Monday, September 26, 2005

Another tragically unnecessary death of a child

A few weeks ago, I commented extensively on the case of Abubakar Tariq Nadama, a five year old autistic child who died of a cardiac arrest while receiving an unproven "alternative" treatment (chelation therapy) for his autism. Now I've been made aware of another case just as tragic, a case also sadly resulting in the preventable and unnecessary death of a young child:
The HIV-positive mother of two laid out matter-of-factly why, even while pregnant, she hadn't taken HIV medications, and why she had never tested her children for the virus.

"Our children have excellent records of health," Maggiore said on the Air America program when asked about 7-year-old Charlie and 3-year-old Eliza Jane Scovill. "They've never had respiratory problems, flus, intractable colds, ear infections, nothing. So, our choices, however radical they may seem, are extremely well-founded."

Seven weeks later, Eliza Jane was dead.

The cause, according to a Sept. 15 report by the Los Angeles County coroner, was AIDS-related pneumonia.

These days, given advances in HIV care, it's highly unusual for any young child to die of AIDS. What makes Eliza Jane's death even more striking is that her mother is a high-profile, charismatic leader in a movement that challenges the basic medical understanding and treatment of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Christine Maggiore is a high profile spokesperson for a movement that refuses to accept the now well-established science that concludes that HIV causes AIDS. She is the author of a book entitled What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?, has appeared on The Ricki Lake Show and 20/20, and has been interviewed for Mothering and Newsweek magazines about her activism for the contention that HIV does not cause AIDS. (Mothering, by the way, is the same magazine where the web discussion forums are filled with anti-vaccination rhetoric.) This phenomenon of HIV/AIDS denialism is disturbing to scientists and mainstream AIDS organizations for good reason:
Mainstream AIDS organizations, medical experts and ethicists, long confounded and distressed by this small but outspoken dissident movement, say Eliza Jane's death crystallizes their fears. The dissenters' message, they say, is not just wrong, it's deadly.

"This was a preventable death," said Dr. James Oleske, a New Jersey physician who never examined Eliza Jane but has treated hundreds of HIV-positive children. "I can tell you without any doubt that, at the outset of her illness, if she was appropriately evaluated, she would have been appropriately treated. She would not have died.

"You can't write a more sad and tragic story," Oleske said.
Well, actually, you can. The story of Abubakar Nadama, for instance. Both stories are as sad and tragic as can be imagined, and in similar ways.

I've encountered HIV/AIDS denialists before, not surprisingly, on misc.health.alternative. They tend to be influenced by the opinions scientists such as Peter Duesberg and Harvey Bialy, both of whom are proof positive of the way in which even f0rmerly reputable scientists can fall under the sway of pseudoscience. Based on their writings and those of others, HIV denialists claim that it is drugs like AZT used to treat AIDS that destroy the immune system, not HIV. Of course, when it is pointed out to them that AIDS was identified as a syndrome in the early 1980's and AZT wasn't widely used until 1987, they wave their hands and blame AIDS on "lifestyle" and "recreational drugs" (exacerbated by anti-HIV drugs, of course), which to me sound a lot like the unnamed "toxins" to which alties like to attribute many diseases. HIV denialists also ask questions like: Why do the in vivo and in vitro virus neutralizing antibodies that are present in easily assayable amounts in the blood of HIV infected people not protect against AIDS if HIV is the culprit? (Even I, a surgeon, can answer that one without having to look up any references: There are lots of diseases that provoke a neutralizing antibody response that doesn't fully protect against disease. Hepatitis B, for example. If the antibody response protected against disease, then the organism wouldn't be pathogenic.) They also like to claim that we don't know very much about how HIV does all the things to the immune system that it does, when in fact we know quite a bit about how HIV accomplishes its devastation of the immune system. In any case, the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is overwhelming, and the success of antiretroviral cocktails in decreasing death rates from AIDS and producing many actual long term survivors of a disease (AIDS) that used to be 100% fatal within a relatively short period of time flows from the scientific validity of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

The HIV/AIDS denialists, like alternative medicine cranks in many other diseases, cherry pick studies and ignore the vast quantity of evidence that doesn't support their point of view. They magnify anything we don't understand about HIV or any inconsistency in existing data and conveniently forget about the enormous amount that we do know about how HIV causes AIDS. They absolve themselves from having to come up with a compelling alternate hypothesis and the evidence to support it. And, of course, they postulate dark conspiracies of pharmaceutical companies wanting to "suppress" alternative "cures" and sell high-priced drugs. They also tend to be to be antivaccine, as many mercury/autism activists are and Ms. Maggliore was:
What set Maggiore apart became clear only when she talked about her views on medicine.

