Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a tragic and devastating disease that has killed about 500,000 people in the U.S. since it was first detected in 1981. It is a syndrome of diseases, any one of which can be triggered by immunosuppressive agents. Syndrome is medical-speak for “we don’t know what’s causing the problem.” That was bad news for early victims (mostly homosexual men and drug addicts). Unfortunately, it’s the same news today – for victims of AIDS, victims of numerous other uncured diseases, public health, and medical science, not to mention taxpayers. Soon the government would step in with a theory of cause and a promise of eradication. Today, 25 years after assigning itself to be the sole purveyor of all AIDS research and policy, there are no cures, vaccines or effective drugs - a tragic and devastating syndrome of incompetence, waste, fraud, corruption and failure.
In 1984, at an historic, international press conference held by HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler and the directors of the CDC and the NIH, the AIDS industry was born. It was pronounced that NCI virologist, Robert Gallo, had discovered the retrovirus HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and its “probable” causal relationship to AIDS. The qualifying “probable” was forgotten as quickly as the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis (that 1. HIV causes AIDS, and 2. HIV is sexually transmitted) was accepted - both without scientific proof.
No new infectious disease had plagued the U.S. since polio, defeated by vaccine 30 years earlier. Thus, needing a major infectious epidemic to justify its existence, the CDC redefined AIDS as an infectious disease in 1985 - also without scientific proof. The media credulously received Gallo's hypothesis and the funding-follows-fear tactics of the NIH/CDC. HIV/AIDS news stories became (and continue to be) acts of dictation from public health officials to “science journalists.” The cover of the July 1985 issue of Life magazine declared “Now No One is Safe from AIDS.” By 1987, Surgeon General Everett Koop pandered the “heterosexual AIDS explosion."
Public sympathy for homosexuals and addicts was too meager to justify the funding needed for the fledgling industry. Some, including political leaders and religious zealots, thought of AIDS as righteous punishment for homosexuals and drug addicts. Others, including political leaders and liberal public health officials, thought that the tacitly implied lifestyle blame was politically incorrect. However, the CDC thought of AIDS as “hot stuff” and that the threat of an infectious heterosexual epidemic would open the floodgates of funding for our rapidly growing public health agencies, along with the drug companies, research institutes and AIDS organizations, that would form the collaborative, symbiotic juggernaut the AIDS industry is today.
Many of the early AIDS researchers, including Gallo, were “virus hunters” from the War on Cancer. After over a decade of unsuccessful attempts to find a human cancer virus, they believed a search for an AIDS virus would be more fruitful. Finding one by a former cancer researcher made the War on Cancer seem less wasteful and futile. So it was no surprise that with the Heckler pronouncement, virtually all AIDS funding would now go to retroviral research. The government-endorsed HIV theory of AIDS became, by government-mandate, the only credible hypothesis. George Orwell would have called it the new "prevailing orthodoxy.”
Like lemmings, almost all AIDS researchers abandoned lifestyle and other theories – overnight. Such is modern science. Researchers, coerced by government money and authority, study what the government wants studied. Discovering scientific truth is subordinated to discovering sources of grant money. Failure to find what the government wants found typically leads to additional funding to keep looking. Grant money to alternative theories evaporates. The funds of dissenting AIDS researchers were terminated, often with impunity. Editors of peer-reviewed journals would not publish papers questioning the HIV hypothesis. Journalists daring to interview heretical scientists were denied access to government sources. Those not accepting the government HIV dogma were accused of being irresponsible, pernicious, criminal and immoral.
As FDA-approved testing began in 1985, annual AIDS diagnoses increased from hundreds in the early 1980’s to 60,000 by the end of the decade. However, the dramatic increase was less a measure of the spread of the disease than it was the product of HIV tests and the CDC’s evolving definitions.
Over the years AIDS was redefined several times, each more expansively than the previous, each bringing more HIV-positives into the world of AIDS. Initially (1982), the CDC defined AIDS to be any of 14 different opportunistic diseases that were “at least moderately predictive of a defect in cellmediated immunity, occurring in a person with no known cause for diminished resistance to that disease.” In 1985, the CDC added seven more diseases to the list. And HIV seropositivity was included, defining AIDS exclusively as diseases occurring in the presence of HIV. That is, an individual with clinical symptoms for one of the 21 AIDS-defining diseases and an HIV-positive test result was diagnosed as having AIDS. Evidently, if a virus, whose pathogenesis is not understood, causes multiple diseases, then it makes sense to add more diseases to the syndrome. In any case, broadening the definition made the AIDS epidemic start to look more like an epidemic.
By 1987, the list grew to 24 diseases. And with the help of HIV tests, AIDS diagnoses were skyrocketing. The statistics were finally telling the desired story. But HIV tests do not detect HIV. Instead, they detect antibodies to HIV proteins or RNA fragments thought to be HIV nucleic acid. One would think that there would be plenty of detectable HIV particles – there would be millions of virus particles in a sample of tissue infected by any other virus (herpes, polio, smallpox, flu, etc.). Instead, with HIV, the presence of antibodies to HIV is used as evidence of the presence of HIV. Again, as with other viruses, one would think the presence of antibodies would indicate immunity, not fatal illness.
