“We are at war with Truthers. We have always been at war with Truthers.”

Given that aidstruth.org was setup nearly a decade ago to combat the claims of ‘AIDS denialists’, it seems ludicrous to read an article where the denialists are now given a name virtually identical to that their opponents gave to themselves. Orwell, stop laughing.

A Gizmodo article titled The Deadly Legacy of AIDS Truthers is another misfire directed at HIV/AIDS scepticism. Beginning with the line ‘AIDS was a terrifying mystery, and then we solved it.’ you know you’re in for some fantasy as mysteries typically end with the identification and removal of a villain and the cessation of deaths, not just the taking in of a suspect. ‘But even as the medical community reached a consensus that HIV caused AIDS,’ well, that’s it, we only need police officers to agree on something because of experience and not have a judge and jury look at the evidence…

In the early 1980s, there was legitimate disagreement and debate over the causes of AIDS. At that point, “any theory of what was causing young people to die from these rare diseases was fair game,” said University of Connecticut social psychology professor Seth Kalichman, author of the book Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy.

I don’t understand why debate suddenly becomes illegitimate after the installation of a working hypothesis (working as its identity has not yet led to the resolution of AIDS)? If there lacked criticism of the discredited-but-somehow-still-alive cholesterol hypothesis we would not see science finally u-turning on that accepted belief.

This was a new virus, which was shown to kill immune cells, or lymphocytes, in a petri dish. “Basically, everyone who has AIDS has the virus,” Curran said, “and people who didn’t have AIDS didn’t have the virus.”

This virus can’t have been new if it was subsequently pinned to 1920s Kinshasa where there was no observation of a new disease amongst the population. And HIV has no monopoly on diseases tied to immunodeficiency.

There was also the pervasive claim that “drugs cause AIDS,” Carter said, including heroin, amphetamines and cocaine. “Sorry, but if recreational drugs cause AIDS, there should be a helluva lot of dead straight people.”

There are, but we call them casualties of drug use because they were fortunate enough to not be tested on the basis of being presumably heterosexual and/or white. I don’t know anybody who thrives from recreational drug abuse.

“All their ideas are arguable nonsense,” said Carter of the denialists. This is, Carter said, “sadly proven by every HIV-positive denialist with whom I had these arguments, dying of AIDS.”

But disproven by the many who haven’t.

In 1997, Kovacev became the first person with full-blown AIDS to run the Boston Marathon.

This is very surprising, and hard to believe, given that AIDS is said to be the eventual result of un-treated HIV infection; and it is claimed that modern medication is helping him (i.e. he doesn’t have AIDS).

“The remarkable thing about Mbeki’s presidential panel was that it was really divided evenly between credible scientists and discredited denialists,” Kalichman said.

Come on, Seth. If you want your panellists to debate, then you don’t want one composed of a consensus.

And the people he seemed to listen to were the discredited denialists. And remarkably, they’re all white Western European and American men. His scientists were primarily South African. They were racially diverse, and they were from his country. Some of the really most renowned AIDS scientists in the world were on that panel. And they were South African.

Though Kalichman is trying to infer something about colonialism, it doesn’t wash that you shouldn’t choose to adopt the ideas of a group who are not the same colour or nationality as you. In any case, AIDS dissidents are as diverse as orthodoxy defenders.

The more frequently someone used the internet, the readier they were to believe that there was no proof that HIV causes AIDS.

Why is the internet – merely a medium – maligned? If books published on AIDS, either side of the debate, were to be evenly found in public libraries, would they blame the libraries for undesirable conclusions being reached?

And in South Africa, the government is still dragging its feet on providing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to HIV-negative people,

I don’t think any Western countries would particularly mind if their governments were reluctant to force PrEP on them as a way to combat condom ennui.

Articles like these can keep coming with their stories of heroism but that doesn’t change the fact that the devil has been miscast and that the plot has holes.

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2 thoughts on ““We are at war with Truthers. We have always been at war with Truthers.”

  1. It is shocking to see there are still people who deny the existence of HIV. This goes to show just how prominent the lack of awareness and information there is about the disease. The public needs to be more educated on this issue and be informed on what it is, its transmission, and its prevention. This can start early with high school students being advised on STIs and HIV as part of their sex education classes. It’s crucial that these classes provide lessons on how to practice safe sex and are not merely taught to not engage in intercourse as many curriculums follow that method. Why do you think there are still AIDS deniers in society? I have written a post on the importance of having a sex education curriculum that does not only consist of abstinence-only. To read more about that, check it out here: https://wrapitdontregretit.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/why-teaching-abstinence-only-is-not-the-way/.

    • I’m slightly sceptical of your comment as you refer to doubters as a third party than a second party, so you either didn’t read this sympathetic post or you’re a bot, perhaps.

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