She didn't vaccinate either child, believing the shots did more harm than good. She rejected AZT and other anti-AIDS medications as toxic. "I see no evidence that compels me that I should have exposed a developing fetus to drugs that would harm them," she said.

Maggiore hired a midwife and gave birth to her children at home; Charlie was born in an inflatable pool on her living room floor. She wanted to avoid being tested for HIV or pressured to use AZT in a hospital, although technically neither is required by California law.

She breast-fed both children, although research indicates that it increases the risk of transmission by up to 15%.
AZT and other anti-retrovirus drugs can decrease the risk of maternal-child transmission to very low levels and is responsible for the plummeting rate of cases of AIDS among children; for an HIV-positive mother to refuse to use it is tantamount to child abuse (no matter how well-meaning she is or how much she loves her child) and exposes the deficiencies in the child welfare system. And right in the thick of this story is an old friend, with whom Orac has tussled before over his posts to the Huffington Post: Dr. Jay Gordon, who apparently was one of the doctors who treated Eliza Jane:
Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica pediatrician who had treated Eliza Jane since she was a year old, said he should have demanded that she be tested for human immunodeficiency virus when, 11 days before she died, Maggiore brought her in with an apparent ear infection.

"It's possible that the whole situation could have been changed if one of the doctors involved — one of the three doctors involved — had intervened," said Gordon, who himself acknowledges that HIV causes AIDS. "It's hindsight, Monday-morning quarterbacking, whatever you want to call it. Do I think I'm blameless in this? No, I'm not blameless."
No, Dr. Gordon is not blameless. Although I believe that Dr. Gordon probably means well and probably does more or less accept that HIV causes AIDS, I hope he'll excuse me if I can't help but thinking that he sounds a bit like he is covering his behind. It is some of the stuff I've found on his own website that leads me to wonder about whether he truly accepts the science behind the HIV/AIDS hypothesis. For example, look at Dr. Gordon's preamble to a bunch of recommendations for unproven "remedies" to alleviate HIV/AIDS symptoms, such as echinacea to "strengthen the immune system" and milk thistle to "cleanse" the liver:
The conventionally and most widely held approach say that AIDS is caused by the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which is a very difficult virus to kill or control.

There is a second school of thought not terribly popular with physicians: HIV causes AIDS with, because of, or assisted by the medication used to prevent AIDS. The usual anti-HIV medication is quite potent and works in ways beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that the medications have huge side effects and that the latest research published in late-April makes it quite clear that our hope that the antiviral compounds actually cure AIDS is probably incorrect and the virus is very capable of surviving this chemical onslaught and "hiding" for many decades in the human body. Please do not misunderstand, as far as I can tell, many lives have been prolonged, changed for the better and even saved by advances in AIDS chemotherapeutics. I just think it's also very reasonable and prudent to investigate other ways of keeping this virus in check by strengthening the immune system's ability to deal with it and by increasing the overall health of the person who is carrying HIV.
Is it just me, or does it sound as though Dr. Gordon is rather sympathetic to the AIDS denialist position and somewhat grudging in his acceptance of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis? If, as Dr. Gordon says, he accepts the current science that HIV causes AIDS, then why does he present the the view that HIV causes AIDS "with, because of, or assisted by the medication used to prevent AIDS" on his website in such a context that leads the reader to believe that he considers the denialist view as almost equally plausible to what he terms the "conventionally" held view that HIV causes AIDs. Why is his disclaimer so weak? Why, also, did he not seem to consider the possibility that the "ear infection" that he suspected in Eliza Jane might be something more serious, given that he knew that she was the child of an HIV-positive mother who had flouted every medical guideline for preventing HIV transmission to her children, even having breast fed them? Why did he not insist on an HIV test? Even I would have known to suspect AIDS, and I'm just a dumb surgeon. No doubt Ms. Maggliore would have refused, but at least he would have started to do the right thing.

