Re: An appeal to the moderators 26 October 2004
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Nicholas Bennett,
Infectious Disease Postdoc/Clinician
Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, Syracuse NY

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Re: Re: An appeal to the moderators

As one of the guilty parties in James Madigan's recent post, I can only excuse myself as it being borne of frustration.

When faced with people who have repeatedly misrepresented the literature, despite having it explained to them, things can get a little frayed! As a new poster, he perhaps doesn't have the history of several years exposure to the debate, going over the same old topics. Perhaps unfortunately I do :o)

Examples of the current set of mistakes include:

Using long-term culture assays to claim to HIV doesn't kill T cells, and experiments looking at how HIV kills T cells. Whether it does it by apoptosis or direct lysis is irrelevant, so long as the cell dies! They use a 1987 description of retrovirus classification when the lineage has been modified at least 4 times since, most recently in 2004.

The most amusing claim is in their AZT paper, where it neatly proves to be effective. One of their observations is that in treated patients proviral load remains static as a percentage of T cells. What they fail to mention is that in UNTREATED individuals the proviral load increases as a percentage of T cells, therefore they neatly show that AZT is doing something! [1]

As others such as Mark Bartlett have discovered, those on the 'establishment' side are perfectly willing and able to hold a sensible debate on the issues when faced with someone who is able to present a cogent argument, and doesn't misrepresent the data.

I'm sure that as a new reader he would find the archives of the discussion interesting, if he can get the complete page to load (it stopped working for me several months ago as the combined weight of the HTML brought my browser to a screeching halt).

Quite aside from who, at the end of the day, is right or wrong, it's a poor start to use literature that clearly doesn't support your statements. It's worse to continue to use that literature after having it pointed out to you... Several of my colleagues have grown tired of the "debate" and I'm inclined to do the same. The answers after all are in PubMed for the Perth Group to find for themselves.

Nick Bennett njb35@cantab.net

1. Cone et al AIDS vol 12 No 17 1998 "Levels of HIV-infected peripheral blood cells remain stable throughout the natural history of HIV -1 infection"

Competing interests: None declared