helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

  • Mood:

...and the Earth is flat.

I stayed up far too late last night courtesy of rivka's excellent post about AIDS deniers, people I hadn't previously realised existed. It transpires these people want to disregard all the scientific evidence that HIV is the cause of AIDS, and instead blame the factors that caused the person to become HIV positive in the first place - things like intravenous drug abuse and "being homosexual" (!). Apparently, AIDS in Africa is just old diseases of poverty given a new name. And, particularly bizarrely, they think that, rather than preventing AIDS in HIV-positive people, anti-retroviral drugs actually cause it.

It wouldn't be so bad if these fruitcakes kept their ideas to themselves - if a person wants to commit slow, painful suicide, who am I to try to stop them? But of course they have to spread their quackery, and evangelise giving up on conventional medication to other HIV-positive people. So far from just hurting themselves, they're hurting thousands or millions of others. When it spreads to politicians, you end up with a situation where the people in charge of educating and protecting their countrymen are causing them active harm. And the worst of it all is the woman who killed her child by HIV.

Christine Maggiore is a famous AIDS denier (I wanted to write "denialist", which is a bit scary) who has appeared on the front cover of magazines promoting an anti-retroviral stance. She insisted on giving birth to her children naturally, refusing AZT for either herself or for them, and breastfed them HIV-infected milk. As a result, her 3 year old child Eliza Jane died of PCP - a form of pneumonia that is only seen in the severely immunocompromised (either through AIDS or leukaemia).

Of course, she doesn't believe that. She & the child's father have a website in which they insist that the child died of an allergic reaction to the common antibiotic Amoxicillin. They even hired a quack claiming to be a pathologist to write a report about how this was possible. Never mind that he has a pathology PhD rather than being a medical doctor. Never mind that the child spent the last year of her life with a height and weight below the 3rd percentile - classic failure to thrive. Never mind that her brain tissue was full of HIV antigen. The parents disregard all of that because to admit she died of AIDS would be admitting that HIV causes AIDS, which would be admitting it was their fault.

A recent interview suggests that the parents are in the process of suing the LA County Coroner’s Office for such delights as the damage caused to their reputation. Their website has a detailed list of deaths blamed on parents, and they have the audacity to compare the coroner to Roy Meadow, the UK-based quack from hell who caused countless families to be suspected of murdering their children, and as a result had children taken away from them. Three women were famously jailed and later had their convictions quashed. One died recently, having never recovered from the ordeal.

I am sorry for any parent who loses a child. It is not the natural order of things. But blaming a severe antibiotic allergy that is completely unlike the way drug allergies usually manifest does not absolve you of guilt. Trying to cast doubt on the coroner's scientific reputation simply highlights your lack of scientific credibility. And continuing to preach that HIV does not cause AIDS - that makes you a murderer.

Also, redbird is awesome.
Tags: people are stupid, science

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