Harper’s: HIV Doesn’t Cause AIDS, Drug Use Does
Richard Kim reports that,
The latest issue of Harper’s Magazine contains a stunning 15-page article by well-known AIDS denialist Celia Farber (formerly of Spin magazine) that extensively repeats UC Berkeley virologist Peter Duesberg’s discredited theory that HIV does not cause AIDS.
Kim’s link goes to the cover and table of contents for the current print issue, which does not yet contain hyperlinks. (The online table of contents only goes up through the March issue but contains hyperlinks to its stories; presumably, then Harper’s will put the materials online eventually.) According to Kim, however, Farber recounts several dubious claims by Duesberg, including:
- “Many cases of AIDS are the consequence of heavy drug use, both recreational (poppers, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.) and medical (AZT, etc.)”
“HIV is a harmless passenger virus that infects a small percentage of the population and is spread primarily from mother to child, though at a relatively low rate.”
“75 percent of AIDS cases in the West can be attributed to drug toxicity. If toxic AIDS therapies were discontinued…thousands of lives could be saved virtually overnight.”
“AIDS in Africa is best understood as an umbrella term for a number of old diseases, formerly known by other names, that currently do not command high rates of international aid. The money spent on anti-retroviral drugs would be better spent on sanitation and improving access to safe drinking water.”
These claims obviously don’t pass the smell test even for those, like myself, who are not that grounded in the science of the issue. The last one, though, is a clever throw-in because it seemingly rebuts the obvious counterargument that Africa has an AIDS epidemic but virtually no use of the listed recreational drugs.
It is quite bizarre for Harper’s to publish something like this. Highlighting that the debate exists is interesting and useful but, certainly, any such piece should either thoroughly reference the countervailing claims and rebut them or be featured alongside a comparable article presenting the conventional view.
Update: Dean Esmay dubs Kim’s post “hatemongering and irrational” and links to an article at LewRockwell.com by Rebecca V. Culshaw, a UT-Tyler math professor, explaining why she “Quit HIV” after doing years of research. The answer is complicated but this appears to be the key paragraph:
As it turns out, the reason there was no consensus mathematically as to how HIV killed T-cells was because there was no biological consensus. There still isn’t. HIV is possibly the most studied microbe in history — certainly it is the best-funded — yet there is still no agreed-upon mechanism of pathogenesis. Worse than that, there are no data to support the hypothesis that HIV kills T-cells at all. It doesn’t in the test tube. It mostly just sits there, as it does in people — if it can be found at all. In Robert Gallo’s seminal 1984 paper in which he claims “proof” that HIV causes AIDS, actual HIV could be found in only 26 out of 72 AIDS patients. To date, actual HIV remains an elusive target in those with AIDS or simply HIV-positive.
How this compares with other diseases is beyond my training. The fact that the overwhelming number of experts in the field disagree is enough for me to be skeptical, however.