Charlie Sheen is HIV positive. As was revealed on the Dr. Oz show, when diagnosed his viral load was 4.4 million. After six months of the a standard anti-HIV cocktail his viral loads were undetectable.
This does not mean he is HIV negative or free of this virus. As part of the viral life-cycle it goes into hiding inside of cells. It is undetectable while hiding, and also cannot be eradicated by medications. This is a major challenge to curing HIV, or even pushing the efficacy of our current treatments further. Researchers are looking into ways to force the virus out of hiding so that anti-retroviral medications can go to work.
With current anti-HIV treatment someone who is HIV positive can expect to live an almost normal life expectancy free of any major complications of the disease and will not go on to develop AIDS from the virus. The big challenge now is to get this modern medicine to those who are HIV positive in the third world, or to those who cannot afford it.
Interestingly, Charlie Sheen, who has all of the advantages of wealth in a Western industrialized country, opted for third-world treatment of his HIV. He recently went off of his anti-HIV medications and instead decided to rely on the ministrations of an unknown doctor in Mexico making bold claims.
This prompted an on-air intervention by Dr. Oz and Sheen’s own doctor (which was ethically dubious but good television, I guess), after which Sheen reported he would go back on his medications.
Of course, most HIV patients who are lured to Mexico with the promise of a miracle cure will not benefit from a personal intervention by Dr. Oz. Hopefully they will benefit from watching that episode, but if history is any guide (unfortunately) the exposure is likely to lead more people to the Mexico charlatan than warn them away.
Why People Seek Charlatans
The Sheen episode raises a fascinating and important question – what is the allure of the lone maverick making bold claims? Often the answer provided is desperation, but what makes the Sheen example so interesting is that desperation was not a factor. He was effectively in remission from his HIV with undetectable loads. He still has to take medications for the rest of his life, but that seems a small price to pay for taking a horrible deadly disease and transforming it into a benign chronic condition with a normal life-expectancy and quality of life. The situation did not call for desperation.
From the video description:
What was once known as Miracle Mineral Supplement, but for legal reasons had to change its name to Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), is a 28% sodium chlorite solution in distilled water currently being sold online as a cure-all tonic. Jim Humble, the man who coined the name and who is also the self-styled Archbishop of his own church (Genesis II), believes that once “activated” by an acidic solution, MMS can be used to cure people of our most feared illnesses including HIV, cancer, and malaria.
In reality MMS is a harmful mixture of toxic compounds that is being aggressively marketed online as a panacea to very sick and unconsenting children. Put simply, it’s the worst kind of woo and should be avoided at all costs.
MISTAKE! i mixed up chloride and chlorite at the start.
Update: 11/02/2015: Related Link: Man Who Sold Industrial Chemical As “Miracle Mineral Solution” Sentenced To 51 Months In Jail (consumerist.com)
My Michael Van Duisen via Listverse
Most of the treatments on this list are prescribed by proponents of so-called “natural medicine.” However, more often than not, they are simply quacks, a term derived from the Dutch word quacksalver, which means “hawker of salves.” Tim Minchin, an Australian comedian and musician, summed it up best: “Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.” That’s not to say that research into alternative medicine shouldn’t be done; rather, once a form of alternative medicine has been proven ineffective, it should be discarded as a viable treatment.
10 • Laetrile
A chemical sibling of amygdalin, a substance commonly found in the pits of apricots and other fruits, as well as almonds, Laetrile is often purported to greatly assist in the treatment of cancer. First created in the middle of the 20th century (the exact origins are unknown), it was allegedly synthesized by a man named Dr. Ernst T. Krebs Jr. However, at least a dozen separate experiments have been done on the substance, with no anti-tumor evidence produced.
The most common rationale for the reason for Laetrile’s “effectiveness” is that cancer cells have a certain enzyme which is not as present in regular, healthy cells. Therefore, the medication, which basically consists of cyanide poisoning, affects only the cancer cells. However, this is categorically false, and a number of cases of death due to cyanide poisoning have been documented. Because of this danger, and due to the fact that it is ineffective as a treatment, Laetrile has been banned from being transported into the US, though it is still used throughout the world.
