Written by Roberto Giraldo and edited by Sam Mhlongo, Etienne de Harven, Christian
Fiala, Marc Deru and Gordon Stewart. Please note that much of this report was
translated from various languages.
Marc Deru, a physician and nutritionist from Belgium and a long-term member of Rethinking AIDS, proposed that the Environment Commission of the European Parliament convene a debate on AIDS in Africa between representatives of the HIV/AIDS mainstream and AIDS dissidents. Paul Lannoye, coordinator of the Commission, who was aware of AIDS dissidence through the work of Mark Griffiths, determined that the AIDS dissidents' arguments were sufficiently substantive to merit a conference, a determination that was accepted by the European Parliament. Due to budget constraints Mr. Lannoye limited the invitations to eleven speakers. Each speaker was allotted 25 minutes and there were also four 30-minute sessions allotted to debate. The conference was attended by approximately 150 people from several European and African countries.
2. GOALS OF THE CONFERENCE
In the invitation to speakers Mr. Lannoye stated: "I am taking the initiative to organize at the European Parliament in Brussels on the 8th of December a symposium on the political priorities of sanitary assistance in Africa facing the AIDS epidemic. The symposium is designated to inform my Parliamentary colleagues, development NGOs and other actors who work in this issue. After the controversial position of the South African President Thabo Mbeki, I thought that it was necessary to present different points of view on this issue, in a constructive and non polemic dialogue."
3.1. Welcome, opening of the Conference and introduction
Paul LANNOYE, Member of the European Parliament, Belgium.
3.2. AIDS: A development crisis
Michel SIDIBE, Director, Country and Regional Support Department, UNAIDS, Geneva, Switzerland.
Sidibe presented an apocalyptic description of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, emphasizing that the primary solution is antiretrovirals: "Nearly 27 million are now living with HIV (in Africa), more than 15 million are already dead from AIDS, and more than 11 million children have lost at least one parent to the epidemic"; "In 2005, as the virus spreads farther and kills more people, it is estimated that US $5 billion will be needed"; "In South Africa, an estimated 17% of primary health-care workers are infected with HIV"; "Why is Africa denied the medicines widely available in wealthier countries?"; "The present supply of condoms in Africa, where the epidemic is overwhelmingly driven by sexual transmission, amounts to approximately three condoms per year for each adult male. About 70,000 Africans - out of more than 4 million in need - have access to antiretroviral treatment. Only 1% of HIV-positive, pregnant African women receive treatment to prevent the spread of the virus to their unborn children"; "We can no longer embark on development or humanitarian assistance that does not mainstream HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment"; "Prevention slows the spread of HIV, and antiretroviral treatment blunts the impact of AIDS"; "Sadly, the donor response to the UN Consolidated Appeals for the region in 2002 and 2003 was overly focused on meeting the food needs, rather than addressing the underlying causes of the crisis." He was gratified to state that: "The World Food Programme recently became the ninth Cosponsor of UNAIDS, and WFP Executive Director James Morris later announced that the organization is shifting its aid in Southern Africa from providing traditional emergency food aid to providing HIV/AIDS-related assistance."
3.3. External European Parliament policy on AIDS
Poul NIELSON, Member of the European Parliament, Coordinator of the Commission on development and humanitarian aid,
Mr. Nielson explained in some detail the external European Parliament policy on AIDS, which is based on the mainstream HIV/AIDS paradigm. Information concerning these policies may be viewed at:
3.4. European Parliament position concerning the struggle against AIDS
Didier ROD, Member of the European Parliament, France.
Mr. Rod explained, in detail, the European Parliament position concerning the struggle against AIDS, which is also based on the mainstream HIV/AIDS paradigm.
Both Mr. Nielson and Mr. Rod, members of the European Parliament, emphasized that the salvation of Africa is through the use of antiretrovirals as tools for prevention and treatment.
