HOLDS AIDS REAPPRAISAL CONFERENCE
and university officials encourage, attend, participate
before the upcoming July World AIDS Conference in South Africa started
looking like it might give the HIV-AIDS critics its first serious
hearing, India convened a full-fledged AIDS reappraisal summit on
January 30 and 31. The meeting rivaled the 1997 Colombian conference
(RA Feb-Mar 1998) in terms of attendance, official approval,
and favorable publicity. Entitled the "International Conference
on the Validity of HIV/AIDS Programs, Including Methods of Testing,"
the government-sanctioned event attracted 100 attendees and took
place at the Public Health Institute in Nagpur, Maharastra, in central
India. A cadre of journalists from the nation's leading media outlets
covered the event prominently and accurately, according to Roberto
Giraldo, MD, who attended as the RA Group's Board representative.
presented lectures on the inaccuracy of the tests for HIV and the
non-HIV causes of AIDS, such as drugs and malnutrition. Two other
RA Group members traveled internationally to participate: French
research physician Etienne de Harven (RA Nov-Dec 1998) lectured
on HIV purification and isolation; and German physician Claus Kohnlein
discussed the toxicity of anti-HIV medications. Most of the attendees
were Indian physicians and medical scientists, including Indian
representatives to the World Health Organization.
conference coincided with an orthodox AIDS conference also in Nagpur,
organized by the Indian Academy of Medical Sciences," Giraldo says.
"Yet ours dominated the mainstream print and broadcast news. The
papers and magazines ran headlines on their front pages and covers,
such as: Divergent views on cause of AIDS trigger controversy;
Is HIV the cause of AIDS? Two events have contradictory views;
Dogmatic views of the West challenged at conference on AIDS;'
'Researchers demolish myths about AIDS;' 'Hypothesis that HIV causes
AIDS, a sham: Dr. de Harven; AIDS: Virulent myth;
It isn't HIV that causes AIDS?; WHO adopts defensive
stance over anti-HIV campaigners contention."
three international participantsGiraldo, de Harven, and Kohnleinsat
for two press conferences, the first attended by 15 mainstream journalists,
the second by fifty. The journalists treated the dissident physicians
with a great deal of serious interest and respect. Their reports
appeared in all the major news outlets, and constituted what major
western journalists rarely produce: accurate and insightful stories
about AIDS and critics of the HIV model. A month after the Nagpur
meeting, newspapers and magazines were still publishing stories
about the conference.
conference was remarkable both for the large number of scientists
and physicians who doubt the HIV model, and for the attitudes of
those who don't. "Most panelists and audience members supported
or sympathized with our views," Giraldo says. "Defenses of the HIV-AIDS
model arose from the WHO representatives, the director of the Indian
National Institute of Virology, and Nagpur health authorities. This
led to some hot moments. But a spirit of professionalism brought
even the tensest contentions to a friendly close. I don't know of
such a free exchange of ideas ever occurring in the United States
in which government officials and funded researchers participated."
February 7, Giraldo lectured at Nerhu University's Centre for Social
Medicine and Community Health, in New Delhi, at the invitation of
epidemiology professor Ritu Priya, MD, a conference participant.
Since 1994 she has published articles critical of India's official
AIDS programs, which derive exclusively from the orthodox HIV-AIDS
conference arose from the efforts of nutritionist Shantilal Kothari,
president of the Academy of Nutrition Improvement, who last year
created the 200-strong HIV-positive People's Club for people diagnosed
as "HIV positive" or having AIDS. From his home in Nagpur, Kothari
persuaded major newspapers across the country over the years to
publish many of his essays questioning the HIV-causes-AIDS model.
His regular petitions to Indian officials, suggesting that they
reappraise the HIV-AIDS model as well, met with no success. Despite
arriving in envelopes stuffed with scientific documents supporting
his perspective, no officials indicated they would consider that
factors besides HIV might explain AIDS, and that perhaps HIV was
not to blame at all.
changed when he staged a hunger strike to gain attention from officials.
On August 10, 1999 a representative of India's Ministry of Health
and Family Welfare asked him to organize an international conference
with experts and scientists from both sides of the HIV/AIDS debate.
The ministry made available the venue and promised its own officials
would participate and give the alternative AIDS views a fair hearing.
According to Giraldo, the officials did attend and seriously considered
all perspectives presented at the conference. For a complete report,
more information, or the official conference proceedings, contact