Monday, December 14, 2009

Aids Denialism Doesn't Make the Disease Go Away

There are many controversies surrounding HIV, development in general and various other things. So, writing a blog about these can attract some controversial remarks, in theory. In practice, I have received some comments but few that are controversial. When remarks have little or nothing to do with what I have posted, I delete them. If the post is clearly just an attempt to attract attention to some site, product, issue, service or person, I am also likely to delete them.

But a comment I received today, anonymous of course, purported to be about my most recent posting, which discusses levels of HIV transmission from unsafe medical practices. 'Anonymous' may have thought that in questioning certain aspects of HIV funding and the like, I am aligning myself with certain Aids sceptics, who deny that HIV causes Aids, or whatever. Whether this anonymous contributor represents or not is irrelevant; I do not agree with what the site stands for and I would not wish to have anything to do with a group of people whose only aim seems to be to further muddy these already turbid waters.

My approach to HIV in Kenya has been that of a general scientist. My interest is in the overall conditions in Kenya and how they changed as HIV arrived, spread and continues to spread. Therefore, I look at history, economics, social practices, lifestyles and many other things, in addition to medical and social science aspects of the virus. I do not have the scientific expertise to address all the details of the AliveandWell site. There are plenty of people who can do that, if they deem the content of the site worth the effort.

As for the idea that HIV and Aids were 'invented' by some wealthy people so they could make money (or even take over the world), I have never heard anything that could make such a hypothesis the least bit plausible. No doubt the AliveandWell site is teeming with such evidence, but I think I have more worthwhile things to spend my time on.

Some of the numerous 'experts' cited on the site may well have a great deal of expertise, I really can't say. Certainly, some of them seem to have lots of letters after their name. But people can make up qualifications, or pay for them. And plenty of well qualified people come out with utter rubbish that can be used by whoever wishes to shore up some rant that they like to call 'theory' or 'hypothesis'.

The anonymous poster says AliveandWell advocates 'scepticism' around HIV but the site is the work of a group of Aids denialists who encourage the use of 'alternative therapies' for HIV positive people. HIV positive people would be well advised to consider the fate of the woman who started the site, Christine Maggiore, who died of Aids, along with her infant daughter. Maggiore refused antiretroviral treatment for herself and for her daughter.

To adopt the stance that Maggiore and her followers recommend is not scepticism, it is idiocy. Some adults may wish to adopt such a stance, which is regrettable. But there is no justification for imposing such idiocy on people who are unable to defend themselves. There is enough disinformation about HIV/Aids in developing countries already without this sort of deception being peddled and I hope people who visit AliveandWell see the site for what it is.

Those are my thoughts on your wonderings, Anonymous.



Claire said...

didn't know such beliefs were so alive and well, oh dear.

Simon said...

It's amazing but I guess there'll always be flat earthists around.