I am quite sure that Mrs. Maggliore is suffering enormous emotional pain because her daughter died. I also have no doubt that she loved her daughter as only a mother can, despite her rationalizations about the cause of her daughter's death. However, we must not allow our sympathy for her grief to lead us to forget that her daughter is dead because she enthusiastically bought into a bogus, pseudoscientific line of altie nonsense--or that she still buys the line and is aggressively selling it on the radio and elsewhere. It is indeed unfortunate that this horrific experience didn't lead her to wonder if maybe--just maybe--conventional science is right about HIV causing AIDS after all.

Unfortunately, all too many others buy into HIV/AIDS denialism too, which guarantees that Eliza Jane will not be the last child to be infected with unnecessarily with HIV via maternal transmission or to die from that infection.

ADDENDUM: Mossback Culture has more on this here and here,particularly on the role of prominent bloggers in facilitating HIV/AIDS denialism. (And, boy, is he pissed, so much so that he does something I wish he hadn't done and takes a cheap shot at his intended target in the last paragraph of this post.) His main target is one blogger in particular that I rather used to like--until I was made aware of his decidedly unskeptical (or, as I like to call such crankery, "pseudoskeptical") HIV/AIDS denialist opinions last spring (opinions that I would have been aware of sooner had I read his blog more often).

More can also be found, ironically enough, at the Huffington Post, where Trey Ellis comments. Other medical bloggers Red State Moron and Gordon's Notes have also commented.

32 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 9/26/2005 10:16 AM, Blogger T.H.E.Probe said...

Paul Offitt commented on Marwa's death:


http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2005/092005/09252005/131521/printer_friendly


It appears that he is pointing a finger at conventional medicine for remaining too quiet on this mercury-autism fable. I use news alerts from Yahoo and Google on the word "thimerosal" and am constantly amazed at what I read. The media is perpetuating this myth.

This is both a medical AND political issue. The medical profession has got to implement a political educational program similar to that used in politics, where candidates are followed by their opponent's truth squads to address the lies promulgated at the first visit.

What is also interesting about Offit's article is the fact that Marwa died within 50 minutes of the administration of the EDTA. In death cases, timelines are often critical.

As for the current outrage, I wonder about the timeline here. Full blown aids related pneumonia with no warnings? Hard to believe.

 

At 9/26/2005 1:33 PM, Blogger Jack's full of hot air said...

We have no way of knowing what other signs of illness were ignored or overlooked especially when the physician involved has judgement that appears to be suspect. I have had a couple of physician colleagues who were sucked into the pathological thought processes of their patients. Often providing false hopes for cures or improvement when there is none or steering patients to alternative therapies. There is that ever present temptation for the primary care doctor to tell the patient what they want to hear so that they will just leave the office happy.

 

At 9/26/2005 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it's over 10 years old, I still think this article gives a useful overview: Skeptic magazine Archives, Vol. 3, No. 2, “The AIDS heresies: A case study in skepticism taken too far” by Steven B. Harris, M.D. (Original copyright 1994).

The current link is http://www.skeptic.com/oldsite/index.html
VKW

 

At 9/26/2005 4:56 PM, Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

I'm not surprised to see them place the blame on the antibiotic now seeing as they've run out of places to hide. Of course, the fact they don't seem to understand that HIV itself isn't the killer in AIDS, it's other associated viruses or disorders that do the individual in. This is because AIDS reduces T-cell counts dramatically, until eventually they are low enough to allow any disease to over-run the immune system and kill the person in question.

This is the likely case of what happened to Eliza Jane.

"Full blown aids related pneumonia with no warnings? Hard to believe."

Not really. AIDS weakens the immune system and then it's just a matter of time. It takes one encounter with a real pathogen to end it all. In Africa, this is quick because diseases are very common and association with tuberculosis and malaria can exacerbate illness even faster. Most HIV+ children die immensely quickly.

EJ simply encountered her first 'real' pathogen and paid the price for her mothers refusal to even have her tested.

 

At 9/26/2005 5:24 PM, Blogger Jack said...

