No scientific evidence — no scientific debate 16 December 2004
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Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos,
Biophysicist
Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia, 6001,
Valendar F Turner, John Papadimitriou, Barry Page, David Causer, Helman Alfonso, Sam Mhlongo, Todd Miller, Christian Fiala

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Re: No scientific evidence — no scientific debate

No scientific evidence — no scientific debate

Peter Flegg is reluctant to personally enter the debate “tackling broad queries such as “What is the evidence that “HIV” exists?””. He fittingly points out the need to study references in the context of what is being debated to ensure their accuracy “– and this takes time”. In relation to the existence of HIV he directs us to “the evidence put to them [the Perth Group] from hundreds of experts in the field, thousands of publications, and several papers specifically addressing this issue from centres like the NIAID”. Thus Peter Flegg, like the vast majority of HIV protagonists including clinicians, accepts a retrovirus HIV has been isolated as a matter of faith. This is a perfectly reasonable stance provided he and the thousands of others like him are prepared to admit their opinion in regard to this matter is not their own making but that of the “hundreds of experts” and their “thousands of publications”.

In our posting December 7 we asked Peter Flegg several specific questions two of which were “Give us the evidence that “HIV” decreases the CD4 count” and “What is the evidence that “HIV” causes PCP”. Since Peter Flegg’s advice to his patients is based on both theses we were surprised he chose not to answer. Must we conclude Peter Flegg accepts these tenets of the HIV theory also as a matter of faith? If not, why does he not present his arguments for everyone to judge?

In response to our question “Would Peter Flegg please tell us how often he was requesting open lung biopsies for the differential diagnosis of lung disease in his drug abusing patients, or any other patient, in "the pre-HIV era" or even today?”, he responded with the Pinaforesque “Answer: Hardly ever, since clinical diagnosis, the exclusion of other possible differential diagnoses, and most tellingly a characteristic (and in itself diagnostic) response to specific anti-PCP therapy is more than sufficient to arrive at a firm diagnosis”.

Peter Flegg confuses clinical pragmatism with scientific evidence. No one would question his wisdom in offering a patient empirical therapy as he obviously does for a patient with fever, cough, sputum which fails to grow organisms, hypoxia and an abnormal CXR. However, this is not proof the patient has PCP, even if he or she does get better on “anti-PCP” therapy (which may also be “antibacterial” therapy and we previously cited Tom Ashford’s account of “PCP”-- “PCP and “HIV”” November 5, 2004). If Peter Flegg really believes otherwise why not diagnose all respiratory complaints based on their response to antibiotics, antifungals, bronchodilators, steroids, anti-cancer drugs or heparin? What if patients are cured without treatment? Or worsen or die despite all treatments? What then is the diagnosis? No need for pathological examinations or post mortems? Perhaps Peter Flegg might also put heart failure down to foxglove deficiency.

We agree with Peter Flegg that PCP, KS and the AIDS defining diseases are more common and predictable in risk group individuals who have a positive antibody test. We asked him to prove a positive antibody test is caused by specific antibodies directed against a retrovirus “HIV”. He has not. Since the antibody tests are the basis of the life altering prognoses and treatment advice given to his patients, surely he must have looked into how the antibody test parameters have been documented. Surely by now he must know the criteria for “proving” the antibodies are “HIV” specific are based on comparisons between reactivity in AIDS versus non- AIDS patient sera. And nearly always the latter are obtained from healthy, blood donors. Can he explain how such data prove the antibodies which define a positive test are “HIV”? Or is this too a matter of faith?

We understand Peter Flegg is a very busy practising physician. If he does not have the time to study the literature in order to debate these issues scientifically he should refrain from involvement. This debate is not for the sake of debating.

Competing interests: None declared