Tuesday, December 12, 2006

DO I HAVE HIV?

From University Magazine Volume ll, Number 4, December 2002 California State University Long Beach The answer is more complex than you think When Christine Maggiore was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1992, she found herself in a situation she never anticipated.

Remaining healthy and retesting positive, negative and indeterminate a year later put her in a position she'd been told was impossible. Today, Christine Maggiore is one of a growing number of citizens and scientists who are not satisfied with the current dogma and are rethinking AIDS.

UM's Liam Scheff spoke with Maggiore about her life, the controversial science of HIV and AIDS, and the unreported good news of the declining numbers of AIDS cases. Liam Scheff: How did you find yourself in the position of being a critic to the established AIDS medical model?

Christine Maggiore: In 1992, I went for a regular office visit with a doctor who insisted that everyone should take an AIDS test as a matter of social responsibility. Considering myself socially responsible, I took the test even though I didn't have any health complaints or risk factors. I was very shocked, devastated and ashamed when the results came back HIV-positive.
I was told I had about five to seven years to live. In order to fulfill that time frame, I would have to take toxic medicines that, while extending the little bit of life I had left, would make me very sick. I didn't take drugs immediately because I was also told, ironically, that I was too healthy, and that I had to wait to get sick before I could take the drugs.

Given that advice, I felt I'd been left on my own. I started doing research and devised a vitamin program that would be supportive of my health and help prevent illness.I became a public speaker and educator for AIDS Project Los Angeles and L.A. Shanti.

I was invited to join the founding board of Women at Risk, one of the first AIDS organizations to address the specific concerns of women diagnosed HIV-positive. I very actively and passionately towed the mainstream party line until, about a year later, I found a doctor who was somebody I thought I could die with a doctor I could talk to, who knew my name and whom I had respect for. She recommended I take the test over again because I seemed too healthy.

First it came back indeterminate, then positive, then negative, then positive. I was stunned. At that point, I decided to investigate information that I'd heard about but discounted, believing that I already knew everything about HIV and AIDS. This turned out to be the information that saved my life.My investigation started with the writings of Dr. Peter Duesberg and led me to an impressive collection of medical and scientific data that refutes most of our common assumptions about HIV and AIDS, and lays open a fact-based road to health for people who've tested positive.

The information also provides important insight into what we all hear described in the mainstream media as AIDS. LS: How does this information differ from what we're told about HIV and AIDS?

CM: We're given the impression through AIDS organizations and the media that AIDS is a disease and an ever-growing problem. This is false.

AIDS is not a single disease or a specific illness. AIDS is a collection of previously known conditions and illnesses, none of which are new or occur exclusively in people who test positive, and all of which occur in people who test negative. All these conditions have well known causes and treatments that have nothing to do with HIV.

AIDS works like a formula. If you test HIV-positive and have what's called an AIDS indicator disease such as salmonella, tuberculosis, some cancers, pneumonia, herpes or a yeast infection, then you have AIDS. If you test negative or don't know your HIV status, you simply have salmonella, tuberculosis or a yeast infection. In the United States since 1993, illness is not even required to be diagnosed with AIDS.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, simply being diagnosed HIV-positive and having a one-time laboratory test that indicates a low T-cell count is enough for an automatic AIDS diagnosis, even if you've never been sick. Since 1993 more than half of all people in this country diagnosed with AIDS are not sick.

LS: You've said all you need for an AIDS diagnosis is one of the listed AIDS conditions and a positive HIV test. What's wrong with that? What's the problem with the HIV test? CM: Since the only thing that distinguishes salmonella or tuberculosis or a yeast infection from AIDS is a positive HIV test, one would think that the tests are extremely accurate and reliable.

But they're not. Diagnosis means "you have" or "you are," as in "you have HIV" or "you are HIV-infected." Despite claims of 99 percent accuracy by the AIDS test makers, no tests have been approved for diagnosis in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, because the tests do not specifically identify HIV. HIV-antibody tests actually measure a patient's antibody reaction to a series of proteins that are thought to be components of HIV.

But none of the proteins used in the test kits are unique or specific to HIV. The test literature actually explains that HIV tests are known to react with non-HIV antibodies. You can be diagnosed HIV-positive if you possess antibodies formed in response to vaccinations, hepatitis, herpes, pregnancy, multiple infections or certain cancers. There are about 60 conditions that can trigger false positives. LS: And these 60 conditions are listed in the test literature?

CM: No, for that you have to look in the medical literature. The tests do mention blood transfusions, pregnancy and "other exposures," a broad category which means anything you've been exposed to that might cross-react and give a false positive. The most frightening cross-reaction is pregnancy because this test is routinely offered to pregnant women.

