Reprinted from: Satya Magazine, March 2001 Volume VII Issue 7
What Do We Really Know About
By Christine Maggiore
“It seems that AIDS is immune to healthy skepticism.
It has the unique ability to turn fervent liberals ferociously conventional
and make compliant followers out of our most innovative leaders.
On public radio, in alternative journals, and among the terribly
concerned and compassionate, there's only one side to AIDS and little
tolerance for anyone who thinks otherwise…”
I am profoundly disappointed with progressive, critical thinkers
who stop thinking critically when it comes to AIDS. The same people
who are wary of mainstream media stories and government reports
accept without question all stories and reports on AIDS. The very
activists who protest the agendas of multinational chemical corporations
assume their typical practices and toxic products are right-on when
it comes to AIDS. On public radio, in alternative journals, and
among the terribly concerned and compassionate, there's only one
side to AIDS and little tolerance for anyone who thinks otherwise.
It seems that AIDS is immune to healthy skepticism and has the unique
ability to turn fervent liberals ferociously conventional and make
compliant followers out of our most innovative leaders.
As a healthy HIV positive mother, I find that my decision to decline
toxic pharmaceuticals for myself and my son inspires mostly criticism
from people who otherwise support independent thinking, natural
living, and everyone else's right to choose. As the director of
an alternative AIDS organization, I wish that intelligent, caring
people would step outside of the mainstream paradigm and consider
another side of AIDS. To that end, I offer Satya readers the tip
of an enormous iceberg of information.
AIDS is not a new disease. AIDS is a new name for an ever-expanding
list of previously known and unrelated conditions that include yeast
infections, diarrhea, tuberculosis, salmonella, certain pneumonias
and cancers. These conditions are only called AIDS when a person
tests HIV positive, but all of these also happen to people who test
HIV negative, and all have well-known causes and treatments that
are completely unrelated to HIV.
AIDS varies from country to country and year to year. In January
of 1993, government AIDS officials in America declared that people
who test HIV positive and have a low T cell count—but show
no signs of illness—have AIDS. This "non-illness"
AIDS definition caused the number of new AIDS cases to more than
double overnight. Since then, more than half of all Americans diagnosed
with AIDS are not sick with any disease. Despite this expanded definition
and media cries to the contrary, AIDS cases in the U.S. have been
declining steadily since the second quarter of 1993. Interestingly,
Canada's AIDS definition does not include America's "non-illness"
criteria for AIDS, which means that more than 200,000 Americans
diagnosed with AIDS based on T cell counts would not have AIDS if
they moved to Toronto. Also of interest is the fact that mainstream
AIDS researchers acknowledge that only three percent of human T
cells actually reside in the blood where they can be counted by
In Africa, where AIDS is said to be most prevalent, HIV tests are
not required for an AIDS diagnosis and AIDS is determined by four
clinical symptoms—fever, cough, weight loss and diarrhea—that
are indistinguishable from symptoms of malnutrition, starvation,
TB, malaria, and parasitic infection, and which commonly result
from poverty and unclean water. In contrast to America, where eight
out of ten AIDS diagnoses are given to men and 88 percent of cases
fall into the official categories of "Injection Drug Users"
and "Men Who Have Sex with Men," in Africa, women and
children are said to be its primary victims.
Noting the dissimilarity between American and African AIDS and other
troubling anomalies within the "HIV = AIDS" hypothesis,
South African President Thabo Mbeki invited a group of international
experts to participate in an AIDS think tank last year. Seeking
dynamic and productive dialogue, Mbeki extended his invitation to
doctors and scientists who question conventional wisdom on AIDS.
His attempt at open discussion on AIDS provoked vicious and relentless
media attacks accusing Mbeki of everything from foolishness to murder.
Media reports on Africa favor harrowing estimates over hard numbers.
