Skip to comments.One Woman’s Story re: HIV and AIDS - SIGN THE PETITION
Posted on 05/15/2005 11:24:01 PM PDT by David Lane
AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FELLOW MAN
One Womans Story re: HIV and AIDS
Immediately after high school graduation, I enrolled in the court reporting program at Wichita Business College. Completing the 2-year program, I passed the Kansas State Certified Shorthand Reporter examination and began work as a freelance court reporter in my family's business.
In April of 1992 I was twenty-nine years old. I was a well-respected business woman and an accomplished freelance court reporter in Wichita. I traveled frequently for business as well as pleasure. I spent a lot of time at the gym and in outdoor sports, and I took good care of my diet. I was attractive, healthy, intelligent, successful and energetic. Even though I'd been seeing a certain young man exclusively for a few months, I referred to myself as happily single;. I was financially and spiritually independent, and my sense of well being was off the charts.
Then the certain young man in my life, Don, went to the local county health department for a sore he thought might be herpes. When he told me the nurses there had confirmed it as herpes, I thought the responsible thing to do would be to find out if I had it as well. At the health department, I was told that since I didn't have a sore that could be cultured, they could not test me for herpes; but how would I like to have an AIDS test? They were offering it to everyone these days.
I was embarrassed and confused. I felt that a refusal of this AIDS test would be tantamount to a confession of illicit drug use or promiscuity. I had heard that anyone can get AIDS, but I still felt I was in a very low risk group. I agreed to the test and was told to come back in a week for my results.
A week later, I sat in the waiting area for two hours waiting to get my results. I was finally taken to a private exam room by two women. They apologized for making me wait for so long and then explained that the reason for my wait was because they were trying to figure out how to handle the situation. My test was positive. Almost everyone who tests positive is either gay or on drugs or suspects they are positive for some reason. Here I was a heterosexual female, non-drug user, non-prostitute, and I was really giving them a problem.
Then they told me it was just a test, which was called an ELISA. They said I was not in any risk group, and it would most likely turn out to be negative when I was given the confirmatoryest. They wanted to know if I'd been recently pregnant, but they didn't inform me of anything else that could cause a false positive result.
I said;I have a live-in boyfriend. I don't want to scare him unnecessarily, but I don't want to not tell him either. And we have sex practically every night. I was told to buy some condoms on the way home and to tell him nothing. This advice was abhorrent and absurd to me. It upset me as much as the test did at the time.
I went straight to my most trusted friend and told her what had happened. She advised I should tell Don, which I did immediately when I got home. I also told her that I would kill myself if the positive result was confirmed. I'm not sure what she said to that. I was uncontrollably crying my eyes out at the time.
While attempting to have an otherwise normal life, I spent the next two weeks calling the county health department every day trying to get my ;confirmed; diagnosis. They kept telling me they didnt know yet. Finally, they admitted that they had to have a certain quota of blood samples before they could send them off for confirmatory testing, and mine hadn't actually been sent yet. They didn't even know when it would be sent. That's when I went just a little crazy. I decided I would do nothing else but try to find out the truth until I finally got it.
I started calling people on the phone and found a hospice nurse who wanted me to immediately come see her. She then sent me to a home for indigent AIDS victims where I met a nun who was also a nurse. She knew another nurse who worked for a doctor who specialized in internal medicine and HIV/AIDS. I called that nurse and got an appointment with the specialist right away.
Two days later on May 1, 1992, the specialist, Donna Sweet, M.D., ;confirmed; my positive diagnosis with the results of a Western Blot test. She called it classic.; She set me up for blood tests and office visits every two months, which I later negotiated to every three months, and then to every six months. Finally I starting returning only once a year and then only because I wanted to get my oral contraceptive prescription refilled. More about my doctor visits later.
When I got the ;confirmation;, I felt my life was over. I can remember looking at my then 8-year-old cat and wondering what would happen to her when I died. (Kitty; passed away in September 2001 at the ripe old age of eighteen, and I cared for her in her last illness.) I was contemplating about to whom I should give my possessions. I wondered how I could possibly even be remembered on this planet or leave any type of legacy at all, being unmarried, childless, and hopelessly doomed to stay that way for the remainder of my painful, pitiful days. I thought I must find a way to just fade out of sight and suffer a lonely, slow deterioration of my body and eventual death in solitude. I mentally envisioned myself becoming grossly deformed and weak and covered with sores until my skin fell off and my insides turned to puss that oozed out of ghastly, bloody ulcerations in my torso, face and limbs.
And then I told my parents. My father was extremely overdramatic. His exact words: This isn't the way it happens in the movies. (sob, sob) How could you do this to me?; And then my mothers seemingly unaffected response was she would worry about it when she had to, that she thought it was probably just a mistake; yet she bought this cheesy, golden, glowing supposed artwork image of a woman who sort of looked like me kneeling and bowing. She gave it to me but insisted that she needed it back; when; my mother didn't finish the sentence.
And then there was Don. Suddenly I was deeply attached to this relationship with a man that I would not have given the slightest thought of marrying before the positive HIV test. Much to my surprise he wanted to continue the relationship! He even had unprotected sex with me the same day I was confirmed; just as he had been doing all along, even after the ELISA screening had come back positive! I was amazed! He said he would stay with me and even assist with euthanasia if it came to that! But what was most amazing, he didn't even believe I had HIV or that I would ever even get AIDS!
WOW! I thought God had sent me an angel, and I prayed and prayed about how could I continue a sexual relationship with Don when I was killing an angel sent to me by God! And God answered and told me to Help Don
Don and I were married August 8, 1992; and I spent the next nine years living my life for Don. I thought I was helping him, probably in many ways I was, but the guilt I felt over our sexual relationship was ever present. It caused me to put up with abuse that was mental, emotional, financial, verbal and physical that would have never been tolerated by my previously HIV-negative self.