3.5. Public Health issues and the role of medicine in South Africa
Prof. Sam Mhlongo, MD, Chief Specialist Family Physician & Head of The Department of Family Medicine at The Medical University of Southern Africa; Member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel, South Africa.
"The aims of this presentation were to remind and educate on South African history - in particular a focus on the history of health disabilities and disadvantages suffered by the African people under Apartheid. It was also the aim to compare and contrast Apartheid South Africa with present South Africa - in other words, we now have political freedoms but we are still far away from economic freedoms and self-reliance. In the introduction, the international lie that President Mbeki has stated that HIV is not the cause of AIDS was nailed - there is no such record. His two questions however remain unanswered: Why is AIDS in Africa so vastly different from AIDS in Europe and North America? Why does AIDS in Europe and North America remain largely confined to the same groups in which it was initially described - i.e., intravenous drug users and the gay community?"
"Nutritional AIDS dominates the scene in South Africa today as indeed it did during Apartheid. In the middle 50's and 60's, 50% of black children were dead before the age of 5. The causes of death were recorded as: PNEUMONIA, HIGH FEVER, DEHYDRATION and intractable DIARRHOEA due to protein deficiency. Today, these clinical features are called AIDS. Today in South Africa, TB is the leading cause of death and morbidity amongst Africans, but this is called AIDS. In conclusion, NUTRITIONAL AIDS is a direct result of Apartheid in association with capitalist iatrogenesis - hence the shacks (favelas), lack of sanitation, lack of clean drinking water, unemployment and destitution."
3.6. Update on Uganda, an analysis of the predictions and assumptions about the former epicentre of the AIDS epidemic - implications for other African countries
Christian FIALA, MD, Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel, Austria.
"We are still subject to news and predictions about a very high death toll in the current Aids epidemic in Africa that is beyond imagination. However, the claim of such a high number of deaths is based on estimates and certain assumptions. It seems essential to substantiate these claims before asking for wide ranging interventions. The case of Uganda provides an important lesson in this respect. A detailed analysis seems mandatory before engaging in costly and potentially dangerous interventions in other African countries like South Africa. The absence of the predicted Aids catastrophe in Uganda calls the basic assumptions about the epidemic into question. It is high time to reconsider the priorities of health policy and foreign aid."
The full article can be viewed on the website of the British Medical Journal, under rapid responses:
3.7. Tanzania, region Kagera, the AIDS epicentre in Africa 15 years ago: what is the current situation? Two months of
observations on the ground
Marc DERU, MD and Nutritionist, Member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of AIDS, Belgium.
"In Tanzania, the population of the Kagera region, epicentre of AIDS 15 years ago, hasn't ceased growing since then, i.e., with a 53% increase between 1988 and 2002. The demographic catastrophe expected as a result of the 'deadliest epidemic in history' did not materialize, on the contrary. Yet, no real, concrete anti-viral measures were applied in the region. The only explanations for this lie in the improvement in the economic conditions and in development aid. An example of a global approach to development is found in the NGO, Partage Tanzania. While the experts, with their statistics, would have one believe that there exists an extremely serious HIV/AIDS epidemic, no trace of an epidemic is observable in the field. All that can be seen is a very poor, under-nourished population suffering from malaria, endemic immunodeficiency and common illnesses. The so-called 'HIV' tests are unspecific; the positive results they may give are misleading and lead to the false belief in the existence of a viral epidemic. Common sense and scientific reason dictate their abandonment as well as a return to the objectivity of clinical diagnosis and to the treatment of clinically visible illnesses, all of which have been known for a long time. The facts very clearly demonstrate that the endemic African immunodeficiency has nothing to do with a hypothetical 'HIV', but is, rather, the result of malnutrition and its corollaries. In order to provide effective help to Africa, the priority should be given to the eradication of the overly great poverty which exists there."
3.8. Problems with isolating HIV
Etienne DE HARVEN, MD, Emeritus Professor (Pathology), University of Toronto, Member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel, France.