9 • Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is a popular treatment for a number of serious illnesses, such as cancer, HIV, herpes, and other bacterial and viral infections. Basically, a colloidal substance consists of microscopic particles suspended in a liquid. It’s usually taken orally, although some colloidal silver products are salves or injections. (In fact, topical drugs containing silver have been shown to actually benefit burn victims.) Research has been done to examine the claimed effectiveness of oral colloidal silver treatments, but so far no benefits have ever been observed.
The most common side effect of the oral ingestion of colloidal silver is the buildup of silver in a person’s body tissues, which normally results in a condition known as argyria. Usually untreatable and irreversible, argyria doesn’t pose a serious health risk, but it does create a cosmetic problem: The sufferer’s skin, eyes, and internal organs will all become discolored, normally a sickly blue. Excessive amounts of colloidal silver can also result in kidney damage and various neurological problems.
8 • Yohimbe
Extracted from the bark of a species of evergreen tree native to western Africa, yohimbe has long been a traditional aphrodisiac for the local inhabitants. Touted by “experts” as having beneficial antioxidant properties designed to prevent heart attacks, it can actually lead to medical complications, including increased heart rate or kidney failure. Brought over to Europe at the end of the 19th century, Western medicine used the extract for treating impotence, a popular idea which persisted until other medications, such as Viagra, were introduced.
Unfortunately, the evidence for whether or not it even helps with impotence is spotty at best. Numerous trials have come up with either inconclusive or contradictory data. That not only makes it worthless as a treatment for its primary use, it turns it into nothing more than a potentially life-threatening placebo.
By Marc V. via Listverse
Since there now seems to be a conspiracy theory for even the most mundane of topics, it’s not surprising that the medical profession is currently swimming in them. In a field rife with accusations of corporate profiteering, poorly understood diseases, and so-called deadly vaccines, conspiracy theorists have found themselves a fertile home.
10 • HIV Doesn’t Exist
Closely connected to the crazy theory that HIV is man-made is the belief that the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) does not exist at all. According to this theory, AIDS is really caused by a combination of sexual behavior, recreational drug use, poor sanitation, and a number of unrelated diseases. The denial movement was pioneered by molecular biologist Peter Duesberg, who became the one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of HIV’s non-existence. Even when comprehensive research proved otherwise, Duesberg merely modified his claims to posit that HIV was a “harmless passenger virus” and that other diseases caused AIDS.
While it would be easy to write off the theory as the ramblings of a lunatic fringe group, the damage they’ve done has been extensive. In South Africa, thousands of AIDS sufferers have lost their lives thanks to President Thabo Mbeki making AIDS denialism an official government policy. Incidentally, Peter Duesberg was one of Mbeki’s advisers.
9 • Fluoridation Is Suppressing Our Third Eye
Aside from the countless conspiracy theories linking water fluoridation to mind-control experiments, some conspiracy theorists have blamed the substance for damaging our pineal gland and leaving us unable to open our Third Eye. As a result, fluoridation has left us unable to reach the next stage of human evolution. The theory’s proponents believe that the pineal gland plays a much more important role than just producing melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep). According to them, having full control of our Third Eye would allow us to fully access our psychic and spiritual powers.
But who could be behind such a nefarious scheme to stop us from evolving? Apparently, it boils down to the list of the usual suspects including the New World Order, the Illuminati, world governments, and the religious establishment, all of whom supposedly want people to remain in the dark about their true potential.
8 • The Obesity Epidemic Is A Myth
Although we know that obesity is one of the fastest-growing health problems in the world, some have claimed that the whole epidemic is nothing more than a myth. Despite research revealing that obese people now officially outnumber the world’s malnourished and hungry, conspiracy theorists have derided talk of an epidemic as an obvious ruse to sell more weight-loss drugs.
Collaborating with public health agencies and the media, pharmaceutical companies have supposedly tricked people into believing that diet pills are the only way for them to lose weight. Apparently, they’ve also managed to dupe governments into advocating anti-obesity and “fat shaming” so that people will be conditioned into buying their products. Interestingly, some of the most active voices fighting against anti-obesity measures include advocacy groups funded by the food industry.