But the guilt wasn't the only hold HIV had on me. I knew I could never have anything resembling a normal dating relationship. My doctor, my parents, and Don all agreed the HIV had to be kept a secret. If word got out, it would ruin me socially and financially, creating stress, stigmatization and isolation that my doctor warned would all help HIV kill me even faster. So I hid from men in my marriage better to tell them I'm taken than admit that I have a sexually transmitted deadly virus. And I also feared turning Don loose on the women of the planet. His attitude toward HIV was nonchalant and, I felt at the time, in danger of spreading AIDS. I felt very responsible for containing the virus within our relationship.
Yet as any attractive woman knows, a wedding band doesn't totally keep the men at bay. Anytime a man even just warmly complimented me, I felt as though I was hopelessly and helplessly singing the siren's song, luring any and all interested men to their death. Even my good health and good looks had become a source of guilt, and I felt like the perpetrator of an enormous lie. I felt contaminated and contagious. My social and professional life on the outside were nothing like the true life I had at home, or the true feelings in my heart.
So I worked; and worked and worked and worked. The more money I spent on Don, the less I got beat up. The more time I spent working, the less time I had to contemplate the anguish of illness that would soon befall me. The more successful my career, the less I had to face the fact that personally my wants and needs meant nothing. I basically had no goals except for somehow trying to save what I thought would/could be the only intimate relationship for me.
Despite all the evils deservedly attributed to Don, he remained undaunted by the HIV, and thus continued to be my savior. Together we questioned many aspects of the popular AIDS dogma such as: How did I catch this virus when I don't have any risk factors? Why am I always so healthy?Why are antibodies bad? If the only test is for antibodies, how do we know that the virus is not cured?
Which brings me back to my doctor visits. Never during the first four or five years did I have a T-cell count lower than 700. I caught one flu that was going around and that's it. I never even broke out with any herpes sores, the fear of which started me down this interminable path. The only thing I was ever treated for was warts that the doctors never were able to cure.
Then the viral load test came out in 1996, and I was told that they were now able to test for the actual virus. My viral load was 20,000. The next year my viral load was still 20,000 and my T-cells were still 700. But most important in my mind was that any detectable viral load must mean that I still have the virus in my body. My ultimate doomsday was once again confirmed by medical science.
Under the mounting stress of my life which was no longer my own, my relationship with my father/employer became more and more tense until I had to stop working for him. This meant losing the health insurance I had had for most of my life, and I was unable to get another health policy because of my HIV positive status. I decided the tests were just too expensive and were telling me nothing I was interested in knowing.
I was always physically very healthy despite working up to seventy or eighty hours a week, managing all the responsibilities of the home, eating fairly poorly, drinking too much beer to help me fall asleep at night, and getting virtually no exercise. If I were immunocompromised, surely I should be catching some opportunistic illness on such a regimen. I wasn't about to take any AIDS medicines based on the information I'd heard about side effects, and I discontinued the use of oral contraceptives in 1999. So having no further need for my doctor, I decided to stop seeing her in March of 1998 when I got my last birth control prescription.
During this whole time I sat up a lot of nights crying and reading Psalms. I also sought a lot of advice in the course of trying to save my marriage a goal solely determined by the presence of the HIV label.
I went to my Methodist pastors who told me to get divorced and wanted to have me put on Prozac when I said I would rather continue to work on my then 8-month-old marriage. I refused the psyche drugs. I was then referred by my HIV doctor to a licensed clinical social worker who kicked my folks and me out of her office when my father exploded during a session.
Don and I also saw a clinical psychologist, also recommended by my doc, who told me I was addicted to my marriage and actually convinced me to file for divorce which I did on Valentine's Day 1994. I was completely destroyed by what I had done in filing for divorce and begged Don to come back to me. He did, and I continued to search for solutions to our problems.
Since the chiropractor I had been seeing threatened to call the police if I came in beat up by Don one more time, I went to see a friend who was a massage therapist in hopes of getting some non-threatening pain relief. She told me she was a Scientologist and that Scientology could help with troubled marriages. My trek with Scientology is a story in itself, but I want you to know that I spent over $100,000 from 1994 to 1998 with this group in an effort to find peace in my marriage. They had me completely convinced that they could Don and that the next step; would do it. They also told me that my eternity was doomed if I didn't follow the path on their Bridge to Total Freedom
The story of my troubled marriage and my dealings with Scientology began to leak out. The people who knew me but didn't know about the HIV couldn't believe I was doing all these dumb things, e.g., staying in this insane relationship and spending a small fortune with a cult. They thought I was being controlled by an abusive husband and a pseudo religion, and they also knew I was just plain too smart for that. Remember, on the outside I was still maintaining, or attempting to, that image of the successful happy camper my friends knew and loved pre-May 1, 1992. They knew I was financially secure on my own and seemingly capable of achieving about anything I wanted. So the lie had to continue, and get bigger, and HIV had to remain a secret.
In 1996 the Scientologists adopted a policy that was very discriminatory against HIV positive parishioners. This started causing some problems. They wanted a doctor's note every six months stating that I was not on the verge of kicking the bucket, and I had trouble trusting my soul to someone who couldn't look at me and easily see that I did not have one foot in the grave. Round and round we went, and I eventually walked away from the church even though they had over $20,000 of my money in their account and were refusing to return it.
In February 2000 I heard of a group of ex-Scientologists in Texas who were using some of the Scientology techniques but were expanding them and using them in a more ethical manner. They called this practice Knowledgism, and a friend of mine from Scientology highly recommended them. It was at the Knowledgism Ranch in October 2000 that I began to regain my self-esteem; and in March of 2001, I was strong enough to confront Don about our situation.
Don and I were in a lease together downtown in Wichita where both our businesses were located. The lease was to expire in October 2001, which gave Don seven months to figure out something new to do. I would no longer pay for my assistant to do his work, nor would I do it myself. His business must become self-sufficient by the end of the lease, as I was moving my business to our residence.
