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6 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A blatant lie, August 27, 2012
This review is from: The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back (Hardcover)
Peter Duesberg has grounds for a libel suit against the author and publisher of this book.

On page 142 of her book "The AIDS Conspiracy", at the start of the subsection entitled "Boundary Work Against 'Medical Hypothesis'" [a non peer-reviewed publication], Nocoli Nattrass writes as follows [with my own comments in brackets]:

"When JAIDS published estimates by Chigwedere and others of the human costs of Mbeki's AIDS policies, Duesberg submitted a coauthored reply to JAIDS, but it was rejected after peer review. The paper was then submitted to Medical Hypotheses, where it was accepted within two days.

"One of the [anonymous] JAIDS reviewers had complained about [Duesberg]'s selective 'cherry picking' and misrepresentation of scientific facts. The reviewer drew particular attention to the misrepresentation of a Lancet paper [by MT May, see below] which showed that antiretroviral treatment reduced mortality significantly amongst AIDS patients, but that no additional improvement in mortality reduction had occurred between the late 1990s and early 2000s. Duesberg and his coauthors misrepresented [May's paper] by claiming that it showed that antiretrovirals do not decrease mortality at all and hence have no benefit. This was, indeed, a blatant misrepresentation."

Then, on page 145 (3rd line from the bottom of the page), Nattrass writes:

"When [Ben] Goldacre argued on Bad Science [a blog] that Medical Hypotheses should not have published Duesberg's paper because it was 'plainly foolish,' Charlton [the editor of Medical Hypotheses] posted a response saying he was 'agnostic about the truth or correctness of the papers chosen for publication.' Goldacre replied by asking what possible justification there was for publishing an article that misrepresented a key reference (i.e., [May's] study published in Lancet):

'This isn't a matter of perspective, or free expression of ideas, and it's not a disagreement of interpretation: it's a simple error of fact, they just misrepresented a key reference. What is your justification for publishing that and how does it fit into any kind of meaningful vision that can help ideas be disseminated and improved?' "

But it is Nattrass and Goldacre who have misrepresented a key reference. Indeed they both may have lied outright about it.

To see Nattrass' and Goldacre's factual and legal problem, first find the Duesberg paper in question by Googling the following phrase (because Amazon doesn't permit external links in their reviews -- and omit the quotation marks): " hiv-aids hypothesis out of touch with south african aids ".

This is the one Goldacre called "plainly foolish". It was formally withdrawn by Medical Hypotheses after protests from members of the orthodox HIV/AIDS scientific community.

Now find the paper by MT May, et al. that Duesberg allegedly blatantly misrepresented. Google: " Duesberg HIV treatment response and prognosis in Europe and North America in the first decade of highly active antiretroviraltherapy: a collaborative analysis ". Ironically it is only available for free on one of Duesberg's webpages. However, for those who might doubt its veracity for that reason, Google: " PubMed HIV treatment response and prognosis in Europe and North America in the first decade of highly active antiretroviral therapy: a collaborative analysis ". That will produce the link to the paper's official abstract. In that abstract, look at the Interpretation (it's in bold):

"Virological response after starting HAART improved over calendar years, but such improvement has not translated into a decrease in mortality."

That's it. That's the official interpretation. (In the full text of that paper, that same interpretation can be found on page one.)

At the top of page 5 of his own paper, Duesberg wrote about May's paper as follows:

"Aware of some of these life threatening toxicities of anti-HIV drugs, the Harvard study [by Chigwedere , et al., and referenced above by Nattrass] maintains that the 'benefits' of these drugs 'outweigh' their inevitable toxicity. But, contrary to these claims hundreds of American and British researchers jointly published a collaborative analysis in The Lancet in 2006 concluding that treatment of AIDS patients with anti-viral drugs has 'not translated into a decrease in mortality'."

And that's Duesberg's "blatant misrepresentation" of May's paper.

