HIV=AIDS?: A Civil Discussion

HIV/AIDS denialists, sometimes called  AIDS Dissidents or AIDS Re-Thinkers, are a very small but vocal group of scientists, researchers, activists, and journalists who question the causal link between HIV and AIDS. Because I have been featured in several documentaries about HIV that have a decidedly ‘Dissident’ editorial slant. I get a lot of emails about my own views on the so called AIDS Dissident Movement.

My personal view is that a variety of factors or cofactors affect the health of an HIV+ individual, but HIV is the primary cause of AIDS and there is over thirty years of research to back this up.   I also believe that the choice to go on medications is a deeply personal one, but that the medications are extremely effective in surpressing the virus.  But as surely as I believe HIV is the cause of AIDS, I also believe that respect and civil conversation are far more productive than yelling and name calling.

The following email exchange  is between me and a man who first wrote me on February 10, 2013.  I have published this email exchange here with his permission because I believe it demonstrates the gravity of the decision that everyone diagnosed HIV+ must make. I hope you will find it helpful as you make your own informed choices about HIV, AIDS and various treatment options.
—Darren

____________________

(From Mark)

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 5:46 PM

Hello,

I have been doing research recently on if HIV=AIDS and I found the video House of Numbers. That video has been very informative.  I am “neg” but my partner of 14 years is “pos”.  I have been doing my research because as we both get older I am concerned about our future.

His story: He learned that he was positive in 96, he believes that he must have been “infected” in 89-92.  When he learned he was + he was put on meds, he only stayed on them for one month due to the effects he was having plus how dealing with all of it made him feel physically and mentally.  He has been med free sense and seems to be doing fine. We both believe in the power of nature and use natural supplements such as spirulina, olive leaf, etc…

I know it may be irresponsible and dangerous but we live our lives together as if he never had that damn test.

I would like to know what is your current view on HIV=AIDS?

Thank you,

Mark

____________________

(From Darren)

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 6:46 PM

Hey Mark,

Thanks for your email.  As a yoga teacher and HIV+ gay man, I share your view that the more natural the better.  That said, I am on meds.  I made this very personal decision for several reasons.  The biggest  reason was that the newer meds  are much less toxic than the earlier ones.  In my case, I’m on Atripla and have no side effects whatsoever.  When they filmed House of  Numbers, I had just started taking Atripla after choosing not to take HIV meds for the first six years of being positive.  For me, I’m really glad I waited, but I’m equally glad that I’m on the meds now.

I have a policy of not telling people what to do.  My experience is just that—mine.  I have made my decisions after mindfully weighing all my options.   Others will likely come to different conclusions and as long as they make informed  and thoughtful decisions, I support them 100%.  I don’t know what your partner should do, but what I will say is that taking meds today is much different than it was in the AZT years  or even in the Protease Inhibitor years.  Certainly it is good for him to continue with the holistic and nutritional things he is doing as it can only help, but he may want to revisit the drugs to see if the newer options feel like the right fit for him.

House of Numbers was a great project to be involved with as I think it made a lot of people step back and look at things that many people simply assume.  That said, one of my best friends, Christine Maggiore, who was also featured in that same film, has since passed away.  She took a different path than I did and made different choices.    I think if she could make the same choices again, she would likely not change a thing, but the end result was very heart-breaking for those of us who loved her.  I don’t say this to scare you or your partner, but rather to underline the importance of making an informed choice with all the facts on the table.  To her credit, Christine supported me fully when I chose to go on the meds even though it was not her choice.  Now I try to pay it forward by unconditionally supporting others.

If there is anything I can do to support you or your partner, please let me know.

Peace,

Darren

____________________

(From Mark)

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 6:46 PM

Darren,

Thanks so much for sharing your personal experiences.  I can’t express enough how much I appreciate you taking the time to reply. It really means a lot.  I will continue to research natural as well as the new meds as options.  I love my partner dearly and want to see him live a fulfilled life.  I guess I have just been thinking as any partner thinks that there may be someday that our partner will no longer be with us, but I must remind myself that all our days are numbered and that I can only give him the happiest life that I can give and cherish each day.

May you yourself live a much fulfilled life full of love and happiness.

Again, I thank you so much and I will keep you in my thoughts and send positive energy your way daily.

Thank you for paying it forward as you will be truly blessed.

Mark

____________________

 (From Mark)
Thursday,  April 16, 2015, 1:30 AM

Darren,

I hope this email finds you healthy and happy!

I emailed you back in 2013 with questions about House of Numbers and how you were doing.

Back then I was doing research because I didn’t want to believe this HIV=AIDS was true.

Well reality hit hard in Dec. 2013.

Around March my partner had been to the dentist and shortly after that developed a little thrush (hint #1) which we blamed it on the antibiotics.  I ordered some colloidal silver and was happy to see that it did help.

Then he developed a dry cough (hint #2).  The thrush then returned but a lot worse.  He lost 40 pounds (hint#3).  He kept up with all the natural stuff that I could do research on…. I so wanted to deny what was happening (we both did).

Then it hit hard!  The week of Christmas his cough got so bad he was throwing up sometimes.

We are both self employed and at that time without insurance plus he hadn’t seen a doctor in 16 years.

I got him to the emergency room and that’s when reality hit.  After being hospitalized etc. the test showed his viral load was in the millions and he his cd4 was only 9!

LONG STORY SHORT: He’s doing fine….He has been on Atripla for one year and at the halfway mark was undetectable with a cd4 over 100.

Just recently tested and is still undetectable and cd4’s at 212.  The cd4’s are going up slower than we hoped but going from only 9 the doctor says his outlook is great.

I would like to know how you’re doing on Atripla?  My partners had a few weeks at first of dizziness but other than that nothing.  He takes it before bed and sleeps great for the most part.

I almost lost my faith in nature. I felt like nature betrayed.  I always preached “nature has everything we need to heal ourselves”.

To me Atripla is a wonder drug (Coming from someone that is/ WAS anti-pharmaceutical).  I still choose nature first but now I see that somethings nature just can’t fight on her own.  I do believe that the supplements and superfoods did give him over 15 years of a med free life.

Thank you for your time,

Mark