All the president's persons

While surfing the website of the South African Department of Health I came across the Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report of 2001. It seems that when President Mbeki finally decided to do something about the AIDS pandemic in South Africa, he inviting the leading cranks of the scientific fringe to tell him how the rest of the peer-reviewed scientific world got the whole “AIDS” thing wrong.

I would love to know whose personal assistant with a grade 8 certificate and internet access decided on the composition of this panel. Did he or she just Google the terms 'AIDS' and 'dissident' and then sent out fully paid invitations to the first ten names that popped up?

I draw your attention to a title in chapter 2: Does HIV cause AIDS? This is like getting creationists to debate cosmogony and calling it a scientific discussion (or as Bush put it, “hearing both sides of the story”). Some of the alternative causal explanations are the "Chemical AIDS hypothesis", where AIDS is caused by ‘exposure to toxins’ such as AZT (yes, the drug the rest of the world uses to fight the disease); and the "Immunotoxicological hypothesis", where AIDS is caused by various ‘stressors’. My personal favorite, however, has got to be the "Oxidation Hypothesis", under which it is simply stated that ‘oxidization agents’ lead to AIDS.

O. Now I see. And to think it was oxygen all along. I should have known.

Although I recommend reading the whole report, another spot of special scientific rigor is chapter 5: The Treatment and use of Antiretroviral Drugs.
I quote:

“It was also argued that the drugs themselves caused AIDS, since they act on cells that are either metabolically active or in constant division”

Exactly what does this mean? If anybody out there can explain that last sentence to me I will buy them a beer/house/tropical island.

Or this gem of a quote from Chapter 6 of the report, which discusses prevention methods:

“Dr Giraldo recommended that the first point of entry for prevention was to stop the media-generated hysteria on AIDS. He argued that this hysteria and fear contributed to suppression of the immune system of people who were told that they are HIV-positive on the basis of unreliable tests and were doomed to die.”

I am speechless. I am without speech.


b said...

It really is very disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting website with a lot of resources and detailed explanations.