HIV and AIDS Myths Debunked: Help Fight Misinformation By Spreading the Truth!

HIV denialists are spreading misinformation about HIV and AIDS. In particular, they're filling the comments pages on HIV/AIDS videos on YouTube and elsewhere with incorrect information that may cause people to make bad choices, contract HIV and/or avoid treatment, and possibly die of clinical AIDS as a result. A recent study showed that more than 330,000 people died needlessly in South Africa because former president Thabo Mbeki embraced HIV denialism and needlessly delayed the rollout of antiretroviral therapy there. You can help correct the record! This page is a list of brief rebuttals to the claims commonly made by HIV denialists. Each one is only 500 characters long so it will fit within the comment length restrictions on YouTube. When you see HIV denialist misinformation, copy and paste the rebuttal from here to refute it!

Quick Reference Index of Rebuttals

Myths Claiming HIV Is Not The Cause of AIDS

Myths Regarding the Isolation of AIDS

Myths About Antiretroviral Medications (ARVs) and AZT

Myths About the Latency Period

Myths About Condoms

Myths About Circumcision

Discredited Alternative Theories

Myths About the Scientific Method

HIV Denialists

Myths About HIV Tests

Myths About the Origin of HIV

Myths About HIV Transmission

Conspiracy Theories and Conflict of Interest

List of Rebuttals

Myths Claiming HIV Is Not The Cause of AIDS

Myth: HIV Doesn't Cause AIDS

Proof that HIV is the cause of AIDS is overwhelming. National Academy of Sciences, CDC, Institute of Medicine, NIH, AMA, Canadian CDC, Pasteur Institute, UNAIDS, and WHO all agree. Google "HIV and AIDS Myths Debunked" to find a page at AIDSvideos with data and references from research studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals showing that HIV causes AIDS and debunking common myths. Or watch our educational videos such as "The Top Ten Myths About HIV/AIDS."

Responsible scientists agree that HIV causes the disease AIDS. People who are HIV negative do not develop AIDS. We have seen people go from HIV negative to HIV positive to clinical AIDS countless times. There is a correlation between the viral load in a person's blood and the drop in the patient's CD4 count and increase in severity of disease symptoms. When antiretroviral drugs are used and cut the patient's viral load, the CD4 count can rebound and AIDS symptoms can improve.

NIAID: By 12/31/94, "CDC had received reports of 42 health care workers in the United States with documented, occupationally acquired HIV infection, of whom 17 have developed AIDS in the absence of other risk factors .... These individuals all had evidence of HIV seroconversion following a discrete percutaneous or mucocutaneous exposure to blood, body fluids or other clinical laboratory specimens containing HIV." [CDC, "HIV/AIDS surveillance report, 1994 year-end edition," 1995a;6(no.2).]

NIAID "Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS:" "through December 1999, the CDC had received reports of 56 health care workers in the United States with documented, occupationally acquired HIV infection, of whom 25 have developed AIDS in the absence of other risk factors."

NIAID "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS": Known HIV seroconversion followed by development of AIDS "has been repeatedly observed in pediatric and adult blood transfusion," in mother-to-child transmission, "and in studies of hemophilia, injection drug use, and sexual transmission in which the time of seroconversion can be documented using serial blood samples." [Ward 89, Ashton 94, ECS 91&92, Turner 93, Blanche 94,Goedert 89, Rezza 89, Biggar 90, Alcabes 93, Gisecke 90, Buchbinder 94, Sabin 93]

NIAID "Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS:" "in a 10-year study in the Netherlands, researchers followed 11 children who had become infected with HIV as neonates by small aliquots of plasma from a single HIV-infected donor. During the 10-year period, eight of the children died of AIDS. Of the remaining three children, all showed a progressive decline in cellular immunity, and two of the three had symptoms probably related to HIV infection (van den Berg et al. Acta Paediatr 1994;83:17)"

NIAID "Evidence:" "transmission of HIV from a Florida dentist to six patients has been documented by genetic analyses of virus isolated from both .... The dentist and three of the patients developed AIDS and died, and at least one of the other patients has developed AIDS. Five of the patients had no HIV risk factors other than multiple visits to the dentist for invasive procedures (O'Brien, Goedert. Curr Opin Immunol 1996;8:613; O'Brien, 1997; Ciesielski et al. Ann Intern Med 1994;121:886)."

NIAID: "Among HIV-infected patients who receive anti-HIV therapy, those whose viral loads are driven to low levels are much less likely to develop AIDS or die than patients who do not respond to therapy. Such an effect would not be seen if HIV did not have a central role in causing AIDS." [Montaner AIDS 1998;12:F23; Palumbo JAMA 1998;279:756; O'Brien NEJM 1996;334:426; Katzenstein NEJM 1996;335:1091; Marschner J Infect Dis 1998;177:40; Hammer NEJM 1997;337:725; Cameron Lancet 1998;351:543]

NIAID: Cases have been documented where HIV+ mothers gave birth to twins where one was HIV-infected and the other wasn't. "The HIV-infected children developed AIDS, while the other children remained clinically and immunologically normal." [Park. J Clin Microbiol 1987;25:1119; Menez-Bautista. Am J Dis Child 1986;140:678; Thomas. Pediatrics 1990;86:774; Young. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1990;9:454; Barlow and Mok. Arch Dis Child 1993;68:507; Guerrero Vazquez. An Esp Pediatr 1993;39:445]

NIAID: Animal models also show that HIV causes AIDS. "Chimpanzees experimentally infected with HIV have developed severe immunosuppression and AIDS. In severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice given a human immune system, HIV produces similar patterns of cell killing and pathogenesis as seen in people. HIV-2 .... also causes an AIDS-like syndrome in baboons." [O'Neil et al. J Infect Dis 2000;182:1051; Aldrovandi et al. Nature 1993;363:732; Locher et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med 1998;22:523]

Myth: There is Not Yet a Scientific Consensus That HIV Causes AIDS

All of the following have concluded that HIV causes AIDS: in the U.S.,  the National Academy of Sciences, Centers for Disease Control, Institute of Medicine, National Institute of Health, and American Medical Association; the Canadian Centers for Disease Control; the Pasteur Institute; UNAIDS; and the World Health Organization.

Claim: Consensus Has No Place In Science

Consensus has a place in science: it determines when we stop proactive research on a satisfactorily-resolved question in the absence of new evidence so we can move on and focus on yet-unresolved questions. For example, it's why we don't fund research on whether the Earth is round or orbits the Sun. There's a consensus that the Earth is round and orbits the Sun, so further research on those questions would be a waste of time and money.

If There's a Consensus HIV Causes AIDS, Why Is There So Much Controversy?

