is not my religion, and when the researchers say that 175 couples having every kind of sex for 6 years failed to bring up a sero-conversion, I’m satisfied that we’re not looking at sex-plague.

When the name ‘aids’ is used for an ever-increasing number of unrelated ailments, I’m satisfied that it has no clinical value.

When test after test claims it has no gold standard, and must refer to other standardless tests for validation, rather than actual infection, or any virologic gold-standard, I’m satisfied that these tests are pure garbage.

I’m not sure what’s not clear here. You say I don’t understand epimiology?

Really? So, I’m supposed to think that in study after study, people who don’t use drugs and aren’t brutally impoverished, don’t get Aids, and people who do, do get sick, and that somehow relates to sex? Or a sex disease?

Where’s the epidemiology?

You certainly believe what you believe, but you show no willingness to look at the critics. You dismiss them with ad hominems. You’re not serious about this discussion. You’re not willing to let evidence in that challenges your a priori belief.

If you want to tell me how you perceive AIDS as a sex disease, based on any of the citations or studies I’ve sent, please do so, and correct the error of my thinking. But I don’t think you can. Nobody really tries, except by re-asserting the conventional wisdom, and knocking the very real challenges to it.

And here it is, the conventional wisdom:

This so-called ‘syndrome’ of aquired immune deficiency is One Disease (even though it’s been reshuffled, rebranded, renamed, added to, subtracted from, and infinitely expanded beyond any reasonable measure over and over again).

It is a sex and drug disease. Even though no one can explain a number like 40 million through either the controlled and uncontrolled studies on sex.

It has one cause. Even though the people diagnosed with the brand-name ‘aids’ invariably have thirty or forty reasons in their queue for being ill or compromised, before anybody starts to worry about who they’re screwing (excuse me). Like how about some drinkable water, that doesn’t give ‘em parasites, or sepsis? How about the very poisonous drugs we give them to help them die, we say, we think, we believe, more slowly? But that are actually simply killing them.

How about the very nature of the thing itself?

It’s a death curse. You tell somebody that they have ‘brand-name Aids’, and that they’re just like the gay guys who died by handfuls in the early 80s, and you stamp that with the approval of the much worshiped, and greatly corrupt medical authority (sorry, I know it from the inside), and people adhere. They believe it, like some people believe in God, like some people believe in Brahmha, or in the Great Spirit. Like some people believe in Capitalism.

Who believes it? Primarily the Left. Why do they believe it? Because the left has no center. They have nothing to believe in, they have no spiritual grounding. So when these boys started to die, the good-hearted, but brain-dead left, got behind them, and said, ‘we’ll take you to the scientists, who tell the truth, unlike the preachers.’

And there was Robert Gallo, and his b.s. HTLV-1 leftovers, waiting to misdiagnose what was a clearly, obviously, painfully multi-factorial illness, comprised of drug abuse, sex abuse, pharma abuse, cultural abuse, and internalized hatred.

If you don’t want to take it from me, I’ll put you in touch with some of the guys who lived through it and watched it happen. You’ve engaged me thus far.

If you want to learn something that you do not already know, and are willing to suspend you final judgement, then let me know, and I’ll put you in touch with some of the survivors of the thing.

If you want to know about what’s happening in Africa, read Gisselquist. Or just read the newspaper. It’s not in the genome, Stephen, it’s in the poverty, the war, the famine, the culture, the history.

Your call,

Liam

ps – I’d like your permission to post our exchange, in full, at some point. I will remove your name if you ask, or afford you an alias, if you prefer.

From Stephen Inrig to Liam Scheff, Thursday June 1, 2006

Liam, here are my thoughts on your email, as this is clearly an important discussion for you, let me say that I appreciate your ongoing civility.

Scheff: “Stephen,

And here it goes. I send paper after paper, study after study, and you see what you want to see, what you are pre-disposed to see. Have you read every paper I sent?”

What’s funny here is that I guess I’d say the same thing about you: you seem consistently to have ignored research conclusions so you could patch together a series of non-contextual quotations to support your points. I haven’t read every paper you sent, but I read every paper I sent you, and I tried to read as many of the papers and articles as you sent me (some I had read before, some I read during our discussion, and some I was unable to find online).

Scheff: “Do you understand what it means that these tests, given to pregnant women in poor, struggling countries, have no standard, are cross-reactive, and yet, are used to inform them that they are going to die, no matter what? And that that’s stamped with the all-knowing, inflexible, dogmatic, saturnine, punitive ascension of the world health authority?”

I don’t know if I understand what some of those people experience – I have no way of knowing whether you do either. I know what the inner city families that I have worked with experience, I know something of what the poor rural women in North Carolina have experienced since Duke and UNC instituted AIDS care for pregnant women, and I know a little about what the people at the clinic in Uganda, who are cared for by my research and writing partner, Dr. Allan Ronald, experience. I know that AZT for pregnant women in Durham, in rural North Carolina, and in Uganda has meant that fewer blacks bear the burden of HIV/AIDS than would have to if we didn’t provide them the drugs.

Scheff: “You don’t want to talk about ‘aids myth’ debates.”

That’s true.

Scheff: “You want to split hairs about whether AZT is poisonous, and shortens life, in study after study, and yet somehow can save the lives of pregnant women and their children.”

I don’t want to split hairs about whether AZT saves the lives of pregnant women and their children. AZT alone can’t save the life of pregnant women. It can and does frequently save the lives of their children. With such glaring and obvious research backing my views, I feel it is almost negligent to suggest NOT giving them drugs. Adjust the therapies? Certainly. Change the regimens? By all means. Find new solutions? Certainly. Let 20 – 30% of children born to HIV+ women get HIV infection (most of whom will be black); let an additional 20% of children breast-fed by HIV+ mothers get HIV infection? By no means. Your theories have very practical consequences that find unacceptable.

Scheff: “You’re right, we’re opposite sides of this. I asked you to look at material. You dismiss it as incorrect or irrelevant. On the other hand, you wrote in, asking that something that offended you be taken down, censored, or altered, for your comfort.”

I didn’t dismiss it as incorrect or irrelevant. I did find a tremendous amount of it incorrect, however. I think you are playing a shell game with several of these assertions. I was not offended by anything I saw in your article. I just knew – based on the facts – that you were wrong and I recommended that your editor remove it because it was egregiously wrong in its present form. I didn’t censor you, I have done nothing to censor you, I couldn’t censor you even if I wanted to, and the fact that you use that word indicates some immaturity on your part. If you actually believe that no one can write to your editor saying your article is incorrect and needs to be retracted and corrected, you are interested in a different brand of journalism than exists in free countries.

Scheff: “What can I say? I’m pleased to be on the side that I’m on. The open side. I’m not a true believer, AIDS is not my religion, and when the researchers say that 175 couples having every kind of sex for 6 years failed to bring up a sero-conversion, I’m satisfied that we’re not looking at sex-plague.”

Again you got the study – Padian’s this time – wrong, and when a later and larger study finds a tremendous amount of seroconversion among a much larger group (15,127 adults in total), you should have changed your mind back. My hunch is you didn’t. You are not open-minded about this, no matter what you say. You are a true believer, who has been deeply affected by the anecdotal – but real – experience of your friends and your research. I don’t hold that against you, I just think you are demonstrably wrong.

Scheff: “When the name ‘aids’ is used for an ever-increasing number of unrelated ailments, I’m satisfied that it has no clinical value.”

CD4 count defines the various stages of HIV infection, it has done so with relative stability since 1992, and it has demonstrable clinical value. Your assertions here border on foolishness.

Scheff: “When test after test claims it has no gold standard, and must refer to other standardless tests for validation, rather than actual infection, or any virologic gold-standard, I’m satisfied that these tests are pure garbage.

I’m not sure what’s not clear here.”

What is clear here is that you are palpably wrong. I know you have some anecdotal experience with “pure garbage tests,” and I am sorry about that. Thank God the blood banks and organ donation centers don’t believe you.

Scheff: “You say I don’t understand epimiology? Really? So, I’m supposed to think that in study after study, people who don’t use drugs and aren’t brutally impoverished, don’t get Aids, and people who do, do get sick, and that somehow relates to sex? Or a sex disease? Where’s the epidemiology?”

You don’t understand epidemiology, that is quite clear (do you really need me to send you a doubly long list of articles that indicate you are wrong?). You have also viewed HIV infection through a myopic lense that ignores how other diseases behave (you treat HIV infection as if it is unique, when it is not). As for the sexual component of HIV, it is clearly a fascination for you. But HIV has transmission routes quite similar to Hepatitis C – a variety of those routes are sexual, many others are not. This seems an odd hang-up for you to have (why is the fact that HIV transmits sexually such a big deal for you? Clearly it doesn’t seem to bother you that it transmits through blood). I would love to find out why you are so bothered that HIV infection would be sexually transmitted. That seems one of the real stories behind all of this.