7 • Chemtrails Are Behind Morgellons Disease
Some of the most popular conspiracy theories out there concern “chemtrails,” condensation trails left by planes which supposedly contain chemical or biological agents. Depending on the theory, contrails are either used to control the population or alter the weather. They’ve also been blamed for causing the controversial dermatological condition known as Morgellons disease.
The current scientific consensus is that Morgellons does not actually exist and that those who claim to have it are either delusional or suffering from some other known condition. However, conspiracy theorists have insisted that contrails are the true culprits behind the spread of the condition. Mysterious fibers found on supposed sufferers have subsequently been identified as harmless cotton from their clothing, but that hasn’t dampened the conspiracy theory. In fact, believers now claim that contrails contain nanotechnology which burrows into the human body, thereby causing the condition.
By Amy Sipovic via The Times (mywebtimes)
A recent University of Chicago study found approximately half of all Americans believe in one of six medical conspiracy theories.
Two examples include the idea a U.S. spy agency purposefully infected African-Americans with HIV, and the government has dumped large quantities of toxic chemicals into the water supply under the premise of fluoridation.
Another study found 19 percent of Americans believe the 9/11 terrorist attacks were concocted by the U.S. government, and another 11 percent think the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs is an attempt to make people more obedient and easier to subject to mind control.
In some regards, these numbers do not surprise me. I am asked questions from time to time by students who have read something on the Internet that sounds like a conspiracy theory, and they ask if I have heard about it.
While I think there should be a healthy discussion about policy and current events, I worry the Internet and online public comments sections are making everything — including scientifically-proven ideas — up for debate.
Conspiracy theories are different from a critical analysis of information because conspiracy theorists continue to cling to their beliefs, despite facts that continually disprove them. Often, they then say the facts are all a part of the overall conspiracy, and the cycle of ridiculousness continues.
AIDS Denialism and the Anti-vaccination movement. Two groups that promote what many scientists and and doctors and skeptics alike consider to be the two most dangerous and deadly types of pseudoscience there is. In fact many skeptics have debated which one is more deadly!
Regardless of which one is more deadly, both of groups have an awful lot in common, and I’ve come up with about ten different things that both groups have in common:
They become very upset when someone questions their claims.
Anti-vaxxers and (as I have learned in the past few weeks) AIDS denialists really do not like it when someone questions what they are claiming. It doesn’t matter how nice you are to them, or how many facts you present to them, if you question their claims they will become very anger and start throwing around accusations and insults and start spamming people with a bunch of propaganda. This is of course annoying at best, and usually just something that gets them blocked on an internet site, but sometimes they take it to the next level and start doing the next thing on this list…
They use intimidation tactics.
AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers just seem to love to use intimidation tactics. Many times these intimidation tactics can be a benign type, like fear mongering and emotional appeal, which is used to sway people who might be on the edge of whether to believe them or not over to their side, or it can be an aggressive type, like death threats, or threats of lawsuits, or harassment, which is used in an attempt to frighten people away from questioning their claims, or to stop skeptics from debunking them.
They claim to do research.
Both AIDS Denialists and Anti-vaccers will often say that they have done their own research into the claims that they are making, and then through this so called research they will claim that they have come to a conclusion, and then proclaim that their conclusion is correct and that all others are incorrect. This is of course if they’re not simply claiming that the contradictory information isn’t apart of some “big pharma” disinformation propaganda campaign to “slander” Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists. And that’s another thing…
They think there is some kind of big pharma conspiracy.
Many Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists sincerely believe that not only what they believe is true, but they also believe that pharmaceutical companies also know “the truth” and that they’re keeping this so called truth hidden from the public so that people will keep buying their products, products that Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists believe that no one actually needs and sincerely believes is dangerous.
The reasons why these two groups claim that the pharmaceutical companies are keeping this so called “information” hidden is because if people knew “the truth” (i.e. their truth) that they would no longer buy anything from these pharmaceutical companies and they would go out of business. That, or according to some Anti-vaccers and AIDS Denialists, vaccines and HIV medication is part some kind of NWO/Illuminati plot.
