The doubters resent the label they've been saddled with—"AIDS denialists"—and complain that the term is intended to equate them with the lunatic fringe that denies the existence of the Holocaust. But denial certainly seems to be a theme in the story of one of Scheff's most well-known colleagues, the person who actually tipped him off to the situation at Incarnation.

We're talking about Christine Maggiore, perhaps the country's most famous AIDS denialist, who, after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1992, rejected the theory that it causes AIDS.

She's dead now, having died of AIDS-related illnesses this past December after refusing to take AIDS medicines and denying to the end that she had HIV or that it could develop into AIDS.

That was her choice, and, naturally, her small following continues to believe that her fatal pneumonia was not caused by AIDS and that her death is not the best evidence that she was simply wrong in her beliefs.

But, more tragically, Maggiore took someone with her. In 2002, she gave birth to a daughter. During her pregnancy, Maggiore refused to take drugs that could reduce the risk of passing HIV to her child. She also breast-fed the girl, which is not recommended for women who are HIV-positive. Maggiore refused to have the child tested for HIV. Three years later, the girl caught a cold that quickly became serious, resulting in her death. An autopsy by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office concluded that the girl had developed pneumonia as a result of advanced AIDS.

Maggiore denied vehemently that she had allowed her personal politics to kill her child. She turned to an ally, a Ph.D. whose research primarily involved animals, who ginned up a study claiming that the girl had instead died of a reaction to amoxacillin.

But in 2003, years before the death of her child and before her AIDS denialism resulted in her own demise, Maggiore contacted a man she knew, Liam Scheff, with a tip about a story about AIDS drug testing in an uptown Manhattan foster home.

Scheff went to the foster home and concluded that children were being seized from their parents so they could be pumped with experimental drugs that were killing some of them. (Neither allegation, it turned out, was substantiated.) His article was also shot through with denialist language, such as that AIDS tests are "highly inaccurate."

Scheff shopped around his story, "The House That AIDS Built," to various publications, including the Voice, which rejected it. The story was passed around on several websites before it exploded. The New York Post ran its own version of the story. The BBC produced a documentary based on it.

Scheff had found parents or guardians very willing to be interviewed. In the early days of the epidemic, when medicines had serious side effects and the disease itself progressed slowly, some parents felt it was the medicines themselves making the children sick. Many of these people were willing to believe that children had been taken away so that they could be put in trials. (The state is legally allowed to remove children from homes on charges of medical neglect. But there's no evidence children were removed so that drug trials could be conducted.) Meanwhile, relatives and advocates couldn't get answers from the city's child welfare agency. The agency couldn't even tell the public how many children had been in trials.

An angry audience packed a City Council hearing in May 2005. When the new commissioner of the city's Administration for Child Services, John Mattingly, testified, he was called a Nazi doctor and accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity.

The story of pediatric AIDS in New York was actually a success story: The mother-to-child transmission rate had been brought down by 90 percent. But the controversy threatened to undermine the faith of many in the medical establishment.

Over time, the most heated rhetoric subsided as the agenda of Maggiore and Scheff became better known. The Times, in its 2005 story, quoted physicians who were adamant that they had done everything possible to follow ethical guidelines and care for the children, beginning in a desperate time when HIV was a death sentence and there were no approved medicines for children. (AZT, the first AIDS medicine, was approved for children in 1990.) The BBC, after being shown evidence that the facts had been distorted, retracted much of what was in its documentary.

And today, the Times sounds satisfied that the controversy has been settled with an independent study.

Except that it's not that simple. Even disregarding the unscientific fevered dreams of Maggiore and Scheff, much of what the children experienced at the Incarnation Children's Center was horrific, and there's little doubt that much of the testing work and record-keeping in the various sites around the city that conducted clinical trials were questionable. The Voice wanted to know: While keeping at bay the distracting background noise from the denialists, is there still a story to be told about what went wrong—and what went right—at testing sites like Incarnation?

Unlike the Times, we decided to start with someone who actually lived through it.


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2 comments
poetx9
poetx9

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.


ElizabethEly
ElizabethEly

"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.

 
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