Difficulties encountered by Dissenters.

Letter by Dr. Valendar Turner (Mail & Guardian, April 25, 2003), responding to Judge Edwin Cameron.:

In a most offensive lecture delivered at Harvard, Judge Edwin Cameron (April 17th) chooses to comprehend HIV/AIDS dissidence in terms of Holocaust denial. Yet like Einstein's relativity, HIV is only a theory and dissidents do not draw their conclusions by "persistently, vigorously, vehemently, and sometimes venomously" denying the facts but rather by interpreting the data differently from others. This is what Nobel laureate Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi contended discovery was all about. Judge Cameron is clearly an HIV apologist by virtue of being a disciple of scientists and others in whom he places a great amount of trust. Galilelo, who the judge mentions, also warns him about the dangers of consensus in science. The fact is that proof of the existence of HIV and whether it causes AIDS does not follow because one or five thousand scientists propound it so or sign a thousand documents. Admittedly, more often than not, the judge would be placing a safe bet because there are a lot of absurd ideas out there. But not all and there's the rub. Medicine has got it wrong on many occasions. It has a special knack for confusing diseases caused by toxins or deficiencies with those caused by germs. Indeed, one needs look no further than the early 20th century vitamin deficiency induced pellagra epidemic in the southern states of the USA. There sufferers, who belonged to the "risk group" of being poor and underfed, were incarcerated in mental asylums because it was accepted they were spreading contagion. But there was no germ, just as HL23V, the world's "first" human retrovirus, discovered in 1975 using more rigorous methodology than that employed for HIV, was five years later proven a momentous mistake. Although by the time of its demise many of the same experts who are now HIV experts had already developed an antibody test to "prove" infection with it "widespread in humans" and a likely cause of leukaemia. Is the judge aware of these data because they are certainly known to his President.

If Judge Cameron wishes to pursue his Holocaust theory of HIV/AIDS dissidence perhaps he might consider the thoughts of Primo Levi, a man who had firsthand knowledge of such matters. "In countries and epochs in which communication is impeded, all other liberties soon wither; discussion dies by inanition, ignorance of the opinion of others becomes rampant, imposed opinions triumph...Intolerance is inclined to censor, and censorship increases the ignorance of the arguments of others and thus intolerance itself: a vicious circle that is hard to break".

Valendar F. Turner

Member [South African] Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel

Perth,Western Australia vturner@bigpond.net.au