There is "controversy" about many resolved scientific questions: whether vaccines for infants are safe, whether fluoridation of water is safe and effective; whether HIV causes AIDS; etc. No matter how strong the evidence, you never convince everyone; there are always some loud isolated voices for any position. That has no scientific significance however.

Myth: There's No Evidence that HIV is Harmful

Studies of diverse groups have shown that being HIV+ multiplies your risk of death compared to HIV- people. Examples of the increased death rates: 16x for Ugandans [Nunn BMJ 1997;315:767], 9.5x for Malawian children who survive the first year [Taha et al. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1999;18:689], 22.5x for Thai female sex workers [Kilmarx Lancet 2000; 356:770], 11x for hemophiliacs [Goedert. Lancet 1995;346:1425], 60% vs. 2.3% for "homosexual and bisexual men." [A. Munoz, MACS, personal communication]

(Source:  http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/hivaids/understanding/howhivcausesaids/pages/hivcausesaids.aspx)

Myth: HIV is a Harmless Passenger Virus

(Writeup without URLs for YouTube:)
HIV is not a harmless passenger virus. It causes AIDS, which can kill you. YouTube seems to block URLs in comments, but see articles at the aidstruth, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, AVERT, AEGIS, and AIDSvideos web sites for citations of published research study results in peer-reviewed scientific journals that prove this.

(Writeup with URLs:)
HIV is not a harmless passenger virus. It causes AIDS, which can kill you. For proof, see:
http://aidstruth.org/hiv-aids-science.php
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/hivaids/understanding/howhivcausesaids/pages/hivcausesaids.aspx
http://www.avert.org/evidence.htm
http://www.aegis.com/topics/mdelaney.html

Question: Where are the Peer-Reviewed Papers Proving HIV Causes AIDS?

(Journal References:)
HIV causes AIDS. See: Ho et al, "Pathogenesis of infection with human immunodeficiency virus," N Engl J Med 1987;317(5):278-86. Fauci AS, "Multifactorial nature of human immunodeficiency virus disease: implications for therapy." Science 1993a;262(3136):1011-8. Greene WC, "AIDS and the immune system," Sci Am 1993;269(3):98-105. Levy, "Pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus infection," Microbiol Rev 1993;57(1):183-289. Weiss RA, "How does HIV cause AIDS?" Science 1993;260(5112):1273-9.

(Writeup without URLs for YouTube:)
YouTube seems to block URLs in comments, but see articles at the aidstruth, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, AVERT, AEGIS, and AIDSvideos web sites for citations of published research study results in peer-reviewed scientific journals that prove this.

(Writeup with URLs:)
Thousands have been published. To start, see the peer-reviewed scientific journal articles referenced in these summaries:
http://aidstruth.org/hiv-aids-science.php
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/hivaids/understanding/howhivcausesaids/pages/hivcausesaids.aspx
http://www.avert.org/evidence.htm
http://www.aegis.com/topics/mdelaney.html
http://www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/hiv_and_sti/hiv/hiv_causes_aids.htm

Myth: HIV Doesn't Fulfill Koch's Postulates For Proving an Infectious Agent Causes a Disease

NIAID "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS": "All four [of Koch's] postulates have been fulfilled in three laboratory workers with no other risk factors who have developed AIDS or severe immunosuppression after accidental exposure to concentrated HIVIIIB in the laboratory." [Blattner et al, "HIV/AIDS in laboratory workers ...," IXth Int Conf on AIDS, (abstract no. PO-B01-0876), June 6-11, 1993. Reitz et al AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 1994;10(9):1143-55. Cohen Science 1994;266(5191):1647.]

"HIV as the cause of AIDS meets all four of Koch's postulates .... one) Studies have found HIV in almost every case where a person has been diagnosed with AIDS .... two) HIV can be isolated from AIDS patients and grown in laboratories. .... three) Most people with HIV experience immune system decline, eventually leading to AIDS .... four) PCR tests show the presence of HIV in infected people." (From aidstruth web site's article "Errors in Celia Farber's March 2006 article in Harper's Magazine")

Myth: Primates Injected with HIV Show No Symptoms of AIDS

NIAID "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS": "[A]n HIV variant that causes AIDS in humans--HIV-2--also causes a similar syndrome when injected into baboons." [Barnett et al, "An AIDS-like condition induced in baboons by HIV-2," Science 1994;266:642-6.] The same is true of pigtailed macaques. [Morton et al, Infection of Macaca nemestrina by HIV-1/HIV-2 ...," Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology Annual Meeting, Aug 22-28, 1993. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses 1994;10(suppl 1):S1-125.]

NIAID "Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS: "Chimpanzees experimentally infected with HIV have developed severe immunosuppression and AIDS." [
O'Neil et al. J Infect Dis 2000;182:1051]

Myth: Gallo and/or Montagnier Question That HIV Causes AIDS

Gallo and Montagnier don't question that HIV causes AIDS. From their joint letter to Harper's: "The position of us both is that HIV is the essential and sufficient agent that causes AIDS. One of us (Luc Montagnier) has emphasized that there may be .... other factors that can favour HIV transmission .... and also promote faster progression toward the clinical stages of AIDS in untreated HIV infected people ... but this does not put into question that HIV alone is the cause of AIDS." (aidstruth)

Myth: HIV is an Endogenous Retrovirus

HIV is not a human endogenous retrovirus (HERV); those are contained within the genome, deactivated, and unable to produce infectious virus particles. (Source: Wikipedia.) HIV is not found in people who have not been exposed to HIV from an external source. It's been proven to replicate virally both in vitro and in vivo and to be capable of infecting others who are exposed. It satisfies all of Koch's Postulates.

Myth: HIV is the Only Retrovirus to Cause Disease

HIV is not the only retrovirus that causes a disease. There are four retroviruses of humans (including HIV-1 and HIV2) that attack T-cells alone. See Wikipedia articles on Retrovirus#Exogenous and on HTLV.

Myth: HIV/AIDS Research Has Produced No Vaccine Or Cure, So Scientists Must Be Wrong About HIV Being the Cause of AIDS

Creating a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS is an incredibly hard problem. HIV, herpes, and some other viruses can "hide" from the immune system in the body in places like the brain, nerves, or inside cells. I'm not aware of any medical cure for *any* virus like this that the body can't eliminate on its own, so it's no surprise we lack one for HIV. Also, some viruses are easy to create vaccines for; HIV is unfortunately a hard one. So for now, prevention is our best hope.

Myth: HIV Viral Load Doesn't Predict Clinical AIDS Progression

Doctors successfully use viral load all the time to gauge the development of resistant strains to current ARVs within a patient and to choose when it's time to change the ARV mix to knock the viral load back down and prevent disease progression.