By now I had learned how to block out the verbal abuse; and the physical abuse had been abated simply because I asked nothing of Don at all, not even the simple, polite niceties one would expect in the most remote of encounters with another. But the threat of losing his meal ticket brought on a new wave of violent behavior, and for the first time I was more frightened of Don than I was of HIV. This led to discussion of a post-nuptial agreement which evolved into a divorce petition I filed on October 20, 2001. And this time I felt strong enough to go through with it.
I moved my office to home, hired a new assistant, and was genuinely looking forward to starting over with a new dream, albeit single; but HIV still had to remain secret, especially in my professional circles. I think the years without intimacy during my marriage convinced me that celibacy was tolerable. At least I had my career and I could finally spend my hard-earned money on me instead of Don or maybe even finally have a savings and even retire early.
But Don fought hard. He was going to make me pay. No matter the sum I offered him to settle the divorce, he wanted more.
On November 28 the weather turned cold, and Don came over to pick up some warm clothes which were still at my house, previously our home together. I tried in vain to get him to name a sum that would appease him. We were slowly and steadily spending a small fortune on our attorneys. His response was, ;I've got a whole new twist on this, Kim, that you haven';t even thought of yet.. Then he was out the door with the last of his parkas.
The next evening I went to sleep around midnight. At approximately 1:40 a.m., I was awakened by a man on top of me with his left hand on my mouth and nose and his right fist in my throat. All his weight, over 200 pounds, was on me. His exact words were, Your husband wants you f*cked and killed and I'm just gonna kill you. We struggled and he strangled me repeatedly, alternating suffocation with breaking most of the bones in my face with his fists. I later learned that while I slept he had busted my skull with a 5-pound steel jackhammer bit. But then he stopped and said crying: I can't do this.;I'm not a murderer. Why does your husband want you dead?;
At that time my life insurance was worth around $150,000. There was about $70,000 in our joint bank accounts. I later sold our 5000-square-foot house for $210,000. And with our cars and other personal belongings, Don stood to inherit about half a million dollars if I were to die.
The man who tried to kill me is Michael Greer. He is now in prison for several more years, having been convicted by a criminal trial jury of premeditated attempted first degree murder. At his trial he admitted to telling me that Don hired him. Basically my story and his are exactly the same about what happened that night. Except now he says he just made up the part about taking money from Don to kill me.
Don was picked up, jailed, and questioned for four days before being released without charges. He paid the attorney who got him out of jail $20,000. I’m told by the district attorney that no hard evidence of a connection between him and Michael Greer was ever found; although, I have never been allowed access to the police file. Don presently owns and runs a small hairstyling salon in downtown Wichita, Kansas.
I managed to survive the attack with a slightly dented skull and a barely visible scar over my right temple. I even escaped a brain surgery that some of the doctors wanted to perform. I gave my assistant her final assignment from my hospital bed on the morning of the attackCancel everything -- the business is closed indefinitely.
On the seventh day after the attack, I drove myself five hours to the Knowledgism Ranch in Saint Jo, Texas, where a little stone cabin became my home for the next seven months plus. This is where I first learned that there were some very reputable scientists and doctors disputing the HIV theory of AIDS.
On April 18, 2002, a friend of mine emailed a link to Nexus Magazine, asking me to check out an article about the benefits of coconut oil. As I scanned the magazine index for the title, I noticed another article entitled ;The Yin and Yang of HIV;, and I clicked on it. It was long, it was technical, it was heavily referenced and footnoted. I decided to print it out after reading only a few paragraphs, and settled myself onto the sofa in the lodge to study it.
I emerged from the sofa several hours later in a state of amazement. I began with my friends at the Ranch, telling them what I had found. Then I emailed Dr. Valandar Turner of The Perth Group who had written the article, and at last I started searching the web. I could do nothing but read for hours and hours each day all of this enormous volume of information which confirmed the suspicions I had had about my own supposed diagnosisas well as giving support to the holes I perceived in the prevailing AIDS dogma.
Since that time I have done a tremendous amount of research into this subject, first for the purposes of my own health, then in outrage, and finally in an effort to help as many people as I can who find themselves in a similar situation as myself. Now, nearly thirteen years after my diagnosis, I remain healthy and have never taken any AIDS medications.
With the help of my attorney, I have filed a lawsuit on the issue of whether the HIV or AIDS tests are really showing us what they purport to show, i.e., that a person is infected with HIV, which is still considered the probable cause of AIDS.
AIDS is a government-identified and defined disease. In the early 1980s, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that a growing number of male homosexuals and intravenous (IV) drug users were experiencing a mysterious epidemic of diseases, which included several odd types of pneumonia, a rare malignant tumor called Kaposi';s sarcoma, lymphoma, dementia, tuberculosis, weight loss, fever, diarrhea, etc. Officials at the CDC called the epidemic AIDS; (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which this agency now defines as comprising 26 different diseases. From 1981-2001 they claim AIDS has afflicted 800,000 people in the US, 250,000 in Europe, and 1,000,000 (?) in Africa. In the US, it strikes young male homosexuals (66% of all AIDS cases), male and female IV drug users (32% of all AIDS cases, 75% of them male), hemophiliacs and other transfusion recipients (1%), and children born to drug-addicted mothers (1%). Notice I don't fit into any of these categories.
In 1984, government researchers and most notably Robert Gallo proposed that a sexually transmittable virus, now called HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), is the cause of AIDS. In the US and Europe, a person must have a positive HIV test indicating antibodies to the virus to be diagnosed as having AIDS, along with one of the AIDS-defining diseases, or, since 1993, a low T cell count (T cells are one of the types of cells that make up our immune system) in an otherwise healthy person with no diseases; but this low T cell count definition does not count as AIDS in Canada, and people in Africa can be diagnosed as having AIDS without needing to have an HIV test based on a ruling by the World Health Organization (WHO). Anyone in Africa who gets pneumonia, for example, is classified as having AIDS. Interpretations of HIV tests when given also vary from country to country and even from lab to lab. Hence, you could change your HIV and/or AIDS status simply by moving to another location.