"Current policies for helping Africa in what has been described as the AIDS crisis, are entirely based on the validity of the HIV=AIDS hypothesis. However, this hypothesis must be completely reappraised because HIV has never been isolated nor purified, directly from AIDS patients, in a way that would satisfy the classic requirements of virology. More specifically: 1) HIV particles have never been demonstrated by electron microscopy in the blood stream of AIDS patients allegedly presenting with high ' viral load '. 2) Alleged HIV isolations have been reported, based on the identification of molecular 'markers'. These markers are of physical, biological or genetic nature. Their HIV specificity could never be rigorously demonstrated because such demonstration would have necessitated HIV purification that has never been achieved. 3) Serological tests for so-called 'HIV seropositivity', being based on the same non specific markers, also lack specificity and do not demonstrate any HIV infectious process. 4) Public credulity is abused by the constant publication of HIV images that all derive from electron microscopy of laboratory cell cultures, and never derive directly from AIDS patients. In view of these major uncertainties concerning HIV isolation directly from AIDS patients, priorities should be drastically revised. Suspending all HIV sero-testing, and suspending administration of anti-retroviral toxic medications should make budgets available to combat malnutrition, extend drinking water distribution, and improve hygiene and sanitation for the African people."
During his presentation de Harven acknowledged several times that the Perth Group, led by Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos, was the very first to question the isolation of HIV.
3.9. The essentials for HIV/AIDS prevention are: preventing medical transmission, warning about anal intercourse, and
Stuart BRODY, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, University of Tubingen, Germany.
Dr. Brody is a member of the David Gisselquist group that has published several papers during the last year questioning sexual and vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS in Africa. The group has suggested that medical or iatrogenic transmission through unclean injections in Africa may be the explanation for "HIV infections" in the continent. With the intent of censoring their views, UNAIDS and WHO held a meeting with these researchers in March, 2003, and released a declaration stating: "An expert group has reaffirmed that unsafe sexual practices are responsible for the vast majority of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa, and that safer sex promotion must remain the primary feature of prevention programmes in the region."
We had the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Brody for the courage of his group in criticizing the sexual and vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS. We also explained to him that the only thing that is being "transmitted" from person to person in Africa is the consequence of decades and decades of poverty.
3.10. Access to treatments in Africa: choosing between necessity and constraints
Prof. Nathan CLUMECK, MD, Director, Department of Infectious Diseases, CHU Saint-Pierre (ULB), Belgium.
It was Dr. Clumeck who described, in March 19, 1983 (Lancet) and February 23, 1984 (NEJM), the clinical manifestations and laboratory findings of the very first 23 black Africans who were diagnosed with AIDS in Brussels. In spite of acknowledging the severe toxicity of antiretrovirals, he promotes their use for the treatment and prevention of AIDS in Africa: "With the generalization in 1995 of the triple antiretroviral therapy, the prognosis and the natural history of HIV infection has changed...Currently 4 to 5 million Africans desperately need antiretroviral treatment, however, only 50 to 60,000 are getting it." Clumeck is content with the efforts regarding the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa promoted by the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, as well as with the aid from charismatic leaders like Nelson Mandela. He noted Botswana as an example to be followed, since there, "thanks to the efforts of the Gates and Merck Foundations, everybody has access to free antiretroviral treatment."
3.11. Treating and preventing AIDS: basic principles for an effective, nontoxic and inexpensive alternative
Roberto GIRALDO, MD, specialist in internal medicine, infectious and tropical diseases, USA. Member of the South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel.
