March 31, 2003
Doctor J P de V van Niekerk
SAMJ "HIV/AIDS is the mainstream disease of our times" (1)
Dear Deputy Editor:
Since March 1st, 1987, when Professor Peter Duesberg first argued in Cancer Research that the phenomenon known as HIV could not be the cause of AIDS, we so-called "AIDS dissidents" have been attempting to conduct a civilized scientific discussion concerning this matter. However, on the whole, rather than arguments against our scientific views, we have received little more than name-calling, pejorative adjectives, absurd comparisons, dubious declarations, and various acts of censorship.
In the SAMJ Editorial of March 2003 (1), once again, instead of scientific criticisms of our arguments, you employ adjectives and phrases such as "tangential views," "harmful," "dissident beliefs," "repetitive arguments," "outlandish claims," "vehemently denying the existence," "ambiguous message," "irrational," "misplaced beliefs," and "daft."
Furthermore, your editorial declares: "the world has overwhelmingly understood and accepted the cause and effects of HIV" (1). Similarly, in July 2000, in response to President Thabo Mbeki's decision to bring together researchers and scientists from both sides of the AIDS controversy (the HIV/AIDS mainstream and AIDS dissidents), several thousand HIV defenders signed "The Durban Declaration," in which they declared: "The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous, meeting the highest standards of science" (2). Three days later they published "The New York Times declaration," stating: "HIV causes AIDS. To argue otherwise costs lives" (3).
It would seem, therefore, that defenders of HIV attempt to produce by declaration that which they cannot achieve by scientific argumentation.
In like manner, on March 14, 2003, UNAIDS and WHO declared: "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" (4). Curiously, they failed to cite any scientific experimentation that had been carried out proving that AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease in Africa and elsewhere. The UNAIDS/WHO declaration is a response to several publications in the International Journal of STD & AIDS, in which researchers state: "An expanding body of evidence challenges the conventional hypothesis that sexual transmission is responsible for more than 90% of adult HIV infections in Africa" (5-9) Interestingly, these researchers are not AIDS dissidents. They are defenders of HIV from Emory University (Atlanta), Montefiore Medical Center (New York) Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York), University of Washington (Seattle), University of Tubingen (Germany), University of Paris (France), and independent epidemiologist from Pennsylvania, Colorado and Vermont. The declaration of UNAIDS/WHO is another indication that, no matter what the scientific arguments may be, no one is permitted to question the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. It would appear that the declaration "HIV causes AIDS" is tantamount to an absolute truth that must be accepted as an act of faith.
Often, researchers and institutions that defend HIV as the cause of AIDS call AIDS dissidents "denialists," likening us to those who deny the Jewish Holocaust, or "flat earthers," comparing us with those who once believed that the Earth was flat. In like manner, in an attempt to preclude discussion, you compare us with those who believe that "rhino horn can enhance sexual performance." Who would attempt to debate those who defend such absurd and ridiculous claims?
On the other hand, censorship toward us has ascended to unprecedented heights. In response to our views on AIDS, in April 2000, it was decreed that AIDS constitutes a threat to the national security of the United States. Now the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, etc., can directly address HIV/AIDS discussions. Increasingly, AIDS dissidents are receiving rude and vulgar messages. Even our personal security is threatened for questioning the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.
However, your harassment of AIDS dissidents is merely a pretext for attacking the post-apartheid government of the Republic of South Africa: "the main missing ingredient is clear and unambiguous political leadership." Furthermore, you attest that "our political leaders remain silent" and that those who have lost loved ones to the AIDS pandemic "follow the example of their leaders by embracing the tyranny of denial and silence." You go so far as to find in South Africa today "sinister similarities to the apartheid era treatment of doctors such as Dr Wendy Orr, who incurred the wrath of the authorities for reporting injuries of prisoners as a result of police detention." Your evident hatred toward the current government of South Africa would seem to indicate that you miss some past regime. Are you unable to accept that it was the ANC leaders who overcame apartheid?
Dr. van Niekerk, I agree: "Medical journals have a responsibility to put all sides of important questions to readers." This is an opportune moment for the SAMJ to scientifically address the AIDS dissidents' criticisms of the hypothesis that HIV is the cause of AIDS. I invite you to begin the debate by scientifically criticizing the article that I presented to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) health ministers on January 20, 2003. You can find my article on "Nutritional Therapy for the Treatment and Prevention of AIDS" on my website (www.robertogiraldo.com). This will provide an excellent opportunity for you to demonstrate that HIV is the cause of AIDS and that AIDS in Africa is not the topmost consequence of poverty and malnutrition, as I assert with scientific arguments in all of my publications.
Physician, specialist in internal medicine, infectious and tropical diseases
1. van Niekerk J P de V. Politics
must move mainstream on AIDS. SAMJ 2003; 93 (3): Editorial.
2. "The Durban Declaration." Nature July 6, 2000; 406: 15-16.
3. "The New York Times declaration." HIV causes AIDS. To argue otherwise costs lives. The New York Times, July 9, 2000, page L-11.
4. UNAIDS, WHO. Expert group stresses that unsafe sex is primary mode of HIV transmission in Africa. Joint UNAIDS/WHO Press statement. Geneva, March 14, 2003.
5. Gisselquist D, Rothenberg R, Potterat J, Drucker E. HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa not explained by sexual or vertical transmission. Int J STD & AIDS; 2002; 13: 657-666.
6. Brewer DD, Brody s, Drucker E, Gisselquist D, Minkin SF, Potterat JJ, Rothenberg RB, Vachon F. Mounting anomalies in the epidemiology of HIV in Africa: cry the beloved paradigm. Int J STD & AIDS; 2003; 14: 144-147.
7. Gisselquist D, Potterat JJ, Brody S, Vachon F. Let it be sexual: how health care transmission of AIDS in Africa was ignored. Int J STD & AIDS; 2003; 14: 148-161.
8. Gisselquist D, Potterat JJ. Heterosexual transmission of HIV in Africa: an empiric estimate. Int J STD & AIDS; 2003; 14: 162-173.
9. Gisselquist D. Potterat JJ. Confound it: latent lessons from the Mwanza trial of STD treatment to reduce HIV transmission. Int J STD & AIDS; 14; 179-184.
Roberto A. Giraldo