NIAID: "the risk of a patient developing AIDS with six years was strongly associated with levels of HIV RNA in the plasma." [Mellors et al. Ann Intern Med 1997;126:946] "Similar associations .... have been observed in HIV-infected children in both developed and developing countries." [Palumbo et al. JAMA 1998;279:756; Taha et al. AIDS 2000;14:453].

NIAID: "Clinical trials in both HIV-infected children and adults have demonstrated a link between a good virologic response to therapy (i.e. much less virus in the body) and a reduced risk of developing AIDS or dying." [Montaner AIDS 1998;12:F23; Palumbo JAMA 1998;279:756; O'Brien NEJM 1996;334:426; Katzenstein NEJM 1996;335:1091; Marschner J Infect Dis 1998;177:40; Hammer NEJM 1997;337:725; Cameron Lancet 1998;351:543]

Claim: If HIV Caused AIDS, Someone Would Have Won a Nobel Prize

In 2008, Luc Montagnier was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of HIV.

Myths Regarding the Isolation of AIDS

Myth: HIV Has Never Been Isolated
Myth: HIV Has Never Been Isolated From AIDS Patients
Myth: HIV Has Never Been Isolated From HIV+ Patients
Myth: HIV Has Never Been Isolated From Blood

NIAID "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS:" "Improvements in co-culture techniques have allowed the isolation of HIV in virtually all AIDS patients, as well as in almost all seropositive individuals with both early- and late-stage disease." [Coombs et al, "Plasma viremia in human immunodeficiency virus infection," N Engl J Med 1989;321(24):1626-31. Schnittman et al, "The reservoir for HIV-1 in human peripheral blood ...," Science 1989;245(4915):305-8." Also Ho et al 1989, Jackson et al 1990]

NIAID "Relationship:" HIV has been "isolated from the brains of children and adults with AIDS-associated encephalopathy, which suggested a role for these viruses in the central nervous system disorders seen in many patients with AIDS." [Levy JA et al. "Isolation of AIDS-associated retroviruses from cerebrospinal fluid and brain ..." Lancet 1985;2(8455):586-8. Ho DD et al. "Isolation of HTLV-III from cerebrospinal fluid and neural tissues ..." N Engl J Med 1985;313(24):1493-7.]


"HIV can be isolated from AIDS patients and grown in laboratories. PCR tests can count the amount of HIV in blood. The virus is easily, and has been on numerous occasions, photographed using electron microscopes." (From aidstruth web site's article "Errors in Celia Farber's March 2006 article in Harper's Magazine")

Myth: HIV Has Never Been Isolated From Semen

HIV has been isolated from the semen of patients with AIDS. [Zagury et al. "HTLV-III in cells cultured from semen of two patients with AIDS." Science 1984;226(4673):449-51. Ho et al. "HTLV-III in the semen and blood of a healthy homosexual man." Science 1984;226(4673):451-3.]

Myth: HIV Has Never Been Isolated From Vaginal Secretions

HIV has been isolated from vaginal secretions of women who are HIV+. [Wofsy et al. "Isolation of AIDS-associated retrovirus from genital secretions of women with antibodies to the virus." Lancet 1986;8,1(8480):527-9.]

Myth: Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Can't Be Used to Detect HIV

"HIV-1 PCR and HIV-1 culture were compared in testing the PBMC of 59 HIV-1 antibody-positive and 20 HIV-1 antibody-negative hemophiliacs. Both methods were found to have sensitivities and specificities of at least 97 and 100%, respectively .... the sensitivities and specificities .... for the detection of HIV-1 appear to be equivalent, and both methods are superior to testing for HIV-1 antigen in serum for the direct detection of HIV-1." [Jackson et al. J Clin Microbiol 1990;28:16)]

Myth: HIV Has Never Been Seen or Imaged

Just go to Google, click "Images," and search for "HIV electron micrograph" to see hundreds of online images alone. "The virus is easily, and has been on numerous occasions, photographed using electron microscopes." (From aidstruth web site's article "Errors in Celia Farber's March 2006 article in Harper's Magazine")

Myths About Antiretroviral Medications (ARVs) and AZT

Myth: Antiretroviral Medications (ARVs) Are Not Effective

From AIDStruth: A meta-analysis of 54 ARV clinical trials showed that using one ARV reduced progression to AIDS or death by 30% compared to a placebo, using two ARVs reduced progression by an additional 40% vs. one ARV, and using three ARVS reduced progression by an additional 40% vs. two ARVs. [Jordan et al, "Systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence for increasing numbers of drugs in antiretroviral combination therapy." BMJ 2002;324:757.]

Myth: AIDS is Caused By Antiretroviral Medications (ARVs)

Antiretroviral medications (ARVs) do not cause AIDS. Clinical AIDS has been diagnosed in countless people who were never treated with ARVs. Examples include all who developed AIDS before ARVs were invented, all who have developed it in places where ARVs were not yet available when they contracted HIV (e.g. the developing world), and all who developed AIDS before being treated with ARVs. HIV+ people treated with ARVs live longer and progress to AIDS more slowly. [Jordan, BMJ 2002;324:757.] 

(Source: http://www.avert.org/evidence.htm)

Myth: Antiretroviral Medications (ARVs) Make People Sicker

ARVs do sometimes have unpleasant side effects. But remember: (1) often people are put on ARVs because they're already becoming sick with a low CD4 count and/or clinical AIDS symptoms, and they're no panacea, so it's no surprise if people on ARVs still look sick, and (2) they might be sicker or dead if they weren't on the ARVs. Studies have proven that ARVs are effective for treating clinical AIDS. The death rate is lower for those on ARVs than those not treated.

Myth: People on ARVs Are Sicker Than People Not On ARVs, So ARVs Must Be Harmful and/or Cause AIDS

Typically, HIV+ people are only prescribed ARVs in the later, more serious stage of the infection when their CD4 count has dropped to 350 and/or they've developed an opportunistic infection. HIV+ people who need ARVs are by definition at higher risk of disease symptoms than those who don't. So this claim is really just saying that "sicker people are sicker than healthier people," which is true by definition.

People with high cholesterol who need bypass surgery are sicker and more likely to die than those who don't. That doesn't mean bypass surgery is harmful or increases your risk of death. It just means that only people with more advanced coronary artery disease are given bypass surgery. Similarly, diabetics who need insulin are at higher risk of death than those who don't, but that doesn't mean insulin is harmful; it just means that only more serious diabetes requires the use of insulin.

See "Why Do People Taking Antiretroviral Medications Seem Sicker Than People Not Taking ARVs? Do ARVs Make You Sicker?" at AIDSvideos dot org for a more detailed explanation of why the fact that people on ARVs may seem sicker than those not ARVs doesn't mean that ARVs are harmful.

