THE AIDS DEBATE CONTINUES.....ALUKO VS. GESHEKTER & MHLONGO
On 12/25/04 Dr. Aluko wrote:
My final puzzle is about the relationship of AIDs to sexual transmission - or
more generally blood tranmmission. Malaria and fever and cough and poverty
and hunger cannot be transmitted by blood mixing. Is there NO evidence of
sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS, and if there is, is the claim that it is then
a transmission of tuberculosis or what ?
Now that I have your attention, folks, I will keep at it. I have never had
the opportunity to interrogate the AID-skeptics, and I am not going to let go
of the opportunity! :-)
Dr. Geshekter responds:
In reference to your first paragraph above.....I assume that surely, after
all these years of "living in the Era of AIDS," after all the billions of
dollars that have been spent "fighting the war on AIDS,", after thousands of
conferences have been held, and an estimated 200,000 papers written on the
subject, that there must be clear, compelling, and strong empirical data to
answer your questions....isn't there?
As an aside, from my vantage point in northern California, I often wonder
how the wily retrovirus called "HIV" has been able to infect certain
populations in certain zipcodes (postal codes) in this areas, while leaving
other populations in other nearby zipcodes alone. I would if anyone out
there can provide an evidence-based answer to that conundrum?
Dr. Geshekter continues in another communication:
I suggest that we leave the concepts of "sin" and "sinful" behavior out of this otherwise fruitful series of exchanges.
Secondly, as I suggested at the very outset, we must carefully distinguish between how a variety of serology tests detects the presence or absence of antibodies to a retrovirus called "HIV," from the cluster of clinical symptoms that western researchers arbitrarily decided to dub "AIDS" back in the early 1980s.
Thirdly, if it is true that those who believe in the infectious viral theory of AIDS have, as you put it, "done a better job - either good PR wise and/or because of financial muscle - to propagate their views than the Anti-Infectious Hypothesis Group," then they surely will have little hesitation or few qualms about confronting their scientific critics in an open, unfettered debate about their "truths."
I leave it up to you to decide why they are likely to be so vehemently unable and unwilling to do so.
As an analogy, the critical thinkers about the causation of AIDS are like astronomers discussing planetary movements with a group of medieval astrologers who are only used to discussing the topic with fellow true believers.
It is necessary for the critics of astrology to know everything about astrology and astronomy, in order to pinpoint, rebuke, excoriate, and debunk the foolish pretensions of the former.
Ditto with HIV and AIDS.
My experience has been the same among the staunch defenders of the infectious viral theory of AIDS. One discovers that their mental muscles have atrophied and that shame and embarrassment are the only things that will result from an open, equitable encounter with their critics.
That's why they are likely to conjure up all manner of excuses or schedule conflicts to avoid your sensibly proposed meetings in Washington next year, another way of showing that they are "less amenable" to attend.
I may be wrong about that, but let's watch and see.
Dr. Aluko responds:
My introduction of "sin" and "sinfulness" was to jar Sam Mhlongo's "suspicion" of my line of questioning, which I thought had been balanced so far. I could have used "crime" or "criminality", and I trust that those would have been equally jarring.
I agree with every thing else that you said - but with an observation: In almost EVERY circumstance, it is natural that those who think that they have an upper hand do not necessarily want to open themselves up to debate, and the "underdog" - pardon the analogy here - always wishes to snap at the heels of those who seem to be riding high.
You the Anti-Infectious Hypothesis Group might not be acting differently if yours were the dominant theory - but of course I might be wrong. Except of course you consider yourselves "saints" and the other side "sinners".
But again, we should avoid saintliness and sinfulness ! :-)
PS1: Maybe I should not JUST say that the other side has "done a better job." Rather, it is that MOST OF THE WORLD has come to accept that viruses cause terrible diseases, and in the absence of a readily-understood counter-proposal about AIDS, it just came to be accepted that HIV causes AIDS once the other side trumpeted it.
