baiting the tiger: HIV revisited, what constitutes sufficient evidence

Sorry, can’t resist.

So, I ask you, and and anyone else who is convinced that HIV does not cause AIDS: what would constitute sufficient evidence that HIV _is_ the cause of AIDS?

And I ask those of us who believe that HIV does cause AIDS: what would constitute sufficient proof to convince us that it does not?

I’ll start

HIV and AIDS

reposted an article which is highly critical of the current medical practices and beliefs with respect to AIDS and HIV. My reading is that it’s trying to imply HIV probably doesn’t cause AIDS without saying it. She quotes someone who says that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, but also notes that she isn’t sure that these people are correct, but feels that they need to be heard.

The major claims seem to boil down to a few, paraphrased endlessly.
HIV meds are toxic. This is true. The dissidents claim that this does not get acknowledged by the mainstream medical establishment. This is not true to the best of my ability to discern. Everyone I’ve talked to on meds has shared their experience with the side effects. They say that this is something they are told about before they start a regimen. Standard medical practice for a variety of diseases. We don’t tell people about the side effects of drugs they won’t be taking, because that’s time consuming, and useless. HIV meds are hardly unique in having nasty side effects. Perhaps these side effects should be trumpeted loudly, particularly to the bugchasers, but that’s another story.

The denialists talk about alternate treatments, but give no information on long term survival rates for people provided only such treatments, on expense of these treatments, etc. Nor do they talk about late stage AIDS reversal rates for these treatments. Contrast this to HIV where the experiments to determine the efficacy of AZT were cut short because AZT was showing dramatic benefits and it was judged unethical to allow patients to die when treatment was available. This was probably under active pressure from ActUp and similar organizations. I do kinda wonder what the FDA on this was.

Dissidents, or denialists rarely mention the frequency with which AZT and later, cocktails produced dramatic turn-arounds in AIDS-related declines. They acknowledge that it “helps in some cases”, but never get into anything like hard numbers.

I have my own concerns about entrenched pharmaceutical interests, and I believe in the HIV theory. Assume for a second, if you don’t already, that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Pharma makes big money off of treatments for HIV. If a vaccine and a cure were both developed, such that HIV was a thing of the past and AIDS never occurred, and the profit to be made from selling this innovation were trivial, how possible would it be for makers of current HIV meds to buy off, deny or supress the creation of such? That would be difficult to arrange though. But it’s the pharmaceutical industries that run the trials for new drugs. How often will they pony up for trials of anything promising such benefits?

But, in the first several years of AIDS, the disease was treated in a variety of ways without using Protease Inhibitors or Reverse transcriptase inhibitors (AZT is one or the other I think). Do you have any real evidence that they were anywhere near as effective?

You want research done on nutritive therapy, great. Should be comparatively cheap. If there’s such good reason to doubt, why is there difficulty raising the money? Start up a parallel group to do what you believe is real research. Fundraise, prove the world wrong. I certainly won’t stand in your way. I might even donate a dollar or two.

Sorry, this is not the cohesive, point by point post I’d hoped to make, but I’m not inundated with free time. Maybe I’ll revisit the topic later.

Must Give Us Pause

So, I had a couple of stop-and-think-about-it moments today.

The first was with someone who works in a different group from me. I really don’t know him, but I was carrying my new cell phone back from the post office (yay new cell phone, yay lower phone bills), and we got on the subject of accidental dialing, (new phone is a flip up, old phone was not). And he said something about accidentally dialing my mother while making out with my girlfriend. I found it amusing on two levels, and I was laughing, and I thought that not so long ago, I would have felt compelled to inform him that girlfriends weren’t likely for me, but this time it didn’t really matter to me. As a point of ettiquette, not sure quite what “the right thing” to do there is, but I don’t regard it as terribly important.