Myth: Antiretroviral Medications (ARVs) are Poisons

ARVs have been proven safe and effective in controlled clinical trials for treating HIV infection and clinical AIDS. Like most medications, they have side effects, but that doesn't make them "poisons." Studies have proven that the proper use of ARVs extends, not shortens, the patient's lifespan on average.

Myth: AZT Does More Harm Than Good

BW002 trial showed only 1 of 145 patients treated with AZT died vs. 19 of 137 on placebo; 24 on AZT had opportunistic infections vs. 45 on placebo. [NIAID citing Fischl et al, "The efficacy of azidothymidine (AZT)...." N Engl J Med. 1987 Jul 23;317(4):185-91.] ACTG016 trial showed that HIV+ patients with CD4 counts of 200-500 on AZT were less likely to experience disease progression. [NIAID citing Fischl et al, "The Safety ..." Ann Intern Med. 1990 May 15;112(10):727-37.]

Myth: I Know Someone Who Stopped Taking ARVs and They're Still Healthy, So HIV Must Not Cause AIDS

If a person is taking antiretroviral medications (ARVs) and then stops, they won't necessarily develop clinical AIDS right away. So the fact that some people stop and remain healthy for a while doesn't mean HIV doesn't cause AIDS. VERY IMPORTANT: stopping ARV medications may increase your risk of developing a strain of HIV that's resistant to your current medications (and possibly others too), so ALWAYS talk to your doctor before changing your ARV medication dosage or stopping.

Myth: AZT Does Not Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

From aidstruth: "four AZT versus placebo trials have demonstrated that AZT significantly reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV." [Brocklehurst P et al. (2006) "Antiretrovirals for reducing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006 Issue 2.]

Myths About the Latency Period

Myth: I'm HIV Positive and Healthy, So HIV Must Be Harmless

HIV infection doesn't usually lead to clinical AIDS immediately. There's usually a long latency period that may last many years in a healthy HIV positive person before they develop clinical AIDS. So the fact that a person is HIV positive and healthy doesn't mean that HIV doesn't cause AIDS.

Myth: A Celebrity or Friend is HIV Positive and Healthy, So HIV Must Not Cause AIDS

HIV infection doesn't usually lead to clinical AIDS immediately. There's usually a long latency period that may last many years in a healthy HIV positive person before they develop clinical AIDS. Use of antiretroviral medications may extend that period further. So the fact that a person is HIV positive and healthy doesn't mean that HIV doesn't cause AIDS.

Myth: Many People With HIV Have Not Developed AIDS, So HIV Must Not Cause AIDS

From NIAID "Evidence:" "The median period of time between infection with HIV and the onset of clinically apparent disease is approximately 10 years in industrialized countries, according to prospective studies of homosexual men .... Similar estimates ... have been made for HIV-infected blood-transfusion recipients, injection-drug users and adult hemophiliacs." [Alcabes et al. Epidemiol Rev 1993;15:303] All but a few progress to AIDS within 20 years. ["Course of HIV Infection", NIH, 1995]

Myth: Some HIV+ People Have Gone Twenty or More Years Without Developing AIDS, So HIV Must Not Cause AIDS

From NIAID "Relationship:" The course of HIV varies. About 5% show "no signs of disease progression even after 12 or more years." [Pantaleo et al,N Eng J Med 1995;332:209-16.Cao et al,N Engl J Med 1995;332(4):201-8.] Patient age and genes, viral strain, and other infections may "determine the rate and severity of HIV disease expression in different people." [Fauci,Science 1993;262(3136):1011-8.Pantaleo et al,N Engl J Med 1993;328(5):327-35.]

Myths About Condoms

Condoms Provide Imperfect Protection Against HIV Because Latex Pores Are Larger Than HIV

Condoms are not "total" protection against HIV, but it has nothing to do with "pore size." A condom has multiple layers of latex and the pores in latex don't overlap. Air and water molecules are smaller than latex pores, but a condom will still hold air or water like a balloon because the pores don't overlap. For the same reason, condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission even though a single latex pore would be larger than an HIV virion.

Myths About Circumcision

Myth: Male Circumcision Doesn't Reduce a Man's Risk of Contracting HIV Through Heterosexual Sex

There is now strong evidence from three randomized controlled trials undertaken in Kisumu, Kenya, Rakai District, Uganda (funded by the US National Institutes of Health) and Orange Farm, South Africa (funded by the French National Agency for Research on AIDS) that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%." [WHO, "WHO and UNIADS announce recommendations from expert consultation ..." 28 March 2007]

Myth: Studies in Africa on Circumcision for HIV Prevention Were Not Completed

It's not that the studies "were not completed." They were ended early because the protective effect was so strong that it would have been unethical to continue the study further and deny the uncircumcised men the opportunity to benefit from the results. Statistically significant results (hugely significant, actually) were achieved.

Myth: Circumcision Only Prevents HIV Transmission Because of Initial Abstinence After the Procedure

One of the 3 African studies confirmed that the initial abstinent period wasn't the cause of the effect. "(c) To analyze the impact of the 6-wk period of abstinence, the analysis was repeated with the duration of the period M1--M3 reduced by 42 d in the intervention group." [Bertran Auvert et al, "Randomized, Controlled Intervention Trial of Male Circumcision for Reduction of HIV Infection Risk: The ANRS 1265 Trial." PLoS Med. 2005 November; 2(11): e298.]

Myth: Higher Male Circumcision Rates in Countries Correlate With Higher HIV Rates

Actually, there is a correlation between LOW rates of circumcision and HIGH rates of HIV. "Four ecological studies show the clear geographical correlation of high HIV prevalence and areas where male circumcision is rare." [Wilson & de Beyer, "Male Circumcision: Evidence and Implications," HIV/AIDS M&E - Getting Results, World Bank Global AIDS Program, citing Auvert et all 2001, UNAIDS 2004, USAID/AIDSMark 2003. See related Mehendale 1996, Gray 2000, Cameron 1989.]

Myth: Male Circumcision Increases a Female Partner's Risk of Contracting HIV

Studies have not shown statistically significant evidence that male circumcision increase the risk of female partners contracting HIV. At the time of circumcision, men are counseled not to resume sexual activity until the wound has completely healed. If they and their partners follow that advice, there's no evidence of increased HIV transmission to female partners.  [AIDSmap, CROI: Circumcising HIV positive men may increase HIV infections in female partners, but fewer STIs seen]

Myth: Men or Women Will Assume Circumcision Guarantees HIV Prevention and Have Unprotected Sex, Increasing HIV Transmission

Studies tested "medically performed circumcision WITH COUNSELING." Counseling educated the men that circumcision isn't a guarantee against infection. Might women erroneously think that circumcision (or a condom) is a guarantee against contracting HIV? Sure. But that's an argument FOR good HIV education, not AGAINST circumcision. Studies show a net reduction by circumcision of HIV transmission to men of 50+% and no statistically significant increase in HIV transmission to female partners.