Scheff: “You certainly believe what you believe, but you show no willingness to look at the critics. You dismiss them with ad hominems.”

I have looked at several of the critics, but I did not find their arguments convincing. Why was I so harsh on Lauritsen? Because I am writing my dissertation on the history of HIV in North Carolina, and since AZT was developed here at Burroughs Wellcome and Duke, I have access to a tremendous amount of primary source material. Lauritsen’s work is so inaccurate, his conclusions so far from what the historical evidence actually shows, that I cannot consider his work to be serious historiography. It functions at the level of melodrama, but it is not history. If that is an ad hominem, then I guess it is. I think it is an accurate judgment of how he fictionalized his material. Since you have no other references on AZT trials besides him, I can only assume you have relied on his views.

Scheff: “You’re not serious about this discussion. You’re not willing to let evidence in that challenges your a priori belief.”

First, you may remember that I never entered an “aids myth” discussion – I was merely responding to the multiple inaccuracies I found in your article on AZT and kids. I had no idea you didn’t believe HIV caused AIDS. If I had known that, I would not have sent the initial letter.

Second, you are correct, I do not think the “aids myth” discussion should be taken seriously, although with its acceptance in South Africa, it has some very real consequences.

Third, the fact that HIV causes AIDS is not my a priori belief. I began learning about AIDS when everybody else first did, in the early 1980s. At that time, people didn’t know what caused AIDS, although there were numerous theories. An early theory was postulated on December 1981 in the New England Journal of Medicine by a researcher here at Duke named David Durack. He is an infectious disease specialist, yet he postulated that the disease was likely the cause of drug use, genetic predisposition, and semen overload. Whatever else that was, it wasn’t an apriori for HIV causing AIDS. By 1983, French researchers had shown that a retrovirus was present in the lymph nodes of people with pre-AIDS symptoms (lymphadenopathy). Yet it would be an entire year before the acceptance of HIV as the cause of AIDS. Few people thought the French discovery was conclusive at the time, BECAUSE THEY DID NOT HAVE AN A PRIORI THAT HIV CAUSED AIDS. When scientists showed conclusively (for most researchers) that HIV did cause AIDS, then the field shifted. This is not an a priori process, this is a scientific process. I lived through this time and came to learn these things like my peers. Did I accept what the researchers said? Yes. Did I know enough to question the articles they published? No. Was I biased to believe that HIV caused AIDS? No, because before they discovered HIV we thought it was either a host of unrelated diseases being artificially grouped together or a consequence of a series of cofactors. These proved incorrect when they showed HIV caused AIDS.

Your ignorance about the early history of AIDS has tricked you into believing people have arrived at their conclusions a priori. It is you who are mistaken. Many of us arrived at our conclusion the same way you claim to have come to your (incorrect) conclusion: by following the evidence. Your thinking here has, again, been sloppy.

Scheff: “If you want to tell me how you perceive AIDS as a sex disease, based on any of the citations or studies I’ve sent, please do so, and correct the error of my thinking. But I don’t think you can. Nobody really tries, except by re-asserting the conventional wisdom, and knocking the very real challenges to it.”

Again, I find your resistance to the idea of a sexually transmitted infection to be profoundly interesting. Does it bother you that Hepatitis C is sexually transmitted? HIV infection and Hepatitis C both have other transmission routes, but they nonetheless also follow a sexual passageway. Who cares?

Scheff: “And here it is, the conventional wisdom:

This so-called ‘syndrome’ of aquired immune deficiency is One Disease (even though it’s been reshuffled, rebranded, renamed, added to, subtracted from, and infinitely expanded beyond any reasonable measure over and over again). It is a sex and drug disease. Even though no one can explain a number like 40 million through either the controlled and uncontrolled studies on sex. It has one cause. Even though the people diagnosed with the brand-name ‘aids’ invariably have thirty or forty reasons in their queue for being ill or compromised, before anybody starts to worry about who they’re screwing (excuse me). Like how about some drinkable water, that doesn’t give ‘em parasites, or sepsis? How about the very poisonous drugs we give them to help them die, we say, we think, we believe, more slowly? But that are actually simply killing them.”

This isn’t the conventional wisdom, and the fact you think it is only reinforces my problems with your views. Syndromes, in medical parlance, are what we name a cluster of symptoms that seem to have a common cause, although we don’t know what that cause is. AIDS was the name researchers gave to a set of opportunistic infections that emerged among immuno-compromised people in the early 1980s. They didn’t know its cause. In 1983 and 1984, researchers confirmed that these diseases occured because a recently evolved human retrovirus was destroying people’s immune systems and leaving them open to a myriad of opportunistic infections. Since then we have referred to the disease as HIV infection (LAV/HTLV-III infection between 1984 and 1987). HIV infection kills T4helper cells directly and indirectly (along with other immune cells), allowing a growing number of common human infections to capitalize on the depleted immune system and wreak havoc (as we learn to control some of the more prominent infections, new opportunistic infections take their place). HIV also causes its own physiological damage, particularly in the brain. HIV is not a stable virus, and therefore can only live in certain protective fluid environments: human blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk appear to provide the most hospitable environments for the virus to live, and as people exchange these fluids through sex, transfusion, breast-feeding, perinatal blood exchange, and the like, the virus may be passed from one person to another. While the virus does exist in other fluids like tears and saliva, other components in those fluids kill the virus and make those mediums inhospitable to transmission.

HIV takes advantage of higher levels of background illness to move more quickly through a population, and aspects of human sexuality like previous sexually transmitted diseases, uncircumcision, and anal sex serve as amplification factors to allow more opportunities for transmission. Where population circles are small and concentrated, HIV can spread quickly through sexual transmission or uncleaned blood products (needles and the like); where population circles are more diffuse, transmission of the virus moves much more slowly. Owing to epidemiological limits, HIV infection will rarely reach above 30% of a population.

HIV progresses differently in different people – some can die within eighteen months of infection, some have lived for at least 20 years in an almost dormant state, and about 5% of the human population seems unaffected by the virus altogether. The average life-span of people with HIV infection is 10 years from time of infection with no interventions. This period is much shorter for infants and people receiving blood or organ transfusions.

Scheff: “How about the very nature of the thing itself?

It’s a death curse. You tell somebody that they have ‘brand-name Aids’, and that they’re just like the gay guys who died by handfuls in the early 80s, and you stamp that with the approval of the much worshiped, and greatly corrupt medical authority (sorry, I know it from the inside), and people adhere. They believe it, like some people believe in God, like some people believe in Brahmha, or in the Great Spirit. Like some people believe in Capitalism.”

HIV infection is by no means a death curse, though it initially was. With the ever-expanding litany of drugs available, individuals can live normal and productive lives with AIDS – the infection is by no means a death sentance and, since the early 1990s, has become more like a chronic disease (like skin cancer or diabetes) than like an acute infection. Like diabetes, people must adhere closely to their drug regimen and diet with HIV infection. Doing so enables people to return to a semblance of normality experienced by others with chronic disorders.

Scheff: “Who believes it? Primarily the Left. Why do they believe it? Because the left has no center. They have nothing to believe in, they have no spiritual grounding. So when these boys started to die, the good-hearted, but brain-dead left, got behind them, and said, ‘we’ll take you to the scientists, who tell the truth, unlike the preachers.’”

I think this might be an oversimplification, particularly in light of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop – a conservative evangelical Republican. There was certainly politics involved, however, and the history of AIDS is replete with the West’s faith in science to fix things, there is no doubt about that.

Scheff: “And there was Robert Gallo, and his b.s. HTLV-1 leftovers, waiting to misdiagnose what was a clearly, obviously, painfully multi-factorial illness, comprised of drug abuse, sex abuse, pharma abuse, cultural abuse, and internalized hatred.”

I will leave this alone (history problems again), other than to say Gallo has admitted, in more than one interview, that his focus on HTLV-I did distort early knowledge about HTLV-III. That being said, the virus still causes HIV infection regardless of all those co-factors you described.

Scheff: “If you don’t want to take it from me, I’ll put you in touch with some of the guys who lived through it and watched it happen. You’ve engaged me thus far.”

I have no problem talking to people who have lived through it. I actually know quite a few of them myself, particularly since my college girlfriend’s father died of AIDS while I was in college, and since I have been putting together a database of stories from gay people in the South.

Scheff: “If you want to learn something that you do not already know, and are willing to suspend you final judgement, then let me know, and I’ll put you in touch with some of the survivors of the thing.”

Scheff: “If you want to know about what’s happening in Africa, read Gisselquist. Or just read the newspaper.”

