This statement is incorrect and misleading. Although anti-HIV drugs can and
do cause alterations in liver function that must be monitored carefully, a
pile of studies over the past several years conclude that most deaths from
liver failure are due to coinfection with hepatitis C or B, not side effects
from the drugs. The immune system deficiencies caused by HIV infection make
people more vulnerable to hepatitis infection.


On 2/16/07, Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The leading cause of death in HIV-positives in the U.S. in
> the last few years has been liver failure, not an
> AIDS-defining disease in any way, but rather an
> acknowledged side effect of protease inhibitors,
> which asymptomatic individuals take in massive daily doses, for years.
> ********************
> Why I Quit HIV
> by Rebecca V. Culshaw
> rebeccavculshaw (at)
> As I write this, in the late winter of 2006, we
> are more than twenty years into the AIDS era.
> Like many, a large part of my life has been
> irreversibly affected by AIDS. My entire
> adolescence and adult life  as well as the lives
> of many of my peers  has been overshadowed by
> the belief in a deadly, sexually transmittable
> pathogen and the attendant fear of intimacy and
> lack of trust that belief engenders.
> To add to this impact, my chosen career has
> developed around the HIV model of AIDS. I
> received my Ph.D. in 2002 for my work
> constructing mathematical models of HIV
> infection, a field of study I entered in 1996.
> Just ten years later, it might seem early for me
> to be looking back on and seriously reconsidering
> my chosen field, yet here I am.
> My work as a mathematical biologist has been
> built in large part on the paradigm that HIV
> causes AIDS, and I have since come to realize
> that there is good evidence that the entire basis
> for this theory is wrong. AIDS, it seems, is not
> a disease so much as a sociopolitical construct
> that few people understand and even fewer
> question. The issue of causation, in particular,
> has become beyond question  even to bring it up is deemed irresponsible.
> Why have we as a society been so quick to accept
> a theory for which so little solid evidence
> exists? Why do we take proclamations by
> government institutions like the NIH and the CDC,
> via newscasters and talk show hosts, entirely on
> faith? The average citizen has no idea how weak
> the connection really is between HIV and AIDS,
> and this is the manner in which scientifically
> insupportable phrases like "the AIDS virus" or
> "an AIDS test" have become part of the common
> vernacular despite no evidence for their accuracy.
> When it was announced in 1984 that the cause of
> AIDS had been found in a retrovirus that came to
> be known as HIV, there was a palpable panic. My
> own family was immediately affected by this
> panic, since my mother had had several blood
> transfusions in the early 1980s as a result of
> three late miscarriages she had experienced. In
> the early days, we feared mosquito bites,
> kissing, and public toilet seats. I can still
> recall the panic I felt after looking up in a
> public restroom and seeing some graffiti that
> read "Do you have AIDS yet? If not, sit on this toilet seat."
> But I was only ten years old then, and over time
> the panic subsided to more of a dull roar as it
> became clear that AIDS was not as easy to "catch"
> as we had initially believed. Fear of going to
> the bathroom or the dentist was replaced with a
> more realistic wariness of having sex with anyone
> we didn't know really, really well. As a teenager
> who was in no way promiscuous, I didn't have much to worry about.
> That all changed  or so I thought  when I was
> twenty-one. Due to circumstances in my personal
> life and a bit of paranoia that (as it turned
> out, falsely and completely groundlessly) led me
> to believe I had somehow contracted "AIDS," I got
> an HIV test. I spent two weeks waiting for the
> results, convinced that I would soon die, and
> that it would be "all my fault." This was despite
> the fact that I was perfectly healthy, didn't use
> drugs, and wasn't promiscuous  low-risk by any
> definition. As it happened, the test was
> negative, and, having felt I had been granted a
> reprieve, I vowed not to take more risks, and to quit worrying so much.