Discredited Alternative Theories

Myth: AIDS is Just a Collection of Other Diseases

HIV is a specific virus that has been imaged on electron micrographs and whose genetic sequence has been thoroughly studied. AIDS is a specific syndrome that has been clearly defined. Patients can be reliably diagnosed as having or not having AIDS. Different doctors will make the same diagnosis with high reliability, and the diagnosis has predictive value for the future course of the patient's health as well as for selecting treatments that can influence the outcome.

Myth: AIDS Is Caused By Recreational Drug Use (Such As 'Poppers')

NIAID: In a Vancouver study of "715 homosexual men .... Among 365 HIV-positive individuals, 136 developed AIDS. No AIDS-defining illnesses occurred among 350 seronegative men despite the fact that these men reported appreciable use of inhalable nitrites ('poppers') and other recreational drugs ...." For HIV+, 101 AIDS-related deaths; for HIV-, 0. CD4 counts dropped for HIV+, stable for HIV-, regardless of nitrite inhalant use. [Schechter et al, Lancet, 1993 Mar 13;341(8846):658-9]

NIAID: "The recreational use of nitrite inhalants ('poppers') also predates the AIDS epidemic .... Since the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the use of nitrite inhalants has declined dramatically among homosexual men, yet the number of AIDS cases continues to increase." [Israelstam, Br J Addict Alcohol Other Drugs 1978;73(3):319-20. Haverkos, NIDA research monograph 83, US Dept HHS, PHS, ADAMHA. GPO, 1988. Ostrow, AIDS 1990;4(8):759-65 & J Subst Abuse 1993;5(4):311-25. Lau Int J STD AIDS 92]

Myth: AIDS is a "Lifestyle Disease"

"Other viral infections, bacterial infections, sexual behavior patterns and drug abuse patterns do not predict who develops AIDS. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including heterosexual men and women, homosexual men and women, hemophiliacs, sexual partners of hemophiliacs and transfusion recipients, injection-drug users and infants have all developed AIDS, with the only common denominator being their infection with HIV." (NIAID Fact Sheet on Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS)

NIAID: "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS": "Newborn infants have no behavioral risk factors, yet 6,209 children in the United States have developed AIDS through Dec. 31, 1994 (CDC, 1995a) .... of infants born to HIV-infected mothers, only the 15-40 percent of infants who become HIV-infected before or during birth go on to develop immunosuppression and AIDS, while babies who are not HIV-infected do not develop AIDS." [Katz89,d'Arminio90,Prober91,ECS91,Lambert90,Lindgren91,Andiman90, & others.]

Myth: Severe Immunosuppression Typical of AIDS is Common in HIV- People

NIAID: "[T]he specific immunologic profile that typifies AIDS--a progressive reduction of CD4+ T cells resulting in persistent CD4+ T lymphocytopenia and profound deficits in cellular immunity--is extraordinarily rare in the absence of HIV infection or other known causes of immunosuppression." [Fauci AS, "CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia without HIV infection ..." N Engl J Med 1993;328(6):429-31. Laurence J, "T-cell subsets in health, infectious disease ..." Ann Intern Med 1993;119(1):55-62.]

Myth: Low CD4 Counts are Common in Gay Men Even If They're HIV-

NIAID: "22,643 CD4+ T cell determinations in 2,713 HIV-seronegative homosexual men revealed only one individual with a CD4+ T cell count persistently lower than 300 cells/mm3, and this individual was receiving immunosuppressive therapy." [Vermund SH, Hoover DR, Chen K. CD4+ counts in seronegative homosexual men. N Engl J Med 1993a;328(6):442. Se also Smith et al, "Unexplained opportunistic infections and CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia without HIV infection" N Engl J Med 1993;328(6):373-9.]

Myth: AIDS-Like Symptoms Are Common in Gay Men Even If They're HIV-

NIAID "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS": "Among 206 HIV-seronegative heterosexual and 526 HIV-seronegative homosexual or bisexual men, only one had consistently low CD4+ T cell counts .... he had general lymphopenia rather than a selective loss of CD4+ T cells. No AIDS-defining clinical condition was observed among these HIV-seronegative men." [Sheppard et al, "CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia without HIV infection," N Engl J Med 1993;28(25):1847-8.]

Myth: Low CD4 Counts are Common Among Drug Users Even If They're HIV-

NIAID: "Longitudinal studies of injection-drug users have demonstrated that unexplained CD4+ T lymphocytopenia is almost never seen among HIV-seronegative individuals in this population, despite a high risk of exposure to hepatitis B, cytomegalovirus and other blood-borne pathogens." [Des Jarlais et al, "CD4 lymphocytopenia among injecting drug users in New York City," J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 1993;6:(7)820-2. Weiss et al, "Idiopathic CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia," Lancet 1992;340:608-9.]

Myth: Long Term Drug Use Can Cause AIDS In HIV- People

NIAID: "[I]nvestigators compared 86 HIV-seronegative individuals who had been injecting drugs for a mean of 7.6 years with 70 HIV-seropositive people who had injected drugs for a mean of 9.1 years .... By 1994, there were 25 deaths attributable to AIDS-defining conditions in the seropositive group; among HIV-seronegative individuals, eight deaths occurred, none due to AIDS-defining diseases." [Cohen J, "Could drugs, rather than a virus, be the cause of AIDS?" Science 1994a;266(5191):1648-9.]

Myth: Low CD4 Counts are Common

NIAID "Relationship Between HIV and AIDS": "Studies of blood donors, recipients of blood and blood products, and household and sexual contacts of transfusion recipients also suggest that persistently low CD4+ T cell counts are extremely rare in the absence of HIV infection." [Aledort et al, "Low CD4+ counts in a study of transfusion safety," N Engl J Med 1993;328(6):441-2. Busch et al, "Screening of blood donors for idiopathic CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia," Transfusion 1994;34(3):192-7.]

Myth: People Diagnosed with AIDS are Often HIV-

NIAID: "In a CDC survey, only 47 (.02 percent) of 230,179 individuals diagnosed with AIDS were both HIV-seronegative and had persistently low CD4+ T cell counts (<300/MM3) IN THE ABSENCE OF CONDITIONS OR THERAPIES ASSOCIATED WITH IMMUNOSUPPRESSION." [Smith et al, "Unexplained opportunistic infections and CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia without HIV infection. An investigation of cases in the United States," N Engl J Med 1993;328(6):373-9.]