I have read some of Gisselquist, but I get a great deal about what is going on in Africa from my friend, Allan Ronald, who has been a clinician treating prostitutes in Uganda since 1973 (he is now a world expert on AIDS, too). My wife and I are slated to spend three months in his clinic in Uganda next year.

Scheff: “It’s not in the genome, Stephen, it’s in the poverty, the war, the famine, the culture, the history.”

If you have read Paul Farmer at all, you are aware of the fact that it isn’t an “either/or.” HIV does cause AIDS. Poverty, war, famine, sexism, colonialism, capitalism, globalization, modernization, and history all cause it too.

I fear you are fighting the wrong enemy.

As for posting this discussion, I don’t think so.

Again, however, I appreciate the civility with which you have conducted our discussion.

Best,

Stephen Inrig

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, Friday June 2, 2006.

cc’d to my colleague David Crowe, for review, and to Crux editor Bobby Maddex.

Stephen,

You replied and rebutted, by you refused to read anything I sent you. How shall I then respond?

Scheff: “Do you understand what it means that these tests, given to pregnant women in poor, struggling countries, have no standard, are cross-reactive, and yet, are used to inform them that they are going to die, no matter what? And that that’s stamped with the all-knowing, inflexible, dogmatic, saturnine, punitive ascension of the world health authority?”

Inrig: “I don’t know if I understand what some of those people experience – I have no way of knowing whether you do either. I know what the inner city families that I have worked with experience, I know something of what the poor rural women in North Carolina have experienced since Duke and UNC instituted AIDS care for pregnant women, and I know a little about what the people at the clinic in Uganda, who are cared for by my research and writing partner, Dr. Allan Ronald, experience. I know that AZT for pregnant women in Durham, in rural North Carolina, and in Uganda has meant that fewer blacks bear the burden of HIV/AIDS than would have to if we didn’t provide them the drugs.”

I apparently can’t break through here. The tests do not work. the diagnosis is bogus. You are poisoning these people, based on an a priori assumption of accuracy of non-specific, non-standardized tests, and correlation with a totally separate phenomenon that occured in the gay community for very specific reasons.

Scheff: “You don’t want to talk about ‘aids myth’ debates.”

Inrig: “That’s true.”

You won’t allow dissent or discussion about the science? Very good, glad we’re clear.

Inrig: “I don’t want to split hairs about whether AZT saves the lives of pregnant women and their children. AZT alone can’t save the life of pregnant women. It can and does frequently save the lives of their children. With such glaring and obvious research backing my views, I feel it is almost negligent to suggest NOT giving them drugs. Adjust the therapies? Certainly. Change the regimens? By all means. Find new solutions? Certainly. Let 20 – 30% of children born to HIV+ women get HIV infection (most of whom will be black); let an additional 20% of children breast-fed by HIV+ mothers get HIV infection? By no means. Your theories have very practical consequences that find unacceptable.”

Again, you’re missing the picture. You are hypnotized, for some reason. Address the issue of what it means to be told that you have tested HIV positive, and you might begin to unravel the mystery.

Inrig: “I was not offended by anything I saw in your article. I just knew – based on the facts – that you were wrong and I recommended that your editor remove it because it was egregiously wrong in its present form. I didn’t censor you, I have done nothing to censor you, I couldn’t censor you even if I wanted to, and the fact that you use that word indicates some immaturity on your part. If you actually believe that no one can write to your editor saying your article is incorrect and needs to be retracted and corrected, you are interested in a different brand of journalism than exists in free countries.”

You wrote in, asking that the article be taken down. Not just to have your letter published and noted, and answered publicly, but that the article be taken down. As though you were afraid that someone might have a different opinion, or a different view than yourself, and your colleagues. You do not read the research I send you. You dismiss it out of hand. What kind of journalism can be practiced in your world view, Stephen? Only that which agrees with the medical mainstream? What kind of ‘free country’ are dreaming of Stephen?

Inrig: “Again you got the study – Padian’s this time – wrong, and when a later and larger study finds a tremendous amount of seroconversion among a much larger group (15,127 adults in total), you should have changed your mind back. My hunch is you didn’t. You are not open-minded about this, no matter what you say. You are a true believer, who has been deeply affected by the anecdotal – but real – experience of your friends and your research. I don’t hold that against you, I just think you are demonstrably wrong.”

You do not read the research. You bow to authority. You criticize me for reading the actual data, but disagreeing with the summary. The summary is political, Stephen, like the summaries of eugenics papers.

What is serocoversion? What test is used to determine it? None. None validated. None standardized, none with any virologic gold standard.

Padians data – 175 couples, 6 years, vaginal and anal sex, with and without condoms. No seroconversions. Look it up.

Either that means that:

HIV is not a sexually-transmitted virus

or

HIV tests do not test for HIV

or

both

Inrig: “CD4 count defines the various stages of HIV infection, it has done so with relative stability since 1992, and it has demonstrable clinical value. Your assertions here border on foolishness.”

The definitions of AIDS worldwide have no measure, no grounding in reality. Bangui, Caracas, Red Cross, FDA, rapid test validated against rapid test; none validated or standardized any other way.

1981-1984 – First, KS and Pneumonia. Then not KS, because was caused by drugs, or something else. But no worries. Just plod on.

87-93, addendum, addendum, addendum. More and more diseases added, because more and more patients labelled, incorrectly with the brand name ‘aids’.

CDC 1993 – now AIDS patients are perfectly healthy people with a one-time lab analysis of low TCells, as though not having high TCells (a sign of infection) means that you have AIDS?

CDC 1997 – no more reporting on who’s healthy or who’s sick. Just all ‘aids’ all the time.

The definitions are as loose as this: a woman (my roomate last year) goes to get a prescription for a yeast-infection and is told that she might have AIDS, because yeast infections are lumped in to the AIDS definition, so she needs a test right away.

She’s a healthy young woman, who was stressed because of a breakup, drinking a little too much, and got a yeast infection. She was told that she might have AIDS – as in, she’s going to die, no matter what, unless she takes these pills, that you seem to like so very much, and gives them to her children, or unborn children.

Scheff: “When test after test claims it has no gold standard, and must refer to other standardless tests for validation, rather than actual infection, or any virologic gold-standard, I’m satisfied that these tests are pure garbage. I’m not sure what’s not clear here.”

Inrig: “What is clear here is that you are palpably wrong. I know you have some anecdotal experience with “pure garbage tests,” and I am sorry about that. Thank God the blood banks and organ donation centers don’t believe you.”

That’s you’re answer? I’m palpably wrong? Thank God the blood banks and organ donation centers don’t believe you?

Where’s your research? Do me a favor, don’t write me back until you read what I sent you. Stevie, baby, that’s how it works. Tests validated against tests, validated against assumptions.

If you don’t believe, look into it. If you can prove that these tests are validated against any particular virus, and come up positive for nothing else, let me know.

Inrig: “As for the sexual component of HIV, it is clearly a fascination for you. But HIV has transmission routes quite similar to Hepatitis C – a variety of those routes are sexual, many others are not. This seems an odd hang-up for you to have (why is the fact that HIV transmits sexually such a big deal for you? Clearly it doesn’t seem to bother you that it transmits through blood). I would love to find out why you are so bothered that HIV infection would be sexually transmitted. That seems one of the real stories behind all of this.”

Again, ad hominem, no evidence. Appeal to authority. Ignoring the inconsisties. What should I say? Why do you believe, so fervently, that black women, as you said, and gay men, have sex that kills them have this deadly sex-plague? But not all the nice, polite, wealthy, suburban teenagers, screwing their brains out in the back seats of cars; and not college students, doing it in their crowded dormatories, on mommy and daddy’s dollar?

Golly, Steve. I don’t understand epidemiology? I thought it was a sex disease. Hmm.

Guess it’s just one for the po’black folk, and the homos (and the drug users). But not the well-fed white heterosexuals. Where is that AIDS plague in [M]innesota farmer? Where is that sex-plague in Las Vegas gamblers? Where is that sex plague in prostitutes? In travelling businessmen? In college students? Guess none of these people ever has sex.

Inrig: “Why was I so harsh on Lauritsen? Because I am writing my dissertation on the history of HIV in North Carolina, and since AZT was developed here at Burroughs Wellcome and Duke, I have access to a tremendous amount of primary source material. Lauritsen’s work is so inaccurate, his conclusions so far from what the historical evidence actually shows, that I cannot consider his work to be serious historiography. It functions at the level of melodrama, but it is not history. If that is an ad hominem, then I guess it is. I think it is an accurate judgment of how he fictionalized his material. Since you have no other references on AZT trials besides him, I can only assume you have relied on his views.”