> Over the past ten years, my attitude toward HIV
> and AIDS has undergone a dramatic shift. This
> shift was catalyzed by the work I did as a
> graduate student, analyzing mathematical models
> of HIV and the immune system. As a mathematician,
> I found virtually every model I studied to be
> unrealistic. The biological assumptions on which
> the models were based varied from author to
> author, and this made no sense to me. It was
> around this time, too, that I became increasingly
> perplexed by the stories I heard about long-term
> survivors. From my admittedly inexpert viewpoint,
> the major thing they all had in common  other
> than HIV  was that they lived extremely healthy
> lifestyles. Part of me was becoming suspicious
> that being HIV-positive didn't necessarily mean you would ever get AIDS.
> By a rather curious twist of fate, it was on my
> way to a conference to present the results of a
> model of HIV that I had proposed together with my
> advisor, that I came across an article by Dr.
> David Rasnick about AIDS and the corruption of
> modern science. As I sat on the airplane reading
> this story, in which he said "the more I examined
> HIV, the less it made sense that this largely
> inactive, barely detectable virus could cause
> such devastation," everything he wrote started
> making sense to me in a way that the currently
> accepted model did not. I didn't have anywhere
> near all the information, but my instincts told
> me that what he said seemed to fit.
> Over the past ten years, I nevertheless continued
> my research into mathematical models of HIV
> infection, all the while keeping an ear open for
> dissenting voices. By now, I have read hundreds
> of articles on HIV and AIDS, many from the
> dissident point of view but far, far more from
> that of the establishment, which unequivocally
> promotes the idea that HIV causes AIDS and that
> the case is closed. In that time, I even
> published four papers on HIV (from a modeling
> perspective). I justified my contributions to a
> theory I wasn't convinced of by telling myself
> these were purely theoretical, mathematical
> constructs, never to be applied in the real
> world. I suppose, in some sense also, I wanted to keep an open mind.
> So why is it that only now have I decided that
> enough is enough, and I can no longer in any
> capacity continue to support the paradigm on
> which my entire career has been built?
> As a mathematician, I was taught early on about
> the importance of clear definitions. AIDS, if you
> consider its definition, is far from clear, and
> is in fact not even a consistent entity. The
> classification "AIDS" was introduced in the early
> 1980s not as a disease but as a surveillance tool
> to help doctors and public health officials
> understand and control a strange "new" syndrome
> affecting mostly young gay men. In the two
> decades intervening, it has evolved into
> something quite different. AIDS today bears
> little or no resemblance to the syndrome for
> which it was named. For one thing, the definition
> has actually been changed by the CDC several
> times, continually expanding to include ever more
> diseases (all of which existed for decades prior
> to AIDS), and sometimes, no disease whatsoever.
> More than half of all AIDS diagnoses in the past
> several years in the United States have been made
> on the basis of a T-cell count and a "confirmed"
> positive antibody test  in other words, a deadly
> disease has been diagnosed over and over again on
> the basis of no clinical disease at all. And the
> leading cause of death in HIV-positives in the
> last few years has been liver failure, not an
> AIDS-defining disease in any way, but rather an
> acknowledged side effect of protease inhibitors,
> which asymptomatic individuals take in massive daily doses, for years.
> The epidemiology of HIV and AIDS is puzzling and
> unclear as well. In spite of the fact that AIDS
> cases increased rapidly from their initial
> observation in the early 1980s and reached a peak
> in 1993 before declining rapidly, the number of
> HIV-positive individuals in the U.S. has remained
> constant at one million since the advent of
> widespread HIV antibody testing. This cannot be
> due to anti-HIV therapy, since the annual
> mortality rate of North American HIV-positives
> who are treated with anti-HIV drugs is much
> higher  between 6.7 and 8.8%  than would be the
> approximately 12% global mortality rate of
> HIV-positives if all AIDS cases were fatal in a given year.
> Even more strangely, HIV has been present
> everywhere in the U.S., in every population
> tested including repeat blood donors and military
> recruits, at a virtually constant rate since
> testing began in 1985. It is deeply confusing
> that a virus thought to have been brought to the
> AIDS epicenters of New York, San Francisco and
> Los Angeles in the early 1970s could possibly
> have spread so rapidly at first, yet have stopped
> spreading completely as soon as testing began.