For example, four to five million South Africans are estimated to
be HIV positive, while according to the World Health Organization,
the 20-year cumulative total of reported AIDS cases in that country
hovers under 15,000. Some AIDS activists argue that the actual numbers
mean nothing because due to the stigma of an AIDS diagnosis, "AIDS"
is often left off African death certificates. Yet despite these
omissions, alleged AIDS deaths are not increasing the numbers of
deaths in appearing in other categories as might be expected. In
fact, overall death rates from all causes (including AIDS) among
both sexes in South Africa is less than one percent annually—a
laudably low rate for a developing nation and almost equal to that
of the U.S. While journalists trumpet estimates of death and devastation
from AIDS, South Africa's population continues to grow at a healthy
three percent annually and infant mortality there has not increased
during the AIDS epidemic.
The new media claims about "African levels" of HIV infections
in San Francisco are also based on estimates. These numbers were
adopted at private meetings of public officials and are derived
from such untenable data as telephone surveys and street corner
questionnaires. While HIV estimates soar, according to the San Francisco
Department of Public Health's own epidemiology, AIDS cases in that
city have been decreasing steadily since 1993, and actual HIV rates
there peaked more than ten years ago.
Despite alarming predictions, 94 percent of American AIDS cases
are still found among the original risk groups. Cancer, car accidents,
flu, and suicides each take more lives every year than does AIDS.
Although the media warns us that AIDS is increasing among America's
ethnic minorities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control,
AIDS cases among all people of color have been decreasing every
year since 1996.
Although there is no such thing as an actual AIDS test, and testing
HIV positive is not the equivalent of having AIDS, the erroneous
term "AIDS test" has become part of our modern vocabulary.
As mentioned previously, illness is not required for an AIDS diagnosis
in the U.S., and HIV tests are not actually testing for HIV. HIV
tests do not test for the virus or for HIV antibodies. The antibody
tests detect certain proteins that are not unique or specific to
HIV antibodies and that may correspond to antibodies produced in
response to over 60 conditions including colds, flu, immunizations,
herpes, hepatitis, blood transfusions, parasites, TB, malaria and
even pregnancy. Newer "viral load" tests purported to
measure actual HIV do not detect or quantify infectious virus. In
fact, the FDA requires test manufacturers to state that viral load
is "not intended to be used as a diagnostic to confirm the
presence of HIV infection."
Moreover, the drugs used to treat HIV can cause most of the symptoms
related with AIDS. AZT and other chemicals used in the various "AIDS
cocktails" can provoke five of the official AIDS illnesses
(diarrhea, dementia, muscle wasting, T cell depletion and lymphoma)
in addition to anemia, diabetes, physical deformities, kidney stones,
liver failure, heart attacks, strokes, paralysis, bone necrosis,
and sudden death. While the idea that new drug cocktails are responsible
for lowered AIDS cases and deaths remains popular, both categories
were declining before the drugs were released for use.
I could go on, but even if I had the space, I don't have the time.
An HIV positive mother in New York just called for help. Her two
children were taken by police this morning after she admitted to
her doctor that she quit giving them toxic AIDS drugs a year ago.
Never mind that the kids are now in perfect health and that the
medicines gave them relentless diarrhea, anemia, excruciating leg
cramps, and caused them to stop growing. What's important in AIDS
Despite my anger and frustration, I empathize with people who hold
passionate views based on mainstream portrayals of AIDS. Before
I started thinking independently, I was an AIDS awareness educator
for several prominent AIDS organizations and a founding board member
of Women at Risk. I know well how emotionally and socially challenging
it is to question AIDS.
Since beginning my new AIDS work, I've met hundreds of HIV positives
from Los Angeles to Zimbabwe who, despite dire predictions and pressures
to conform, remain defiantly alive and naturally well. Contrary
to popular belief, what we have in common is not some unique genetic
quality or a special strain of the virus, but a well-founded decision
to liberate ourselves from fear through education and embrace our
ability to live in health. It's time to open your minds—and
your hearts—and give our views and experiences a chance.
Christine Maggiore is the founder and director
of Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, a non-profit education, support,
and research network headquartered in Studio City, California. She
is the author of the book What If Everything You Thought You
Knew About AIDS Was Wrong? which has been translated into five
languages. She is also a healthy, unmedicated HIV positive diagnosed
mother. For information, visit www.aliveandwell.org.