Monday, January 9, 2012

Branding Duesberg is Easy But Refutation Seems to Elude HIV Industry

Nature notes the publication of Peter Duesberg's controversial article in an Italian journal, where it is claimed that there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS. The article was previously published and then withdrawn, but the publishers, Elsevier, still make it available for a fat fee.

Anyhow, Duesberg's claim is no stronger now than it was when he first made it. His arguments are partly based on data which he himself points out is often not available. But, instead of supplying the data on which, presumably, the contrary arguments are based, all we get is a few protests that Duesberg's article was published at all, and the predictable rantings of the HIV industry sponsored comment junkies.

The publicity conscious HIV industry should be well aware of how they are drawing attention to Duesberg's views, while failing to deal with them satisfactorily. But the industry is really not good at producing well-rounded data, which would allow convincing opposition to Duesberg and allow the industry itself to put together a coherent argument for their own position (or positions).

Apparently, one of the reasons for withdrawing the original publication of the article was that it contained opinions that "could potentially be damaging to public health". But that's not a reason for refusing to publish them in a journal that hardly anyone reads. In what way would public health be served by not publishing the article? At the very least, Duesberg has pointed to serious failures on the part of WHO and other institutions to collect and publish data that is vital to public health.

If public health is really the issue, evaluate the paper properly, publish the evaluation and get on with something more important. Otherwise you are just recruiting for Duesberg and the whole issue becomes a mere exercise in protecting various theoretical pitches.


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