OOOOOHHH,,,

I get it, You’re in the fold. Like I said the first time. You’re a true believer. Well, you’d have to be, you’re writing your dissertation on this brutal fiction. You might have said so in the beginning.

You’re an AIDS researcher. You get paid for this stuff.

Very good Stephen. Nice meeting you, finally.

Inrig: “When scientists showed conclusively (for most researchers) that HIV did cause AIDS, then the field shifted.”

But they didn’t. Most researchers don’t do original research. Like you, you accept the a priori’s and aren’t interested in the discussion of whether it’s correct or not. You’ve said so, emphatically. You’re not interested in the debate. Because Luc Montagnier ticked some lymph cells and measured some reverse transcriptase.

And that’s the problem. If you’d take a measured look, you might realized something truly remarkable. Like we’re on the wrong track with the current paradigm. But you won’t. You choose, rigidly, a[n]grily, emphatically, not to.

Inrig: “This isn’t the conventional wisdom, and the fact you think it is only reinforces my problems with your views. Syndromes, in medical parlance, are what we name a cluster of symptoms that seem to have a common cause, although we don’t know what that cause is. AIDS was the name researchers gave to a set of opportunistic infections that emerged among immuno-compromised people in the early 1980s.”

Really sanctimonious. First they called it Grid.

Inrig: “They didn’t know its cause. In 1983 and 1984, researchers confirmed that these diseases occured because a recently evolved human retrovirus was destroying people’s immune systems and leaving them open to a myriad of opportunistic infections.”

They never confirmed, Stephen. They asserted. That’s what the Nature Medicine paper was about. nobody can figure out how to make the assertion real.

Inrig: “HIV takes advantage of higher levels of background illness to move more quickly through a population, and aspects of human sexuality like previous sexually transmitted diseases, uncircumcision, and anal sex serve as amplification factors to allow more opportunities for transmission.”

Or, AIDS is diagnosed based on any number of ‘background illnesses’, and then reverse-validated with the focacta antibody tests, to satisfy the paradigm.

That’s how the tests are validated, Steve. Against the assumption that the group being tested is, indeed, preconsidered more ‘likely’ to have ‘aids’. The brand name definition for normal diseases in poor people.

Inrig: “HIV infection is by no means a death curse, though it initially was.”

You’re missing the point, Steve. Not “HIV infection”. The definition itself. The diagnosis placed around someone’s neck like an anchor straight to hell. You have what they had, and we in authority, using our magic pre-determination skills, tell you that you are gonig to die, unless you take these very poisonous drugs, and have sex with no one. And you will certainly die young, because of the drugs/or illness. One or the other.

And people worship these institutions. And they go down.

Inrig: “I have read some of Gisselquist, but I get a great deal about what is going on in Africa from my friend, Allan Ronald, who has been a clinician treating prostitutes in Uganda since 1973 (he is now a world expert on AIDS, too). My wife and I are slated to spend three months in his clinic in Uganda next year.”

Good! See what you can do by not telling the people that they’re absolutely going to die, unless they do it your way.

See about treating poverty first, real diseases second, and made-up sex diseases last. See how it goes.

Or why not try selenium and glutathione?
http://www.mylonglife.com/articles/Retroviruses_Aids_Cancer_And_Autoimmune_Diseases.htm

What can it hurt? Rather than AZT, I mean?

as to:

Inrig: “I will leave this alone (history problems again), other than to say Gallo has admitted, in more than one interview, that his focus on HTLV-I did distort early knowledge about HTLV-III. That being said, the virus still causes HIV infection regardless of all those co-factors you described.”

Well, now you’re getting there. A crack in the armor, Gallo was thief and a liar (and quite a character), Stephen. Yes, we know it, but belief, belief, belief. As to Montagnier, he never purified anything that had a morphology similar to retroviruses. He has said so, and has also said that the single-cause hypothesis is incorrect, and cruel.

I sent you analyses of Gallo’s work. I’d expect better than rubric in response.

Inrig: “I fear you are fighting the wrong enemy.”

I fear you don’t read anything you don’t want to, and you don’t read critically. You read to buoy your a priori.

I previously sent you a nice paper (also linked above) on an expanded view of cancer, aids and retroviruses, and some of the mistakes that might have been made. But you haven’t looked.

I’m sorry your girlfriend’s father was given AIDS drugs, or AIDS diagnosis, because there’s no way out of it.

If you live, you’re a ‘denialist’.

If you die, you’re one of the fallen victims of the sex-plague, even though you died on the goddamn drugs, and you died of liver failure.

Inrig: “As for posting this discussion, I don’t think so.”

I can post any discussion I want to post. Why should you be afraid of people reading your views, Stephen?

You contacted me about a public article. Emails are not protected from reposting. This is a public correspondence, shared with an editor. I will omit your name, if you ask, but that’s it.

Inrig: “Again, however, I appreciate the civility with which you have conducted our discussion.”

I don’t think it’s been so very civil, Stephen. I think you see what you want to see, and you defend your points by telling me I’m wrong, the research I point to is wrong. That I have personal delusions that drive me to want AIDS to not be a sex-plague.

But you ignore what you can’t defend. Or you bash it.

You cite a study with thousands of people, where some small percentage of them tested reactive on one of these ridiculous tests, but you don’t tell me why I should think that means anything.

Here’s a recent piece in ‘the Business’ (UK) about how HIV tests are engineered to react most strongly with the groups that they’re targetted to be used on.
http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/2006/05/23/hiv_test_bogus_based_on_circular_reasoning.htm

(this is a repost, on one page, easier to read, not that you will! But you certainly are invited to).

It’s a slanted test. Only a fool (well-meaning or otherwise), or a zealot could ignore the realities here.

175 couples. 6 years. No drug abusers. No ‘seroconversion.’

What does it means Stephen? Or can you just dismiss it as an inconvenient plank in your bridge of belief?

The CDC has expanded and re-expanded the definition of AIDS over and over again. They’ve expanded and re-expanded the groups that they’re willing to diagnose AIDS in, for no reason, other than the internal prejudices that guide academic medicine allow it to be so.

What self-respecting, wealthy, white population would allow themselves to be told that their natural reproductive and/or sexual practices lead invariably to death, just like gay men who used tons of drugs, and just like Africans, who are so poor, they can barely keep their ribs inside their skin?

What group would allow – ALLOW – the CDC and NIH and local authorities to monitor every aspect of their sex lives, to go to the confessional, and admit that maybe they’d had a triste that they felt badly about, and maybe at point or another didn’t use a condom and are willing to accept the high priests summary judgement of how they must now live or die, based on a damned antibody test?

Do you really imagine, Stephen, that all the good, white, boys and girls use condoms in their college dormatories? I’d ask you to get around a little, and ask the question openly. The answer is the “2” rule.

The second date, the second time, or the second minute. That’s about how long it takes, before they really ‘trust and know’ each other enough. I ask the question in all groups, when this discussion comes up, and after the bluff and blushing protests, everybody says the same thing. Yes, the condoms come right off in a very short time.

My friend, what delusion. This is a sex-disease? But, you admit that poverty, war, famine, and all the rest cause “aids”

But, in your mind, a virus has to also.

Okay, Stephen. If it’s so, then why doesn’t everybody in the world have AIDS? Why isn’t everybody dead? Why have the populations of these African countries never ceased to burgeon and boom? Why does Uganda, the ‘epicenter’ have one of the highest growth rates in the world? Certainly it wasn’t the condoms that helped.

If it’s a deadly, sexually-transmitted virus, and it kills non-discriminatorily, then why is anybody standing?

Good question!

I guess that whatever is going on, is at the very least, multi-factorial. (Hushed silence in the crowd).

Yes, multi-factorial, Stephen, that most unthinkable thing to virus-hunter. Your so-called virus is meaningless, if it exists at all, outside of the very real and dominant environmental, toxicological and psycho-spiritual damages that must be in place to cause illness.

So why not treat the factors that make the people weak enough so that they either die from the poverty, war and famine, or by the drugs you give them, or from whatever else is going on with them?

I hope in your travels, you will find some energy to open you tightly sealed mind, and look into the eyes of these people, and realize that you are instituting on them a death-curse, a shame that they will not be able to live down in their villages and in their own minds. That their sex is dirty, unworthy, and fatal.

And instead, perhaps some part of you can find the energy to do an experiment. Just an experiment Stephen. Why not see what happens when you don’t put this dark mark on them, and instead treat them as though they had a chance to live, if only they could be fed, and nourished and nurtured, rather than given your admitedly toxic pills, and your even more toxic psycholgical voodoo.

An experiment. That’s what science is supposed to be about.

See who does better. The ones you pre-determine are dead, versus the ones you pre-determine can very likely live, if they could only be given the opportunities we have.