How to explain this? It's certainly possible that neither Nattrass nor Goldacre read Duesberg's or May's paper, in which case the former two would both be guilty of sloppy editorial practice, as would Nattrass' publisher, with legal consequences yet to be decided. But I suspect that the pair's interpretation is based on a page found (as of this posting) at the AidsTruth.org website and dated 29 April 2010. (Google: " AIDS Denialism, Medical Hypotheses, and The University of California's Investigation of Peter Duesberg ".) There you will find the following, starting with the second sentence of the seventh paragraph. But read the first sentence for the phrase "blatant misrepresentation", which Nattrass apparently borrowed for her own book, or used herself if she is in fact the author of that particular AidsTruth page. (I suspect either she or Goldacre is the author.) In any case, from the seventh paragraph:

"The May et al. article reported success rates of ARVs at various points in time. Duesberg misreported the results, claiming that 'hundreds of American and British researchers jointly published a collaborative analysis in The Lancet in 2006 concluding that treatment of AIDS patients with anti-viral drugs has not translated into a decrease in mortality.' In fact, the article never suggests that people with HIV/AIDS who take ARVs don't live longer than those who do not. Rather, the sentence fragment Duesberg quoted is part of a finding that, over a period of 8 years, virological response in the first 6 months after starting ARVs improved markedly, but the number of deaths from all causes within the first year of treatment did not significantly change, decreasing only a little from 2.2% to 1.3% of the participants who started HAART that year. That is, only a small number of people on ARVs died during their first year of treatment, and even that number declined, unevenly, by almost half. This conclusion in no way can be interpreted to mean that ARV treatment has not resulted in radically reduced rates of AIDS-related mortality. The paper is very clear, and it is most unlikely that Duesberg could have honestly misinterpreted the article as saying otherwise. The JAIDS editor, Bill Blattner, rejected the Duesberg et al. paper on the basis of all the peer reviews he received and his own editorial judgment."

I wonder if MT May, et al would agree with Nattrass' interpretation. From my perspective, Nattrass is guilty either of terrible fact-checking, trusting a bad source, or a blatant lie. I think it is the latter. To repeat Nattrass' above comment: "Rather, the sentence fragment Duesberg quoted is part of a finding that, over a period of 8 years, virological response in the first 6 months after starting ARVs improved markedly, but the number of deaths from all causes within the first year of treatment did not significantly change, decreasing only a little from 2.2% to 1.3% of the participants who started HAART that year."

The sentence fragment Duesberg quotes is from no such finding. It is taken directly from that paper's conclusion: "Virological response after starting HAART improved over calendar years, but such improvement has not translated into a decrease in mortality."

Furthermore, I can find no examples of "2.2%", "1.3%", "8 years" or "improved markedly" in May's paper. For that matter, I couldn't find anything approximate to Nattrass's words, quoted above, that the May study showed "antiretroviral treatment reduced mortality significantly amongst AIDS patients, but that no additional improvement in mortality reduction had occurred between the late 1990s and early 2000s." What I did find in May's study was the following statement, under "Discussion" on page 454:

"The results of this collaborative study, which involved 12 prospective cohorts and over 20 000 patients with HIV-1 from Europe and North America, show that the virological response after starting HAART has improved steadily since 1996. However, there was no corresponding decrease in the rates of AIDS, or death, up to 1 year of follow-up."

The rationale for withdrawing Duesberg's paper from Medical Hypotheses for misrepresenting a reference has no credibility -- nor indeed does: Nattrass' book; its clueless and indifferent publisher; Goldacre's blog; and the AidsTruth.org page, until a retraction or explanation is offered. But none can be offered without unraveling the orthodox HIV/AIDS hypothesis, and so none will be forthcoming. The problem is solved by ignoring it. It is a measure of how bad things have gotten that she is getting away with it. (However, time is not on the side of Nattrass and her ilk: Google " Stanford scientists develop technique for observing behavior of single molecules in real time ".)

As for the study by Pride Chigwedere, its full text seems to be unavailable online, curiously enough, and links to the text all seem to be broken. However, the PubMed Abstract can be found by Googling: " PubMed Estimating the lost benefits of antiretroviral drug use in South Africa, Chigwedere P ".
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