PS2: In June 2000, as President of the Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM), I once organized a meeting of two contending groups over an alleged multi-billion-dollar scam in Nigeria. Group 1 encouraged me to organize the meeting, thinking that Group 2 would NEVER show up. Surprisingly Group 2 agreed, and suddenly Group 1 backed out "on the advice of their lawyers", and asked us "not to be used" by Group 2. My group went ahead anyway, and Group 2 had a field day explaining its position - to the applause of the audience.
PS3: At another occasion, Diaspora Nigerians in North America, members of three warring factions in Nigeria, agreed for me and another colleague to chair a sesson to help resolve their differences both at home and abroad. We had an ALL-DAY meeting at Howard University, but never moved PAST the agenda for the meeting - which I thought had been agreed BEFORE they came to the meeting.
So as you can see, with Howard University as my little "Camp David", I have a short history of trying to resolve differences, not particularly successfully (!) , but I still continue to try ! I bring this to mind to let you know that I do not come to this particular effort with naivete about the blocks along the way.
Dr. Geshekter states that:
Good points, all of them.
There is no topic involving human behavior whereby our understanding cannot be improved by fresh insights, new evidence or a reconsideration and reinterpretation of old data.
What is making people sick in Africa and how do we know it are fundamental questions with multiple answers.
As for the importance of airing these differences, I agree with T. H. Huxley that "the great tragedy of science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." Or put another way, apropos this internet thread, Darwin acknowledged that "to kill an error is as good a service as establishing a new truth or fact."
Dr. Mhlongo introduces a NAIDS perspective:
Concerning the dialogue/debate/questions, I concur with Dave Rasnick that it would be useful if you read the literature he has recommended since you will find that most of your questions are answered therein from our perspective.
Class, Race, Health inequalities, Doctor-Patient Relationship:
As you know I am a practising medical doctor and a professor of medicine. You cannot practice effective medicine to the satisfaction of your patients if you desregard Race, Class, Health Inequalities and Doctor-Patient Relationship. All of these are extensively covered in MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY. You say a middle class person (not in poverty) can be HIV positive, become ill and die. True. We have never said this is not possible. As a practising physician, I may tell you that it takes years and years before patients reveal their LIFE STYLES to you - i.e, the use of RECREATIONAL DRUGS, ANAL SEX and HOMOSEXUALITY to name a few leading examples.
With regard to poverty, destitution, malnutrition, lack of sanitation - we have never said that every subject who is affected necessarily becomes HIV positive. Every honest physician knows that any individual experincing some or all of these factors becomes immunocompromised and once this happens, such a patient develops symptoms indistinguishable from AIDS - and this is how the vast majority of cases are described in Africa. For your information, there is a medical syndrome called NAIDS, i.e., NUTRITIONALY ACQUIRED IMMUNODEFICIENY SYNDROME - you will find this in all authoritative books of Internal Medicine and Paediatrics!!
Anyway, I hope you follow Dave's advice with regard to most of your questions.
Dr. Aluko Responds:
I sent out a UNICEF email earlier [SEE ARTICLE AT END OF THIS TRANSACTION] from Nigeria that supports the incidence of NAIDS, even though it was not stated as NAIDS. The challenge then is to separate HIV/AIDS (as defined and trumpeted by the PIH Group) from NAIDS, for example by showing up a population of people who have NAIDS but don't test positive for HIV. I just don't know why these simple things are not CLEARLY demonstrated by the AIH Group !
PIH - Pro-Infectious Hypothesis
AIH - Anti-Infectious Hypothesis
Dr. Geshekter writes to Dr. Aluko that:
Your poignant P.S. message about UNICEF and malnutrition in Nigeria is exactly what the HIV/AIDS orthodoxy needs to address, grasp, and fully appreciate.
As someone who has long questioned the relevance and effects of their simple mantras (the ABCs of the "War on AIDS" - abstinence, sexual behavior modification & condoms), I have pointed that message out to them at every opportunity, only to see them stubbornly ignore its compelling simplicity in favor of the costly and irrelevant ABCs........
