AIDS denialism

7/8/19

Yes it is a thing! Misinformation about the AIDS virus has been around since its discovery. Russia was known to propagate the story that AIDS was created in a lab by the CIA in the 1980 and they seeded the story in an Indian newspaper as part of a misinformation campaign. Most of the denier community claim that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does not cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Some even refute the idea of HIV at all and say that AIDS is simply attributable to lifestyle rather than as a consequence of contracting HIV.

Despite its lack of scientific acceptance, HIV/AIDS denialism has had a significant political impact, especially in South Africa under the presidency of Thabo Mbeki, who, in 2000, invited several HIV/AIDS denialists to join his Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel. It has been estimated that these denialist policies led to the early deaths of more than 330,000 South Africans. Many of the deniers use the disassociation between HIV/AIDS - that they have invented, the scientific consensus of a link is overwhelming - to tout pseudoscience and alternative medicine as treatments. Often they claim that either the doctor-prescribed medication or the person's lifestyle are the cause of their illness and have encouraged people to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs and reinvent their entire lifestyle.

This disinformation campaign works well because there is often a lack of good information out there. It is made worse by the fact that AIDS tends to impact isolated groups, such as the gay community or intravenous drug users. Distrust of authority is more common in groups like these that have been ostracised by mainstream society. Antiretroviral treatments today mean that many people can live a virtually normal life and can expect to have a normal lifespan. For some good information on HIV and infection come along to Cathy Crawford's talk at Skeptics on the Fringe tonight, 7:20pm, Banshee Labyrinth.

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