I hope you can forgive me for not having read all your posts on this topic thoroughly, so it is entirely possible I have missed something, but the (relatively) prominent blogger Dean Esmay is also one of the "HIV causes AIDS doubters" despite the evidence to the contrary.

I have not chosen to debate Esmay on this issue, both because I do not have the time to muster the counter-arguements and the data supporting them, and because I strongly suspect any arguements would ultimately be pointless in convincing him, based upon my prior experience in attempting to debate him on other issues.

 

At 9/26/2005 5:46 PM, Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

You would be right there Jack. I considered getting into a debate with him (I'm an immunologist and HIV is one of my key areas of interest as a result) but I saw from reading his blog that it would be worthless. His understanding of AIDS as a disease is very minimal, apparently not realising that AIDS kills someone indirectly by devastating their immune system. This allows any old pathogen, like those that can cause pneumonia to become a lethal infection instead of a minor speed bump.

As far as I'm aware, he buys into the cranks that claim that HIV is just caused by 'dirty' behaviour like taking drugs. This rhetoric is nothing new or interesting however, even in the early 1980s deaths due to AIDS were blamed instead of being homosexuals (sinners) and 'poppers' (taking party drugs which were associated with bath houses frequented by homosexuals). It's a long dead and buried idea with no support from the scientific community anymore.

It's worth noting however, that such behaviours do increase the risk of transmitting HIV. As many party drugs have an immnosuppressive effect they may also exacerbate a case of AIDS as well, but they are not directly responsible for causing the disease, which is the dramatic drop in CD4+ T-lymphocytes.

 

At 9/26/2005 6:46 PM, Blogger Orac said...

I'm not sure why you think I'm unaware that Dean is a huge HIV denialist, Jack. The blog posts I cited linked to him directly and criticized just that. The "cheap shot" I referred to was when Richard at Mossback Culture took a shot at Dean for a history of drinking, not because he gave Dean a deserved thrashing for his "HIV does not cause AIDS" nonsense.

lndeed, PZ's pointing out that Dean is an HIV denialist caused a bit of a stir with regards to the Skeptics' Circle back in May. His "skepticism" about HIV is what I like to call "pseudoskepticism," which, instead of being based in fact and reason, is based on fallacious understandings and mistatements of existing data supporting the thing he is "skeptical" about.

I agree that "debating" him would be a waste of time (although that never stopped me from "debating" the mercury/autism woo-woos).

JM, check out the latest post on Dean's blog. He clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. Any chance you could provide a few articles that would answer his "question"? I've found a couple recent ones myself already about the HIV-1 Tat protein and how it causes lymphcyte apoptosis (such as a JBC paper that's an advance publication), but perhaps you know of some more definitive ones.

 

At 9/26/2005 7:38 PM, Blogger Ahistoricality said...

The problem of "skepticism" and HIV-AIDS links came up in the NYTimes obituary of Serge Lang. Brilliant mathematician, but unable, apparently, accept the evidentiary standards of other fields....

 

At 9/26/2005 9:47 PM, Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

The problem with his question Orac is that a lot of the damage done during an HIV infection is done by the immune system itself. The cells the HIV virus infects, namely dendritic cells and T-cells are essential to the immune system. Unfortunately, the immune system gets rid of the infected cells by recognising them and destroying them.

Combined with the viruses ability to rapidly mutate avoiding the immune system and switch receptors it targets from CCR5 (macrophage/dendritic cells primarily) to CXCR5 (T-cells) it proves impossible to remove. In short, the virus keeps infecting T-cells, those T-cells get recognised as infected and are destroyed. Next wave, new T-cells are infected, the infected T-cells are recognised as infected and are destroyed 'etc'.

This process continues until the immune system utterly collapses and can take years (particularly in people with delta28 mutations in the gene encoding CCR5) or very little time (depending on other organisms). Deans has just grossly oversimplified (even I have here) an immensely complicated disease process.

It is also true that HIV can lyse T-cells as well, but generally this is secondary to the immune systems self-defeating war against a virus it can never beat. Even with drugs, all you do is control the virus and it's almost impossible to truly eliminate.

 

At 9/26/2005 9:50 PM, Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

Ick. That should be CXCR4 above, not 5. :/

 

At 9/26/2005 10:19 PM, Blogger Orac said...