"The core of this presentation is to explain the scientific bases for the use of food supplements, antioxidants, and immune stimulants as a non toxic, effective, and inexpensive alternative for the treatment and prevention of AIDS everywhere. Nutritional deficiencies and oxidative stress play a major role in the pathogenesis of AIDS. Nutritional supplements and antioxidants prevent the progression of 'HIV-positive' individuals into the clinical manifestations of AIDS; prevent the death of patients who already have the clinical manifestations of AIDS; and prevent the seroconversion of HIV-negative individuals, of all ages, into 'HIV- positive.' This last means that what is known as 'transmission of HIV/AIDS' can also be effectively prevented by the use of food supplements and antioxidants. If we really want to solve the issue of AIDS in Africa, it is mandatory that we first solve poverty and its consequences." Details on these views may be seen at:
Giraldo proposed to Dr. Michel Sidibe, the UNAIDS representative at the European Parliament conference, to have an open debate with AIDS dissidents upon the causes and solutions for AIDS at the Bangkok International AIDS Conference in July 2004. Dr. Sidibe gave Giraldo his word that this debate would be programmed.
3.12. The struggle against AIDS in Africa: Research contribution
Luc MONTAGNIER, President of the International Foundation for the Research and Prevention of AIDS, France.
He stated: "Thanks to scientific research the virus that causes AIDS was isolated." He then explained what is purported to be the "pathogenesis of the HIV infection," and presented several clues concerning "HIV/AIDS vaccine possibilities." He placed a strong emphasis on oxidative stress as being the cause of apoptosis of CD4 cells. He also acknowledged that even "HIV-negative" Africans have oxidative stress due to malnutrition. He proposed the use of antioxidants and immune stimulants together with three antiretrovirals for the prevention and treatment of "HIV/AIDS." He showed several computer-generated, colorized pictures of "HIV" and of "the pathogenesis of HIV-infection."
Paul LANNOYE, Belgium.
NOTE: Some of the other AIDS dissident researchers and activists who attended the conference and participated actively during the discussions were: Claus Koehnlein, MD (Kiel, Germany), who also distributed to the attendees his recent paper, co-authored with Peter Duesberg and David Rasnick, "The chemical bases of the various AIDS epidemics: recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy and malnutrition"; Gordon Stewart, MD (Glasgow, Great Britain), who asked Luc Montagnier "whether, in the light of the report from de Harven, he was sure that they had indeed 'Isolated' a retrovirus named by them as LAV-BRU from a co-culture of a lymph gland from a patient in Paris in 1983 by standard virological techniques. My recollection is that he responded to my question but did not answer it." Also present were: Juliane Sacher, MD (Germany); Neville Hodgkinson, journalist (England); Djamel Tahi, writer (France); James Whitehead, NGO activist (England); Mark Griffiths, NGO activist (France).
Shabnam Merchant and Joanna Choy, student documentary filmmakers from New York City, also attended the conference.
4. FOLLOW UP
Mr. Lannoye and his assistant, Ms. Francoise Dupont, stated during the preparation stage of the conference: "In order to extend the awareness of the public about this debate, we would like to publish the proceedings of the conference."
After the Conference Mr. Lannoye wrote to us: "I wanted to thank you very much for your participation at the conference 'AIDS in Africa' that took place on December 8th in the European Parliament. Indeed, everyone agrees that the conference was a success: beyond the fact that the audience was very numerous, the quality of the interventions we listened to was very high and the debate, that we hoped would be contentious, allowed for every position to be expressed in a relatively civil atmosphere. My objective now is to ensure that there is a follow up of this conference. Apart from the strictly political follow up, I want to publish the extensive proceedings of the conference as well as the debate, which largely contributed to a better understanding of the question. The publication should allow for the debate to continue outside the European Parliament."
South African Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Experiments:
At the meeting Professor Sam Mhlongo made an appeal to the chairman that he consider some way of finding some money to help The Panel Experiments. Professor Mhlongo has confirmed that Mr. Lannoye has followed this up and has asked him to summarize the ten experiments and the budget for them. Professor Mhlongo is doing so and if this does come off, the money President Thabo Mbeki has allocated to the experiments can be diverted to a "Poverty Relief Programme" shortly after the general election in South Africa in 2004.
Roberto A. Giraldo