Over the last twenty years the US Government has carried out a program to eradicate the HIV virus that has engaged the efforts of more than 100,000 government-funded doctors and scientists and has cost the US taxpayers to date more than $160 billion. They have found no cure, and they have yet to save one life. And there is strong evidence that the premise upon which this program is founded is wrong.
Although everyone is paying the price, it is the presumption that HIV causes AIDS that is so injurious to those so diagnosed, many of whom are perfectly healthy people like me. Those in non-risk groups do not progress to AIDS unless they take the AIDS medicines prescribed by the orthodoxy, which are all known to cause extreme side effects and death. Many people have lost their insurance, their jobs, their homes and families. Some commit suicide. Pregnant women are forced to take AZT, deliver by C-section, and are prohibited from breast feeding. Babies are taken from their homes and given drugs, even experimental drugs and vaccines, and sometimes this happens even when the babies test HIV negative. HIV positives have been prosecuted for having sex. The psychological effect alone of being given an HIV death sentence is enough to kill you, one way or another.
Yet my research has shown that the HIV tests all contain some sort of disclaimer that they must be confirmed and validated by another test, which test invariably has the same or a similar disclaimer, and that no test is approved by the FDA to be used for diagnosis. There are also some 70 known conditions which will cross-react and give a false positive result on the HIV tests. These conditions include TB, alcoholism, arthritis, pregnancy, chicken pox, malaria, flu shots and warts. This hardly seems a basis upon which to be issuing a diagnosis of anything!
Robert Gallo filed for a patent on the first HIV test on the same day he announced he had found the probable cause of AIDS, a patent for a test from which he has made an enormous amount of money. His proclamation was made despite the fact that his research was previously unpublished which I have found would be the scientific standard in order that it could be verified by other scientists. Gallo has still not been corroborated.
Gallo also was found to have stolen the virus he claimed to be HIV from a French scientist, Luc Montagnier; and the dispute was thoroughly investigated and finally settled with the involvement of US President Reagan and French Premier Chirac. My research has uncovered very unsettling evidence against Gallo and his lawyers.
When I asked for copies of my own medical records, I found that the confirmation Western Blot (WB) test that I was given when I was diagnosed contains the following language which no one bothered to tell me previously:
Indicates possible infection by virus. Viremia may be present. Positive results are not diagnostic of AIDS. Biologic false positives still possible in some select cases.Follow up testing may be advised if clinical findings are discordant with test results. (emphasis mine)
This Western Blot test which allegedly confirmed my HIV positive status has been banned from diagnostic use in the UK because it is so unreliable. This same test is still being used in the US to diagnose and confirm a positive HIV diagnosis in individuals every day.
The viral load test that at one time I believed to be testing for HIV antigens or actual virus is also known as PCR. The CDC has this to say about it: PCR is not recommended and is not licensed for routine diagnostic purposes. The viral load test manufacturer's own literature warns the test is not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of HIV Yet this is the test I was given by my doctor when I confronted her with all this science I had found which is contrary to her prior advice and diagnosis. She is still insisting that this is a test for viral antigens and that it is just now time for me to ;get sick and die.
When I decided to see Dr. Sweet one last time on September 21, 2004, asking her to change my diagnosis begging her actually for my life, she refused and wanted to put me on AIDS medication; yet she pronounced me in excellent clinical health. I showed her HIV test kit inserts from the tests she gave me that state they are not to be used for diagnosis or confirmation, that positive test results should be confirmedthat they should not be used as the sole basis for the diagnosis of HIV. She patronizingly explained the testing procedure to me, knowing full well that I completely understood it already, and then proclaimed I've done everything I'm supposed to do. She promised to send me a documented study that proves heterosexual transmission of HIV and confirmed my mailing address, but no study ever came in the mail.
That's because as far as I can tell, no such study exists. I've asked everyone for it. I';ve posted the question on the internet and I've asked doctors and scientists and I've searched everywhere I can think to look. No one seems to have the study. It's just assumed one must have contracted the virus through heterosexual contact in the absence of any other risk factors.
Some scientists question that HIV causes AIDS, and some even question whether HIV exists at all. They claim that what is called HIV is really only cellular debris. There are doctors treating AIDS with detoxification techniques and nutrition, and their patients are getting well. All of these dissenting scientists and doctors are being squelched by the medical and scientific orthodoxy. They are denied research grants and are not allowed to publish in scientific journals.
I have uncovered a lot of disturbing information in the two last years, and here is another example: Based on information provided by the WHO, even if we assume that all AIDS cases were fatal in the year 2000, the resulting global mortality rate of HIV positives (mostly untreated) would only be 1.4%, which is 4 to 6 times lower than the 6.7 to 8.8% mortality rate of HIV positives treated with anti-HIV drugs in the US and Canada. What more statistical evidence do you need that it is the AIDS medicines and not HIV that is causing people to die?
When you combine this with the fact that heterosexual, white females who don't use IV drugs do not get AIDS unless they take AIDS meds, it does ease my mind to know I will never get AIDS since I don't take AIDS drugs. Virtually no one in my demographic gets AIDS. However, the psychological effects of being so misled are even greater at this point. What would my life have been like for the past thirteen years and what would it be like into the future if I could only live it without the stigma of an HIV positive diagnosis? And the burden of somehow reaching the general public with this information that is so vital weighs heavily on my mind and soul.
I've largely kept my HIV status a private matter to this point. The atrocities that I've discovered cause me to reconsider this decision. It would appear that I could very easily go on with my life as I have been and tell as few people as possible of my conditionor my more recent research findings. However, this is impossible for me to do in good conscience.
I suppose my background as a freelance court reporter has led me to the avenue of the justice system to help me in my quest to spread the truth. I feel it is only my excellent reputation in the local legal community that enabled me to get a lawyer to take the case. The disclaimers the manufacturers put in their kit inserts do not protect them under the Laws of the State of Kansas if they don't make certain the person buying the test actually knows the disclaimers exist. Well, I didn't know about those disclaimers, and it was pretty difficult to get my hands on them after I heard about them. I'm asking the court to not allow this to continue to happen to people.
