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Charles Ortleb,
Writer and Filmmaker
Rubicon Media

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I submitted the text below in response to another Mbeki posting March 10, 2002. I think it is also very relevant to this discussion. The science supporting the notion that CFS (or CFIDS) is part of the AIDS epidemic has only grown stronger since I wrote this.


Legend has it that South African President Thabo Mbeki discovered AIDS dissent on the internet. Itís a shame that he didn't look further and find out more about AIDS dissent than he currently seems to know. He is overlooking an alternative view of the epidemic that is more grounded in reality than the one that has made him so controversial. Ironically, this other view also holds that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, but argues that there is a real AIDS epidemic and a real AIDS virus.

President Mbeki has adopted the position on AIDS which is supported by some major scientific minds and at least one Nobel Prize winner. That position basically holds that the epidemiology of AIDS and the rules of scientific proof do not support the notion that HIV is the cause of AIDS. While I believe these HIV dissenters are on the money on that score, there is more to the AIDS story than that. And there is another way of looking at AIDS that doesn't result in their absurd position of saying that there is no real cohesive, contagious international epidemic of immune dysfunction that is shortening the lives of millions. It is the absurdity of that position that has made the AIDS dissent establishment (yes, they too have an "establishment" and their own "thought police") so ineffective in challenging the prevailing AIDS paradigm.

If President Mbeki wants a crack at winning the AIDS debate, he needs to focus on two things: the definition of AIDS and reality of HHV-6, the other virus which has been linked to the international epidemic.

A disastrously incorrect definition of AIDS, crafted by America's Centers for Disease Control, has sent the world's scientific community on a failed hunt for an agent that will correlate with a far too narrowly defined group of sick people. HIV is a mistake because the CDC definition of AIDS is a mistake. It is a very political, racist and homophobic definition. It has lead to all the circular reasoning that keeps the HIV orthodoxy alive.

At the same time that America's gay community was being hit by "AIDS," a growing number of American heterosexuals (who didnít use recreational drugs or have any lifestyle risk factors) were coming into their doctors offices with serious immune dysfunction. (Read Hillary Johnson's "Osler's Web" or Neenyah Ostrom's "America's Biggest Cover-up.") Because their immune dysfunction was not as dramatic as that seen in the first gay AIDS cases, their epidemic was basically swept under the rug. Sometimes several members in a family had the same symptoms of immune dysfunction. They were told they had "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" and the American scientific community added insult to injury by telling them that they had a psychoneurotic disorder rather than that they were the heterosexual face of AIDS. Because the American AIDS and CFS establishment do not want the public to know that this is really one epidemic, the only statistics we have for the prevalence of the CFS/AIDS epidemic are informal, but it seems to affect millions, and the real number of cases actually may be more in line with the percentage of people in South Africa who supposedly have "AIDS."

My first bit of strategic advice to President Mbeki is to raise the question of whether Americaís AIDS establishment is refusing to admit that our massive CFS epidemic is part of AIDS. If Thabo Mbeki or anyone else starts reading everything about CFS, I think they will at least come to the conclusion that the notion that CFS and AIDS are the part of the same epidemic is at least a reasonable hypothesis and should be part of a vigorous debate about the real nature of AIDS. Once it is established that they are part of the same epidemic, the HIV theory may die a quick death because all AIDS and CFS cases do not seem to test positive for HIV. It will probably turn out that the dissenters who inspired President Mbeki were at least half right. (If the AIDS dissenters don't want CFS to be part of the debate it will show their true colors. Freethinkers? We'll see.)

The second strategic move is to raise the question of whether HHV-6A is the real AIDS virus. Even a little internet surfing will show that HHV- 6A deserves to be at the center of the AIDS debate. Extensive research shows that HHV-6A dramatically destroys the immune system in a way that HIV does not. But because it is also destroying the immune systems of people with CFS and some other immune disorders, itís role has been obscured by the racial and sexual politics of CDC epidemiology.

Haven't the doomsday scenarios of the massive heterosexual epidemic in Africa made anyone wonder why there is no massive AIDS epidemic among non-drug using heterosexuals in America? Unfortunately for both the HIV establishment and the HIV dissidents, there is one. It's just that the American medical establishment covers it up by calling it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Itís smarmy and ridiculous for America to be sanctimoniously pointing the prurient, racist finger at Africa and lecturing the continent about testing, prevention and treatment, when we have yet to tell our own people the truth about the extent of the American heterosexual AIDS epidemic. Most Americans have yet to be told about the devastating role of HHV-6A in AIDS and CFS. (An overview of CFS can be found at: http://www.ncf-

Thabo Mbeki shouldn't be afraid to talk about HHV-6A because the research already done on this very destructive virus will back him up. Knowledge is power. The more people know about HHV-6A, the more they will be able to challenge the HIV propaganda. And the dissident propaganda that no virus causes AIDS/CFIDS. (It's ridiculous to say that just because HIV is a fraud that all viruses are frauds.)

Let me close with a practical suggestion for President Mbeki. As soon as possible, hold an emergency international conference in South Africa called "AIDS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and HHV-6." Invite the handful of leading HHV-6A researchers, which includes (everyone hold your nose) the so-called discoverer of both HIV and HHV-6, Robert Gallo. Also invite the leading CFS researchers from America and around the world. Many of the American CFS researchers have directly or indirectly linked AIDS and CFS. Some have been marginalized or defunded. Some live in fear of speaking their minds. Perhaps at this conference they will be able to tell the whole world the truth about AIDS, CFS and HHV-6A.

Above all, I hope Thabo Mbeki will remain courageous. The people who have tried to silence his questions about AIDS are actually just bullies. Surely the AIDS bullies will turn out to be no more formidable than the ones President Mbeki helped defeat during Apartheid. --------------------- ---------------------------- Charles Ortleb is the author of "The Closing Argument," a novella about AIDS and racial politics. The entire text of the novella can be read at:

Competing interests: None declared