Myth: Hemophiliacs Develop AIDS for Reasons Other Than HIV

NIAID: "mean CD4+ T cell counts among 161 HIV-seronegative hemophiliacs was 784/mm3; among 715 HIV-seropositive hemophiliacs, the mean CD4+ T cell count was 253/mm3." [Lederman,J Infect Dis 1995;172(1):228-31.] "In another study, no instances of AIDS-defining illnesses were seen among 402 HIV-seronegative hemophiliacs treated with factor therapy or in 83 hemophiliacs who received no treatment subsequent to 1979." [Aledort,N Engl J Med 1993;328(6):441-2. Mosley,N Engl J Med 1993;328(15):1129.]

Myth: Long Lifetime Exposure to Things Other than HIV Causes AIDS in Hemophiliacs

NIAID: "Among HIV-seronegative patients with hemophilia A enrolled in the Transfusion Safety Study, no significant differences in CD4+ T cell counts were noted between 79 patients with no or minimal factor treatment and 53 patients with the largest amount of lifetime treatments .... from 100,000 to 2,000,000 U ... [Hassett J et al. Effect on lymphocyte subsets of clotting factor therapy in human immunodeficiency virus-1-negative congenital clotting disorders. Blood 1993;82(4):1351-7.]

Myths About the Scientific Method

Claim: Science Means Asking Questions

Science does involve asking questions. But not all questions are still worthwhile topics for serious debate by rational, informed people. I can ask whether the Earth is really round, or whether it really orbits the Sun, but it is a waste of time; the evidence for the answer is overwhelming. The evidence that HIV causes AIDS is equally overwhelming. There is a consensus in the relevant scientific community that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

Claim: Everyone Has The Right To An Opinion

You have the right to an opinion about any subject. But that doesn't mean your opinion is correct, valuable, or even harmless. The members of the Flat Earth Society have the right to an opinion about whether the Earth is round, but astronauts will be killed if they make plans based on that opinion. Similarly, there's a risk that people will contract HIV, develop AIDS, and die if they make unsafe choices based on a scientifically groundless opinion that HIV doesn't cause AIDS.

HIV Denialists

Claim: HIV Denialists Have Good Intentions

Even if HIV denialists are trying to make an impact for the good of humanity, they're still dangerous and doing great harm by acting on bad information--just like the judges at the Salem witch trials, and the promoters of lobotomies in the 1960s or of bone marrow transplants for breast cancer in the 1990s. All of these people had good intentions and were trying to help humanity but caused problems because they didn't use the scientific method. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Claim: How Can Reading an Alternative View Be Harmful?

Reading an "alternative view" can be dangerous when (a) the "alternative view" is scientifically incorrect and the reader isn't scientifically literate enough to know the difference, and (b) the layperson then makes dangerous choices, harmful to himself or others, based on incorrect information in the "alternative view." There are "alternative views" to the claim that the Earth is round--but astronauts will die if they plan flights on those "alternative views"! Ignoring HIV research also kills.

Myth: HIV Denialists Have Been Suppressed, Censored, or Excluded

No one has suppressed anything. The HIV denialists have put their claims on the Internet and in videos on YouTube and Google Video, have published books, and have been covered in numerous magazines. They have been unable to get their claims published in peer-reviewed scientific journals because they are not applying the scientific method or doing valid scientific research that passes the standards for publication. They are ignoring valid research findings and spinning conspiracy theories.

Myth: Referring to Someone as an HIV Denialist is Name Calling

A "denialist" is a person who stubbornly denies a fact that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt even though overwhelming evidence proving the fact is readily available and independently testable by anyone who wishes to do so. Examples include moon landing, Holocaust, HIV causes AIDS, and round Earth denialists. This is not name calling; it's calling a spade a spade. Denialists ignore evidence published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and fail to publish evidence of their own.

Myth: HIV Denialists and Those Who Say HIV Causes AIDS are Just 'Opposing Viewpoints'

We are not just one "opposing viewpoint" equal to and no different than the HIV denialist "opposing viewpoint" any more than people who say humans landed on the moon are just one "opposing viewpoint" to those who claim it was a hoax. Both HIV as the cause of AIDS and humans landing on the moon have been proven by studies published in scientific journals. HIV denialist claims are not. So don't flatter yourself by equating the two as "opposing viewpoints."

Christine Maggiore, founder of AliveAndWell.org, Said ...

Christine Maggiore knew she was HIV+. While pregnant with her daughter Eliza Jane Scovill, she did not take the ARVs that reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. She breast fed, which also increases the risk. She chose not to have her daughter tested for HIV. On May 16, 2005, Eliza Jane Scovill died at age three. The L.A. County Coroner found the cause of Eliza's death was pneumonia as a result of untreated AIDS. And on December 27, 2008, Christine Maggiore herself died of pneumonia.

HIV Tests

Myth: HIV Test Results Are Not Specific or Accurate
Myth: There Is A High Rate of False Positives When People Are Tested for HIV

Testing is specific & accurate. "A large study of HIV testing in 752 U.S. laboratories reported a sensitivity of 99.7% and specificity of 98.5% .... and studies in U.S. blood donors reported specificities of 99.8% and greater than 99.99% (46, 47). With confirmatory Western blot, the chance of a false-positive identification in a low-prevalence setting is about 1 in 250 000 (95% CI, 1 in 173 000 to 1 in 379 000) (48)." (Chou et al, Annals of Internal Medicine, 5 July 05, vol 143, #1, p 55-73)

"
The performance of four enzyme immunoassays, manufactured by Abbott, Diagnostics Pasteur, Genetic Systems, and Organon Teknika, for the combined detection of anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and anti-HIV-2, was examined .... Sensitivity estimates in the four assays were 99.71, 99.94, 99.49, and 99.68% .... Specificity estimates from blood donations were 99.92, 99.46, 99.67, and 99.85% ..." [Silvester et al. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol 1995;8:411]

Claim: Many Other Things Can Cause a False Positive HIV Test

Various things may cause a false positive on a single HIV laboratory test. But when a person is tested for HIV, multiple independent laboratory tests are used. The separate laboratory tests catch each other's errors, so the HIV test result for the person is highly accurate. The chance of a false positive in a low-prevalence setting is about 1 in 250,000.  For more, see Chou et al, Annals of Internal Medicine, 5 July 05, vol 143, #1, p 55-73.

Claim: HIV Test Bottles or Documentation Say There's No Standard for Being HIV Positive

Those are only standard legal disclaimers. "A large study of HIV testing in 752 U.S. laboratories reported a sensitivity of 99.7% and specificity of 98.5% .... and studies in U.S. blood donors reported specificities of 99.8% and greater than 99.99% (46, 47). With confirmatory Western blot, the chance of a false-positive identification in a low-prevalence setting is about 1 in 250 000 (95% CI, 1 in 173 000 to 1 in 379 000) (48)." (Chou et al,Annals of Internal Medicine,5 July 05,v143#1,p55-73)

Claim: HIV Test Results Are Interpreted Differently in Different Countries

There are many tests for HIV used in different ways and combinations. The standards for use and interpretation may vary slightly in different countries, but any person who has received a positive result on an HIV test should have a "Western blot" (WB) test for confirmation. As the San Francisco AIDS Foundation notes: "False positive results are extremely rare with the WB, so it confirms (proves) that HIV antibodies are present."

