Contributing to genocide

By Kate Scannell

By Salon Staff
Published August 1, 2000 7:13PM (EDT)

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As a regular Salon reader, I found Kate Scannell's emotional, ill-informed article about AIDS-"deniers" a real disappointment. The fact is, there is a great wealth of evidence and medical study that suggests that scientists have been on the wrong track concerning HIV. These studies go far beyond the shady Peter Duesberg, who is always mentioned in such articles, yet is hardly a part of the "scene" today. Thabo Mbeki is perfectly correct to resist enslaving his nation to American drug companies. The drugs are highly toxic, prohibitively expensive and they do not save lives. In fact, most of them have side effects that mimic the symptoms of the "disease." It is all well and good to give these toxic drugs to healthy Americans, but most Africans exist within an entirely different set of circumstances that make widespread use of these drugs tantamount to genocide. There are more nutrients in a bit of our urine and feces than there are in the average African peasant's monthly diet. Dumping toxic, experimental and expensive drugs into such a situation would cause nothing but swift death and insurmountable debt for African nations.

Scannell's weepy recounting of the early days of AIDS shows her own ignorance. She describes a graphic case of Kaposi's sarcoma. Ms. Scannell, where is Kaposi's sarcoma today? Why did it nearly disappear as a symptom almost 15 years ago? The AIDS "deniers" have a perfectly logical explanation for this; the AIDS medical establishment does not.

Scannell says AIDS "deniers" are uninformed rabble-rousers. She is the one who is uninformed. The scientists working at the heart of AIDS research today admit there are some big questions to be answered. After all these years there is still no definitive link between HIV and AIDS. Yet rich white doctors at the conference and around the world go out of their way to claim that there is, to get Mbeki to cave in. It is establishment people like Scannell who are the real "deniers." They believe what the drug companies tell them and repeat the party line.

Nobody is going into this situation with evil intent. (Though greed is playing an unfortunate role.) And AIDS "deniers," for the most part, are not telling people to have unsafe sex. They simply feel, as I do, that the most current evidence shows that AIDS and HIV are not necessarily related, therefore other answers must be looked for.

In the future I hope the normally intelligent Salon editors will think twice before publishing this kind of utterly biased article. Between the giant photo of Duesberg and the early AIDS descriptions, this article may as well have been written 10 years ago.

-- Jack Pretzer

Thabo Mbeki has never denied that HIV causes AIDS. He has said that he, as a politician, is not qualified to make a conclusive statement one way or the other and left it to the scientists to sort out amongst themselves. That they have not been able to convince him to take an unambiguous stance says more about the facts at their disposal than about his skepticism.

-- Bongani Sithole

In her article about those who question the HIV=AIDS paradigm, Kate Scannell says: "While deniers rigidly believe that HIV is nonexistent or incidental, they have yet to articulate a coherent explanation for its nearly universal presence in people with AIDS."

The "coherent explanation" couldn't be simpler. The presence of HIV is not detected in people with AIDS, it is the presence of antibodies believed to be related to HIV. The definition of AIDS, according to the CDC, includes the presence of said antibodies as well as one of the 30 or so AIDS-defined diseases. Therefore this "correlation" is a mere exercise in tautology.

Scannell also says "Why don't deniers do something constructive about their beliefs?... providing education and nutritious food to sub-Saharan Africans, improving their housing and sanitation or providing education and antimicrobials for parasitic infections through real action would be commendable." The solutions she suggests are good ones; the notion that they should be carried out by the "HIV deniers" rather than by organizations such as the WHO is preposterous.

-- David McCarthy

Kate Scannell makes two mistakes in her generally fine article on the AIDS deniers. Thabo Mbeki was not in control of the agenda of the recent AIDS 2000 international conference held in Durban, so Professor Duesberg's nonsense didn't feature on the program. Also, Winnie Mandela did not address the main conference: I was one of a relatively small number of conference attendees who heard her speech at the rally held before the main conference before the global march for access to treatments.

-- Julian Meldrum

Salon Staff

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