Why not simply ask the defenders of the infectious viral theory of AIDS, to help us unravel the uncanny overlap between the symptoms and side-effects of malnutrition (and unclean drinking water and improper disposal of waste matter) from those of "AIDS"?
That will be something worth reading, believe me.
Dr. Aluko feels incredulous in responding to Dr. Geshekter:
You are pleading with the other side, the PIH group, to commit class suicide, and wondering why it will not ?
I don't understand it.
If you feel that there are things to be pointed out, please let the AIH Group do so CLEARLY, and let the world know it. Maybe I have not READ everything that the AIH Group has put out, but I will love to see some SIMPLE AIH document and/or website - like the CDC website that I referred to earlier - that simply defines HIV, AIDS, NAIDS, HIV tests, some simple statistics, etc. that highlight the AIH position, where possible undermines the PIH position, or agrees with it where it does. If it is TOTALLY negative - or have too much conspiratorial overtones - it is bound to be off-putting.
So to wait for the PIH Group to commit class suicide is like Waiting for Godot.
Finally Dr. Geshekter responds to Dr. Aluko:
I think that you underestimate how clearly and unambiguously you just pinpointed the deep, self-imposed contradiction that the HIV/AIDS orthodoxy finds itself .
In a scientific debate over the definition, causes, cures and prevention of an allegedly new disease that is said to afflict Africans in grotesque numbers (and has terrified and an entire continent), what is fundamentally at stake are the lives of tens of millions of people.
In your opinion, is it really asking too much to have the defenders of the infectious viral theory of AIDS explain the uncanny overlap between the clinical symptoms and debilitating side-effects of malnutrition, unclean drinking water, and the improper disposal of waste from those of "AIDS?"
If that rudimentary question is one that they cannot or will not answer, then you, Bolaji, will have accurately prophesized how utterly fragile, untenable, and indefensible their entire edifice has become.
There is absolutely no conspiracy at work here, merely people following their self-interest and the sources of support.
Thomas Kuhn argued that the typical scientist, in this case the defenders of the infectious viral theory, was a somewhat conservative individual who accepted what he was taught and applied his knowledge to solving the problems that came before him. In so doing, such scientists accepted a paradigm, an archetypal solution to a problem.
As we contend with the case of HIV and AIDS, these generally conservative scientists tend to solve the problem of what is afflicting Africans in ways that extended the scope of the dominant HIV/AIDS paradigm and its funding agencies. In such periods, Kuhn maintained, scientists tended to resist research that might signal the development of a new paradigm and herald the demise ("class suicide") of an old one.
The new paradigm cannot build on the one that precedes it. It can only supplant it. The two, said Kuhn, "were incommensurable." This is no different than your accurate prediction.
I trust you now recognize why the interests of the dominant paradigm must be protected and advanced at all costs, in this case, to the gross detriment of many innocent people in Africa.
More than anyone else involved in this debate, perhaps Sam Mhlongo as a practicing physician deeply knowledgeable in the history of South Africa has come to see that the interests of a dominant paradigm are never more important than the interests of the people of his country, or yours, or mine.
Malnutrition: On a silent rampage in schools
By Emmanuel Edukugho
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Majority of school children lack the food they need, thereby inducing malnutrition, now posing a serious threat to education, particularly in developing countries, including Nigeria. Malnutrition causes poor growth in children, leading to impaired mental development, poor scholastic and intellectual development.
A report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), describes these effects as the most serious long-term results of malnutrition.
Although several organisations worldwide, governmental and private, have made efforts to combat and stop malnutrition, not much have been achieved in this direction.
Malnutrition is caused by a deficiency in the intake of nutrients by the cells of the body. A combination of two factors can be responsible.
These are: (i) insufficient intake of proteins, calories, vitamins, and minerals, (ii) frequent infections. Sickness like measles, malaria, diarrhea (frequent stooling) and respiratory disorder cause loss of nutrients in the body. They reduce appetite and food intake, contributing invariably to malnutrition.
Children suffer malnutrition most because they are in a period of rapid growth that increases the demand for calories and proteins.
