Drifting in a state of denialist déjà vu. 18 April 2003
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Peter J Flegg,
Physician
Blackpool Victoria Hospital, UK, FY3 8NR

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Re: Drifting in a state of denialist déjà vu.

David Rasnick asks this of me: "Peter Flegg, if not for me, then for the sake of the many observers of this debate who do not work on AIDS and who have not delved into the labyrinth of AIDS literature, could you please provide at least a short list of names of the individuals who have published the proof (along with the year of publication) that HIV and AIDS are sexually transmitted--and while you're at it, the names of those who proved that HIV causes AIDS?"

Firstly, I doubt that there are "many observers" left to witness our exchange; indeed I would not be surprised if he and I were the only ones who have had the stamina to endure thus far.

Secondly, I must remind him that I entered this particular discussion to point out that HIV is more readily transmitted during the phase of primary HIV infection than subsequently. Why is Rasnick constantly repeating a demand of me for "proof" that HIV is sexually transmitted at all?

Has he already forgotten, or think we have forgotten that Brian Foley has already provided this evidence for him back in February? (1-4)? We all now seem to be drifting in a surreal state of denialist déjà vu. Perhaps Rasnick thinks that by vociferously demanding "proof" at sporadic intervals, new participants or readers of this discussion will be fooled into believing he has never been provided with any.

It would be more honest for Rasnick to say, "I do not accept the evidence you provide as sufficient proof" rather than to keep repeating "Provide the proof". Rasnick may not wish to accept what he has been given as evidence for the sexual transmission of HIV, but that is his personal choice, and there we will have to agree to differ. I suggest any neutral observers read the evidence for themselves and make up their own minds. Let them look at the articles from NIAID (5,6) as well as Brian Foley’s extensive list of references for further evidence, if any is really needed.

1. http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e#29017 2. http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e#29095 3. http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e#29307 4. http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7381/126/e#29416 5. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/evidhiv.htm 6. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/howhiv.htm

(Oh, and before Rasnick mentions it, I am aware that dissidents dispute the NIAID evidence)

How big does a “shred” have to be before it is noticed?

David Rasnick denies that he was given any evidence for the HIV hypothesis during either of the 2 meetings of Mbeki’s Presidential Aids Advisory Panel in 2000. Rather than rely on memory, however, which as we can see can play anyone false, perhaps we should look at what the official report actually stated (1). Although produced by Mbeki’s secretariat, the document takes great pains to demonstrate its impartiality and honesty in reporting the proceedings, so as not to be seen to be biased towards any side. I therefore accept its record as a true one, even though I was not there. Within the text I found the following examples:

“Proponents for the use of anti-retroviral drugs produced evidence that these drugs improve the quality of life of HIV-infected people” “Dr Williamson presented evidence that HIV is necessary and sufficient to cause AIDS but that cofactors increase the risk” “There are a large number of reports that have shown that transmission of HIV results in AIDS, and a number of examples where it has been proven, by characterising the virus in both the donor and the recipient, that transmission has occurred.” “Dr Morris presented evidence to show that HIV is not an innocent bystander but a pathogenic virus that destroys the immune system.” “Dr Williamson then covered evidence from animal models.” “Prof Abdool-Karim quoted epidemiological evidence that HIV causes AIDS” “Extensive epidemiological evidence has shown that the detection of a number of AIDS cases in countries is preceded by the detection of HIV antibodies in the population.” Dr Mossie reported that evidence for blood transmission had been derived from occupational exposure data, which the CDC had accumulated over time Studies conducted among drug users also proved that it was only when there was sharing of needles that HIV transmission occurred between them. Further evidence for blood-borne transmission has been derived from haemophiliacs who had contracted the virus from transfusion with infected blood products Drs Williamson and Gayle provided examples of healthcare workers who subsequently acquired AIDS from HIV transmission from accidental inoculation through contaminated instruments.

Rasnick now tells us (2): “I actively participated in the meetings in Pretoria and Johannesburg in 2000. During the entire process, I did not observe the mainstream members of the panel try to produce even a shred of evidence for the contagious/HIV hypothesis of AIDS.”

And: “Here is a short list of what the mainstream members of Mbeki's AIDS Advisory Panel did not do. They did not attempt to provide the evidence that HIV is sexually transmitted. They did not attempt to show that AIDS is sexually transmitted. They did not attempt to show how or even that HIV causes AIDS. They did not attempt to show that the anti-HIV drugs do more good than harm. During both meetings, the mainstream members were present in body but not in spirit. Sitting at the table across from me, Luc Montagnier (the discoverer of HIV) actually fell asleep at one point during the meeting in Pretoria”.

What exactly is Rasnick’s definition of a “shred” of evidence? There seems to be a wide credibility gap between what Rasnick recalls took place and what the record states took place.

I suspect Luc Montagnier was not the only one to fall asleep.

1. http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/reports/aids/aidspanel.htm 2. http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7387/495#31174

Oh, and for his information, it is HIV that is sexually transmitted, and not AIDS.

Competing interests:   None declared