Please don’t send back another tome of rebuttals, having not read a thing I’ve sent.

This is my last corresondence with you. If you find that you can live up the burden of your own demands, and look at the research I’ve sent to you, and you wish to investigate it, I will happily put you in touch with the authors, and with other researchers, who can help you make sense of what is now, unhappily, irresponsibly, branded “aids”.

And you still won’t comment on the forced-feeding of these drugs into children. I’ve sent you their words, and the words of their caretakers, in the stories I reported. But you won’t look, or don’t want to believe them, or you can’t tolerate thinking it might be true. Which leads me to believe that your belief has overwhelmed your humanity.

Prove me wrong, Stephen, please.

That’s it for me.

Liam

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, the same day (6-2-2006)

Inrig: “I have no problem talking to people who have lived through it.”

Okay Stephen, Good. Sorry I missed this line the first time.

So I’ll pass on your email, and our exchange to people who’s views you can add to your research catalog of gay interviewees, and others. If, for some reasons, you don’t want to hear from them, you can tell them why.

Liam

From Stephen Inrig to Liam Scheff, the same day (6-2-2006)

Mr. Scheff,

I recognize this may be the last interaction we have. Nonetheless, I would be glad to hear from whomever you send my way.

I won’t really reply to the last email. It seems you didn’t read what I wrote, and since you merely rehash your earlier statements, it makes no sense for me to do so. That’s fine. I predicted at the outset that neither of us would be convinced by the other’s thoughts. I think that remains obvious.

Up until this last email, I have appreciated the civility with which the discussion has proceeded. Perhaps I have been uncivil. You got pretty irate and defensive when someone remained unconvinced by what you considered evidence. I am sorry about that. Nonetheless, I appreciate the dialogue.

I will say a few things:

First, contrary to your last email, I did read many of the articles you sent me (several weren’t available online). I remained unconvinced by your interpretation of the papers, and though I am a historian and not an AIDS researcher, I could think of several far more plausible explanations for the papers than your interpretation. I don’t try to avoid hard questions; I do try to avoid foolish answers.

Second, based on the way you handled many of those papers, I remain convinced you haven’t read them yourself. You also have a tremendously inaccurate view of AIDS history and AIDS diagnostics. I stick by my initial letter to your editor that your article on the Crux Project site has an unacceptably high number of inaccuracies and omissions. As such, I feel – for the integrity of his venture – he should retract the paper until you can correct those.

Third, I do not get paid for my dissertation, I am a stay-at-home dad. You, I presume, do get paid for your articles. That makes only one of us an AIDS profiteer.

I notice that you did not include this round of emails to whomever it is you want to post our dialogue. If you were planning to post the dialogue anyway, why did you feign courtesy? Just curious.

Mr. Maddex, this was not at all what I had intended when I first wrote you. Perhaps I owe you an apology. I have no idea if you have followed any of this. If so, I appreciate the courtesy you have paid us to read these letters; if not, well, you are probably wise. I wish you well on the Crux Project. Please let me know when Salvo will be available, as I really would be interested in what it becomes. I will probably shy away from writing to the editor in the future, however.

Best to both of you,

Stephen Inrig

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig, the same day (6-2-2006).

Inrig: “Mr. Scheff,

I recognize this may be the last interaction we have. Nonetheless, I would be glad to hear from whomever you send my way.”

That’s good of you. I will send a few folks by email.

Inrig: “I won’t really reply to the last email.”

Why do people say that sort of thing, and reply anyway? Just a little joke! I’m glad you did.

Inrig: “First, contrary to your last email, I did read many of the articles you sent me (several weren’t available online). I remained unconvinced by your interpretation of the papers, and though I am a historian and not an AIDS researcher, I could think of several far more plausible explanations for the papers than your interpretation. I don’t try to avoid hard questions; I do try to avoid foolish answers.”

Uh-huh. I don’t know what you read, which you looked at, or how you had the time to read dozens-of-pages-long dense academic papers in the mere hours that have elapsed between these emails.
Maybe you’re a genius, or maybe you didn’t read those particular papers.

Inrig: “Second, based on the way you handled many of those papers, I remain convinced you haven’t read them yourself.”

Stephen, I read everything I write about. And I have no idea what your statement means. You really are very smug and very assured that you are absolutely correct. To put it in schoolyard terms, what makes you think you’re so damned smart, that you have the ultimate answer here?

What if your interpretation, and your belief, is faulty? What if? Have you even allowed yourself to think that?

I certainly have. That’s why I read everything. I just haven’t found anything that makes me believe that the conventional view – after all is measured, said and done – is correct.

Inrig: “You also have a tremendously inaccurate view of AIDS history and AIDS diagnostics.”

No, Stephen, I don’t. I don’t have the mainstream view, that doesn’t make it incorrect. It makes you a loyal member of the mainstream, at best. An apologist at worst. What can I say, you remain thoroughly convinced that the mainstream is correct, and you dismiss as ‘inaccurate’ or ‘flawed’ anything that contradicts your view. What can be done? Who has a chance to say anything, in your view? Only those who toe a very particular line. Which we’ve hashed and rehashed here. You buy it, I don’t. We can’t both be right, Stephen. I suppose history, or time will have to be the judge.

And what is this to you? Why is it so threatening, so all-important, that some persons might choose a different path that the one proferred by the public health/pharma authority? Why should it bother you that some persons, given the opportunity to not take poisonous drugs, would find a different path?

You are not a scientist. I don’t mean that you don’t work in a lab. I mean that you show no interest in what is possible here. You are not curious, you are not following the basic tenets of research: when an hypothesis struggles as much as this one-cause AIDS notion, it should be allowed a breather. A time-out, to let other contenders to ascend, and see what they can do.

This has never, ever, ever been allowed, not since it was made dogma, received wisdom, in 1984.

You are very, very loyal to this mainstream. That is clear. Why, I do not know.

Inrig: “I stick by my initial letter to your editor that your article on the Crux Project site has an unacceptably high number of inaccuracies and omissions. As such, I feel – for the integrity of his venture – he should retract the paper until you can correct those.”

And I stick by my article. What needs to be corrected, according to any reasonable interpretation of the data, is the use of non-specific tests that come up positive for almost any condition, inflicted on captive and minority populations, with the added benefit of a future filled with drugs that will certainly make them quite ill, increase the severity and frequency of illness, and speed along mortality, even, as you believe or imagine, they somehow simultaneously are ‘saving lives.’

Inrig: “Third, I do not get paid for my dissertation, I am a stay-at-home dad. You, I presume, do get paid for your articles. That makes only one of us an AIDS profiteer.”

You really are being unforgivably smug here. You’re a little out of your mind if you think I’ve either done this for money, or ever made anything close to a living on this. Mostly, I’ve put myself in debt, a pattern I’m working on reversing. I hope you don’t hold that against me.

Inrig: “I notice that you did not include this round of emails to whomever it is you want to post our dialogue. If you were planning to post the dialogue anyway, why did you feign courtesy? Just curious.”

Fair question, I asked about whether it should be anonymous or not. I apologize for not phrasing it better. I didn’t mean it as a feign, I phrased it badly, and meant to offer you anonymity, if you desired. Sorry. I will be sending this correspondence on for a look by colleagues and friends who are familiar with it, and to those I will ask to contact you with their particular stories.

Inrig: “Mr. Maddex [editor of Crux and Salvo who was copied on the email exchange], this was not at all what I had intended when I first wrote you. Perhaps I owe you an apology. I have no idea if you have followed any of this. If so, I appreciate the courtesy you have paid us to read these letters; if not, well, you are probably wise. I wish you well on the Crux Project. Please let me know when Salvo will be available, as I really would be interested in what it becomes. I will probably shy away from writing to the editor in the future, however.”

Why would that be, Stephen? It’s your right. Not to be agreed with by the author, but to challenge the author. I don’t feel your challenge has merit, particularly, and you don’t feel my argument has merit. But you seem so sure that your argument should be valued more than mine, because yours is accepted by mainstream academic/pharmaceutical medicine today. I am not of that view, mostly because the research does not support your position.

The tests don’t work, but you don’t answer that point. The drugs are poisonous, and you agree, with the bizarre caveat that they also save lives, while increasing rates of illness and death.

You assert that somebody who tests positive will either die in “18 months, or 20 years.” And yet, very poisonous drugs are the only thing that should be valued in treating this ‘condition.’

18 months or 20 years, Stephen? And you blame one invisible, non-event, an inference through surrogate markers.

Surrogate markers that appear over and over again in healthy persons, and in ill persons. Proteins – p24, p120, p160, genetic sequences, that occur in healthy persons, and sick persons.

But in certain people – those ‘at risk’ according to the CDC, it is, to you, a near-death sentence. 18 months or 20 years?