> Returning for a moment to the mathematical
> modeling, one aspect that had always puzzled me
> was the lack of agreement on how to accurately
> represent the actual biological mechanism of
> immune impairment. AIDS is said to be caused by a
> dramatic loss of the immune system's T-cells,
> said loss being presumably caused by HIV. Why
> then could no one agree on how to mathematically
> model the dynamics of the fundamental disease
> process  that is, how are T-cells actually
> killed by HIV? Early models assumed that HIV
> killed T-cells directly, by what is referred to
> as lysis. An infected cell lyses, or bursts, when
> the internal viral burden is so high that it can
> no longer be contained, just like your grocery
> bag breaks when it's too full. This is in fact
> the accepted mechanism of pathogenesis for
> virtually all other viruses. But it became clear
> that HIV did not in fact kill T-cells in this
> manner, and this concept was abandoned, to be
> replaced by various other ones, each of which
> resulted in very different models and, therefore,
> different predictions. Which model was "correct" never was clear.
> As it turns out, the reason there was no
> consensus mathematically as to how HIV killed
> T-cells was because there was no biological
> consensus. There still isn't. HIV is possibly the
> most studied microbe in history  certainly it is
> the best-funded  yet there is still no
> agreed-upon mechanism of pathogenesis. Worse than
> that, there are no data to support the hypothesis
> that HIV kills T-cells at all. It doesn't in the
> test tube. It mostly just sits there, as it does
> in people  if it can be found at all. In Robert
> Gallo's seminal 1984 paper in which he claims
> "proof" that HIV causes AIDS, actual HIV could be
> found in only 26 out of 72 AIDS patients. To
> date, actual HIV remains an elusive target in
> those with AIDS or simply HIV-positive.
> This is starkly illustrated by the continued use
> of antibody tests to diagnose HIV infection.
> Antibody tests are fairly standard to test for
> certain microbes, but for anything other than
> HIV, the main reason they are used in place of
> direct tests (that is, actually looking for the
> bacteria or virus itself) is because they are
> generally much easier and cheaper than direct
> testing. Most importantly, such antibody tests
> have been rigorously verified against the gold
> standard of microbial isolation. This stands in
> vivid contrast to HIV, for which antibody tests
> are used because there exists no test for the
> actual virus. As to so-called "viral load," most
> people are not aware that tests for viral load
> are neither licensed nor recommended by the FDA
> to diagnose HIV infection. This is why an "AIDS
> test" is still an antibody test. Viral load,
> however, is used to estimate the health status of
> those already diagnosed HIV-positive. But there
> are very good reasons to believe it does not work
> at all. Viral load uses either PCR or a technique
> called branched-chained DNA amplification (bDNA).
> PCR is the same technique used for "DNA
> fingerprinting" at crime scenes where only trace
> amounts of materials can be found. PCR
> essentially mass-produces DNA or RNA so that it
> can be seen. If something has to be mass-produced
> to even be seen, and the result of that
> mass-production is used to estimate how much of a
> pathogen there is, it might lead a person to
> wonder how relevant the pathogen was in the first
> place. Specifically, how could something so hard
> to find, even using the most sensitive and
> sophisticated technology, completely decimate the
> immune system? bDNA, while not magnifying
> anything directly, nevertheless looks only for
> fragments of DNA believed, but not proven, to be
> components of the genome of HIV  but there is no
> evidence to say that these fragments don't exist
> in other genetic sequences unrelated to HIV or to
> any virus. It is worth noting at this point that
> viral load, like antibody tests, has never been
> verified against the gold standard of HIV
> isolation. bDNA uses PCR as a gold standard, PCR
> uses antibody tests as a gold standard, and
> antibody tests use each other. None use HIV itself.