I am not a doctor or scientist or even a lawyer. I am merely an average citizen who is making a conscious decision to be informed and responsible for her own health rather than relying on the opinions and advice of supposed authorities whose very own expert status and pocketbooks rely upon the continued existence of a theory that will no doubt turn out to be the basis for the biggest snake oil remedy scam to which mankind has ever fallen prey. Just follow the money.
Kim Marie Bannon
A September 2004, San Francisco Chronicle article considered the "beauty" of testing. It told the story of 59 year-old veteran Jim Malone, who'd been told in 1996 that he was HIV positive. His health was diagnosed as "very poor." He was classified as "permanently disabled and unable to work or participate in any stressful situation whatsoever."
In 2004, his doctor sent him a note to tell him he was actually negative. He had tested positive at one hospital, and negative at another.
Nobody asked why the second test was more accurate than the first (this was the protocol at the Veteran's Hospital). Having been falsely diagnosed and spending nearly a decade waiting, expecting to die, Malone said, "I would tell people to get not just one HIV test, but multiple tests. I would say test, test and retest."
In the article, AIDS experts assured the public that the story was "extraordinarily rare." But the medical literature differs significantly.
In 1985, at the beginning of HIV testing, it was known that "68% to 89% of all repeatedly reactive ELISA (HIV antibody) tests [were] likely to represent false positive results." (New England Journal of Medicine. 1985).
In 1992, the Lancet reported ("HIV Screening in Russia") that for 66 true positives, there were 30,000 false positives. And in pregnant women, "there were 8,000 false positives for 6 confirmations."
In September 2000, the Archives of Family Medicine stated that the more women we test, the greater "the proportion of false-positive and ambiguous (indeterminate) test results."
The tests described above are standard HIV tests, the kind promoted in the ads. Their technical name is ELISA or EIA (Enzyme-linked Immuno-sorbant Assay). They are antibody tests. The tests contain proteins that react with antibodies in your blood.
In the U.S., you're tested with an ELISA first. If your blood reacts, you'll be tested again, with another ELISA. Why is the second more accurate than the first? That's just the protocol. If you have a reaction on the second ELISA, you'll be confirmed with a third antibody test, called the Western Blot. But that's here in America. In some countries, one
ELISA is all you get.
It is precisely because HIV tests are antibody tests that they produce so many false-positive results. All antibodies tend to cross-react. We produce anti-bodies all the time, in response to stress, malnutrition, illness, drug use, vaccination, foods we eat, a cut, a cold, even pregnancy. These antibodies are known to make HIV tests come up as positive.
The medical literature lists dozens of reasons for positive HIV test results: "transfusions, transplantation, or pregnancy, autoimmune disorders, malignancies, alcoholic liver disease, or for reasons that are unclear..." (Archives of Family Medicine. Sept/Oct. 2000).
"[L]iver diseases, parenteral substance abuse, hemodialysis, or vaccinations for hepatitis B, rabies, or influenza..." (Archives of Internal Medicine, August 2000).
The same is true for the confirmatory test the Western Blot. Causes of indeterminate Western Blots include: "lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, injection drug use, liver disease, or autoimmune disorders. Also, there appear to be healthy individuals with antibodies that cross-react...."
Pregnancy is consistently listed as a cause of positive test results, even by the test manufacturers." [False positives can be caused by] prior pregnancy, blood transfusions...and other potential nonspecific reactions." (Vironostika HIV Test, 2003).
Inflated Africa Numbers
This is significant in Africa, because HIV estimates for African nations are drawn almost exclusively from testing done on groups of pregnant women.
In Zimbabwe last year, the rate of HIV infection among young women decreased remarkably, from 32.5 to 6 percent. A drop of 81 percent overnight. UNICEF's Swaziland representative, Dr. Alan Brody, told the press that, "The problem is that all the sero-surveillance data came from pregnant women, and estimates for other demographics was based on that."
(PLUS News, August, 2004).
When these pregnant young women are tested, they're often tested for other illnesses, like syphilis, at the same time. There's no concern for cross-reactivity or false-positives in this group, and no repeat testing. One ELISA on one girl, and 32.5 percent of the population is suddenly HIV positive.
The June 20, 2004 Boston Globe reported "the current estimate of 40 million people living with the AIDS virus worldwide is inflated by 25 percent to 50 percent." It said that HIV estimates for entire countries have, for over a decade, been taken from "blood samples from pregnant women at prenatal clinics."
But numbers about "AIDS deaths, AIDS orphans, numbers of people needing antiretroviral treatment, and the average life expectancy" are all taken from that one test.
I've certainly never seen this in a VH1 ad.
At present there are about six-dozen reasons given in the literature why the tests come up positive. In fact, the medical literature states that there is simply no way of knowing if any HIV test is truly positive or negative:
"[F]alse-positive reactions have been observed with every single HIV-1 protein, recombinant or authentic." (Clinical Chemistry. 37; 1991). "Thus, it may be impossible to relate an antibody response specifically to HIV-1 infection." (Medicine International. 1988).
And even if you believe the reaction is not a false positive, "the test does not indicate whether the person currently harbors the virus."
(Science. November, 1999).
The test manufacturers state that after the antibody reaction occurs, the tests have to be "interpreted." There is no strict or clear
definition of HIV positive or negative. There's just the antibody reaction. The reaction is colored by an enzyme, and read by a machine called a spectro-photometer.
The machine grades the reactions according to their strength (but not specificity), above and below a cut-off. If you test above the cut-off, you're positive; if you test below it, you're negative. So what determines the all-important cut-off? From The CDC's instructional material: "Establishing the cutoff value to define a positive test result from a negative one is somewhat arbitrary." (CDC, 2003)
Thank so to an angel disguised as a gentleman, I have a website. On my website, I have a "Petition of Support" for my legal efforts against the HIV test kit mfrs. Please go to
and sign my petition and ask your friends to do the same.