But you will not consider why this might be.

(A lawyer friend of mine, who sued Glaxo on behalf of a patient poisoned by AZT, likes to ask this question: What in would it take for you to consider that this hypothesis of fashion, one-cause AIDS, might not be correct? What would falsify this hypothesis for you, to put it in those terms? Is there anything at all? Does AZT kill neutrophils or doesn’t it? Is AZT a carcinogen in lab animals, or isn’t it?)

What if the major paradigm here is incorrect? That the reductionism has gone to absurdium, in the worship of micro-particles, broken protein and gene fragments, and putative retroviral particles?

As John Maddox, former editor of Nature wrote:

Is there a danger, in molecular biology, that the accumulation of data will get so far ahead of its assimilation into a conceptual framework that the data will eventually prove an encumbrance? Part of the trouble is that excitement of the chase leaves little time for reflection. And there are grants for producing data, but hardly any for standing back in contemplation.”

What is it about this tiny world, this tiny, mostly-imaginary world, that is more interesting to you, and more valuable, and more convincing, than the actual, real world that all of these very human beings live in?

We all are filled with retroviral particles, Stephen. Science got ahead of itself in 1984. Got a little too excited, in claiming that any of these had anything to do with the Cause of what was happening in those poor gay men, who had exhausted themselves through drugs and sex and partying and isolation, and lack of family and home and culture. And science became cruel and unjust when it took the name that was given – grid, then aids, and applied it, so loosely, but so permanenty, to anyone in the world whose imperfect health could now fit into this new divisive rubric.

Poverty, drug abuse, sex abuse, dirty water, war, famine, malaria, tb, sepsis, cholera, drug-poisoning – these are all quite real and present in the lives of the very diverse and unrelated people you claim all have the same magic illness.

What is it that is so very important about what you can dredge out of cell-cultures, (that never quite adds up), that is so much more important than all of this actuality and reality, Stephen?

And why on earth treat these poor people with drugs that can, will and do kill them?

Don’t send me an answer right way, please. Just think about it.

I’ll put some people in touch with you. And perhaps you can make some room in your philosophy for their stories, or perhaps their stories will make some room in your philosophy?

PS – just to clarify one thing. I could care less what people do, once they’ve had ample opportunity to make their own decision. I do care about the right to make that decision. If you were to give every paper that I’ve sent, and every paper on the paradigm and its failings to every patient that you wanted (or your colleagues wanted) to give the diagnosis and drugs, I would hold it against none of them if they chose your preferred path. I would be satisfied that their intelligence and critical thinking would be sufficient to guide them according to their best interests.

I’m fighting for the right to choose a path, Stephen. Not to determine the behavior of individuals or continents.

Freedom of thought, freedom of choice. So troubling to some. So necessary for others.

Liam

Received from Stephen Inrig, Saturday June 3, 2006.

[NOTE: this email arrived with disrupted formatting. I’ve added some paragraph breaks, and fixed the ‘letter’ section, but left the rest as is, including making active in the HTML whatever links were active in the email. Mr Inrig is invited to resend the laundry list with corrected formatting. LS]

[From Stephen Inrig]

I appreciate you complementing me on my genius, but I won’t pretend to claim so much. Did I read most of your articles? Yes. Some I had already read – I am working on my PhD in the history of AIDS, remember, so I’ve glanced over one or two AIDS articles during that time. I still maintain that you haven’t read some of yours. There’s no crime in that, except if you pretend that you have. In what follows I have included quite a long list of HIV articles. Many of them I haven’t read, many I have. I wanted to make sure that, before you posted our dialogue, you at least understood why I was hardly impressed by your arguments.

Why don’t your articles impress me? Not only because, as I have already indicated, you read them incorrectly and understand them poorly, but because the weight of evidence aligns so heavily against your interpretation, and for other, far more reasonable explanations, that to accept your postulate, that HIV does not cause AIDS, is intellectual poverty. HIV has been discovered and shown to cause AIDS in humans (note 1). The causative link between HIV and AIDS has clearly been shown, as has the deleterious impact of HIV on the body (note 2). HIV-1 has even been shown to cause disease in chimps (note 3). HIV is present in numerous bodily fluids (note 4). HIV is sexually transmitted between males (note 5). HIV passes, sexually, from males to females and vice-versa (note 6). HIV even passes, both directly and indirectly, between women (note 7). HIV clearly causes increased morbidity and mortality (note 8). Researchers have excellent ability to test for the presence of HIV in human blood and tissue (note 9). HIV can pass from mother to infant around the time of delivery (note 10). Researchers have developed several anti-retroviral therapies that have shown efficacy (note 11). Nevirapine is one of those, and has shown efficacy and relative safety in therapy and in stopping mother to infant transmission (note 12). Likewise AZT has also been shown effective (note 13). Even ddl is successful against HIV (note 14). More importantly, evidence abounds that ARVs and HAART reduces morbidity and mortality across the demographic spectrum (note 15). This is important, because HIV infection has become a worldwide phenomenon, striking particularly hard in Africa and other developing regions (note 16).

Anti-retrovirals have shown particular effectiveness in reducing mother to child transmission (note 17). Other proposed therapies by people holding views such as yourself have shown no efficacy, allowing mothers and children – especially minorities and marginalized peoples – to suffer (note 18).

You can send me links to articles that you have distorted to hint at some problem with this hypothesis. You can copy and paste anecdotal stories from sloppily written articles by careless journalists. You can misunderstand AIDS history, reveal your ignorance about human disease processes, misapprehend epidemiology, and claim to speak for intellectual freedom. You cannot, based on your flimsy evidence and sloppy logic, convince me that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Your initial article was historically and scientifically incorrect. You should retract it and fix it. I still recommend that to your editor. The fact you don’t recognize this only reveals your own ignorance. This is your right, of course, and your privilege. Selling snake oil to sick people is one’s constitutional right. It is also unethical. I recognize you will quibble with many points I have made, and you will again want to have the last word. You can have it, of course. I will, however, always view your position as unethical.

Notes:

Note 1: Discovery of HIV involved in and the cause of AIDS:
Barré-Sinoussi, F., J.C. Chermann, F. Rey, M.T. Nugeyre, S. Chamaret, J.
Gruest, C. Dauguet, C. Axler-Blin, F. Vézinet-Brun, C. Rouzioux, W.
Rozenbaum, L. Montagnier. Isolation of a T-Lymphotropic Retrovirus from a
Patient at Risk for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ( AIDS), Science,
220: 868-871, 1983.
Broder S, Gallo RC. A pathogenic retrovirus (HTLV-III) linked to AIDS. N
Engl J Med. 1984 Nov 15;311(20):1292-7.
Gallo RC, Salahuddin SZ, Popovic M, Shearer GM, Kaplan M, Haynes BF, Palker
TJ, Redfield R, Oleske J, Safai B, et al. Frequent detection and isolation
of cytopathic retroviruses (HTLV-III) from patients with AIDS and at risk
for AIDS. Science. 1984 May 4;224(4648):500-3.
Levy JA, Hoffman AD, Kramer SM, Landis JA, Shimabukuro JM, Oshiro LS.
Isolation of lymphocytopathic retroviruses from San Francisco patients with
AIDS. Science 225: 840-842, 1984.
Luciw PA, Potter SJ, Steimer K, Dina D, Levy JA. Molecular cloning of AIDS
associated retrovirus. Nature 312: 760-763, 1984.
Popovic M, Sarngadharan MG, Read E, Gallo RC. Detection, isolation, and
continuous production of cytopathic retroviruses (HTLV-III) from patients
with AIDS and pre-AIDS. Science. 1984 May 4;224(4648):497-500.
Sarngadharan MG, Popovic M, Bruch L, Schupbach J, Gallo RC. Antibodies
reactive with human T-lymphotropic retroviruses (HTLV-III) in the serum of
patients with AIDS. Science. 1984 May 4;224(4648):506-8.
Schupbach J, Popovic M, Gilden RV, Gonda MA, Sarngadharan MG, Gallo RC.
Serological analysis of a subgroup of human T-lymphotropic retroviruses
(HTLV-III) associated with AIDS. Science. 1984 May 4;224(4648):503-5.

