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There are very few absolutes in this human experience. This seems to come with the territory of using our limited cognitive capacity to apprehend a potentially limitlessly complex reality. We are often wrong, rarely in doubt. Our mercurial perceptions make a mockery of any sense of certainty we derive from "knowing". It is ok to be wrong, in fact, that is what science should be about – a continual reckoning with inconsistencies and contradictions that reveal the tortuous path to truth. What has happened to science, however, is that the minds on the front line are strangled by government funding sources that prize profitable outcomes, by journals bought by industry, and by the reflexive moralistic condemnation of anyone seeking to make inquiries into the status quo.
This medical-scientific-industrial marriage has brought us many a meme that we hold on to societally, as truths:
- That depression is a chemical imbalance
- That cholesterol causes heart disease
- That exposure to bugs equals deadly infection, and vaccines protection
- Cancer is a genetic time bomb
- That HIV causes AIDS, the equivalent of certain death
As I watch pregnant women and their unborn targeted for unstudied interventions leveraged by paternalistic medical practitioners who seek to co-opt their inner compass – to take advantage of their unstoppable will to protect their offspring – I see a pattern repeating in the sands of time.
A theory is born – a hypothesis – predicated on the fundamental deficiencies of the human body, its broken nature, and its vital dependency on exogenous chemicals for survival. Basic scientific standards, such as elimination of conflict of interest and placebo controlled trials, are abandoned or even deemed unethical in the interest of fast-tracking pharmaceutical products to an eager market. Because we have barely observed the natural course of a now-labeled pathology, we attribute toxicity of medication and treatment to the disease process itself or to other incidental variables, giving pharmaceutical companies a wide birth to harm us, and even kill us.
This was the case with a now infamous, but little-publicized perinatal trial of the drug nevirapine for the prevention of transmission of HIV from mother to baby. An NIH-funded trial staged in Uganda, HIVNET 012, was hailed as demonstrating a 50% decrease in transmission, and set the stage for world-wide drug dissemination and coercion of women like Joyce Ann Hafford, to their death. In this trial, there was no placebo group, there were cooked books, misconduct, suppressed signal of harm, conflict of interest, and all of the ingredients we have come to know from Dr. Thompson's CDC whistleblowing. Celia Farber reports the sordid history of HIV medications and treatments, in an act of investigative bravery, in her notorious piece, Out of Control, which appeared in March 2006 issue of Harper's Magazine. She states:
561 African women taking no antivirals transmitted HIV at a rate of 12 percent. Had nevirapine been asked to compete with that placebo group, it would have lost. As it was, there was no placebo group, so HIVNET's results are a statistical trick, a shadow play, in which success is measured against another drug and not against a placebo group.
This fact would be less concerning if this trial was not the foundation of empirical treatment of pregnant women around the world with a medication so toxic, it kills mother and their unborn. She raises questions about assumptions we have come to believe are truths –
That HIV is a meaningful diagnosis (she references the false positive testing likelihood in pregnancy, the unstandardized lab standards from country to country, and the abandonment of even those criteria in Africa where an HIV diagnosis can be conferred based on symptoms like malaise and diarrhea alone).
That HIV causes AIDS (a syndrome of 25 illnesses that does not satisfy <a data-cke-saved-href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch" s_postulates"="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Koch's postulates of infectious disease).
That drug toxicity associated with AIDS treatment may very well be what accounts for the majority of deaths.
Farber also references the role of vitamin A in reducing HIV transmission, if we are to accept the clinical relevance of this concern, and how unacknowledged the role of nutrition is in infectious disease – stating that before the discovery of niacin and vitamin C, pellagra and scurvy were thought to be contagious.
Her words are more apt than ever:
"America is a place where people rarely say: Stop. Extreme and unnatural things happen all the time, and nobody seems to know how to hit the brakes. In this muscular, can-do era, we are particularly prone to the seductions of the pharmaceutical industry, which has successfully marketed its ever growing arsenal of drugs as the latest American right. The buzzword is "access," which has the advantage of short-circuiting the question of whether the drugs actually work, and of utterly obviating the question of whether they are even remotely safe."
While I recognize the hypocrisy in using my mind to help unearth truths while proclaiming our fundamental limitations as thinkers, there is an abuse of ideas, and the people who accept them that is resulting in harm and suffering where there might have been something entirely more benign if we just gathered more information. Information not corrupted by a profit-driven apparatus that puts its gains before our welfare. Through the lens of human ecology, we see that forcing a system to adapt to a pharmaceutical grade chemical is a misguided assault on their very humanity. We must protect our most vulnerable from this assault, lest we look back on these transgressions with blinding shame.