Officials Reappraise 395 "Heterosexual" AIDS Cases in Chicago
69% Reclassified as "Not Heterosexual"

Chicago Department of Public Health officials have examined a sample of the city's AIDS cases that were officially listed as due to "heterosexual transmission." In a new study, "Redefining the Growth of the Heterosexual HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Chicago" (Murphy, J of AIDS and Human Retrovirology 16: 122-126, 1997), they reviewed medical records, interviewed health providers, friends, and family members. As a result, they reclassified 272 of these 395 cases, or 69%, "into transmission categories that did not involve heterosexual contact."

The report also stated that: "The cumulative percentage of cases attributable to heterosexual contact declined from 8% to 5% as a result of reclassification. Additionally, reclassification resulted in a reduction of nearly 50% in the number of AIDS cases attributable to heterosexual contact diagnosed in 1993 and 1994."

Keep in mind that this study examined only a sample of Chicago's "heterosexual" cases; most "heterosexual" cases were not reevaluated. If the 69% reclassification figure is applied to the entire cumulative case load originally classified as "heterosexual," the 8% cumulative "heterosexual" figure drops all the way down to 2.48%. The authors did not reach this inescapable and obvious conclusion, suggesting that perhaps they were reluctant to explore the full ramifications of their findings.

Furthermore, they described in the title of their paper "the heterosexual HIV/AIDS epidemic ," despite their own data (even the original 8% cumulative figure) contradicting the existence of an epidemic of "heterosexual HIV/AIDS." And in concluding that "this study has found the growth in AIDS cases among persons exposed to HIV through heterosexual contact to be much slower than previously perceived," they distort the truth with a standard deception that promotes the myth of a heterosexual "epidemic": annual cases attributed to "heterosexual transmission" have actually decreased each year since 1993, just like it has for all categories; the word "growth" here refers to cumulative figures and fractions of total cases.

The Chicago findings agree with results reported in a July 23, 1993 New York Times article. In that story, John Ward, Chief of the CDC's Surveillance Branch, stated that "the CDC conducted a pilot study in South Florida, reinterviewing people whose AIDS had initially been reported as due to heterosexual transmission [of HIV]." As a result, "forty percent of the men initially reported as heterosexual cases were reclassified" as gay men or drug injectors, and 14% of the women were reclassified as drug injectors. In another indication of reluctance by researchers to undermine the concept that "everybody is at risk," this "pilot" study -- reported four and a half years ago -- has never been documented as a formal paper published in the medical journals.

Imagine the results of either study if the researchers had divided the "heterosexual contact" category into vaginal and rectal components, if they accounted for dissimulation, if they considered non-injected narcotics consumption, and if they utilized medical psychologists to ensure the highest possible rate of accurate assessments.

National AIDS statistics are compiled by the CDC based on reports filed by attending physicians, who are required to do so since AIDS is officially designated as a "notifiable disease." However, some patients obviously are not as honest with the physicians filing these reports as they are with their other physicians, health workers, friends, family, or researchers focusing on obtaining truthful responses. In addition, the Chicago researchers found that "an emerging problem in AIDS surveillance appears to be the use of an ambiguous heterosexual exposure category as a default when other information is not readily available." This means that if a patient with no history of blood therapies denies having had gay sex or injecting drugs, but admits to having had unprotected heterosexual relations, the patient is designated a "heterosexual" case even if no HIV-positive heterosexual partner can be identified.

The Chicago authors conclude that, "this finding may have important implications for the national debate over the extent to which heterosexual people are being infected and how funding and prevention strategies should be prioritized." For rational scientists, this paper represents yet another reason to reappraise the very notion of "heterosexual AIDS."

Credit Where Credit Isn't Due

The state of HIV/AIDS reporting by America's working press is so sorry that nearly every story presented by national and local media outlets warrants a stern, detailed response to correct the obvious factual and logical errors. Occasionally one comes to our attention that offers such glaring examples of the failure of American journalists to responsibly and accurately consider the HIV/AIDS issue, that we can't help but to formally dissect it and offer our criticisms as a template for considering all the rest.

The December 29, 1997, issue of Newsday provides just such an article, by staff writer Roni Rabin. In it, Rabin credits the new retroviral protease inhibitors with prolonging the life of 15 year-old boy whose HIV-positive status is traced to his mother. "Even though the teen was born with the same AIDS virus that killed his mother at 27 and his baby sister at 9 months," claims Rabin, "thanks to new medications, he is 15 and going strong, an adolescent as the AIDS epidemic reaches maturity."

Does Rabin realize that the new medications, protease inhibitors, have been around for only about a year and a half? That means this boy survived for at least 13 years without them. Buried deep in this lengthy story we further learn that he didn't take any HIV medications for at least the first twelve years of his life. That's when, three years ago, he took his first HIV test, at the request of his adopted family. Before that no one -- not his adopted parents, not any physician, not the officials associated with his adoption -- knew that he was positive. Up to that point, the boy "had never received medical treatment for HIV," Rabin writes.

Therefore no pharmaceuticals can be credited with explaining why this boy has lived so much longer "with HIV" than his mother and sister.

As is nearly always the case, we eventually learn of non-HIV explanations for the health catastrophes presented as "AIDS." In this case the deaths of his mother and infant sister, which both occurred when he was five. Rabin states late in the article that the "mother's death certificate clearly lists 'drug addiction/AIDS' as the cause of death." This means that the attending physicians regarded narcotics as at least partially responsible for the mother's death. And prenatally consumed narcotics may have contributed to the infant daughter's death as well. Rabin exercised dubious journalistic integrity by earlier attributing the death of the mother and daughter entirely to HIV. This story makes a better case for a non-infectious AIDS model than it does for the HIV paradigm.

Could the boy be alive today because the mother consumed fewer narcotics when she was pregnant with him than when she was pregnant with his sister? Why did his adopted parents have him tested for HIV when he was 12? Was he developing AIDS conditions and his doctors suspected he might be HIV-positive? Or was it because they reviewed the mother's death certificate, and imagined that HIV causes AIDS even after 12 years of normal health?

Rabin provides no answers to these questions, because, like her fellow members of the working press, she has no investigative or skeptical impulses when it comes to the subject of HIV/AIDS.

Like her peers, she pretends that AIDS in America is a growing problem, presenting this story "as the AIDS epidemic reaches maturity." Since AIDS in America has declined each year since 1992, it reached maturity years ago, and can not correctly be described as an "epidemic." How can Rabin possibly not know this?

She describes other HIV-positive American children, but can't avoid references throughout to drug-addicted and impoverished biological parents. It never occurs to her that prenatal exposure to nar-cotics and urban poverty can cause AIDS conditions.

An attempt to handle technical jargon reveals a superficial familiarity with the topic, which is typical of her profession; she calls the new drugs "proteases," when they are actually "protease inhibitors ," meaning that rather than being proteases, they inhibit proteases.

In so doing, she manages to introduce some useful information, but demonstrates an incapacity for exploring its obvious implications. "The proteases are notoriously distasteful," she writes, "and cause several weeks of diarrhea and vomiting when children start them. Several parents interviewed said they realized their children were skipping doses after discovering stashes of untaken medication hidden behind radiators and under beds in their rooms."

Sensible journalists would acknowledge the apparent paradox of forcing a boy to become violently sick as protection against illnesses that developed in his drug -addicted mother, and his infant sister, who was probably also drug-addicted from in utero exposure.