- AIDS denialism is spread by a small number of prominent individuals.
- RFK Jr is spreading AIDS denialism and is unfit for office.
- Denialism matter as it kills
I listened with awe to a recent documentary about the dual assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobbie Kennedy, and could not help but reflect how low our politics have sunk from those two colossal politicians, both murdered for their egalitarian, progressive views.
Now we face a time when our current generation of politicians need courage to be honest with the public they are meant to serve, but instead prey upon old fears, stoke division and appeal to that poisoner of democracy, populism. RFK Jr is the right up there with the worst.
That anyone in this day and age could deny that AIDS is caused by HIV infection is just incredible. That such thinking, if thats the right word for it, could seep through to a presidential candidate would be beyond belief, if only it were not true.
RFK Jnr’s hideous views on HIV denial are backed by one of his main financial sponsors, Dr Mercola, who also is probably the worlds most significant anti vaxxer, supplement salesman and quack. Before these two, there is a long history of a small number of people making an outsize impact on the spread of AIDS denialism.
Kennedy view is detailed in his absurd book attacking Antony Fauci. He states a long debunked view originating from the a Californian biologist Peter Duesburg that AIDS was initially caused by recreational drugs or malnutrition and has since been used to make millions for drug companies. On the Joe Rogan broadcast he attacked the use of AZT, the first treatment for people with HIV – despite it being a giant leap forward for people with HIV at that time and saving many lives.
AZT didn’t work so well when trialled as an anti cancer drug due to toxicity, but this was caused by the high doses given in the attempt to treat cancer for which it didn’t work and it fell from use. It works far better for HIV because it can be used in less toxic doses and was the first step along the way to effective treatment. This didn’t stop the denialists extrapolating AZT’s toxicity as an anti cancer drug to those with HIV benefiting from it antiviral activity.
AZT remains a component of highly active anti retroviral treatment (HAART) which has saved the lives of millions of HIV positive people and could save more in a world governed by sensible politics. To state to so many of his viewers that the only initial treatment available to treat HIV infection at that time was killing them is idiotic. Would he have denied people with HIV access to AZT back in the days when it was the only treatment available? Rogan didn’t ask him this. I find his comments outrageously stupid and it gets worse!
HIV deniers cause death
In his book on Antony Fauci, RFK praises a woman called Christine Maggiore. This is truly jaw dropping given her story.
She was a prominent HIV denialist who refused treatment for her own HIV infection and wrote a book denying that HIV was the cause of AIDS. She had three children, who she refused to test for HIV and whom she denied were at risk from infection from her maternal, untreated HIV infection. 12 years after her diagnosis of HIV, she sadly but unsurprisingly died of an AIDS related illness adding irony to the title of her website; “alive and well”. Her choice you might say, but her untested and untreated daughter died of AIDS too. Aged just 3.
I have no doubt she felt “love” for her daughter, but nevertheless through her own actions directly caused her death – whatever that is, it is not love in the real world. It is sick and twisted and that these deadly messages are being spread by RFK and Rogan as they can take in those who don’t understand the science.
When denialism infects politicians in power it has far more tragic outcomes.
In South Africa, leaders were swayed by HIV denialists with Duesberg on their advisory panel. RFK, a potential president, buys into this garbage which was accepted up by the dimwitted South African president Thabo Mbeki. His defunding of HIV treatment is estimated to have caused the needless deaths of 300,000 people. His health minister claimed the correct treatment at that time was garlic, beetroot, and lemon juice.
In the USA AIDS denialism is sadly common. This 2010 survey looked at what is going on:
“Confidential surveys and unannounced pill counts were collected from a predominantly middle aged and African American convenience sample of 266 men and 77 women living with HIV/AIDS. One in five participants stated that there is no proof that HIV causes AIDS and that HIV treatments do more harm than good.“
In other words, in addition to their other problems they are suffering, unknown to themselves, they are also victims of mind damage. The more the internet is used, the more likely they are to suffer from these delusions. This matters. The survey concluded:
“Believing that there is a debate among scientists about whether HIV causes AIDS was related to refusing HIV treatments and poorer health outcomes.”
So misinformation kills, and RFK, in using his name and position to spread the view that there is a ‘debate’ going on about HIV and AIDS, plays his part in the deaths of those not on board with treatment.
Now RFK is now standing as an independent third presidential candidate in 2024 having ended his bid for Democrat nomination. I have to wonder why. He has zero chance of winning yet could be critical if taking Democrat votes would allow Trump for his last hurrah to American Democracy; perhaps that will be the case.
However RFKs frankly nutty views on vaccines and science will also steal votes from Republicans who warm to his anti vaccine stance and indeed are disappointed that Trump, despite his flamboyant rhetoric, is fully vaccinated. Maybe some Republicans will like his approach, vote for RFK Jr and enhance Biden’s bid for a second term.
His history as an environmental lawyers might be commendable, though recently tainted, and it jars with me that someone who wears the ‘environment badge’ so prominently could tarnish the name of environmental campaigners who see the real science of climate change as well as the real science of vaccination.
Perhaps the effect of the pandemic will come back to bite him. His views on vaccines and viruses will lead to many Democrat voters who aren’t keen on Biden seeng clearly that RFK is not fit for office. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that his biggest achievement won’t be the election of Trump in 2024 with a bigger minority vote.
That would potentially be even worse for health than the damage done to peoples minds from his vaccine fantasies.