Yes, HIV denialists like Esmay are just like cranks everywhere. They build up straw men and happily tear them down. Thanks for the information.

 

At 9/27/2005 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This, from the mother, is most interesting:

"How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here when children with far less — impatient distracted parents, a small apartment on a busy street, extended day care, Oscar Mayer Lunchables — will happily stay?"


As I recall, it is typical of abusive parents to shift blame onto the child for 'bad' or 'contrary' behaviour. This reminds me of that. An awful lot.

 

At 9/27/2005 9:55 AM, Blogger JP said...

It also reeks of class bias - small apartments, extended day care and Oscar Mayer lunchables are hallmarks of poorer, working-class families. If one were to be truly cynical, Ms. Maggiore's statement could be interperted as "I've got money so my kid shouldn't die - the poor kids should instead."

Sadly, I see variants of this same phenomenon with a segment of middle-class, stay at home moms who oppose vaccination. They often imply (or sometimes outright state) that "bad parenting" is responsible for kids getting sick. In other words, if you don't breastfeed, put your kid in daycare and vaccinate them, you're just begging for that kid to contract a disease. If only it were that simple.

 

At 9/27/2005 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say: In any case, the evidence that HIV causes AIDS is overwhelming, and the success of antiretroviral cocktails in decreasing death rates from AIDS and producing many actual long term survivors of a disease that used to be 100% fatal within a relatively short period of time flows from the scientific validity of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

I say: [1] Longterm survivors emerged within the first thousand cases recorded.

[2] A retrospective study of participants providing blood during the Hepatitis vaccine trials performed several years earlier unearthed longterm survivors.

Of the longterm survivors in [1] and [2], a significant portion have never taken HIV drugs and are still alive today.

Longitudinally-speaking, HIV infection has NEVER been 100% fatal. Better catch-up on your reading, doc.

 

At 9/27/2005 11:54 AM, Blogger Orac said...

I think you misread me. What did I say? I said that AIDS is 100% fatal in a short period of time, not HIV infection, which, as you know, takes a mean time of around 10 years before an AIDS-defining clinical event. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. Even so, HIV infection, if left untreated, will progress to AIDS in the vast majority of people. It can, however, take a long time.

Consider that by 14 years after seroconversion approximately 30% of HIV+ individuals may still not have progressed to AIDS. The fact is, at around 20 years since a reliable test for anti-HIV antibodies became available and even less time since widespread testing of at-risk populations became feasible, we probably haven't had enough time to characterize the full natural history of HIV infection and determined what percentage of people (if any) can live with HIV indefinitely without progression to AIDS. We can't yet say whether the survival curves will plateau.

 

At 9/27/2005 12:17 PM, Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

[1] Longterm survivors emerged within the first thousand cases recorded.

AIDS is terminal, being infected with HIV is not, which is a distinction that I think Orac was trying to make. Once you are at the stage where you have progressed to AIDS you are very dead. AIDS is characterised by the collapse of the immune system and typically the onset of AIDS related disorders such as AIDS related pneumonia, Karposi's sarcoma and infections by other generally non-pathogenic bacteria/fungi.

[2] A retrospective study of participants providing blood during the Hepatitis vaccine trials performed several years earlier unearthed longterm survivors.

Interviews with gay males in San Francisco by the CDC and later analyses of their PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) with HIV infection models established that some people can be resistant to HIV. In fact, he was interviewed in a documentary program on the original AIDS epidemic among San Francisco gays. His descriptions of watching his friends drop dead around him while he was spared was quite heart wrenching.

But again, this is relatively irrelevant because he didn't get AIDS. As should be fairly clear, HIV causes AIDS but having HIV doesn't mean you will always get AIDS.

Until the development of anti-retroviral drugs, once someone progressed to AIDS it was over.

Of the longterm survivors in [1] and [2], a significant portion have never taken HIV drugs and are still alive today.

Again, there are:

Different serotypes of HIV, with some being more lethal than others.

People may have mutations that render them resistant and in [rare] cases sometimes immune.

HIV is a bit like playing russian roulette, coinfection with other organisms, particularly tuberculosis can considerably change how quickly someone will succumb to HIV infection.