Claim: p24 Antigen Test is Inaccurate

From Wikipedia's entry on Accuracy of HIV Testing: The p24 antigen test "is no longer used routinely in the US[4] or the EU[5] to screen blood donations .... Nucleic acid testing (NAT) is more effective .... The p24 antigen test is not useful for general diagnostics, as it has very low sensitivity and only works during a certain time period after infection before the body produces antibodies to the p24 protein."

Myth: The Food and Drug Administration Has Not Approved HIV Tests

Go to Google and type in "Donor Screening Assays for Infectious Agents and HIV Diagnostic Assays". This will take you to the page on the FDA web site listing tests that have been approved for diagnosing HIV infection.

Myth: Having Antibodies Means You're Immune to a Disease

Having antibodies to a virus does not necessarily mean that your body is now immune to that virus. It only means that your body has been exposed to the virus (or to a vaccine) and has generated antibodies in response. The immune system is able to develop protective immunity to some viruses but not all viruses. Unfortunately, HIV is one of the viruses that the body is able to fight but not to eliminate and develop protective immunity against on its own.

NIAID: Many viruses are pathogenic even after antibodies appear [Oldstone MB, "Viral persistence," Cell 1989;56(4):517-20], including polio [Kurth R, "Does HIV cause AIDS?" Intervirology 1990;31(6):301-14], measles [Gershon AA in Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases, 3rd ed. NY: Churchill Livingstone, 1990, pp. 1279-84.], cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and varicella zoster [Weiss & Jaffe, "Duesberg, HIV and AIDS (commentary)" Nature 1990;345:659-60.].

Myth: Infants Born to HIV+ Mothers Go from HIV+ to HIV-

This confuses different things. Many infants born to HIV+ mothers will have antibodies to HIV, produced by the mother, present in their blood. But that doesn't make them HIV+. The infants are only considered HIV+ if they still have antibodies after 18 months (long enough for maternal antibodies to disappear) or a PCR test shows presence of the virus itself. So they don't "lose HIV+ status." If they only had maternal antibodies and were uninfected with HIV, they were never HIV+.

Myths About the Origin of HIV

Myth: Humans Created HIV

There's no evidence that HIV was created by humans. It has been found in stored blood samples as far back as 1959. At that time, humans hadn't even discovered retroviruses, much less developed the technology to design a new one. Genetic studies provide evidence that it jumped to humans from a similar virus in primates. For some old stored samples, we even have the clinical history of patients who died of then-unexplained symptoms which in retrospect were clearly clinical AIDS.

Myth: Humans Created HIV in 1973 ... or 1979 ... (or Any Date After 1959)

HIV has been detected in stored blood samples dating all the way back to 1959. [Nahmias et al. Evidence for human infection with an HTLV III/LAV-like virus in Central Africa, 1959 (letter). Lancet 1986;31,1(8492):1279-80.] That wouldn't be possible if the virus had been created by man in 1973. Evidence shows that human HIV jumped to humans from SIV, which is a similar primate virus.

Myth: HIV Was Created and Spread By Culturing of Oral Polio Vaccine in Monkey Cells in the 1950s (Edward Hooper's Theory from "The River")

The oral polio theory of HIV's origins has been debunked. See the wikipedia article on HIV under "Origin and discovery" for details. Briefly, genetic studies show HIV originates to about 1931, not to the 1950s; a sample of the original vaccine was found and shown not to have HIV; and macaque kidney cells, which can't culture HIV or SIV, were used during vaccine preparation.

Myth: If AIDS Spread Virally We Would Have Seen an Epidemic Thousands of Years Ago

No, genetic studies show HIV probably jumped to humans in the 1930s. The fact that HIV had spread to a small number of humans by 1959 doesn't mean an epidemic would occur right away. HIV spreads slowly compared to airborne viruses, so it would take a long time for it to grow to the numbers we see today. It started in impoverished Africa where initial cases would be overlooked. Road building and urbanization in Africa, air travel, increased multi-partner sex, and sharing needles sped the spread.

Myths About HIV Transmission

Myth: Transfusion Studies Didn't Show that HIV Causes AIDS

NIAID: In a study, 3 years after transfusion, "mean CD4+ T cell count in 64 HIV-negative recipients was 850/mm3, while 111 HIV-seropositive individuals had average CD4+ T cell counts of 375/mm3." [Donegan et al. Ann Intern Med 1990;113(10):733-9.] "By 1993, there were 37 cases of AIDS in the HIV-infected group, but not a single AIDS-defining illness in the HIV-seronegative transfusion recipients." [Cohen, "Duesberg and critics agree: hemophilia is the best test" Science 1994;266(5191):1645-6.]

Myth: Studies of Hemophiliacs Didn't Show HIV is Contagious and Causes AIDS
Studies of Hemophiliacs Didn't Show HIV is Transmitted Through Heterosexual Sex

NIAID: As of 1991, "10 to 20 percent of wives and sex partners of male HIV-positive hemophiliacs in the United States are also HIV-infected (Pitchenik et al., 1984; Kreiss et al., 1985; Peterman et al., 1988; Smiley et al., 1988; Dietrich and Boone, 1990; Lusher et al., 1991).  Through December 1994, the CDC had received reports of 266 cases of AIDS in those who had sex with a person with hemophilia (CDC, 1995a). These data cannot be explained by a non-infectious theory of AIDS etiology."

Full references for above: [Pitchenik AE et al. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in the wife of a hemophiliac. Ann Intern Med 1984;100(1):62-5. Kreiss JK et al. Antibody to human T-lymphotropic virus type III in wives of hemophiliacs. Evidence for heterosexual transmission. Ann Intern Med 1985;102(5):623-6. Peterman TA et al. Risk of human immunodeficiency virus transmission from heterosexual adults with transfusion-associated infections. JAMA 1988;259(1):55-8. Smiley ML et al. Transmission of human immunodeficiency virus to sexual partners of hemophiliacs. Am J Hematol 1988;28(1):27-32. Dietrich SL, Boone DC. The epidemiology of HIV infection in hemophiliacs. In: Nilsson, Berntrop, eds. Recent Advances in Hemophilia Care. New York: Alan R. Liss, 1990, pp. 79-86. Lusher JM,  et al. Risk of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection among sexual and nonsexual household contacts of persons with congenital clotting disorders. Pediatrics 1991;88(2):242-9. CDC. HIV/AIDS surveillance report, 1994 year-end edition. 1995a;6(no.2).]