They have no problem censoring people.
Ever make a comment on an Anti-vaccer’s or AIDS Denialist’s page or comment section for a Youtube video, and said comment either criticizes what they are saying, or debunks what they’re saying? Well then you probably know that not many people are going to see it because most administrators of such sites will usually remove such comments pretty quickly… and probably ban you. While this type of censorship is bad they do have every right to do it because they have every right to control the content that is on their webpages.
Some of these people will take the censorship of people who disagree with them to the next level and actually try to get entire webpages and videos from various social media websites removed, either by flagging a webpage or a group or a video as inappropriate or harassing, or even by sending out bogus DMCA takedown notices (which is illegal).
Anyone publicly writing about issues of science and medicine from a pro-science perspective likely gets many e-mails similar to the ones I see every week. Here’s just one recent example:
Im sorry the medical community has become decadent and lazy as most that follow your stance could care less to study the real truth. I have also seen it much more deviant as many professionals know the risks and harm vaccination cause but continue to push it through there practices because of pure greed. Many are also scared of loosing there practices for not following the corrupt industry. Im sorry but the medical industry has become drug pushing decadent slobs that only care about there bottom line.
The e-mailer clearly has a particular narrative that he is following (in addition to the amusingly common poor grammar and spelling). He even writes at one point in our exchange, “the details really don’t matter at this point what matters is what the bigger picture…” He is certain of his big picture conspiracy narrative. The details are unimportant.
Being on the receiving end of an almost constant barrage of such medical conspiracy theories it might seem that such beliefs are extremely common. Of course, such e-mails are self-selective and therefore not representative of the general population. I was therefore interested to see a published survey polling the general population about such beliefs. The survey is published in JAMA Internal Medicine, authored by Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood.
Here are the six survey questions and the percentage who agree or disagree (the rest indicating that they do not know).
The Food and Drug Administration is deliberately preventing the public from getting natural cures for cancer and other diseases because of pressure from drug companies. (37% agree, 32% disagree)
Health officials know that cell phones cause cancer but are doing nothing to stop it because large corporations won’t let them. (20% agree, 40% disagree)
The CIA deliberately infected large numbers of African Americans with HIV under the guise of a hepatitis inoculation program. (12% agree, 51% disagree)
The global dissemination of genetically modified foods by Monsanto Inc is part of a secret program, called Agenda 21, launched by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations to shrink the world’s population. (12% agree, 42% disagree)
Doctors and the government still want to vaccinate children even though they know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders. (20% agree, 44% disagree)
Public water fluoridation is really just a secret way for chemical companies to dump the dangerous byproducts of phosphate mines into the environment. (12% agree, 46% disagree)
The numbers are not surprising, in fact I would have guessed they were a bit higher, but again that perception is likely distorted by my e-mail inbox. They found that 49% of Americans agreed with at least one conspiracy, and 18% agreed with three or more. This is in line with the level of belief in non-medical conspiracies. They did not publish, but I would be interested, in the percentage of people who said they disagreed with all of the conspiracies. Many of the respondents indicated that they did not know if a particular conspiracy were true, likely because they had not heard of it before, but were unwilling to disagree on plausibility grounds alone.
Throughout this year there were a lot of new conspiracy theories going around. Some of them were scary. Some of them were weird. And some of them were just bizarre, absurd, and dumb to the point where one would either have to laugh at them, or pull their hair out in frustration.
The following list are ten of what I feel are the strangest and most bizarre and/or absurd conspiracy theories of 2013:
10. Robert Sarvis was a Democratic plant to help Terry McAuliffe win the Virginia gubernatorial election.
(Author’s note: being that I am from Virginia, I just felt that I had to mention this one)
In the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election there were a lot of accusations that went back and forth (some true, some not) but one of the biggest accusation didn’t come during the election, but afterwards. The accusation that I’m talking about is the one that claims that Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was actually a shill or plant by the Democrats inorder to steal votes away from Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli and to help guarantee victory for Terry McAuliffe.