Longitudinally-speaking, HIV infection has NEVER been 100% fatal. Better catch-up on your reading, doc.

No, but having AIDS IS lethal because it's right at the end of the disease. Because when you've got AIDS that's when HIV has done sufficient damage to completely waste the immune system. At this point, once upon a time it was completely terminal and was as close as you could get to a death sentence. Oracs point is that AIDS was terminal when you got to that point then but isn't now because you can intervene with antiretrovirals (to at least abrogate the immune system damage, it's still dicey from this point).

If he had said "HIV is 100% lethal" I would agree with you but he didn't, he said "AIDS was 100% lethal". It would be a bit odd because I pointed out just earlier (if you read up a bit) that there are mutations that can render people resistant/immune to HIV.

Note: I wouldn't be surprised though if there was the very very rare case of someone recovering once they got to full blown AIDS. Strange things happen all the time in biology.

 

At 9/27/2005 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am just stunned by this. I am posting anon because I know one of the particulars. I cannot believe those who looked the other way and did nothing.

From a medical standpoint, I'd really like to know exactly when EJ had the chicken pox and how she fared after that (not during it). Herpesviruses are neurotropic and I wonder what all of her HHV levels were, especially her HHV-6. Could she have already had cognitive issues regarding AIDS (ie neuroAIDS) that went undetected? Didn't I read that she saw "invisible" things. Yes, yes ... this can be typical in that age-group, but it made me wonder. Also, the: "I want to go home" refrain -- echolalia ? OR maybe she meant that she needed to go home and lie down because she was SICK. Oh, God.

 

At 9/27/2005 4:45 PM, Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

JM O'Donnell, thank you for sharing your knowledge off the subject with the rest of us.

The actual story makes quite angry. How dare she let her daughter pay the price for her irrational beliefs?

 

At 9/28/2005 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not long ago I posted this comment from the mother...

"How come what we offered was not enough to keep her here..." etc etc.

What chills me in retrospect is that the mother is essentially saying "It was the child's decision to die; not my problem" and thus washing her hands completely and absolutely of any moral responsibility.

Whether she is in fact hiding from (her inability to face) the enormity of what she's done remains to be seen. When a three year old child says they want to "go home", what they mean (when they've got it in the first place) is four walls, a roof and a floor around them plus or minus a nice warm BED. Not a coffin.

Dr Justin Moretti

 

At 9/28/2005 4:09 PM, Anonymous Dianne said...

"HIV-1 Tat protein and how it causes lymphcyte apoptosis"

Hmm...I wonder if this could be useful. One could, for example, couple the Tat protein with an antibody against CD19 or CD20 and have a new treatment for CLL, B-ALL, and some lymphomas. Is tat pro-apoptotic in any other cells? I can think of a number of cancers that really need a way to increase their sensitivity to apoptosis.

 

At 9/29/2005 11:02 AM, Anonymous HCN said...

An update... They get to keep their son because he got the 3/4 chance of being HIV free... BUT a criminal inquiry is still underway to see if the parents were negligent:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-charlie29sep29,0,5694731.story?coll=la-home-local

And an editorial which lashes out at Gordon and Fleiss:
http://www.nationalreview.com/seipp/seipp200509290815.asp

 

At 9/29/2005 3:24 PM, Blogger Caltechgirl said...

thanks folks, for providing an oasis of sanity. I've gotten into it with Dean and with Dr. Harvey Bialy any number of times over there, and it's a mess. What's interesting in this case is that EJ's HIV status HAS NOT been reported directly.

I too was incensed by Christine Maggiore's class-baiting dismissal of the worth of the lives of millions of middle class children, but I realize those statements are made out of her grief, and we really shouldn't focus on them.

The real issue here is whether or not AIDS killed EJ. And whether or not she was treated effectively. If you've perused the Dean's world threads, you'll know I've been literally beaten over the head for asking why EJ was sick for more than 2 weeks, continued to deteriorate and was never treated. Several folks, including doctors have suggested that it's normal to let a 3 year old have the sniffles and an ear infection for more than 14 days before prescribing any treatment or diagnostic tests. Which seems irresponsible to me and prompts me to ask why was the mother taking her to doctors if she didn't want treatment? Furthermore, given her well-known risk, why wasn't she examined more closely as soon as she started to exhibit new symptoms?

