According to most media reports, victories in the war against AIDS are being won largely through the development of new drugs. There are people who dispute this view, who question the benefits of AIDS drugs, whether AIDS is a unique condition or just a lumping of disparate symptoms together, and even whether AIDS might be caused by exposure to toxic and immunosuppressive substances and not a virus. To complete my own analysis I have written numerous letters trying to obtain data from governments and drug companies that is not readily available and questioning information that appears to be designed to mislead, not inform.
Adverse Reactions to AIDS Drugs
The scientific literature is full of studies and individual patient reports that show that AIDS drugs have extremely debilitating side effects (see www.aras.ab.ca). This is not surprising because they interfere with basic cellular processes, such as cell division. In an attempt to find out how serious the problem was I wrote to Glaxo Wellcome (the worlds leading manufacturer of AIDS drugs) asking them for a summary of adverse drug reactions (ADRs). They quickly responded that Unfortunately, such data is confidential for the company. I felt that asking the fox to count chicken deaths and then allowing the fox to keep the number of dead chickens confidential was dangerous. In April, 2000 I wrote to Allan Rock, Canadas Minister of Health asking if he considered this situation acceptable. In September he responded with an assurance that it was the legal duty of drug manufacturers to report ADRs. He did not address the apparent absurdity of allowing drug companies to keep information from the public when they have a legal duty to supply it to the government, nor did he indicate how he was verifying the reporting of ADRs by drug companies.
By the time I heard back from Allan Rock I already had received a list of ADRs to AIDS drugs in Canada collected by bureaucrats within Health Canada. Every page of this report bears the warning that only a small fraction of ADRs are ever reported, a fact emphasized by Minister Rock.
It should concern every Canadian that not only are the number of ADRs to AIDS drug unknown but, according to Minister Rock, Health Canada does not make the data of national HIV anti-retroviral use available to the public. Consequently, it is unknown to Canadians whether 1% of people taking AIDS drugs suffer debilitating or fatal consequences ... or 100%!
Canadian Government publications on HIV/AIDS appear to be designed to mislead rather than inform. A May 1998 Epi/Update from Health Canada includes a graph that appears to show an increase in AIDS cases among women. This directly contradicts another Health Canda publication, their annual Surveillance Report, that shows new AIDS cases among women peaking at 131 in 1994 and declining to 89 by 1997. A closer look at the graphs showed that cases were being reported as a percentage of total cases, rather than as actual numbers. Since AIDS cases among gay men are dropping at a faster rate than in other groups, the slower decline among women (and IV drug users) can, by a clever sleight of hand, be shown to the unsuspecting public as an increase! This is equivalent to telling someone that tomorrow their ration will be increased from one to two loaves of bread without telling them that loaves in future would only be one-quarter the size. In response to a letter noting my concerns, Allan Rock claimed that reporting trends in percentages rather than absolute numbers is a scientifically pertinent observation.
The use of percentages when discussing trends in AIDS has become extremely popular by governments, the media and AIDS organizations around the world. With the annual number of AIDS cases dropping dramatically in most Western countries, it can maintain the illusion of a worsening epidemic. Most Canadians would be suprised to find out that the peak annual number of AIDS cases was only 1,746 in 1993 and that this has steadily dropped since then, to 252 cases in 1999.
Questionable Health Guidelines
HIV/AIDS has allowed a renewed assault on breast-feeding. For years formula companies have been on the defensive, trying to avoid codes of practice that restricted their marketing activities since breastfeeding has been shown to be beneficial to mothers and babies in so many different ways. Although they were masters at avoiding these rules, HIV/AIDS has come as manna from heaven. Even pro-breastfeeding organizations such as the LaLeche League have been seduced by the notion of a fatal virus that can be transmitted through breastmilk and are paralyzed to act against the marketing of formula to the large percentage of Third World mothers who are HIV positive.
In Canada, Departments of Health have fallen in line and strongly recommend that HIV-positive women should not breastfeed. In the Alberta recommendations for HIV-positive mothers the words Do not breastfeed are the only ones placed in bold type. Knowing that there is actually considerable dissension among scientists over whether HIV can be transmitted through breastmilk and also little or no evidence that formula fed babies of HIV-positive mothers are healthier than corresponding breastfed babies, I asked Halvar Jonson, Albertas Minister of Health at the time, for justification for such a strong statement. He responded with two references.
The first was an anecodotal report of three healthy HIV-positive mothers, only one of which had a child that was confirmed to be HIV-positive. The paper acknowledged the weakness of the evidence that it provided.
The second described a much more extensive survey of the breast milk of HIV-positive African mothers. It showed that HIV RNA was found in a minority of mothers (taken as an indication of the presence of viral particles) and HIV DNA in a small majority (taken as an indication that HIV is embedded within the genome of cells within the breastmilk). This research suffered from a lack of a control group (HIV-negative mothers), as well as a lack of correlation between the presence of HIV DNA and RNA. Since the tests used look for only a small fraction of the presumed HIV genome, and the PCR technique used is so ultra-sensitive that false positive reactions are common, it is quite possible that something other than HIV was being detected.
Somehow, such weak evidence got translated into the command Do not breastfeed.
I have gradually concluded that most information on HIV and AIDS from AIDS researchers, organizations and governments is disinformation. It is intended to strengthen the myth of a fatal virus that can only be tackled by the intensive use of toxic pharmaceuticals and massive sums of money in research and government programs. Censorship is almost complete because people who question the connection between HIV and AIDS, or merely ask whether the use of AIDS drugs in healthy HIV-positive people is wise, can be called a menace to public health and excluded from access to the mainstream media, scientific journals and policy making.
There are several organizations in Canada dedicated to providing alternative information about HIV and AIDS including the Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society (aras.ab.ca) and HEAL Toronto (healtoronto.com). They can provide information on books, magazines, scientific articles and websites that can provide an antidote to HIV/AIDS propaganda. The author is also prepared to make copies of his correspondence available.
For news, books and web resources related to statistics, consult qozi.com.
Breastfeeding references from Albertas Minister of Health:
- Thiry L et al. Isolation of AIDS Virus from Cell-free Breast Milk of Three Healthy Virus Carriers. Lancet. Oct. 19, 1985; 891-892.
- Lewis P et al. Cell-Free Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 in Breast Milk. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1998; 177: 34-9.
LCDC Surveillance Report:
- Health Canada. HIV and AIDS in Canada. Surveillance Report to December 31, 1999. Division of HIV/AIDS Surveillance, Bureau of HIV/AIDS, STD and TB, LCDC, Health Canada, 2000. Available on the web at