Re: Comments and an Analysis of Flegg's reference number 1 18 April 2003
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Peter J Flegg,
Physician
BlackpoolVictoria Hospital, UK, FY3 8NR

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Re: Re: Comments and an Analysis of Flegg's reference number 1

It is usually a sign that someone is losing an argument when they feel the need to resort to ad hominem attacks questioning a researcher or his motives, rather than letting the research speak for itself. (Rasnick, http://bmj.com/cgi/eletters/326/7387/495#31248).

I wonder on what basis David Rasnick makes the accusation that "in order to get funded and published, Jacquez et al. were compelled to accept as axiomatic that HIV was sexually transmitted." I am used to hearing this perennial excuse being trotted out by dissidents ("there is a biomedical conspiracy ensuring that only those who have already accepted the "truth" of HIV can get research funding and publications"), but am surprised to see it being implicated here.

Having read his comments on the Jaquez paper (1), I am still not sure what Rasnick really thinks. On the one hand he seems to accept that the data demonstrate the infectious basis of HIV (since he admits "This scenario is not far removed from what one would expect for the spread of a new infectious agent in a closed population", and "HIV is behaving like a typical infectious agent"), but he also rejects the paperís conclusions.

Let others read this paper and see if their conclusions match the authorís, or Rasnickís. Those reading this BMJ "debate" are not the usual bunch of gullible suspects with no scientific knowledge who trawl the web to find "publications" about AIDS conspiracies scattered among the stories of alien abductions, paranormal phenomena and similar pseudoscientific froth.

They are intelligent people with a medical background and some understanding of the concepts involved in studies such as these. Let them read the relevant papers and see if their conclusions match either the authorsí, or Rasnickís.

I eagerly await the promised re-interpretation of the next research paper in breathless anticipation.

(1) Jacquez, J. A., et al. (1994) Role of the primary infection in epidemics of HIV infection in gay cohorts, J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 7, 1169-1184

Competing interests:   None declared