Debunking Denialism

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The Breathtaking Inanity of Henry Bauer’s HIV/AIDS Denialist Balderdash

Henry Bauer

I have picked apart the flawed claims made by the HIV/AIDS denialist Henry Bauer a few times before and found them wanting, basically rehashing the same old debunked canards that denialists have repeated to themselves and anyone who wants to listen for decades. However, a recent blog entry by Bauer called Evidence-based medicine: No HIV/AIDS epidemic was so full of mind-numbing falsehoods and error that I just had to write a refutation.

So once more unto the breach…

The scientific evidence supports HIV as the cause of AIDS

—> Not only does Bauer think that there is no evidence that HIV causes AIDS, he also thinks that the evidence is stacked against this model. What is more, despite the fact that HIV has been isolated and probably visualized with electron microscopy, he actively believes that HIV as a virus does not even exist.

—> Nothing can be proven with absolute mathematical certainty in science, but a strong case can be made if multiple, independent lines of evidence all converge on the same general conclusion. This is what we find for the model that HIV causes AIDS.

—> The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases lists a lot of this evidence, including established epidemiological association, isolation, transmission pathogenesis, infection by HIV as a uniquely strong predictor for development of AIDS, the vast majority of AIDS-defining illnesses occur in patients with HIV, death rates are higher among HIV+ individuals than HIV- ones, HIV can be detected in AIDS patients, correlation between high HIV virus, viral antigens and viral genetic material one the one hand and increase risk of developing AIDS, efficacy of ARVs specific for blocking HIV replication improves prognosis for HIV patients, individuals with a lower viral load as a result of medication are less likely to progress to full-blown AIDS, AIDS patients have HIV antibodies, low prevalence of HIV antibodies correlate with extreme rarity of AIDS, HIV is similar to other viruses of the same type that causes immunodeficiency in their natural hosts etc. (NIAID, 2010)

—> None of these findings mathematically prove that HIV must cause AIDS, but the combined weight of the independent evidence strongly favors it. Those that reject the scientific conclusion that HIV causes AIDS must not just rationalize away each piece of evidence, but they must find another model on which the evidence is more likely.

—> The bottom line is that the HIV causes AIDS model predicts the evidence with a much higher probability than the notion that HIV does not cause AIDS.

Drop in lifespan reveals the severe impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic

—> Bauer repeats the old canard that HIV/AIDS is not an epidemic since the population growth in certain African countries are positive.

—> This is a flawed argument, because high birthrates compensates. The severe impact of HIV/AIDS can be seen by looking at changes in average lifespan over time. As discussed in a previous blog entry, Kalichman (2009, pp. 77-78) points out that countries in southern Africa, including South Africa, have seen a massive decrease in life expectancy over the years that correspond to the occurrence of AIDS pandemic. He writes that: “Life expectancy in many countries that were improving during the post-colonial years of the 1960s and 1907s began to erode in the 1980s and 1990s, and life expectancy in many countries is now worse than even during the 1950s, the last full decade of colonialism. The reason why some countries afflicted by AIDS sustain positive population growth is simply due to high birth rates.”

Failure to provide ARVs South Africans caused 340000 deaths

––> Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health concludes in Chigwedere et. al. (2008) that over 330000 individuals with HIV/AIDS died earlier than needed because the previous President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, and his government refused to let his people have access to antiretrovirals. They believed that it was just a western pharmaceutical plot to destroy the future of the country and instead, he suggested garlic and lemon as treatment (Kalichman, 2009). How can Henry Bauer claim that there is no HIV epidemic? Read more of this post

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