A dangerous theory that denies the connection between HIV and AIDS is being spread in Malaysia.
A Facebook group called Gerakan Bantah Teori HIV-AIDS Malaysia (meaning Movement Against the HIV-AIDS Theory Malaysia) was started two months ago and has 146 members.
Malaysian human rights activist Pang Khee Teik was alerted to the group when he was asked to be a member.
‘THIS DANGEROUS MOVEMENT has come to Malaysia,’ Pang said. ‘There is very shoddy science behind this movement, they use very weak populist logic to persuade people that HIV does not cause AIDS. This sometimes results in causing people not to get tested for HIV and also result in people with HIV not taking medication for HIV. This is a DANGEROUS movement.’
The Facebook group post messages such as ‘HIV testing is dangerous to your health’, ‘Life-long Anti-retroviral/cocktail therapy = Life-long profit for Pharmaceutical Industry’ and ‘HIV is NOT a Death Sentence. Take back YOUR LIFE. Start Questioning!'
When asked what the purpose of the group is one member replies: ‘the main purpose of the group is to inform the public, especially Malaysians about the inaccuracy of the HIV-AIDS Theory. Many people have been given the wrong concept about what causes AIDS since the 1980s. As the result, hundreds of thousands human lives were lost in the name of a Fraudulent Science.’
AIDS denialism first emerged in 1988 in Perth, Australia, when a group of hospital technicians and physicians (not virologists or AIDS researchers) claimed there was no connection between HIV and AIDS and that heterosexual sex cannot cause AIDS.
The movement grew across the world and tragically their claims were taken seriously by South African president Thabo Mbeki, who invited several AIDS denialists to join his Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel in 2000. One denialist, California David Rasnik, proposed that all HIV testing should be banned.
In response over 5,000 scientists and doctors signed the Durban Declaration that affirmed HIV was the cause of AIDS.
A 2008 study from Harvard researchers said that President Thabo Mbeki’s failure to accept the scientific consensus straight away led to the premature deaths of 365,000 people.
American AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore refused to take anti-viral drugs while pregnant, despite knowing she was HIV-positive, and breast-fed her children. Her daughter Eliza Jane Scovill died in 2005 aged three and the coroner ruled she had died of pneumocystis pneumonia caused by advanced AIDS. Maggiore herself died in 2008 aged 52.
Psychologist Seth Kalichman, author of Denying AIDS, wrote in a 2009 article for the New Humanist about ‘the lure of AIDS denialism’.
‘AIDS denialism tells us what anyone would want to hear,' writes Kalichman. 'That HIV does not cause AIDS and that if you live a “healthy lifestyle” (whatever that is) you won’t get AIDS. None of which is true.’
AIDSTruth.org offers a comprehensive debunk of AIDS denialist’s myths here.