There are so many issues here, and the shoddy reporting in the piece in the LA Times doesn't help to sort this out. Clearly, many adults failed EJ, and hopefully her death won't be in vain.

 

At 9/29/2005 4:08 PM, Blogger Orac said...

By definition, dying of an AIDS-related pneumonia requires that the victim be HIV+; so it doesn't bother me so much that EJ's HIV status hasn't been reported "directly." The HIV/AIDS denialists are making much of that right now, but in the end I think it will come back and bite them. I'd hope that the coroner wouldn't have come up with that cause of death if EJ wasn't HIV+; that would be pretty egregious. I'd be more interested in knowing the pathogens involved. If it was Pneumocystis carinii, for example, that would nail it.

As for Dean, yes, he is a piece of work when it comes to AIDS denialism. I don't even bother with him anymore.

 

At 9/29/2005 7:19 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

Then you would be in agreement with Catherine Seipp's opinions in the National Review column I posted just before your comment.

Also, I am confused about the note that Eliza Jane's HIV status was not reported directly. In both LA Times I posted has this quote: " The cause of death, according to a Sept. 15 report by the county coroner, was AIDS-related pneumonia." It also mentions that a criminal inquiry is taking place, so more information may come out of that.

I am presently disgusted with the Duesberg followers who are insisting that AIDS is a "lifestyle" disease, therefore the child cannot have had HIV or AIDS. It is so stupid... and totally discounts people like the founder of this:
http://www.pedaids.org/history.html

 

At 9/30/2005 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
I was banned from Dean's World because after many frustrating days I ended up calling him a Denialist. He took offence at this.

With regards to his latest challenge.

Duesberg cites this paper
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=2410792&query_hl=11

A molecular clone of HTLV-III with biological activity. Fisher AG, Collalti E, Ratner L, Gallo RC, Wong-Staal F. Nature. 1985 Jul 18-24;316(6025):262-5.

as evidence that HIV exists.

http://www.duesberg.com/papers/continu1.html

Duesberg, however, conveniently forgets to mention the biological activity of the molecular clone. It was cytopathic in cell cultures.

I also noted that Bialy returned and lists the table of Predictions/Facts from Duesberg's latest publication.

http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1127916190.shtml#43750

I have dealt with some of the "Predictions/Facts" here.
http://groups.google.com/group/misc.health.aids/browse_frm/thread/d0b0e9cbb1ed298e/18f8f03a07f21746#18f8f03a07f21746

Most of the "predictions" are no more predictions of HIV/AIDS science than "People in England should fall of the bottom of the earth" is a prediction of the spherical earth theory.

Note: Some people would like to assert that the southern hemisphere is on the bottom of the earth. This is clearly nonsense. If God, for whatever reason decided to make the earth a sphere he would have put Australia on the top. This is entirely self-evident.

Chris Noble

 

At 10/01/2005 1:24 AM, Blogger Orac said...

I'll check out the links when I get back from my conference. Thanks.

 

At 10/03/2005 3:47 PM, Blogger JP said...

I commented on this as well on my blog - to me, this is a classic example of buying into an extreme lifestyle (natural or nothing) to the point that not even the death of a child can shake one from that belief system.

The reality is that Maggiore is, in many ways, so convinced she's right that she'll construct an alternate reality by which her child's death wasn't due to AIDS or other parental choices. It's classic cognitive dissonance.

The sad part is that she's not the first person who feels this way, nor will she be the last.

 

At 10/05/2005 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a father myself I feel devasted by Christine Maggiores loss.

For the last 15 years I've lived with an HIV-diagnosis. During the early 90-ties I witnessed patients at the Kobler centre in London fall ill. Then AZT mono-therapy was the big thing, combo-therapy trials were just starting.

Aids death were already in decline before combo-therapy became available to all patients, yet combo-therapy was hailed as the next big thing in the battle against AIDS.

By now the HIV/AIDS lobby had grown into a mutli-billion dollar industry. For a brief period I also took part in some trials. I did not have to work, received more benefits and the Kobler centre had another Guinea-pig. When I experienced side-effects, my social worker told me very bluntly to throw away the pills. And a great deal of other patients did just that. So they could continue to receive benefits. And research centres such as the Kobler could receive more funding.

