Mothering Magazine
Reappraises AIDS Again

The September/October 1998 issue of Mothering again calls into question the idea that HIV causes AIDS. RA board member and former Spin writer (now with Gear ) Celia Farber contributed four articles, and editor Peggy O'Mara devoted her editorial to supporting the AIDS reappraisal movement. One of Celia's auricles, "HIV and Breastfeeding," included one of the most defiant and startling statements yet in favor of the AIDS reappraisal perspective: a full page, color photograph of HIV-positive Christine Maggiore -- founder and director of HEAL-Los Angeles and RA board member -- breastfeeding her infant son Charlie.

That article tells the story of an HIV-positive woman in LA who was banned by a judge's order from breastfeeding her infant daughter, and forced first to test the daughter for HIV and then, when the test returned positive, to administer her AZT. The woman secretly breastfeeds and throws out the AZT, while she and her baby flourish. The secrecy extends even to an older daughter, whom officials occasionally question about her mother's activities. Meanwhile, the estranged, HIV-positive father has died while consuming AZT.

Farber in this article also critiques the new push to discourage breastfeeding and distribute AZT in the Third World. Farber's take: "A drug (AZT), which can actually impair immunity, will be given to combat a virus (HIV) that has never been proven to destroy immunity, and then finally, the very source of immunity that nature has provided (breast milk) will be discouraged."

She quotes physician Naomi Baumslag as saying, "It is impossible to be certain if transmission of AIDS is prenatal, in utero, postpartum, or via breast milk. While there are a very few reported cases of HIV transmission through breast milk, it has never been absolutely proven. Studies may eventually even show that exclusive breastfeeding is protective against AIDS. Formula feeding has terrible consequences for most children. Many more infants worldwide die of diarrheal dehydration than of AIDS."

Farber juxtaposes the official claims that 1,500 children each day become infected with HIV against other data showing that every day 33,000 children under the age of five die from diseases "against which breastfeeding can provide an essential defense."

A second article, "AZT Roulette," critiques the push to administer AZT to pregnant HIV-positive women and to their infants as a means of preventing maternal transmission and treating HIV infections. Farber describes the story of Kris Chmiel, a Denver woman profiled in the July 1998 issue of RA . Chmiel was tested for the first time while pregnant in 1995. Doctors traced her positive result to a blood transfusion 21 years earlier. Chmiel, who never had before experienced AIDS conditions, developed several while following doctors' orders to consume AZT. When her prescription ran out, so did her AIDS. She's now been free of AZT and AIDS for two years, and her daughter is HIV-negative and healthy.

Farber facilitates a debate between a doctor who says "I've never seen any kid who's done well without the medications" and a social worker who says she's "seen perhaps the greatest treatment success among HIV-positive children who have done nothing, meaning no medications. Mothers will never tell their doctors, but they'll tell me. They feel like they are poisoning their kids."

A third Farber article, "How Accurate Is the HIV Test?," describes many standard criticisms of the antibody tests, and "Does HIV Cause AIDS?" presents the view of UC-Berkeley virologist Peter Duesberg, who maintains that HIV is harmless and that factors like narcotics, AZT, and poverty are the causes of AIDS.

O'Mara devotes over two pages to her editorial, "Life, Liberty, and Informed Consent." She compares the AIDS reappraisal perspective to others that initially seemed outrageous, but which eventually became mainstream. She describes the "standard treatment for HIV" as putting the lives of mothers and their babies at risk, and mentions the "hysteria over HIV and AIDS." Mothering has consistently opened its pages to the AIDS reappraisal perspective and is now the only major publication to afford it regular coverage. For comments and subscriptions, contact: PO Box 1690, Santa Fe, NM 87504, or peggyo@mothering.com. -PP