Now as plausible as this may sound, there are just two problems with this: First there is no guarantee that the people who voted for Sarvis would have voted for Cuccinelli, and second most of the polls before the election showed that McAuliffe had an over 50% lead, and thus a spoiler candidate would not have been needed inorder to win. Also, besides those facts and the fact that there is no actual evidence that Sarvis was a Democratic plant, it’s just as likely that Sarvis actually took away votes from McAuliffe as it is from Cuccinelli.
While conspiracy theories against GMO foods are nothing new, what is new is that the Anti-GMO movement now seems to be focusing their claims on one company: Monsanto.
From what I can tell from their claims Monsanto pretty much controls the FDA, the farming industry, the food industry, Obama, the media, the U.S. Supreme Court, law enforcement, any blog that debunks the anti-GMO movement’s claims, all the science organizations, and that Monsanto is responsible for every atrocity committed in the world since World War Two.
According to many in the anti-GMO movement Monsanto does all of this inorder to sell you a product that (insert the anti-GMO claim of your choice).
8. The Boston Marathon bombing was a false flag attack.
On April 15 one of the worst terrorist attacks in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks occurred at one of the largest sporting events in the U.S., the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, and 264 people were injured, many of who also lost limbs, or were otherwise permanently maimed in some way. Also, like clock work, conspiracy theories about the bombing started to be posted all over the internet within minutes of the attack.
The most common of the claims were that it was a false flag attack, and then later de-evolved into stranger conspiracy theories in that both the suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were under some kind of government mind control, right on down to the most absurd claim of there being no attack at all and that the whole thing was staged and that no one was actually hurt or killed.
Besides the fact that all of these claims were absurd on face value alone and were quickly debunked, they were also very disrespectful and just plain disgusting.
Over the summer actress Amanda Bynes began engaging in behavior that ranged from bizarre to down right dangerous. This behavior of her’s eventually lead to her being involuntarily committed into psychiatric care.
Now to most people this looks like a simple enough case of a young woman whom is mentally ill and whom’s mental illness has caused her to act out in bizarre and dangerous ways. To a conspiracy theorist on the other hand it’s a clear case of Illuminati mind control.
The main theory that is going around is that Amanda was being groomed by the Illuminati as part of a youth indoctrination program, and that she had decided to break away from them. When Amanda did allegedly break away from them one of two things happen: Either that the indoctrination was so intense that she could not function on her own and her mind snapped, or she was driven insane via remote mind control.
While this explanation kind of makes sense in a weird way, the one theory behind her behavior that makes even more sense is that she is either schizophrenic or bi-polar. Combined with her age, and her escalating erratic behavior over the past few years, this makes a lot more sense than a couple of conspiracy theories that range from being far fetched to pretty much impossible.
6. The Xbox One can see you naked.
When the Xbox One and all of it’s feature were announced there were many concerns (some legit, some not) but one of the biggest concerns that in itself became a conspiracy theory is that the new gaming counsel (through it’s inbuilt motion sensing Kinect system) can see you naked, even with your clothes on. The reason behind this claim is due to a photo of a test subject seen through the view of the Kinect that allegedly shows his ding-dong, despite the fact that he is wearing clothes.
As it turns out that wasn’t the man’s private parts, but was actually a fold in his pants that people mistook for his you-know-what. Although it should be noted that the Xbox One can see you naked… if you’re actually playing a video game infront of it while naked (and if that’s your thing then have fun playing with it… the Xbox One I mean).
- Eleven Dumb Conspiracy Theories (illuminutti.com)
- 5 Things I’ve noticed about… Conspiracy Theorists on Youtube (illuminutti.com)
- When Noam Chomsky says that’s an idiotic idea, he’s probably right (illuminutti.com)
- Why I Love GMOs (thelibertarianrepublic.com)
- The Only Study to Link GMO Foods to Cancer Retracted (depletedcranium.com)
Despite all the we know about HIV and AIDS from the many years of research into it in hopes of one day finding a cure for it, there are still people out there who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS, or that it even exists.