The Hidden Face of HIV Part 1
"Knowing is Beautiful"
by Liam Scheff
As a journalist who writes about AIDS, I am endlessly amazed by the difference between the public and the private face of HIV; between what the public is told and whats explained in the medical literature. The public face of HIV is well-known: HIV is a sexually transmitted virus that particularly preys on gay men, African Americans, drug users, and just about all of Africa, although were all at risk. Were encouraged to be tested, because, as the MTV ads say, "knowing is beautiful." We also know that AIDS drugs are all thats stopping the entire African continent from falling into the sea.
The medical literature spells it out differently quite differently. The journals that review HIV tests, drugs and patients, as well as the instructional material from medical schools, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and HIV test manufacturers will agree with the public perception in the large print. But when you get past the titles, theyll tell you, unabashedly, that HIV tests are not standardized; that theyre arbitrarily interpreted; that HIV is not required for AIDS; and finally, that the term HIV does not describe a single entity, but instead describes a collection of non-specific, cross-reactive cellular material.
Thats quite a difference.
The popular view of AIDS is held up by concerned people desperate to help the millions of Africans stricken with AIDS, the same disease that first afflicted young gay American men in the 1980s. The medical literature differs on this point. It says that that AIDS in Africa has always been diagnosed differently than AIDS in the US.
In 1985, The World Health Organization called a meeting in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, to define African AIDS. The meeting was presided over by CDC official Joseph McCormick. He wrote about in his book "Level 4 Virus hunters of the CDC," saying, "If I could get everyone at the WHO meeting in Bangui to agree on a single, simple definition of what an AIDS case was in Africa, then, imperfect as the definition might be, we could actually start counting the cases..." The results African AIDS would be defined by physical symptoms: fever, diarrhea, weight loss and coughing or itching. ("AIDS in Africa: an epidemiological paradigm." Science, 1986)
In Sub-Saharan African about 60 percent of the population lives and dies without safe drinking water, adequate food or basic sanitation. A September, 2003 report in the Ugandan Daily "New Vision" outlined the situation in Kampala, a city of approximately 1.3 million inhabitants, which, like most tropical countries, experiences seasonal flooding. The report describes "heaps of unclaimed garbage" among the crowded houses in the flood zones and "countless pools of water [that] provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and create a dirty environment that favors cholera."
"[L]atrines are built above water streams. During rains the area residents usually open a hole to release feces from the latrines. The rain then washes away the feces to streams, from where the [area residents] fetch water. However, not many people have access to toilet facilities. Some defecate in polythene bags, which they throw into the stream." They call these, "flying toilets.
The state-run Ugandan National Water and Sewerage Corporation states that currently 55% of Kampala is provided with treated water, and only 8% with sewage reclamation.
Most rural villages are without any sanitary water source. People wash clothes, bathe and dump untreated waste up and downstream from where water is drawn. Watering holes are shared with animal populations, which drink, bathe, urinate and defecate at the water source. Unmanaged human waste pollutes water with infectious and often deadly bacteria. Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes, which bring malaria. Infectious diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, TB, malaria and famine are the top killers in Africa. But in 1985, they became AIDS.
The public service announcements that run on VH1 and MTV, informing us of the millions of infected, always fail to mention this. I dont know what were supposed to do with the information that 40 million people are dying and nothing can be done. I wonder why we wouldnt be interested in building wells and providing clean water and sewage systems for Africans. Given our great concern, it would seem foolish not to immediately begin the "clean water for Africa" campaign. But Ive never heard such a thing mentioned.
The UN recommendations for Africa actually demand the opposite "billions of dollars" taken out of "social funds, education and health projects, infrastructure [and] rural development" and "redirected" into sex education (UNAIDS, 1999). No clean water, but plenty of condoms.
I have, however, felt the push to get AIDS drugs to Africans. Drugs like AZT and Nevirapine, which are supposed to stop the spread of HIV, especially in pregnant women. AZT and Nevirapine also terminate life. The medical literature and warning labels list the side effects: blood cell destruction, birth defects, bone-marrow death, spontaneous abortion, organ failure, and fatal skin rot. The package inserts also state that the drugs dont "stop HIV or prevent AIDS illnesses."
The companies that make these drugs take advantage of the public perception that HIV is measured in individual African AIDS patients, and that African AIDS - water-borne illness and poverty - can be cured by AZT and Nevirapine. Thats good capitalism, but its bad medicine.
Currently MTV, Black Entertainment Television and VH1 are running "Know HIV/AIDS"-sponsored advertisements of handsome young couples, black and white, touching, caressing, sensually, warming up to love-making. The camera moves over their bodies, hands, necks, mouth, back, legs and arms and we see a small butterfly bandage over their inner elbows, where theyve given blood for an HIV test. The announcer says, "Knowing is beautiful. Get tested."
A September, 2004 San Francisco Chronicle article considered the "beauty" of testing. It told the story of 59 year-old veteran Jim Malone, whod been told in 1996 that he was HIV positive. His health was diagnosed as "very poor." He was classified as, "permanently disabled and unable to work or participate in any stressful situation whatsoever." Malone said, "When I wasnt able to eat, when I was sick, my in-home health care nurse would say, Well, Jim, it goes with your condition.
In 2004, his doctor sent him a note to tell him he was actually negative. He had tested positive at one hospital, and negative at another. Nobody asked why the second test was more accurate than the first (that was the protocol at the Veterans Hospital). Having been falsely diagnosed and spending nearly a decade waiting, expecting to die, Malone said, "I would tell people to get not just one HIV test, but multiple tests. I would say test, test and retest."
In the article, AIDS experts assured the public that the story was "extraordinarily rare." But the medical literature differs significantly.
In 1985, at the beginning of HIV testing, it was known that "68% to 89% of all repeatedly reactive ELISA (HIV antibody) tests [were] likely to represent false positive results." (NEJM - New England Journal of Medicine. 312; 1985).
In 1992, the Lancet reported that for 66 true positives, there were 30,000 false positives. And in pregnant women, "there were 8,000 false positives for 6 confirmations." (Lancet. 339; 1992)
In September 2000, the Archives of Family Medicine stated that the more women we test, the greater "the proportion of false-positive and ambiguous (indeterminate) test results." (Archives of Family Medicine. Sept/Oct. 2000).