During the mid-nineties I suffered a nervous breakdown. I could no longer live like this. Lilfe had no more meaning, I had been sentenced to death yet I wasn't dying. In fact, as long as I did the exact opposite of what I was told by HIV-doctors -i.e. not taking the meds- I remained healthy.

In my desperation I turned to alternative explanations with regards to the cause of AIDS. To my surprise I discovered that Nobel-prize winning scientists such as Kary Mullis who developed the AIDS test, and molecular biologist Peter Duesberg had quite plausible explanations. Such as that HIV exists but that it can not cause AIDS as AIDS is the result of frequent recreational drug use, poor living conditions and poverty.

To this day these theories still make more sense to me than orthodox views on AIDS. I am still perfectly healthy. And the father of a perfectly healthy boy. I looked into HIV and AIDS very long. To date there is no document that demonstrates that HIV has been truly isolated in a scientific sense. Their has been no peer review of HIV-isolation.

Any other disease requires such strict isolation procedures. But HIV apparantly does not.
AIDS does exist. There is no doubt about it. But to date more people die of Malaria and TB than of AIDS.
And whichever way we look at it, we simply do not know whether or not HIV causes AIDS. We do know that TB-bacteria cause TB. TB-bacteria can be isolated.

But we can not say the same about HIV. We have not even isolated HIV, and ones immunesystem can be weakened for a great number of reasons.

To date I remain convinced that HIV is not the sole cause or only cause of AIDS. To truly battle AIDS we should not spend such a disproportionate amount of funding on a virus that most likely does not cause AIDS. To eradicate AIDS we need to provide better education, better drug prevention programmes, combat poverty and malnutrition. Then we will win the fight against AIDS. Not by continous funding into pseudo-HIV-sciences.

 

At 10/07/2005 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reality check:

Re the chelation death:
1. 780,000 people are killed by Orthodox medicine every year in the USA http://www.nutritioninstituteofamerica.org/research/DeathByMedicine/DeathByMedicine1.htm

Some way for alternative medicine to catch up! Pot kettle, and then some. But I can understand, called projection.

2. The main cause of autism is Orthodox medicines use of vaccines, so that kid wouldn't have been in that situation without that "medicine". The Vaccine Hoax http://www.whale.to/b/hoax1.html

re HIV.

1. A hoax http://www.whale.to/a/hivfraud.html

2. Pharma med hasn't cured anyone of AIDS, which is kind of a big red flag, but then, the only drug to cure a disease is an antibiotic.

"He was one of my most dramatic recoveries with AIDS, and the reason I say that is that he was the most far gone. He was in the absolute, end stage -- they have that wing in the hospital where they have given up on you. You can smoke pot and do anything you want. They had given up on him."—Dr Shulze, who cured 16 from last stage full-blown AIDS. http://www.whale.to/a/shulze.html

cheers!

 

At 10/07/2005 10:50 AM, Blogger Orac said...

Quoting loon sites like Whale.to is not a way to be taken seriously around here (or anywhere, outside of extreme altie circles).

But I am glad to see that you do seem to be implicitly admitting that HIV denialism was responsible for the death of this child.

BTW, your point about AIDS is a nonsequitur. The real point is that antiretroviral drugs can decrease the rate of maternal transmission to the baby of HIV from 25% to under 2%, a 12-fold decrease in risk.

 

At 10/07/2005 12:39 PM, Anonymous HCN said...

Note a more reliable source on HIV/AIDS information:
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/publications/hivaids/hivaids.htm

And a commentary on the accuracy of John Scudamore's "Whale" site:
http://members.tripod.com/vaccinesupport-ivil/antivaxsites/whale.html

(which has a reputation of digging up some very old references... a long time ago I looked at some of the pages and found myself reading a screed on disease where the author commented on how "dirty" the Indians (American Native, not Asian) were, plus some other very politically incorrect statements... and then I checked the date, it was from the latter part of the 19th century!)

 

At 10/25/2005 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ONLY thing more frightening than HIV are the denialists who claim it's harmless. (thankfully their ignorance will land them in an early grave, long before they reproduce more idiots)

 

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