There are a lot of things I have noticed about AIDS Denialism (and none of them are are positive, pun not intended) but I have narrowed it down to five different things.
So here are five things I’ve noticed about AIDS Denialism:
5. It’s a very dangerous and deadly form of Pseudoscience/Alternative medicine.
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is a very deadly disease, and if left untreated it can kill someone within a few years of being infected (this does vary from person to person), and will kill 100% of the time.
AIDS denialists deny that AIDS even exists, or that at least HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and encourage people not to take any medication after they’ve been diagnosed with HIV.
This is why AIDS denialism is considered to be so deadly. Because they are denying that HIV is dangerous, and that AIDS doesn’t even exist, AIDS denialists are basically encouraging those who have been infected to shorten their lives.
In fact many people consider AIDS denialism to be the second most dangerous form of alternative medicine and pseudoscience there is. Only the anti-vaccination movement is considered to be more dangerous, and that’s only because a lot of the diseases that vaccines are meant to prevent are a lot easier to get than HIV (although many of the diseases that are prevented via vaccines are usually not as deadly as HIV is).
4. It denies over three decades worth of research into HIV.
We know a lot about HIV and AIDS. We know how it’s transmitted from one person to another. We know how easy it is to prevent getting it. We know the average life expectancy of a person after they have contracted HIV, and we have known all of this for almost 30 years now.
Also, through the decades of scientific and medical research, we have developed medicines that can drastically extend the life expectancy of a person who has HIV by years, even decades, and even reduce the chance of a pregnant woman with HIV transmitting the virus to her unborn child to almost 0%. There are people who are alive today who were diagnosed with HIV back in the 1990’s who wouldn’t be alive today without all of this research (which has gone into the billions of dollars worth).
AIDS denialist just look at all of the research and all that we know about HIV and AIDS and says nope, it’s all fake…
3. It’s self destructive.
It shouldn’t be surprising to to many people but many AIDS denialists have also been diagnosed with HIV, and also not surprising many of them have died as a result of complications due to AIDS. A recent example of this would be . . .
- Science and Reality and AIDS Denialism (thepoxesblog.wordpress.com)
- Tommy Morrison AIDS death: HIV denialism victims in South Africa and the U.S. (ripley8.newsvine.com)
- Deadly Disbelief (slate.com)
- Slate’s bogus AIDS scam hit piece (fauxcapitalist.com)
- I’m just asking questions here (thepoxesblog.wordpress.com)
In many countries throughout the world belief in witches is common, and black magic is considered part of everyday life. A 2010 poll of 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that over half of the population believe in magic. Witch doctors are consulted not only for healing diseases, but also for placing, or removing, curses or bringing luck.
One human rights activist in the small African country of Malawi, Seodi White, has been fighting for years to stem many traditional beliefs that help spread HIV, especially among poor and underprivileged women.
According to a CNN story, widows in some parts of southern Africa are expected to engage in unprotected sex in order to “cleanse” them. The belief is that the husband’s spirit will return otherwise, cursing the family.
“It’s a mindset issue,” White told CNN. “Even the widows, they’ve told me, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want a curse to come to my husband.’ They cry to be cleansed.”
Because this spiritual cleansing involves unprotected sex — just as sex with the deceased husband was assumed to have been — the widows are placed at increased risk of contracting HIV, which is endemic on the continent. There are even professional “cleansers” who charge high prices for their services, which the widows are often eager to pay to avoid a curse on their families.
- Unprotected Sex Still The Number One Cause of HIV/AIDS Transmission (hngn.com)
- HIV/AIDS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA-Keeping one’s dream Alive (yanickmulumba.wordpress.com)
- Unprotected sex accounts for 80 per cent of HIV/AIDS infection (ghananewsagency.org)
- Francophone Africa fights AIDS (mondediplo.com)
- HIV in Africa: Five strategies reversing the epidemic (guardianlv.com)
- HIV ‘can stop within a generation’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Unprotected sex accounts for 80% of HIV/AIDS infection – Coordinator (ghanabusinessnews.com)