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Video: 10 Myths Spread By HIV Dissidents
10 myths spread by HIV dissidents
The Russian Ministry of Health has proposed a new bill that prohibits the dissemination of false information about the impact of HIV infection on health and calls for the refusal of its diagnosis and treatment. From our material you can learn about the deadly myths spread by HIV dissidents.
Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 /
December 1 was World AIDS Day. A few days earlier, the Russian Ministry of Health submitted to the government a new bill on HIV dissidence, which prohibits the dissemination of false information about the impact of HIV infection on health and calls for refusal of its diagnosis and treatment.
HIV dissidents call AIDS a fiction, and if they do recognize it, they come up with other, non-infectious reasons for the disease. Their mythology is deadly: under its influence, people refuse treatment or interrupt it, do not allow children to undergo antiretroviral therapy.
What misinformation are spread by HIV dissidents? Their theses are somewhat different from the "standard myths" about HIV infection, which, for example, include false claims about the spread of the virus by mosquitoes and transmission of the disease through kissing.
1.HIV does not cause AIDS
Many people still manage to believe this. The amount of evidence that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is indeed the cause of AIDS is overwhelming. The most important works that made it possible to assert this were published in 1983 and 1984.
Except in extremely rare cases, all people who develop AIDS have antibodies to the virus or it itself. Scientists have now explained in detail how HIV infection develops in the body and how AIDS appears. A very detailed summary of the scientific evidence that HIV is the cause of AIDS can be found on the AIDSinfo website created by the US Department of Health (in English).
2. Research refutes the transmission of HIV through heterosexual intercourse
This myth is very convenient for HIV dissidents, because, having ridden it, it is easier to develop other false theories (for example, that drug addicts and homosexuals develop the disease for other reasons).
This is a typical example of how HIV dissidents twist or misunderstand scientific research in a convenient way. In this case, we are talking about the work of Nancy Padian in 1997, from the summary of which they like to quote the words "HIV infectivity in heterosexual transmission is low."
On the resources of HIV dissidents, you can read that Padian is an unpopular figure in official medicine, and they try to remember her less. This is a lie, since in real life she is one of the most respected experts on HIV transmission.
Participants in the Padian et al. Study received counseling on HIV prevention and were followed up for 10 years. The statement about the low infectivity (infectivity) of HIV infection spoke of the success of prevention methods, and not the impossibility of transmission.
Transmission of HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse is responsible for 70-80% of infections. Scientific data obtained in developed countries showed that transmission from a man to a woman occurs with a probability of 0.01-0.32%, and from a woman to a man - 0.01-0.1% after one intercourse. These indicators cover all sex, including protected sex. In developing countries, due to the more frequent presence of concomitant diseases and the lower prevalence of barrier contraception, this figure can reach 20% or more.
3. In patients with hemophilia, immunodeficiency causes a clotting factor VIII transfusion
This myth came about because many hemophiliacs who received clotting factor VIII transfusions developed AIDS. Such scandalous cases were especially frequent in the 1980s.
Hemophiliacs require its regular administration of coagulation factor VIII, because they do not have this substance in their bodies. Without treatment, they may develop severe bleeding.
Clotting factor VIII drugs are made from donated blood. One of the fathers of HIV dissidence, Peter H. Duesberg, believed that they were contaminated with human proteins that caused the disease.
In fact, the prevalence of HIV infection in hemophilia was attributed to the presence of the virus in the drugs. For example, in 1978 at least one batch of American-made Factor VIII vials was infected with HIV.
Studies directly refuting Duesberg have also been conducted. In the UK, researchers followed 17 HIV-positive and 17 HIV-negative hemophilia patients. For ten years AIDS developed in 9 of them, all of them were from the first group.
4. In Africa, AIDS is a consequence of poverty, not HIV infection
Poor people may have a higher chance of contracting HIV. But there is no evidence that AIDS is a broad, cynical picture of the consequences of poverty.
Scientific work carried out in Uganda has shown that among HIV-infected people, mortality is much higher, regardless of the level of wealth. In addition, of the 20,000 study participants, more educated and well-off people were more likely to die of AIDS. Analysis of data from 12 African countries showed that it is difficult to link the HIV epidemic solely to factors such as poverty and wealth.
5. In developed countries, AIDS develops due to alcohol and drug abuse
This is not supported by research. Alcohol can disinhibit people, provoke risky behavior that increases the risk of HIV infection. Also, its use may be associated with low adherence to HIV treatment, and reduce its effectiveness. But it doesn't cause AIDS.
No correlation was found between drug use and the development of AIDS: AIDS develops only in HIV-infected people. Moreover, drug use does not accelerate the progression of AIDS.
6. AIDS is caused by antiretroviral therapy
The adherents of this myth are not embarrassed by the fact that people were dying of AIDS before the advent of this type of treatment. The main claims were against the first antiretroviral drug azidothymidine (AZT).
In the study that approved AZT for six months, 19 out of 137 people in the placebo group died and 1 in 145 in the placebo group. 45 people in the placebo group developed co-infections and in 24 people. a person from the treatment group. The introduction of new therapies has consistently lengthened the progression of HIV infection to AIDS and patient survival.
Now AZT monotherapy is not used, and thirty years ago its effectiveness was far from the effectiveness of modern schemes. But the claim that AZT treatment has done more harm than good to people has no evidence.
7. Taking antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy harms the fetus
If a pregnant woman is on antiretroviral therapy (ART), the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV tends to be 1%. Without treatment, the mother's risk of infecting a child with HIV is 15-45%. Children of HIV-infected mothers on ART are more likely to survive. The benefits of treatment during pregnancy are obvious for the unborn child.
8 HIV diagnosis is unreliable, false positives are overwhelming
First of all, this myth extends to tests that determine the presence of antibodies to the virus. These antibodies appear in the body 6-12 weeks after infection, but sometimes their production takes up to six months.
To determine antibodies to HIV in the blood, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA or ELISA) and Western blot are used. These are specific and sensitive tests.
A large study, which covered 752 laboratories in the United States, showed the sensitivity (the probability of a positive result in an infected person) ELISA 99.7%, and the specificity (the probability of a negative result in an uninfected person) - 98.5%. ELISA followed by confirmation by immunoblot give approximately 1 false positive reaction in 250,000 tests. This test can be called accurate.
9.HIV tests very often give false positive results in pregnant women
False positive results are also rare with tests during pregnancy if the study protocol is strictly followed. Incorrect results are more often associated with violations of storage of material for analyzes or during the test. In addition, people may sometimes believe that they have had a false positive HIV test due to misunderstanding of the results.
According to the results of a 2011 American study, false-positive HIV test results were less common in pregnant women (0.14%) than in other people (0.21%). Confirmed the sensitivity of HIV testing during pregnancy and research in Africa (Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon). You can find scientific papers with other numbers, but they also do not allow us to call modern tests unsuitable for use during pregnancy.
10. HIV-positive people live long healthy without treatment, which proves the harmlessness of HIV
A small number of HIV-infected people can indeed live for many years without developing AIDS symptoms (extremely rarely - more than 20 years). Doctors call these people long-term non-progressors. The rate of development of the disease is influenced by the strain of the virus (it may be defective), genetic factors and lifestyle.
But such cases are rare. Without adequate care, which includes antiretroviral therapy, the vast majority of those infected with AIDS develop within 10 years.
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