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Note 3: On the fact that, while rare, HIV-1 actually can cause disease in
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Note 4: On the presences of HIV in bodily fluids:
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Note 5: Male to Male Transmission:
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Winkelstein W Jr, Lyman DM, Padian N, Grant R, Samuel M, Wiley JA, Anderson
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human immunodeficiency virus. The San Francisco Men’s Health Study. JAMA.
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Note 6: Male to Female Transmission, and vice-versa:
Allain JP. Prevalence of HTLV-III/LAV antibodies in patients with
hemophilia and in their sexual partners in France. N Engl J Med.
1986;315(8):517-518.
de Vincenzi I. A longitudinal study of human immunodeficiency virus
transmission by heterosexual partners. European Study Group on Heterosexual
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European Study Group. Risk factors for male to female transmission of HIV.
BMJ. 1989;298(6671):411-415.
European Study Group on Heterosexual Transmission of HIV. Comparison of
female to male and male to female transmission of HIV in 563 stable
couples. BMJ. 1992;304(6830):809-813.
Fischl MA, Dickinson GM, Scott GB, Klimas N, Fletcher MA, Parks W.
Evaluation of heterosexual partners, children, and household contacts of
adults with AIDS. JAMA. 1987;257(5):640-644.
Johnson AM, Petherick A, Davidson SJ, Brettle R, Hooker M, Howard L, McLean
KA, Osborne LE, Robertson R, Sonnex C, et al. Transmission of HIV to
heterosexual partners of infected men and women. AIDS. 1989;3(6):367-372.
Kreiss JK, Kitchen LW, Prince HE, Kasper CK, Essex M. Antibody to human
T-lymphotropic virus type III in wives of hemophiliacs. Evidence for
heterosexual transmission. Ann Intern Med. 1985;102(5):623-626.
Lazzarin A, Saracco A, Musicco M, Nicolosi A. Man-to-woman sexual
transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus. Risk factors related to
sexual behavior, man’s infectiousness, and woman’s susceptibility. Italian
Study Group on HIV Heterosexual Transmission. Arch Intern Med.
1991;151(12):2411-2416.
Mastro TD, Satten GA, Nopkesorn T, Sangkharomya S, Longini IM Jr.
Probability of female-to-male transmission of HIV-1 in Thailand. Lancet.
1994;343(8891):204-207.
Padian N, Marquis L, Francis DP, Anderson RE, Rutherford GW, O’Malley PM,
Winkelstein W Jr. Male-to-female transmission of human immunodeficiency
virus. JAMA. 1987;258(6):788-790.
Padian NS, Shiboski SC, Jewell NP. Female-to-male transmission of human
immunodeficiency virus. JAMA. 1991;266(12):1664-1667
Padian NS, Shiboski SC, Jewell NP. The effect of number of exposures on the
risk of heterosexual HIV transmission. J Infect Dis. 1990;161(5):883-887.
Peterman TA, Stoneburner RL, Allen JR, Jaffe HW, Curran JW. Risk of human
immunodeficiency virus transmission from heterosexual adults with
transfusion-associated infections. JAMA. 1988;259(1):55-58.
Roumelioutou-Karayannis A, Nestoridou K, Mandalaki T, Stefanou T,
Papaevangelou G. Heterosexual transmission of HIV in Greece. AIDS Res Hum
Retroviruses. 1988;4(3):233-236.
Saracco A, Musicco M, Nicolosi A, Angarano G, Arici C, Gavazzeni G,
Costigliola P, Gafa S, Gervasoni C, Luzzati R, et al. Man-to-woman sexual
transmission of HIV: longitudinal study of 343 steady partners of infected
men. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1993;6(5):497-502.
Seidlin M, Vogler M, Lee E, Lee YS, Dubin N. Heterosexual transmission of
HIV in a cohort of couples in New York City. AIDS. 1993;7(9):1247-1254.

Note 7: Direct and Indirect Female to female transmission:
Bevier PJ, Chiasson MA, Heffernan RT, Castro KG. Women at a sexually
transmitted disease clinic who reported same-sex contact: their HIV
seroprevalence and risk behaviors. Am J Public Health.
1995;85(10):1366-1371
Chu SY, Hammett TA, Buehler JW. Update: epidemiology of reported cases of
AIDS in women who report sex only with other women, United States,
1980-1991. AIDS. 1992;6(5):518-519.
Chu SY, Conti L, Schable BA, Diaz T. Female-to-female sexual contact and
HIV transmission. JAMA. 1994;272(6):433.
Kwakwa HA, Ghobrial MW. Female-to-female transmission of human
immunodeficiency virus. Clin Infect Dis. 2003;36(3):e40-41.
Marmor M, Weiss LR, Lyden M, Weiss SH, Saxinger WC, Spira TJ, Feorino PM.
Possible female-to-female transmission of human immunodeficiency virus. Ann
Intern Med. 1986;105(6):969.
Monzon OT, Capellan JM. Female-to-female transmission of HIV. Lancet.
1987;2(8549):40-41.
Perry S, Jacobsberg L, Fogel K. Orogenital transmission of human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Ann Intern Med. 1989;111(11):951-952.
Petersen LR, Doll L, White C, Chu S. No evidence for female-to-female HIV
transmission among 960,000 female blood donors. The HIV Blood Donor Study
Group. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1992;5(9):853-855.
Rich JD, Buck A, Tuomala RE, Kazanjian PH. Transmission of human
immunodeficiency virus infection presumed to have occurred via female
homosexual contact. Clin Infect Dis. 1993;17(6):1003-1005.
Sabatini MT, Patel K, Hirschman R. Kaposi’s sarcoma and T-cell lymphoma in
an immunodeficient woman: a case report. AIDS Res. 1983-84;1(2):135-137.

Note 8: On the morbidity and mortality caused by HIV:
Bastian, L. A., R. J. Sloane, J. A. DeHovitz, and C. L. Bennett. “Gender
differences in care for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.” Womens Health Issues 8, no. 1 (1998):
45-52.
Nicoll A. et al. (2000) Science, sense, and nonsense about HIV in Africa.
Commun Dis Public Health. 2000 Jun;3(2):78-9.

Note 9: On the ability researchers have to test for HIV:
Coon, M. (2000) HIV, AIDS, and the Distortion of Science.
http://www.aegis.org/topics/hiv_exist.html.
Mirken, B. (2001) HIV Testing 101 (Part 1 of 2). AIDS Treatment News, 2001
Nov 23;374(5).
Safai B. et al. Seroepidemiological studies of human T-lymphotropic
retrovirus type III in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Lancet. 1984 Jun
30;1(8392):1438-40.

Note 10: On the fact and statistics of Mother To Infant HIV Transmission:
Connor EM. et al. (1994) Reduction of maternal-infant transmission of human
immunodeficiency virus type 1with zidovudine treatment. Pediatric AIDS
Clinical Trials Group Protocol 076 Study Group. N Engl J Med. 1994 Nov
3;331(18):1173-80.
Katz, V. L., and W. Lim. “HIV infection in pregnancy. A review of current
developments.” N C Med J 56, no. 2 (1995): 102-4.
Wiktor SZ. et al. (1999) Short-course oral zidovudine for prevention of
mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: a
randomised trial. Lancet. 1999 Mar 6;353(9155):781-5

Note 11: Articles that show anti-retrovirals work:
Hammer et al. (1996) A trial comparing nucleoside monotherapy with
combination therapy in HIV-infected adults with CD4 cell counts from 200 to
500 per cubic millimeter. AIDS Clinical Trials Group Study 175 Study Team.
N Engl J Med. 1996 Oct 10;335(15):1081-90;
http://ww2.aegis.org/files/tac/2006/errorsinfarberarticle.html (29 of
35)5/8/2006 14:41:09;
http://ww2.aegis.org/files/tac/2006/errorsinfarberarticle.html
Jordan, R. et al. (2002) Systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence
for increasing numbers of drugs in antiretroviral combination therapy. BMJ.
2002 Mar 30;324(7340):757.
Luster, M. I., D. R. Germolec, K. L. White, Jr., B. A. Fuchs, M. M. Fort,
J. E. Tomaszewski, M. Thompson, P. C. Blair, J. A. McCay, A. E. Munson, and
et al. “A comparison of three nucleoside analogs with anti-retroviral
activity on immune and hematopoietic functions in mice: in vitro toxicity
to precursor cells and microstromal environment.” Toxicol Appl Pharmacol
101, no. 2 (1989): 328-39.
NIAID (2002). Review of HIVNET 012.
http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2002/review_hivnet012.
NIAID (1995) AZT and AIDS.
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/publications/hivaids/23.htm.
NIH (2006). International HIV/AIDS Trial Finds Continuous Antiretro viral
Therapy Superior to Episodic Therapy.
http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/jan2006/niaid-18.htm.
Phillips et al. (1997) Correspondence between the effect of zidovudine plus
lamivudine on plasma HIV level/CD4 lymphocyte count and the incidence of
clinical disease in infected individuals. AIDS. 1997 Feb;11(2):169-75.
Spruance et al. (1997) Clinical efficacy of monotherapy with stavudine
compared with zidovudine in HIVinfected, zidovudine-experienced patients. A
randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Bristol-Myers Squibb
Stavudine/019 Study Group. Ann Intern Med. 1997 Mar 1;126(5):355-6.