Myth: HIV Isn't Transmitted Sexually

Sexual contact is the most common way HIV is transmitted.

Myth: There's No Evidence that HIV Spreads via Heterosexual Sex

Proof of HIV contagion through heterosexual sex is overwhelming including infections of sexual partners of HIV+ hemophiliacs, HIV+ injection drugs users, and HIV+ health care workers where the partners had no other HIV exposure or risk factors.

NIAID: As of 1991, "10 to 20 percent of wives and sex partners of male HIV-positive hemophiliacs in the United States are also HIV-infected (Pitchenik et al., 1984; Kreiss et al., 1985; Peterman et al., 1988; Smiley et al., 1988; Dietrich and Boone, 1990; Lusher et al., 1991). "

Myth: Nancy Padian's 1997 Study Showed HIV Isn't Transmitted Via Heterosexual Sex

Nancy Padian writes: "the evidence for the sexual transmission of HIV is well documented, conclusive, and based on the standard, uncontroversial methods and practices of medical science. Individuals who cite the 1997 Padian et al. publication (1) .... in an attempt to substantiate the myth that HIV is not transmitted sexually are ill informed, at best. Their misuse of these results is misleading, irresponsible, and potentially injurious to the public." (aidstruth)

Myth: HIV Must Not Be Transmitted Via Heterosexual Sex Since We Don't See Many Women Who Are HIV+ or Have AIDS

From NIAID "Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS:" 30% of new HIV infections in 1998 in the U.S. were in women. The number of female AIDS patients has risen as well. In 1998, about 23% of U.S. adult/adolescent AIDS cases were in women, and AIDS was the fifth leading cause of death among women 25-44 and the third leading cause among African-American women in the same age range. [US Census Bureau HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base]

From NIAID "Evidence That HIV Causes AIDS:" "In Africa, HIV was first recognized in sexually active heterosexuals, and AIDS cases in Africa have occurred at least as frequently in women as in men. Overall, the worldwide distribution of HIV infection and AIDS between men and women is approximately 1 to 1." [UNAIDS 2000]

Myth: There Is No Heterosexual Epidemic of HIV

There is an epidemic of AIDS among heterosexuals in Africa.

Myth: HIV Can't Be Transmitted Via Oral Sex
Myth: There Are No Documented Cases of HIV Transmission Via Oral Sex

"[I]t is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through performing or receiving oral sex. There have been a few cases of HIV transmission from performing oral sex on a person infected with HIV." [CDC, "Can I get HIV from oral sex?"]

Myth: [HIV+ Celebrity's] Sexual Partner Didn't Become HIV+, So HIV Must Not Be Infectious/Spread Sexually

Scientists are not claiming that every sexual partner (even an exclusive partner) of an HIV+ person will necessarily become HIV+. For example, if an HIV+ person has sex with an HIV- person, they might choose to reduce the risk by using a condom and other barrier prevention methods. The fact that a particular HIV+ person's partner(s) didn't become HIV+ doesn't mean that HIV *never* spreads between sexual partners.

Myth: Prostitutes Don't Have Increased Rates of HIV, So HIV Must Not Spread Through Heterosexual Sex

Prostitutes are one of the highest risk groups for HIV/AIDS.

Myth: HIV is a Primarily Male or Primarily Gay Male Disease

Globally by 2002 half of HIV+ people were female as were 1.2M of the 2.5M deaths from AIDS that year. (source: UN report, Nov. 2002)

Myth: There's No Evidence for HIV Superinfection (Infection With Multiple Strains of HIV)

"It is now known that dual HIV infection, defined as the presence of two distinct HIV strains in a patient, can occur. The best evidence for this phenomenon is the existence of recombinant viruses that contain genetic material from two different parental strains. Recombinant viruses can only be created by the simultaneous replication of the two parental strains in the same patient." [Joel Blankson, "HIV Superinfection: Can Patients Be Infected Twice?" Johns Hopkins AIDS Service May 2004]

See also Jost S et al. A patient with HIV-1 superinfection. N Engl J Med 2002 Sep 5; 347:731-6. "Jost and colleagues report a convincing and well-documented case of HIV superinfection in a man exposed to genetically distinct strains of HIV .... We now know that HIV superinfection is possible in humans." [Diane Havlir, "A Case Worth Noting: HIV Superinfection," Journal Watch Infectious Diseases September 20, 2002.]

Conspiracy Theories and Conflict of Interest

Question: Why Should We Trust the 'Medical Establishment' or These Videos?

Neither I nor Dr. Kuhn recommend that you blindly trust anyone. That's why all of the statements in the videos are based on the results of research study results published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. When a study's methodology & results are published, anyone who doesn't believe a result can repeat the experiment to verify it for themselves. Replication catches errors and prevents fraud. This is the scientific method.

Claim: 'Medical Establishment' Claims that HIV Causes AIDS are 'Propaganda'

Calling the peer-reviewed scientific journal research study results "propaganda" is illogical. "Propaganda" is information spread widely with the goal of harming someone/something else. Scientific journals just document the methodology and results of studies so other can review, catch errors, learn, and replicate. You can only get a study published if you do a replicable study and document your methods & results, so journal study results are limited to what is provable and replicable.

Claim: 'Medical Establishment' Is Evil / Greedy / Motivated By Money / Arrogant / Makes Mistakes

Even if everything you say about the "medical establishment" were true, it wouldn't change the overwhelming scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

Claim: Medical Establishment is Lying that HIV Causes AIDS Because They Get Money Through Research

It's not credible to suggest that NIH, CDC, WHO, UNAIDS, Pasteur Institute, AMA, 10s of 1000s of scientists worldwide, numerous NGOs, and the millions of patients who are doing better on ARV medication are all lying for money: conspiracies that large break down.

Claim: Scientists Saying HIV Causes AIDS Are LIke a Cult

A cult is a closed belief system that is not subject to external test or validation. HIV denialism has the characteristics of a cult: closed belief system, ignores all the scientific evidence, demonizes those who disagree, etc. By contrast, our videos are all based on published scientific research studies. Anyone who doubts those studies is free to replicate and confirm the results for themselves. The scientific method explicitly ENABLES external test and validation.

Additional Resources

Notes About Using the Rebuttals on this Page

There are two kinds of rebuttals on this page:
YouTube's comment system appears to sometimes block text that includes URLs. Therefore, we sometimes provide two writeups for an answer: the first without URLs (for YouTube) and the second including URLs (for elsewhere).

Because of the 500 character length limit, we have been forced to compress the citations in some cases by means such as dropping first initials or "et al" or omitting part or all of an article's title while retaining the page reference. Therefore, if citing an article for a professional publication, be sure to verify the complete citation by checking the original source.

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