We all have this impression that the test is accurate, reliable, even infallible. So when the test comes back positive, doctors assume the result is true and correct and they insist that pregnant women take drugs known to cause cancer, deformities, spontaneous abortions and ill-health in both mother and child.

If an expectant mother questions or does not comply with the doctor's orders, she risks losing custody of her baby immediately after birth. The gold standard of HIV tests is called a virus culture. In this, a patient's blood is added to a dish containing leukemia cells.

The cells and blood are stimulated with foreign chemicals until they manage to "tease out," in the words of AIDS researchers, some HIV from the sample. But what they're "teasing out" didn't occur in the patient. It came from stressing cells with foreign chemicals.

This does not prove that a person has a virus in their blood. It certainly doesn't prove that a virus came from outside of the body and infected them. There are many scientists who dispute the notion that HIV causes AIDS. In fact, the two researchers whose innovations helped form the basis for today's AIDS science, Dr. Peter Duesberg (who first mapped out a retroviral genome) and Dr. Kary Mullis (who won a Nobel prize for discovering technology that amplifies scraps of genetic material), are primary critics of the HIV equals AIDS hypothesis and claim their innovations are being misused to support it.

LS: If what you're saying is true, why do we hear that so many people are sick and dying? How many people are dying of AIDS? CM: In Los Angeles last year, the number was 573 people. In the United States, from 1981 to 1998, the period of the AIDS epidemic, there were approximately 410,000 AIDS-related deaths.

It is, of course, very sad when young people die. However, AIDS deaths are far outnumbered by deaths from less publicized causes. During the same period, there were 800,000 deaths from car accidents, 9 million deaths from cancer, and 14 million deaths from heart disease. Compare the figures. In the same period, 1.8 million people died from properly taken, correctly prescribed prescription drugs.

That's over four times the number of AIDS deaths from 1981 to 1998. During this period of time, there were 665, 000 AIDS diagnoses in the United States. But in the same period, there were 4.3 million chlamydia, 6 million genital herpes, and 13.6 million gonorrhea cases diagnosed. So you've got to think about where our concerns, our tax dollars and our attentions are being focused. It's disproportionate to whatever real and tragic problem exists in regard to AIDS.

Do you know how many AIDS babies were born in LA county last year? Zero. The year before, one. These are the facts. But when you read about the celebrity fundraiser that the L.A. Pediatric AIDS Foundation throws every year, nobody's announcing this fact. You have to wonder why there is no celebration or even acknowledgement of this good news. Since 1993, AIDS cases in this country have done nothing but decline.

In San Francisco, the "AIDS epicenter," there were less than 300 new AIDS cases last year. The director of San Francisco's Department of Public Health conducted a study that shows HIV positivity peaked there in 1982, more than 20 years ago. Yet every two weeks, the department and the city government declare an "AIDS state of emergency," so the city can continue to receive some $70 million in federal funding to combat a problem that hardly exists

In Los Angeles County, the cumulative total of all AIDS cases ever diagnosed is 40,000. But 20,000 of those diagnoses were given to people who weren't sick and had no symptoms of illness. They got an AIDS diagnosis based solely on a lab count. We have thousands of AIDS organization telling us that the disease is a serious and growing threat to America's youth. But in 2000, there were less than 350 AIDS diagnoses out of our approximately 28 million American teenagers. That's .000015 percent.

Most of those diagnosed reported using intravenous drugs or having sex with men (ingesting sperm), both of which can create antibodies that give false HIV-positives. LS: You are the founder and director of Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, based in Los Angeles. Your group offers counsel and support to people who've been diagnosed HIV-positive or with AIDS.

What are some of the things that you tell people when they contact you? CM: We let them know that there is more than one side to the AIDS story. There are options generally not mentioned by AIDS organizations, their doctors or the media. We encourage people to read about what the tests can and cannot prove, what the drugs can and cannot do, and to make up their own minds about how and if they will be treated.

Other AIDS organizations say, "Take the drugs, take the tests." We say take the time to become informed. Take the position that you are in charge of your life and your health. You're the one who lives with the decisions that you make. These are very important, life-altering decisions which should be made on a foundation of facts, not assumptions.

The first thing is to determine what, if anything, is wrong. Then, how that can be addressed through treatments and protocols that are health-enhancing, rather than health-compromising. We emphasize treatments that don't add to toxic consumption.

Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives does not offer medical care, but we do provide introductions to holistic health practitioners across the country who treat their patients' specific problems with therapies that are health-supporting. Western medicine tends to see all HIV-positive people as exactly the same.

Patients are basically rotated among 14 to 16 different pharmaceuticals. There is no real regard for the individual's unique needs. But if you think about it, the only real path to health is through individual diagnosis and individual treatment. We find that this path leads to happy endings and long stories of health.

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