Note 12: Nevirapine, especially its safety in Mother to Infant
Transmission:
Ayouba A et al. (2003) Low rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1
after nevirapine intervention in a pilot public health program in Yaounde,
Cameroon. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2003 Nov 1;34(3):274-80.
Guay LA. et al. (1999) Intrapartum and neonatal single-dose nevirapine
compared with zidovudine for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of
HIV-1 in Kampala, Uganda: HIVNET 012 randomised trial. Lancet. 1999 Sep
4;354(9181):795-802.
IOM (2005) Review of the HIVNET 012 Perinatal HIV Prevention Study.
http://www.iom.edu/?id=26287&redirect=0.
Lallemant M. et al. (2004) Single-dose perinatal nevirapine plus standard
zidovudine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Thailand. N
Engl J Med. 2004 Jul 15;351(3):217-28.
Moodley D. et al. (2002) A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of
Nevirapine Versus a Combination of Zidovudine and Lamivudine to
ReduceIntrapartum and Early Postpartum Mother-to-Child Transmission of
Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1. J Infect Dis. 2003 Mar
1;187(5):725-35.
Musoke P. et al. (1999) A phase I/II study of the safety and
pharmacokinetics of nevirapine in HIV-1-infected pregnant Ugandan women and
their neonates (HIVNET 006). AIDS. 1999 Mar 11;13(4):479-8.
NIAID. (2005) Questions and Answers: The HIVNET 012 Study and the Safety
and Effectiveness of Nevirapine in Preventing Mother-to-InfantTransmission
of HIV. http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2005/hivnet012qa.htm.
NIAID. (2004) The HIVNET 012 Study and the Safety and Effectiveness of
Nevirapine in Preventing Mother-to-Infant Transmission of HIV.
http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2004/hivnet012.htm
Torre et al. (2001) Nevirapine or Efavirenz Combined with Two Nucleoside
Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors Compared to HAART: A Meta-Analysis of
Randomized Clinical Trials. HIV Clin Trials. 2001 Mar-Apr;2(2):113-21.

Note 13: On AZT see, additionally:
Fischl MA. et al. (1987) The efficacy of azidothymidine (AZT) in the
treatment of patients with AIDS and AIDSrelated complex. A double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial. N Engl J Med. 1987 Jul 23;317(4):185-91.
Furman PA. et al. (1988) Spectrum of antiviral activity and mechanism of
action of zidovudine. An overview. Am J Med. 1988 Aug 29;85(2A):176-81.

Note 14: On the success of ddl against HIV:
Darbyshire J. et al. (2005) Zidovudine (AZT) versus AZT plus didanosine
(ddI) versus AZT plus zalcitabine (ddC) in HIV infected adults. The
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006 Issue 1 61
FDA. (1996) FDA grants accelerated approval to third protease inhibitor to
treat HIV. http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/NEW00528.html.
Kahn JO. et al. (1992) A controlled trial comparing continued zidovudine
with didanosine in human immunodeficiency virus infection. The NIAID AIDS
Clinical Trials Group. N Engl J Med. 1992 Aug 27;327(9):581-7;
http://ww2.aegis.org/files/tac/2006/errorsinfarberarticle.html (32 of
35)5/8/2006 14:41:09;
http://ww2.aegis.org/files/tac/2006/errorsinfarberarticle.html.

Note 15: Evidence that indicates ARV and HAART reduces morbidity and
mortality across the demographic spectrum:
Badri, M. et al. (2004) Initiating highly active antiretro viral therapy in
sub-Saharan Africa: an assessment of the revised World Health
Organizationscaling-up guidelines. AIDS. 2004 May 21;18(8):1159-68.
The CASCADE Collaboration. (2000) Survival after introduction of HAART in
people with known duration of HIV-1 infection. The CASCADE Collaboration.
Concerted Action on SeroConversion to AIDS and Death in Europe. Lancet.
2000 Apr 1;355(9210):1158-9.
Casseb J. (2003) AIDS Incidence and Mortality in a Hospital-Based Cohort of
HIV-1–Seropositive Patients Receiving Highly Active AntiretroviralTherapy
in São Paulo, Brazil. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2003 Sep;17 (9):447-52
Mocroft A et al. (2003) EuroSIDA study group. Decline in the AIDS and death
rates in the EuroSIDA study: an observational study. Lancet. 2003 Jul
5;362(9377):22-9.
Palella FJ Jr. et al. (1998) Declining morbidity and mortality among
patients with advanced human immunodeficiency virus infection. HIV
Outpatient Study Investigators. N Engl J Med. 1998 Mar 26;338(13):853-60.
Porter et al. (2003) CASCADE Collaboration. Determinants of survival
following HIV-1 seroconversion after theintroduction of HAART. Lancet. 2003
Oct 18;362(9392):1267-74.
Sinkala, M. et al. (2006) Rapid Scale-up of Antiretro viral Services in
Zambia: 1-year Clinical and Immunologic Outcomes. Conf Retrovir
Opportunistic Infect 2005 Feb 5-8;13:abstract no. 64.
Sterne JAC. et al. Long-term effectiveness of potent antiretro viral
therapy in preventing AIDS and death: a prospective cohort study. Lancet.
2005 Jul 30-Aug 5;366(9483):378-84.
Tassie JM et al. (2002) Clinical Epidemiology Group from the French
Hospital Database on HIV. Time to AIDS from 1992 to 1999 in
HIV-1-infectedsubjects with known date of infection. J Acquir Immune Defic
Syndr. 2002 May 1;30(1):81-7.
Wong KH. (2004) Delayed Progression to Death and to AIDS in a Hong Kong
Cohort of Patients with Advanced HIV Type 1 Disease During the Era of
Highly Active Antiretro viral Therapy. Clin Infect Dis. 2004 Sep 15;39
(6):853-60.

Note 16: For the rigor and accuracy of HIV testing in Africa (and South
America) see:
Betts MR, et al. Analysis of total human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV)-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses: relationship to viral
load in untreated HIV infection. J Virol. 2001 Dec;75 (24):11983-91
Ferreira et al. (2005) Evaluation of rapid tests for anti-HIV detection in
Brazil. AIDS. 2005 Oct;19 Suppl 4:S70-5
Foglia et al. (2004) Use of rapid and conventional testing technologies for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 serologic screening in a rural Kenyanren

[NOTE: there was more, but the text became unreadable, perhaps uncoded. Mr. Inrig can resend if he'd like.
There exist long rebutals to a great many of Mr. Inrig’s citations above, but I don’t really feel the need to respond to a laundry list, coming after a warning that nothing I do or say will be weighed or considered.

Why send a hundred titles without exploring any of them? Which of these hundred papers is the one that really did it for Mr. Inrig, really showed him the way? Or is the the sheer volume that's supposed to impress?

All of these papers are based on the same assumptions that were disputed in the debate: a prioi valuation of non-specific tests and an unalterable belief in the sacrosanct, emotionally-charged but highly political diagnosis. And I still didn’t get my question answered: Where’s the test that tests for said virus but nothing else? Apparently, this is one question the mainstream cannot answer. LS]

From Liam Scheff to Stephen Inrig late Sunday/early Monday, June 15, 2006.

Hi Stephen,

I’m going to pass on further response beyond the following. I made the points I felt were important.

The tests don’t work, the drugs are toxic. Your argument goes to: the drugs are toxic, but also help in some situations, based on an interpretation of the test results (what you call ‘transmission’). This isn’t evidenced by any validated, standardized measure, so it has no value.

It’s a hell of a thing, taking one or two antibody tests and telling someone you know what’s good for them for the rest of their life – what drugs they must take, what kind of sex they can have, whether or not they can have children.

Glad you can live with it. I surely couldn’t.

PS – you tell me you won’t read a thing I send, but send me a litany of stuff to read. Quid pro quo, Steve. Quid pro quo.

I’ll be posting the exchange in full, with all of your links intact, on my site. Will send you a link.

Liam

From Stephen Inrig to Liam Scheff Monday June 5, 2006.

I will look for it.

Again, as I mentioned before, I appreciated the interchange. I recognize things grew less than cordial towards the end, and I feel that was too bad. Nonetheless, I appreciated the chance to exchange views, for what that’s worth.

I am also still open to talking to whomever you want to send my way about their experience.

Regards,

Stephen Inrig

Conclusion?

I will provide Mr. Inrig’s contact email to those who would like to provide him with your individual experience of what we call AIDS, HIV testing, and of the paradigm. I will post the letters here of those who wish to share their experience and participate in the discussion.

Liam


You can send me your stories to be posted through the contact page or email

Or you can post a comment in the discussion on my blog

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