Call for AIDS denialists to be held accountable

January 19, 2010

Despite irrefutable proof that HIV treatments have proven benefits, AIDS denialists continue to deny their value. In a paper just published online in Springer's journal AIDS and Behavior, Professor Myron Essex and Dr. Pride Chigwedere, from the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative in the US, provide additional proof that withholding HIV treatments with proven benefits led to the death of 330,000 people in South Africa as the result of AIDS denialist policies. They also show that the harm has not been reversed and highlight that when denialism enters public health practice, as in South Africa, the consequences are disastrous.

AIDS denialists refute that HIV causes AIDS, that are useful, and lastly, that millions of people worldwide have died from AIDS. AIDS denialists represent a growing movement that has considerable visibility on the Internet. Despite their views, it is estimated that from 2000 to 2005, at least 330,000 South Africans died prematurely and 35,000 babies were infected with HIV as a result of former president Thabo Mbeki's decision to withhold antiretroviral drugs, based on advice from American AIDS denialists.

In their thought-provoking paper, Essex and Chigwedere review the potent effects of treatments and their missed opportunities in South Africa. They respond persuasively to AIDS denialist arguments with robust scientific evidence. They also discuss the key implications of the relationship between AIDS denialism and public health practice, using South Africa as the example. Finally, they argue for accountability for the human rights violations and loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, as well as the need to reform public health practice to include standards and accountability.

The authors conclude: "There is a need for honesty and peer review in situations that impact public health policy. When denialism enters public health practice, the consequences are tragic. The implications start in honest science but extend to the need for accountability and, perhaps, reform."

More information: Chigwedere P & Essex M (2010). AIDS denialism and public health practice. AIDS & Behavior; DOI:10.1007/s10461-009-9654-7

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists find where HIV 'hides' to evade detection by the immune system

October 19, 2017
In a decades-long game of hide and seek, scientists from Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have confirmed for the very first time the specific immune memory T-cells where infectious HIV 'hides' in the human ...

National roll-out of PrEP HIV prevention drug would be cost-effective

October 18, 2017
Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection (equivalent to less than 5% of men who have sex with men at any point in time) in England would be cost-effective, ...

Regulatory T cells harbor HIV/SIV virus during antiviral drug treatment

October 17, 2017
Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified an additional part of the HIV reservoir, immune cells that survive and harbor the virus despite long-term treatment with antiviral drugs.

New research opens the door to 'functional cure' for HIV

October 17, 2017
In findings that open the door to a completely different approach to curing HIV infections, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time shown that a novel compound effectively ...

Researchers create molecule that could 'kick and kill' HIV

October 5, 2017
Current anti-AIDS drugs are highly effective at making HIV undetectable and allowing people with the virus to live longer, healthier lives. The treatments, a class of medications called antiretroviral therapy, also greatly ...

A sixth of new HIV patients in Europe 50 or older: study

September 27, 2017
People aged 50 and older comprise a growing percentage of HIV patients in Europe, accounting for one in six new cases in 2015, researchers said Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.