Somehow, HIV is a mysterious exception – probably owing to the fact that no HIV viral particle has ever been seen. Incredibly, in all the years since Gallo’s discovery, with all of the research money spent, HIV has never been cultured and isolated – let alone seen replicating or destroying immune cells (CD4+ T cells). Consequently, the pathogenesis of HIV remains unknown. The HIV/AIDS hypothesis is based entirely on correlative, epidemiological evidence - the high detection frequency (88%) of HIV in AIDS patients. HIV testing validity aside, correlation hardly implies causality. If the CDC became responsible for arson investigations, our jails would quickly fill with firemen.
Although the redefinitions greatly expanded the potential AIDS universe, the AIDS death rate began to slow during 1992, jeopardizing the epidemic. Luckily, by this time AIDS had become so politicized, that AIDS activists were able to fashion how AIDS would be diagnosed. They were instrumental in having the 1993 redefinition include clinically healthy, but HIV+ people, with low CD4 cell counts. This greatly increased access to health care (in particular, to antiretroviral drugs such as AZT, a failed anti-cancer drug). The CDC also added pulmonary tuberculosis, recurrent pneumonia, and cervical cancer to the list, bringing the number of AIDS-defining diseases to 27. These changes promptly doubled the number of people with AIDS. The epidemic was back on track and, with the addition of cervical cancer, looking more heterosexual.
That same year, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala testified to Congress that AIDS might leave "nobody left." However, by 2000, although the CDC had doctored HIV statistics enough to make anti-tobacco researchers blush, annual AIDS deaths had plummeted to 20,000. Was HIV/AIDS research finally paying off? With more than 100,000 scientists and doctors working on AIDS (5 times the annual number of AIDS deaths), 80,000 AIDS organizations, 1,500 HIV/AIDS-related patents awarded, 140,000 research papers published and $118 billion spent, there were no cures, no vaccines and no effective HIV drugs.
None of the alarmist predictions had materialized. AIDS had not become an epidemic, heterosexual or otherwise, in the western world. Neither AIDS nor HIV had shown any sign of exponential growth, although one could convincingly argue that the greatest cause of HIV was (and continues to be) the HIV test. Only AIDS diagnoses and drug company profits were growing exponentially. AIDS deaths were dropping precipitously, while remaining largely confined to its original risk groups. And neither AIDS nor HIV had proven to be contagious or heterosexually transmitted. However, unwilling to expose such paradoxically good news, the media happily regurgitated the press releases of drug companies, activist groups, politicians and public health officials to expose the bad news being created in sub-Saharan Africa.
The CDC and the WHO define an AIDS diagnosis for Africans as the presence of weight loss, chronic diarrhea, prolonged fever and persistent cough, but unlike the U.S. definition, with no requirement for HIV positivity. Thus, deaths from diseases prevalent in the impoverished and malnourished regions of Africa became AIDS-attributable. They were then extrapolated from unreliable samples of hospitalized patients and clients of STD clinics into a devastating epidemic – more importantly, the heterosexual epidemic the AIDS Industry had longed for. For example, once western experts descended upon Uganda, the HIV infection rate among married couples was found to be 42%, twice the rate among prostitutes. The January 17, 2000 issue of Newsweek read "10 Million Orphans." By February, a Marshall Plan for Africa was being promoted. Secretary of State Albright and Vice President Gore elevated AIDS to an international security threat.
In 2003, the stage set for global hysteria, Congress passed the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), extending the war on AIDS to Africa. With U.S. AIDS deaths down to 16,000 from a high of 51,000 in 1995, U.S. tax dollars would extend the multibillion-dollar U.S. AIDS industry to the more prosperous markets of Africa.
PEPFAR spent about $19 billion through mid-2008. By then, the number of U.S. HIV/AIDS deaths was less than 11,000. Yet Congress reauthorized PEPFAR for $48 billion. Almost $40 billion was authorized for fighting AIDS overseas. This was unprecedented, both for the amount and the nature of the aid. In the past, foreign aid for health care has been limited to one-time interventions (e.g., vaccinations and natural disaster relief). But AIDS requires lifelong, day-to-day medical care. And as patients become resistant to first-line antiretroviral drugs, they must be switched to second-line therapies costing 10 times more than the cheapest starting combination. Thus, PEPFAR is now an irrevocable and increasingly costly entitlement for people in other countries.
Hot off the press in 2009, surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National AIDS Strategy Coordinating Committee claim that Americans want even more money spent on HIV/AIDS. Perhaps, with their immense financial and political stake in AIDS, the NIH and CDC have lost, or abandoned, all sense of perspective. Mesmerized by their own hysterical propaganda or their inflated statistics and self-fulfilling redefinitions, they are unable, or unwilling, to see the relative magnitude of the epidemic they exploit. At the risk of diminishing the horror of AIDS, it’s significance pales in comparison with other lethal diseases. For example, U.S. seasonal flu kills 36,000/yr – over three times the number of HIV/AIDS deaths. Many more people die from hospital-acquired staff infections than AIDS. For example, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was responsible for 18,650 deaths in 2005. The federal government spends less than $6 billion/year on cancer research - over $2 billion less than the $8 billion/year authorized for fighting AIDS overseas. This includes research on all types of cancers. In terms of research dollars spent per patient death, we spend 21 times as much on AIDS as we spend on cancer.
PEPFAR is a huge, long-term stimulus to the AIDS industry. The NIH/CDC, helped by surveys such as the two mentioned above, keep the gravy train going. However, there are over 100 million U.S. citizens awaiting cures for cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. Were any of these people asked if more money should be spent on AIDS? Were they informed that our government spends almost $3,000 in research per HIV/AIDS patient, but less than $200 per patient on them? Or were these people simply redefined out of the survey samples?