The tests described above are standard HIV tests, the kind promoted in the ads. Their technical name is ELISA or EIA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbant Assay). They are antibody tests. The tests contain proteins that react with antibodies in your blood.
In the US, youre tested with an ELISA first. If your blood reacts, youll be tested again, with another ELISA. Why is the second more accurate than the first? Thats just the protocol. If you have a reaction on the second ELISA, youll be confirmed with a third antibody test, called the Western Blot. But thats here in America. In some countries, one ELISA is all you get.
It is precisely because HIV tests are antibody tests, that they produce so many false-positive results. All antibodies tend to cross-react. We produce antibodies all the time, in response to stress, malnutrition, illness, drug use, vaccination, foods we eat, a cut, a cold, even pregnancy. These antibodies are known to make HIV tests come up as positive.
The medical literature lists dozens of reasons for positive HIV test results: "transfusions, transplantation, or pregnancy, autoimmune disorders, malignancies, alcoholic liver disease, or for reasons that are unclear..."(Archives of Family Medicine. Sept/Oct. 2000).
"[H]uman or technical errors, other viruses and vaccines" (Infectious Disease Clinician of North America. 7; 1993)
"[L]iver diseases, parenteral substance abuse, hemodialysis, or vaccinations for hepatitis B, rabies, or influenza..." (Archives of Internal Medicine. August. 2000).
"[U]npasteurized cows milk Bovine exposure, or cross-reactivity with other human retroviruses" (Transfusion. 1988)
Even geography can do it:
"Inhabitants of certain regions may have cross-reactive antibodies to local prevalent non-HIV retroviruses" (Medicine International. 56; 1988).
The same is true for the confirmatory test the Western Blot.
Causes of indeterminate Western Blots include: "lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, injection drug use, liver disease, or autoimmune disorders. Also, there appear to be healthy individuals with antibodies that cross-react...." (Archives of Internal Medicine. August. 2000).
"The Western Blot is not used as a screening tool because...it yields an unacceptably high percentage of indeterminate results." (Archives of Family Medicine. Sept/Oct 2000)
Pregnancy is consistently listed as a cause of positive test results, even by the test manufacturers. "[False positives can be caused by] prior pregnancy, blood transfusions... and other potential nonspecific reactions." (Vironostika HIV Test, 2003).
This is significant in Africa, because HIV estimates for African nations are drawn almost exclusively from testing done on groups of pregnant women.
In Zimbabwe this year, the rate of HIV infection among young women decreased remarkably, from 32.5 to 6 percent. A drop of 81% - overnight. UNICEFs Swaziland representative, Dr. Alan Brody, told the press "The problems is that all the sero-surveillance data came from pregnant women, and estimates for other demographics was based on that." (PLUS News, August, 2004)
When these pregnant young women are tested, theyre often tested for other illnesses, like syphilis, at the same time. Theres no concern for cross-reactivity or false-positives in this group, and no repeat testing. One ELISA on one girl, and 32.5% of the population is suddenly HIV positive.
The June 20, 2004 Boston Globe reported that "the current estimate of 40 million people living with the AIDS virus worldwide is inflated by 25 percent to 50 percent."
They pointed out that HIV estimates for entire countries have, for over a decade, been taken from "blood samples from pregnant women at prenatal clinics."
But its not just HIV estimates that are created from testing pregnant women, its "AIDS deaths, AIDS orphans, numbers of people needing antiretroviral treatment, and the average life expectancy," all from that one test.
Ive certainly never seen this in VH1 ad.
At present there are about 6 dozen reasons given in the literature why the tests come up positive. In fact, the medical literature states that there is simply no way of knowing if any HIV test is truly positive or negative:
"[F]alse-positive reactions have been observed with every single HIV-1 protein, recombinant or authentic." (Clinical Chemistry. 37; 1991). "Thus, it may be impossible to relate an antibody response specifically to HIV-1 infection." (Medicine International. 1988)
And even if you believe the reaction is not a false positive, "the test does not indicate whether the person currently harbors the virus." (Science. November, 1999).
The test manufacturers state that after the antibody reaction occurs, the tests have to be "interpreted." There is no strict or clear definition of HIV positive or negative. Theres just the antibody reaction. The reaction is colored by an enzyme, and read by a machine called a spectrophotometer.
The machine grades the reactions according to their strength (but not specificity), above and below a cut-off. If you test above the cut-off, youre positive; if you test below it, youre negative.
So what determines the all-important cut-off? From The CDCs instructional material: "Establishing the cutoff value to define a positive test result from a negative one is somewhat arbitrary." (CDC-EIS "Screening For HIV," 2003 )
The University of Vermont Medical School agrees: "Where a cutoff is drawn to determine a diagnostic test result may be somewhat arbitrary .Where would the director of the Blood Bank who is screening donated blood for HIV antibody want to put the cut-off?...Where would an investigator enrolling high-risk patients in a clinical trial for an experimental, potentially toxic antiretroviral draw the cutoff?" (University of Vermont School of Medicine teaching module: Diagnostic Testing for HIV Infection)
A 1995 study comparing four major brands of HIV tests found that they all had different cut-off points, and as a result, gave different test results for the same sample: "[C]ut-off ratios do not correlate for any of the investigated ELISA pairs," and one brands cut-off point had "no predictive value" for any other. (INCQS-DSH, Brazil 1995).
Ive never heard of a person being asked where they would "want to put the cut-off" for determining their HIV test result, or if they felt that testing positive was a "somewhat arbitrary" experience.
In the UK, if you get through two ELISA tests, youre positive. In America, you get a third and final test to confirm the first two. The test is called the Western Blot. It uses the same proteins, laid out differently. Same proteins, same nonspecific reactions. But this time its read as lines on a page, not a color change. Which lines are HIV positive? That depends on where you are, what lab youre in and what kit theyre using.
