The AIDS-Babies-as-Guinea-Pigs Story Is Finally Over. Right?

On January 27, The New York Times published a short article that was clearly intended to provide the final, definitive word on a controversy over the medical treatment of AIDS babies that, just a few years earlier, gripped much of the city.

Using the kind of vocabulary that cautious journalists rarely use with such certainty, the Times asserted that a new study by a nonprofit research institute had settled questions about whether foster children at a convent in Washington Heights had actually been killed in drug trials.

"The Vera Institute," the Times announced with finality, "concluded that none of the 532 children in the trials died as a direct result of the medications."

Brian Stauffer

Take a look at that sentence again. It doesn't leave much room for doubt.

But when the Voice called up the Vera Institute of Justice to ask what it was like for its criminal justice researchers to wade into what was once a fierce controversy over the use of very sick black and Latino foster children for experimental and highly toxic AIDS drugs over a 13-year period, the people at the Institute didn't sound so certain.

This is what Tim Ross, director of the Vera Institute, said when he was asked about the assertion that none of the sick children had died from the toxic drugs themselves:

"Trying to nail down the precise cause of death was very difficult. But to say that they died because of the trial . . . we couldn't say that," he answered.

Note the difference: not, "None of the children died as a result of the medications," but, "We couldn't say that."

Ross went on: "You also can't say that any particular kid benefited or lived longer from some of the medicines. Would they have died in three months instead of six—or a year?"

It was impossible to say with certainty, he pointed out. And why was that? Despite the Times' confidence in the Vera Institute's study, some of the people at the nonprofit say they were incredibly frustrated when they set out to investigate what had really happened to the children in what was a nightmare scenario, at best. And the source of the frustration?

Well, there's this, for starters: The Vera Institute, chosen by the city to provide an independent assessment of what happened, was never able to acquire the actual medical records of the children involved, despite repeated attempts to obtain them.

The majority of the 25 children who died during the trials were extremely sick with full-blown AIDS when they began the testing, which has led the researchers to believe it was unlikely that they died due to the medications. But they don't know for certain. Without medical records, the Vera Institute says, it is also impossible to know what the actual effects of the drugs were on any of the children or how much they suffered.

"Most people would be happy they weren't dead," says Ross. "But there was a lot else we found troubling."

So maybe it's worth taking another look at what happened at the testing facilities for very sick children, to determine what else troubled the people at the Vera Institute—despite the public pronouncements that there is nothing to see here.

Four years ago, the Times wrote a much longer story that laid out, in a skillful and comprehensive way, the origins of the controversy and how it had come to light. (The Voice itself, as far as we can tell, wrote nothing at all.)

"Most of the questions have arisen from a single account of abuse allegations—given by a single writer about people not identified by real names, backed up with no official documentation as supporting proof, and put out on the Internet in early 2004 after the author was unable to get the story published anywhere else," the Times noted.

That writer was Liam Scheff, a man who lives in Boston, comes from a family of doctors, is "nearing 40," and who, in 2003, knew that he was onto a remarkable news story about the way foster children in Washington Heights were being used in medical experiments.

There's little doubt that Scheff uncovered a troubling and fascinating part of the city's history. But the problem wasn't that he was an "independent" journalist who tended to get stories published only on the Internet.

No, the problem was that Liam Scheff was on a crusade, one that made it especially unfortunate that he was the one who stumbled onto what was happening at an old convent converted into a sickhouse for foster children.

Scheff was very concerned about the sick children at the Incarnation Children's Center who were the subject of drug trials from about 1989 to about 2002—there's no doubt about that. But he is also part of a small but insistent group that doubts that HIV causes AIDS; considers HIV tests to be highly inaccurate; and believes that AIDS medications cause more harm than good. Medical science considers all three subjects long settled: HIV tests are actually among the most accurate in the field; AIDS drugs have helped turn what was once a death sentence into a manageable disease; and HIV's role in AIDS is well established.

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Careful examination of the "dissident" (rather than "denialist") positions on HIV/AIDS shows that they are more accurate and scientifically true than the bogus garbage the public has been force-fed from the "medical" establishment since the beginning of this tragedy of errors.

"HIV causes AIDS" is simply not proven, has never been. The original claim, "HIV is the probable cause" lost the word "probable" and was pounded into public acceptance with the help of a NY Times reporter who was also an employee of the CDC which sponsored that original lie. (When the papers used to support this claim were published AFTER the news conference by Robert Gallo and Margaret Heckler, the papers show HIV presence in a mere 36% of the group being studied. Why was this never questioned and exposed?)

The unreliability of the "HIV test" is obvious when taking into consideration the dozens, as many as 100 or more, causes for a "false positive." The inherent discrimination of the test is obvious to at least one gay man, myself, whose positive test over 15 years ago was never once investigated or considered such a "false positive." The test is meant to instill fear and encourage those who may already have minor but measurable health issues to take toxic and eventually lethal drugs, pure and simple.

That our American health system is a military-modeled organization means that orders and information flow only in one direction, from the top down. This explains why respected and knowledgeable scientists such as Kary Mullis and Peter Duesberg, both of whom have clearly and scientifically shown the holes in the mainstream web of lies and misinformation, have been ridiculed and shunned for their courageous stand on this issue.

Even without the extensive research I've done, later than I wish I had, I know firsthand that HIV does not cause AIDS. I've been supposedly "positive" for at least fifteen years with zero AIDS-related illness or symptoms. Friends and acquaintances who have taken "AIDS drugs" have died, been maimed (hip replacement is certainly maiming) and are being used to shift gross amounts of money from insurance companies and charity organizations into the bank accounts of the murderous pharmaceutical industry. There is no shame on luxury vacation flights, of course. That those who benefit and profit from this think they are being helpful and benevolent is no excuse for murder-by-medicine.


"Council member Bill de Blasio tells the Voice that he isn't satisfied with the state's answer and that, within the next few months, he plans to sponsor a bill requiring the state to release the records to Vera. "If you push, there's always a way," de Blasio says."

Now that he's been elected mayor, are you going to call him up and follow up on that promise?  Where is the bill he sponsored "in the next few months"?  Nobody could find the resolution he announced he'd filed when the Vera report came out, either.  Would appreciate your looking into that, Elizabeth Dwoskin.  Because no, the AIDS Babies as Guinea Pigs Story is Not Finally Over.  It's barely begun to be told.