Shortly after this, as I was walking to grab lunch, I heard the annual “X person died, at age Y in year Z, at concentration camp A” litany. I did some quick math, and figured that by now, the people she listed while I was walking past would be 70-odd years old, those that didn’t die in some other way. I’m not saying that this wasn’t important, and hasn’t had important consequences down the line, but will we continue to mourn untimely deaths when the individuals would have died years ago anyway? What about centuries?

When we harbor the memory of a wrong done to us personally, it’s called keeping a grudge. In light of the recent events in the middle east, well, collective keeping of grudges doesn’t strike me as a solution to our ills.

Drugs and Happiness

It’s a topic that’s come up on a couple of journal’s of late. In a discussion of standards for boyfriends on virtualexile‘s journal, someone else said they would never associate with anyone who did drugs, and kidkero just posted an intense, in depth, blow by blow of his first, and perhaps last, circuit party weekend. It’s brought up alot of thoughts, and I’m going to ramble on this for a bit.
Continue reading “Drugs and Happiness”

Sunday Afternoon Nausea (aka, Saturday Night Fever)

So, I went to see Saturday Night Fever this (technically yesterday) afternoon. Free tickets, handed over by someone who had already purchased them but couldn’t make it. It kinda blew. I mean, the dancing was cool to watch, but the backdrop was somewhere between dead boring and actively annoying. Tom and I left during intermission. I intend to thank my benefactor politely, but I don’t know what I was thinking =)

Matthew Shephard Show

A friend invited me to go watch the matthew shephard story at his friend’s
place. I did, and it was an okay made for tv film, despite being incredibly
preachy, and uncompromisingly biased. It got me thinking on several topics.
It portrays anti-gay violence pretty graphicly for television. It was
unabashedly pro-death-penalty until the very end. And, as always, it raised
questions regarding media attention towards this particular incident.

I’ve never been on the recieving end of any anti-gay violence. I’ve had a
couple of driveby slurs shouted at me. I’ve lost a couple of friends over
being gay, but only a couple. I’ve been very careful and a little lucky. In
the past year, a friend of a friend was shot leaving a gay bar, another in
similar circumstances fought back against his assailants and ended up being
permanently impaired when, as he was fighting them back, he grabbed onto one of
them as they drove off. Both are alive. A straight man hugged a male friend
of his outside a bar in chicago and was severely beaten by cops from that bar.
He too is alive (and suing). A lesbian whom I never knew, who worked at a gay
bar in pittsburgh I’ve been to many a time was burned alive in her car. She is
not.

Anti-gay violence happens. As with any violence, it is wrong. It affects a
person, and a community to know that it could happen to us, for no reason other
than stepping out of a familiar place at the wrong time, or showing affection
to a loved one. It didn’t start or end with Matthew Shephard.

There is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty works as a deterant, but
there is conclusive evidence that many people that have been sentenced to death
are innocent. Given the error inherent in the judicial process, I am
unambiguously opposed to it. And yet, even in the truly unambiguous case, such
as (to the nearest of my knowledge) McKinney, we ought to stop them. Does that
mean kill them? It’s not the only way to accomplish the goal. And I think
there are better options.

There have been a large number of possible victims to select from when it comes
to who the media turned into the poster child for anti-gay violence. One
wonders why they chose Matthew Shephard. Could it be because he was the
archetypal gay man? Physically less than imposing, into theater, pretty, etc.
How about the gay men who fought back? Why did it wait until this particular
example to bring the matter to light?

Consumption

Thomas Jefferson said “The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance”. We’re behind on our payments.

We’ve let our attention be distracted by the lies of advertising, promising happiness in return for our money. Little white lies that corporations tell us so that we’ll give them money. Money which they use to buy more capabilities for production, more advertising, or firmer holds on major political parties.

But maybe things are changing. We have a bill before the president, disallowing soft money, a major source of corporate power to reward political parties for working towards their political interests. And the republicans stands to benefit more from this than the democrats. (democrats raise more soft money, surprised? I was).

I have my doubts that this will be all it takes, but I think this may be just the tip of the iceberg.