> There is good reason to believe the antibody
> tests are flawed as well. The two types of tests
> routinely used are the ELISA and the Western Blot
> (WB). The current testing protocol is to "verify"
> a positive ELISA with the "more specific" WB
> (which has actually been banned from diagnostic
> use in the UK because it is so unreliable). But
> few people know that the criteria for a positive
> WB vary from country to country and even from lab
> to lab. Put bluntly, a person's HIV status could
> well change depending on the testing venue. It is
> also possible to test "WB indeterminate," which
> translates to any one of "uninfected," "possibly
> infected," or even, absurdly, "partly infected"
> under the current interpretation. This conundrum
> is confounded by the fact that the proteins
> comprising the different reactive "bands" on the
> WB test are all claimed to be specific to HIV,
> raising the question of how a truly uninfected
> individual could possess antibodies to even one "HIV-specific" protein.
> I have come to sincerely believe that these HIV
> tests do immeasurably more harm than good, due to
> their astounding lack of specificity and
> standardization. I can buy the idea that
> anonymous screening of the blood supply for some
> nonspecific marker of ill health (which, due to
> cross reactivity with many known pathogens, a
> positive HIV antibody test often seems to be) is
> useful. I cannot buy the idea that any individual
> needs to have a diagnostic HIV test. A negative
> test may not be accurate (whatever that means),
> but a positive one can create utter havoc and
> destruction in a person's life  all for a virus
> that most likely does absolutely nothing. I do
> not feel it is going too far to say that these
> tests ought to be banned for diagnostic purposes.
> The real victims in this mess are those whose
> lives are turned upside-down by the stigma of an
> HIV diagnosis. These people, most of whom are
> perfectly healthy, are encouraged to avoid
> intimacy and are further branded with the
> implication that they were somehow dreadfully
> foolish and careless. Worse, they are encouraged
> to take massive daily doses of some of the most
> toxic drugs ever manufactured. HIV, for many
> years, has fulfilled the role of a microscopic
> terrorist. People have lost their jobs, been
> denied entry into the Armed Forces, been refused
> residency in and even entry into some countries,
> even been charged with assault or murder for
> having consensual sex; babies have been taken
> from their mothers and had toxic medications
> forced down their throats. There is no precedent
> for this type of behavior, as it is all in the
> name of a completely unproven, fundamentally
> flawed hypothesis, on the basis of highly
> suspect, indirect tests for supposed infection
> with an allegedly deadly virus  a virus that has
> never been observed to do much of anything.
> As to the question of what does cause AIDS, if it
> is not HIV, there are many plausible explanations
> given by people known to be experts. Before the
> discovery of HIV, AIDS was assumed to be a
> lifestyle syndrome caused mostly by
> indiscriminate use of recreational drugs.
> Immunosuppression has multiple causes, from an
> overload of microbes to malnutrition. Probably
> all of these are true causes of AIDS. Immune
> deficiency has many manifestations, and a
> syndrome with many manifestations is likely
> multicausal as well. Suffice it to say that the
> HIV hypothesis of AIDS has offered nothing but
> predictions  of its spread, of the availability
> of a vaccine, of a forthcoming animal model, and
> so on  that have not materialized, and it has not saved a single life.
> After ten years involved in the academic side of
> HIV research, as well as in the academic world at
> large, I truly believe that the blame for the
> universal, unconditional, faith-based acceptance
> of such a flawed theory falls squarely on the
> shoulders of those among us who have actively
> endorsed a completely unproven hypothesis in the
> interests of furthering our careers. Of course,
> hypotheses in science deserve to be studied, but
> no hypothesis should be accepted as fact before
> it is proven, particularly one whose blind
> acceptance has such dire consequences.
> For over twenty years, the general public has
> been greatly misled and ill-informed. As someone
> who has been raised by parents who taught me from
> a young age never to believe anything just
> because "everyone else accepts it to be true," I
> can no longer just sit by and do nothing, thereby
> contributing to this craziness. And the craziness
> has gone on long enough. As humans  as honest
> academics and scientists  the only thing we can
> do is allow the truth to come to light.
> March 3, 2006
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> Rebecca V. Culshaw, Ph.D., is a mathematical
> biologist who has been working on mathematical
> models of HIV infection for the past ten years.
> She received her Ph.D. (mathematics with a
> specialization in mathematical biology) from
> Dalhousie University in Canada in 2002 and is
> currently employed as an Assistant Professor of
> Mathematics at a university in Texas.


Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
[log in to unmask]