Re: It is high time Messrs. Flegg, Floyd, Noble, Bennet, Rumbold rethink the 'HIV/AIDS' hypothesis 16 November 2004
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Nicholas Bennett,
Infectious Disease Postdoc/Clinician
Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital, Syracuse, NY

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Re: Re: It is high time Messrs. Flegg, Floyd, Noble, Bennet, Rumbold rethink the 'HIV/AIDS' hypothesis

Alex Russell states:

"It is high time Messrs. Flegg, Floyd, Noble, Bennet, Rumbold rethink the 'HIV/AIDS' hypothesis bearing in mind the legitimate scientific findings of the Perth Group, Stefan Lanka and Eteinne de Harven who question the very existence of 'HIV'."

With respect, there appears very little evidence that the Perth Group, Lanka, Duesberg et al have made any scientific findings with regards to HIV. They have made significant commentary on and criticism of the subject, but this appears to be far from legitimate if held up to the standards of the rest of the scientific world. Having personally grown, harvested, purified and genetically engineered strains of HIV, using standard scientific techniques applicable to any virus or situation, I find it a little hard to question its existence!

From my perspective it isn't that the HIV science is flawed, but the criticisms of it are. I did question the hypothesis back in 1999 and found the anti-HIV arguments extremely poorly supported and inconsistent. Not much has changed in the last 5 years, other that I have discovered more inconsistencies (especially in the last few months debating with the Perth Group here).

No HIV researcher worth his salt considers HIV the be-all and end-all of AIDS: there are many factors that play a role in its spread including social attitudes, education, concommitant STDs, lack of preventation of vertical transmission etc. In some instances I can see a good argument for spending 100 pounds on digging a well for clean water before spending 1000 pounds on antiviral medications. But none of this detracts from the underlying cause, all in my humble opinion of course.

I'm well aware that Mr Russell, the Perth Group, Lanka and others disagree: which is their entitlement. If they don't want to accept _my_ criticisms of their analysis then that too is their entitlement. The quote given falls down on the first paragraph:

"...the predictions of spread of the virus that was said not to discriminate have proved wildly wrong."

The virus may not discriminate, but people do. And in a way while HIV _will_ infect all (well, most) human beings the mode of transmission is clearly a vital factor to consider, since some modes are more efficient than others. When you look beyond the simple paraphrased statement that "HIV, as an STD, should affect all men and women equally" and realise that you can't assume that at all, then there is no need to question the fact that HIV has remained, in the West, largely confined to the original risk groups. From my perspective it makes perfect sense for this to be the case: after all, it's not as if HIV is like the flu (thankfully). Rather than question the virology since the prediction was wrong, why not just accept the fact that the prediction was wrong because it made incorrect assumptions about human behaviour...? As I recall the assumptions were that HIV was _already_ in the heterosexual population when these predictions were made, or that there would be considerable overlap between the risk groups. That was wrong on both counts, at least in the developed world.

The thing most often forgotton is that other viruses and non- infectious causes (including lifestyle causes and drug abuse) were considered, tested, and rejected based on a lack of sufficient evidence. If some of my posts, and those of others, appear less than professional it is due to an inability to get people to accept these basic fundamental truths: year after year after year. Not much of an excuse, but an explanation nonetheless.

Nick Bennett njb35@cantab.net

Competing interests: None declared