OCTOBER 1998  

Emerson ruling a milestone for reappraisers

The Valerie Emerson case represents a milestone in the AIDS reappraisal movement, perhaps the most important one since its inception. Judge Clapp heard arguments on both sides of such essential questions as: Does HIV cause AIDS?

Do the anti-HIV medications benefit HIV-positive people? Or are these drugs actually one of the causes of AIDS? In the days between the hearing and Clapp's decision, AIDS reappraisers braced themselves for the worst. The overwhelming majority of government officials, physicians, scientists, journalists, politicians, and voters insist that overwhelming evidence supports the HIV-causes-AIDS model and the pharmaceutical therapies based on it. But these individuals form this opinion before they ever consider criticisms of it.

There is no telling if Clapp felt pressure from popular majority opinion to endorse the official view. But surely he entered the case assuming that HIV causes AIDS and that the cocktail therapies provide benefits, a view that represents a fundamental assumption in our society. Perhaps this is why the state's attorney, not Valerie's, prompted Rasnick and Giraldo to articulate their belief that HIV does not AIDS. Was this an attempt to impugn their integrity, to align them with a "kooky" idea?

If so, it didn't work. By failing to endorse the dominant view with its billions of dollars, millions of supporters, thousands of supportive media reports, and government sponsorship and by giving the competing reappraisal view promoted by a relatively small group of officially ostracized scientists who have no funding equal merit, Clapp delivered a clear defeat to the HIV proponents, and an electrifying victory to AIDS reappraisers.