Good luncheon time to you all,

If you’re drinking something right now, may I suggest you swallow and put your cup down before proceeding any further, done? Good.

Last night when ploughing through my emails I got to this one:

Hi Sam,

I’m just a guy who stumbled across your website.. Last December I became interested in the work of a certain Dr. Peter Duesberg who has spent his entire life studying the disease and also saved the life of a ‘positive’ child simply by stopping her dosage of retroviral medicines.

Have you ever heard of the movie House of numbers? What do you think about it? I approached a couple of HIV positive people on sites like gaydar etc. regarding the theory ( very well documented) that AIDS doesn’t really exist, but they didn’t seem to be very receptive. Two of them got actually quite offended and told me I should mind my own business..

Thanks for reading this mail, hope to hear from you soon.

Now I get lots of emails each day, dozens in fact. Most of them very supportive, with the odd crazy piece of hate mail thrown in. But this one was something new.

I was flabberghasted, speechless even – and it’s not often I’m without something to say. I’m not sure which part worries me more the fact that there’s a “well documented” “theory” out there that “AIDS doesn’t really exist” or that this “Doctor” is “saving” children’s lives by stopping their HAART treatment. Even now, twelve hours later I’m still at a loss of what to make of this.

How can these people ignore the solid scientific evidence for the existence of HIV and the very real fact that left unchecked and untreated a person will likely develop an AIDS defining condition? Billions, if not trillions of pounds/dollars/your_currency_here have been spent researching this virus and developing the amazing drugs we have today.

Even if you just take me as a very simple case in point, before I started my HIV treatment I felt like crap, I had a CD4 count (immune system) of 332 and a Viral Load (copies of the HIV virus in the blood) of 79,000. Only 6 months after I started treatment my CD4 had risen up to 381 and my VL had dropped to a measly 46.

I’ve heard other stories about churches urging members of their flock to stop treatment and either pray away the disease, or just plain denying it exists. The fact that people can be so stupid just beggars belief to me. I sent the gentleman a polite but firm rebuttal of his email, explaining that I thought his views were both irresponsible and dangerous.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Love and other scientifically measurable feelings,



  1. Couldn’t have put it better myself angel. What a load of bunk.

    At least he was a nice, *polite* crazy person though 😉


  2. I always point denialists to, as that is what the site was set up for. It provides all the scientific proof and answers to the disingenuous lies and half-truths they try to peddle, as well as a long list of all the dead denialists, which makes for a sobering read!

  3. I have to say, I’m not that surprised. There are people who will believe anything, no matter how much good evidence there is to the contrary. Indeed, without wanting to offend any religious types here, I’d say that is the point of religion – to believe a doctrine no matter what. The blindness of faith is its greatest danger, but held by many to be its greatest virtue. I was surprised to be told by an acquaintance on Twitter, who had up to then seemed perfectly reasonable, with a straight face, that the big bang and evolution were lies and a conspiracy – but he believed in god. The best thing to do is back away, make no sudden moves, and block them if they get nasty.

    If people want to try faith healing, or whatever, let them – but we must be vigilant about vulnerable people being preyed upon by people like your correspondent. Looks like he’s had no luck so far, thankfully.

  4. I previously worked for a top 10 pharmaceutical company. Seeing the amount of money, time and effort that has been and is still being ploughed into research to help HIV positive people live a long and confortable life and hopefully lead to a cure just blows your mind.

    It saddens me to see people even asking questions like this or believing the codswallop that is peddled. HIV infection is scientific fact. How people can believe that its not is completely beyond me.

    You’re doing a great job of putting a face to HIV rather than it being a mysterious unspoken disease. Keep up the good work Sam, we need more people like yourself and less of the people behind emails like that.


  5. Just some thoughts:

    Dr Peter Duesberg doesn’t deny that AIDS exists. He denies that HIV causes AIDS. But yeah, it’s bollocks and most of the scientific community have shunned him because of it.

    Also, the guy who emailed you didn’t say he thinks what Dr Duesberg is saying is true. I think maybe he’s just curious.


  6. Oh, this is doing the rounds at the moment, turning up all over the place on message board sites and the like. It’s kind of ironic that someone accusing “big pharmas” of profiteering on misinformation and then reacts by doing the same thing, but gains a surprisingly credulous following.

    One thing that’s technically fair, though, is that AIDS per se rarely happens in the countries where healthcare is good and where diagnosis is early.

  7. It is actually very well documented – that doesn’t mean it’s scientifically accurate, though.

    It’s just another conspiracy theory and as such it’s impossible to stop. All you can do is calmly put forward the opposing view; arguing the point will get you nowhere and will just increase your blood pressure.

  8. Sam, for years the people of S Africa suffered from President Thabo Mbeki, who denied that Aids existed.
    Millions of Africans suffered and died as a result of his and his ‘Beetroot’ Minister of Health’s denial. Beetroot because she advocated it as a cure for HIV. I, as a S African, was deeply ashamed of their ignorance.

  9. A few years back, Ben Goldacre wrote quite a bit about Duesberg, House of Numbers and the AIDS denialists in his Bad Science column. For instance and

    Duesberg and that crowd have been very, very damaging. He was actually one of the advisors on Former S African President Mbeki’s AIDS advisory panel, which but the brakes on getting access to treatment in South Africa for years.

  10. Sadly it was only a matter of time until you received an email like that. There are a lot of misguided people out there who truly believe what is written on these denialism websites because there are endorsements from so-called doctors. Vulnerable people who go looking for answers about their diagnosis often are fooled by the “evidence” presented. It’s a hugely dangerous avenue.
    I’ve even come across people in the HIV field who have picked up on this kind of crap and have passed on to service users potentially dangerous gems such as “If you get better on your meds, you can always come off them…..” – unbelievable, but unfortunately true.

    I’ve also come across people selling cures, such as herbal remedies, snake oil, drinking colloidal silver, drinking bleach, or even by bouncing on a trampoline.
    There are some crazy people out there, and there are also people who will do anything to make a fast buck. Sometimes Google has a lot to answer for!

    Thankfully there are websites where correct and up to date information is readily available, such as THT, NAM, The Body, Avert. And thankfully most people can see through the bullshit that the not-so-reliable’s try to present.

  11. Oh Sam, what a load of bollocks that email is!

    While the sender has his head in the sand, why not pop round and kick his arse? I’ll do it for you!
    What is the matter with these people?

    Case in point – A friend of mine has Aspergers. A ‘caring’ member of his church told him that he can be cured with prayer. No. He. Can’t. Fortunately he understands this. At the end of the day though, he’s not going to die early if he stops his meds.

    You’re living proof that the drugs work. They’ll prolong your life to, hopefully, a ripe old age.
    Keep taking the tablets, love, and ignore these idiots.

    Sharon xx

  12. As usual, Sam, you are absolutely right! It is an unfortunate fact of life that there are some extraordinarily stupid people sharing the planet with us.

    Hugs and kisses.



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