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Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis." ..

“The Scientific Group for Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis ..

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Is 'HIV' Really the Cause of AIDS

Duesberg wasn't the only scientist with impressive credentials to question the HIV/AIDS link. Kary Mullis, who won a Nobel Prize for developing (which, ironically, provides an accurate test for the presence of HIV), joined him in raising questions. And, in 1991, Duesberg and a collection of people who called themselves the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis managed to get published in Science in which they stated their case.

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These signatories do not, however, suggest who the “suitable independent” group should be, since, presumably, many scientists have already been “indoctrinated” into believing that HIV causes AIDS. (Indeed, many of the signatories to this statement lack any qualifications in virology, epidemiology, or even basic biology.) They also ignore thousands of epidemiological studies that have already been published in the scientific literature. And the signatories fail to provide a convincing case that there is widespread acceptance in the scientific community for their marginal position.

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Interestingly, alternative hypotheses for AIDS causation depend on where the patient lives. In Africa, HIV deniers attribute AIDS to a combination of malnutrition and poor sanitation, i.e., they believe that AIDS is simply a relabeling of old diseases. In America and other wealthy countries, they claim AIDS is caused by drug use and promiscuity. Duesberg has long been an advocate of the idea that the use of “poppers,” or amyl nitrate, is a cause of AIDS in the gay community []. With the identification of AIDS in individuals who have never used poppers, this hypothesis has been widened by HIV deniers to implicate a number of recreational drugs (cocaine, crack, heroin, methamphetamines) as well as prescription drugs such as antibiotics and steroids in the etiology of AIDS. HIV deniers have criticized the idea that immunosuppression due to infection with HIV could result in all of the different infections that characterize AIDS, and yet they support the idea that poppers or other drugs—including many that have not been shown to cause severe immune deficiencies—could cause AIDS. In the past decade, the very drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS have come under fire by HIV deniers, who have suggested that the medicines themselves are a cause of AIDS () .

In an effort to support its claim that an increasing number of scientists do not believe that HIV causes AIDS, Reappraising AIDS has published a list of signatories agreeing to the following statement:

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Because these denialist assertions are made in books and on the Internet rather than in the scientific literature, many scientists are either unaware of the existence of organized denial groups, or believe they can safely ignore them as the discredited fringe. And indeed, most of the HIV deniers' arguments were answered long ago by scientists. However, many members of the general public do not have the scientific background to critique the assertions put forth by these groups, and not only accept them but continue to propagate them. A recent editorial in Nature Medicine [] stresses the need to counteract AIDS misinformation spread by the deniers.

While the descriptions of HIV denialism above refer to relatively organized campaigns, there are other less orchestrated examples of such denialism. A recent study, for example, showed that a large percentage of African Americans are suspicious of mainstream AIDS theories due to a general distrust of government authorities []. Arguments by denial groups may have played a role in the formation of their opinion. Indeed, the effect of denial groups on public perception of HIV infection is an area ripe for careful research, as this denial can have lethal consequences. In the recent study, stronger conspiracy beliefs were significantly associated with more negative attitudes towards using condoms and with inconsistent condom use, independent of selected sociodemographic characteristics, partner variables, sexually transmitted disease history, perceived risk, and psychosocial factors [].

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