The Mayo Clinic reported that "the Western blot method lacks standardization, is cumbersome, and is subjective in interpretation of banding patterns." (Mayo Clinic Procedural. 1988)
A 1988 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 19 different labs, testing one blood sample, got 19 different Western Blot results. (JAMA, 260, 1988)
A 1993 review in Bio/Technology reported that the FDA, the CDC/Department of Defense and the Red Cross all interpret WBs differently, and further noted, "All the other major USA laboratories for HIV testing have their own criteria." (Bio/Technology, June 1993)
In the early 1990s, perhaps in response to growing discontent in the medical community with the lack of precision of the tests, Roche Laboratories introduced a new genetic test, called Viral Load, based on a technology called PCR. How good is the new genetic marvel?
An early review of the technology in the 1991 Journal of AIDS reported that "a true positive PCR test cannot be distinguished from a false positive." (J.AIDS, 1991)
A 1992 study "identified a disturbingly high rate of nonspecific positivity," saying 18% antibody-negative (under the cut-off) patients tested Viral Load positive. (J. AIDS, 1992)
A 2001 study showed that the tests gave wildly different results from a single blood sample, as well as different results with different test brands. (CDC MMWR. November 16, 2001)
A 2002 African study showed that Viral Load was high in patients who had intestinal worms, but went down when they were treated for the problem. The title of the article really said it all. "Treatment of Intestinal Worms Is Associated With Decreased HIV Plasma Viral Load." (J.AIDS, September, 2002)
Roche laboratories, the company that manufactures the PCR tests, puts this warning on the label:
"The AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test .is not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of HIV infection."
But thats exactly how it is used to convince pregnant mothers to take AZT and Nevirapine and to urge patients to start the drugs.
The medical literature adds something truly astounding to all of this. It says that reason HIV tests are so non-specific and need to be interpreted is because there is "no virologic gold standard" for HIV tests.
The meaning of this statement, from both the medical and social perspective, is profound. The "virologic gold standard" is the isolated virus that the doctors claim to be identifying, indirectly, with the test.
Antibody tests always have some cross-reaction, because antibodies arent specific. The way to validate a test is to go find the virus in the patients blood.
You take the blood, spin it in a centrifuge, and you end up with millions of little virus particles, which you can easily photograph under a microscope. You can disassemble the virus, measure the weight of its proteins, and map its genetic structure. Thats the virologic gold standard. And for some reason, HIV tests have none.
In 1986, JAMA reported that: "no established standard exists for identifying HTLV-III [HIV] infection in asymptomatic people." (JAMA. July 18, 1986)
In 1987, the New England Journal of Medicine stated that "The meaning of positive tests will depend on the joint [ELISA/WB] false positive rate. Because we lack a gold standard, we do not know what that rate is now. We cannot know what it will be in a large-scale screening program." ( Screening for HIV: can we afford the false positive rate?. NEJM. 1987)
Skip ahead to 1996; JAMA again reported: "the diagnosis of HIV infection in infants is particularly difficult because there is no reference or gold standard test that determines unequivocally the true infection status of the patient. (JAMA. May, 1996)
In 1997, Abbott laboratories, the world leader in HIV test production stated: "At present there is no recognized standard for establishing the presence or absence of HIV antibody in human blood." (Abbot Laboratories HIV Elisa Test 1997)
In 2000 the Journal AIDS reported that "2.9% to 12.3%" of women in a study tested positive, "depending on the test used," but "since there is no established gold standard test, it is unclear which of these two proportions is the best estimate of the real prevalence rate " (AIDS, 14; 2000).
If we had a virologic gold standard, HIV testing would be easy and accurate. You could spin the patients blood in a centrifuge and find the particle. They dont do this, and theyre saying privately, in the medical journals, that they cant.
Thats why tests are determined through algorithms above or below sliding cut-offs; estimated from pregnant girls, then projected and redacted overnight.
By repeating, again and again in the medical literature that theres no virologic gold standard, the worlds top AIDS researchers are saying that what were calling HIV isnt a single entity, but a collection of cross-reactive proteins and unidentified genetic material.
And were suddenly a very long way from the public face of HIV.
But the fact is, you dont need to test HIV positive to be an AIDS patient. You dont even have to be sick.
In 1993, the CDC added "Idiopathic CD4 Lymphocytopenia" to the AIDS category. What does it mean? Non-HIV AIDS.
In 1993, the CDC also made "no-illness AIDS" a category. If you tested positive, but werent sick, you could be given an AIDS diagnosis. By 1997, the healthy AIDS group accounted for 2/3rds of all US AIDS patients. (Thats also the last year they reported those numbers). (CDC Year-End Edition, 1997)
In Africa, HIV status is irrelevant. Even if you test negative, you can be called an AIDS patient:
From a study in Ghana: "Our attention is now focused on the considerably large number (59%) of the seronegative (HIV-negative) group who were clinically diagnosed as having AIDS. All the patients had three major signs: weight loss, prolonged diarrhea, and chronic fever." (Lancet. October,1992)
And from across Africa: "2215 out of 4383 (50.0%) African AIDS patients from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Lusaka, Zambia, and Kinshasa, Zaire, were HIV-antibody negative." (British Medical Journal, 1991)
Non-HIV AIDS, HIV-negative AIDS, No Virologic Gold standard - terms never seen in an HIV ad.
But even if you do test "repeatedly" positive, the manufacturers say that "the risk of an asymptomatic [not sick] person developing AIDS or an AIDS-related condition is not known." (Abbott Laboratories HIV Test, 1997)
If commerce laws were applied equally, the "knowing is beautiful" ads for HIV testing would have to bear a disclaimer, just like cigarettes:
"Warning: This test will not tell you if youre infected with a virus. It may confirm that you are pregnant or have used drugs or alcohol, or that youve been vaccinated; that you have a cold, liver disease, arthritis, or are stressed, poor, hungry or tired. Or that youre African. It will not tell you if youre going to live or die; in fact, we really dont know what testing positive, or negative, means at all."
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