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AIDS Behav. 2010 Apr;14(2):237-47. doi: 10.1007/s10461-009-9654-7.

AIDS denialism and public health practice.

Author information

  • 1Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative and Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, FXB 402, 651 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

In this paper, we respond to AIDS denialist arguments that HIV does not cause AIDS, that antiretroviral drugs are not useful, and that there is no evidence of large-scale deaths from AIDS, and discuss the key implications of the relationship between AIDS denialism and public health practice. We provide a brief history of how the cause of AIDS was investigated, of how HIV fulfills Koch's postulates and Sir Bradford Hil's criteria for causation, and of the inconsistencies in alternatives offered by denialists. We highlight clinical trials as the standard for assessing efficacy of drugs, rather than anecdotal cases or discussions of mechanism of action, and show the unanimous data demonstrating antiretroviral drug efficacy. We then show how statistics on mortality and indices such as crude death rate, life expectancy, child mortality, and population growth are consistent with the high mortality from AIDS, and expose the weakness of statistics from death notification, quoted by denialists. Last we emphasize that when denialism influences public health practice as in South Africa, the consequences are disastrous. We argue for accountability for the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, the need to reform public health practice to include standards and accountability, and the particular need for honesty and peer review in situations that impact public health policy.

PMID:
20058063
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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