UNICEF said that a deficiency of vitamin A affects over 100 million small children in the world and causes blindness. It also weakens the immune system, making them vulnerable to infections. For children who survive malnutrition, the consequences can follow into adulthood.
"The depletion of human intelligence on such a scale - for reasons that are almost entirely preventable is a profligate, even criminal, waste," UNICEF stated.
It added that, "more than 3/4 (three quarters) of all the malnutrition-aided deaths are linked not to severe malnutrition but to mild and moderate forms."
UNICEF submitted in the state of the world's children thus.
"It is implicated in more than half of all child deaths worldwide-a proportion unmatched by any infectious disease since the black death. Yet, it is not an infectious disease. It ravages extend to the millions of survivors who are left crippled, chronically vulnerable to illness, and intellectually disabled. It imperils women, families and, ultimately the viability of whole societies."
Malnutrition is linked to a variety of illnesses - from under-nourishment as a result of lack of one or more nutrient - such as Vitamin and mineral deficiencies to obesity and other diet-related diseases. Regarded as by far the most lethal form of malnutrition is Protein - Energy Malnutrition (PEM).
The World Health Organisation called PEM "the silent emergency" whose major victims are children of school age. It declared that PEM "is an accomplice in at least half of the 10.4 million child deaths each year."
Furthermore, malnutrition is said to cast long shadows, affecting close to 800 million people - 20% of all people in the developing countries. In other words, 1 out of every 8 people in the world suffers from malnutrition.
Ordinarily, malnutrition is the lack of food. But at the centre of it all is poverty, which affects about 80% of Nigerian population, weakening productivity and capacity of children to learn properly in school.
Vanguard Education Weekly investigation showed that recently, the Lagos state government attempted to tackle malnutrition among school children, when it launched a plan to provide free meal for pupils of less-privileged parents who do not enjoy balanced meals in their homes.
The government said it allocated N1 billion for its free meal programme in all its 913 primary schools.
It was part of the school health scheme meant to enhance the nutritional intakes of pupils. The first phase (pilot stage) was to begin with primary one, while pupils of the other classes would follow as government expected assistance from international organisations like, UNICEF and other donor agencies which had shown interest in the scheme.
But the programme seemed not to have taken off the ground, as malnutrition wreaks havoc in the school system. Most children attend classes with empty stomach, leaving their homes with little or no food. The proposed free mid-day meal would have been the saving grace for these undernourished children.
While the Nigerian government has not shown concern for the nutrition of school children in this country, the situation in neighbouring Ghana can be instructive.
The Ghanaian government has just announced a five-year plan to reduce hunger and malnutrition among pupils in schools across that country. An amount of $347.4 million (three hundred and forty-seven million, four hundred thousand dollars) have been earmarked for the programme; which will be in pilot phases. Children will be given one balanced meal a day for five days.
By this, short-term hunger and malnutrition among children will be reduced.
Except in Nigeria, in many other countries, government and private organisations have initiated food supplementation schemes for school children.
Communities can help in stemming the devastating tide of malnutrition by providing mid-day meals in schools, provide nutritional education programmes and safe drinking water supply.
Malnutrition has been identified as a big problem afflicting developing nations, especially school children from poor homes.
According to UNICEF, "a lack of access to good education and correct information is also a cause of malnutrition," adding: "Without information strategies and better and more accessible education programmes, the awareness, skills and behaviours needed to combat malnutrition cannot be developed."
Lack of food reduces, in turn, a person's health and ability to get a better education.
While it has been agreed that there is more than enough food for all, the problem is that food is neither produced nor distributed equitably.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) pointed out that, "all too frequently, the poor in fertile developing countries stand by watching with empty hands - and empty stomachs - while ample harvests and bumper crops are exported for hard cash. Short-term profits for a few, long-term losses for many."
A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) showed that the richest fifth of the people on the planet eat 45% of all the meat and fish, the poorest fifth get just 5%. As attested by Encyclopedia Britannica, "the provision of an adequate food supply and nutritional education to all people, however, remains a crucial problem."