Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy

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Springer Science & Business Media, Jan 16, 2009 - Medical - 205 pages
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Paralleling the discovery of HIV and the rise of the AIDS pandemic, a flock of naysayers has dedicated itself to replacing genuine knowledge with destructive misinformation—and spreading from the fringe to the mainstream media and the think tank. Now from the editor of the journal AIDS and Behavior comes a bold exposť of the scientific and sociopolitical forces involved in this toxic evasion. Denying AIDS traces the origins of AIDS dissidents disclaimers during the earliest days of the epidemic and delves into the psychology and politics of the current denial movement in its various incarnations.

Seth Kalichman focuses not on the “difficult” or doubting patient, but on organized, widespread forms of denial (including the idea that HIV itself is a myth and HIV treatments are poison) and the junk science, faulty logic, conspiracy theories, and larger forces of homophobia and racism that fuel them. The malignant results of AIDS denial can be seen in those individuals who refuse to be tested, ignore their diagnoses, or reject the treatments that could save their lives. Instead of ignoring these currents, asserts Kalichman, science has a duty to counter them.

Among the topics covered:

  • Why AIDS denialism endures, and why science must understand it.
  • Pioneer virus HIV researcher Peter Duesberg’s role in AIDS denialism.
  • Flawed immunological, virological, and pharmacological pseudoscience studies that are central to texts of denialism.
  • The social conservative agenda and the politics of AIDS denial, from the courts to the White House.
  • The impact of HIV misinformation on public health in South Africa.
  • Fighting fiction with reality: anti-denialism and the scientific community.

For anyone affected by, interested in, or working with researchers in HIV/AIDS, and public health professionals in general, the insight and vision of Denying AIDS will inspire outrage, discussion, and ultimately action.

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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Kalichman is a scientist, a social scientist, and he discusses AIDS denialism as a social issue with the perspective of someone who works with AIDS patients in a behaviour-modifying role. Briefly addressing the science behind the discovery of, and denial of, HIV-AIDS, he also walks the reader through the "leaders" in denialism and some evocative brief bios and historical data. It's a short, basic book, but does it really need to be any longer? Fascinating and creepy, the book is worth a read if nothing else than to quell the desire to "hear both sides". Unbalanced "balance" that affords denialists their soapbox to preach from is harmful, and this book demonstrates how and why. 

Selected pages


HIVAIDS Denialism Is Alive and Well
Peter Duesberg and the Origins of HIVAIDS Denialism
AIDS Pseudoscience
Denialist Journalism and Conspiracy Theories
Politics of Denialism
Getting Out of Denial
Epilogue The Most Ironic Conspiracy
Appendix A Timeline of HIVAIDS Denialism
Appendix B About the HIVAIDS Denialists

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About the author (2009)

Seth C. Kalichman is a Professor at the University of Connecticut. He has previously edited the volume, Positive Prevention: Reducing HIV Transmission among People Living with HIV/AIDS, also published by Springer.

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