A partial list of HIV-positive HIV/AIDS denialists who have died from conditions, and with symptoms, characteristic of AIDS None of the scientists and journalists who are the most prominent promoters of HIV denialist theories in the mainstream and “independent” media have reported testing positive for HIV; the issue of the cause and treatment of HIV/AIDS is a purely academic matter for those who drive the denialist movement. But a number of people diagnosed with HIV infection – people whose lives are in the balance – have become activists in the “AIDS dissident” movement. Tragically, many of these individuals have died with symptoms and/or infectious illnesses that are characteristic of AIDS. Their friends in the denialist movement have in every instance insisted that HIV had nothing to do with their deaths. The medical records of dead denialists are, of course, not publicly available, but obituaries and reports of their untimely deaths almost always include descriptions of symptoms and conditions that are typical of late-stage HIV disease and extremely rare in uninfected people, along with statements attributing their deaths to “unknown causes,” to secret illicit drug use, and to immune system damage caused by the “stress” of supporting the unpopular cause of AIDS denialism. It’s worth noting that none of the HIV-negative denialists have died from these ailments. The numbers and stories speak for themselves, and we hope that readers who test positive for HIV will heed the warning in these deaths. What is the likelihood that so many individuals would die with AIDS-like symptoms at relatively young ages without their HIV infection playing the causative role?
Many, many other people with HIV have died of AIDS-related causes because denialist disinformation persuaded them (or their parents or their government) that antiretroviral treatment, and not the virus, was the danger to their health. (AIDStruth.org has not included here the names of perinatally infected HIV+ children who have died from HIV/AIDS because their denialist parents chose not to seek appropriate medical care for them.) The linked article by Bruce Mirken, Bad science: They once thought HIV was harmless. Now, they say, AIDS has forced them to reconsider, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, February 2, 2000, reveals that many HIV+ denialists who have no public visibility have died from AIDS, and that many more see the error of their thinking and when they start getting sick and can no longer sustain the denialist fantasy. These individuals are regularly attacked by denialists verbally, in the press, and on the internet when they go on ARVs and their health improves.
AIDStruth.org is continuing to compile this list. Please send names of denialists who have died from HIV disease and supporting documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org for review and posting.
Ken Anderlini was a co-moderator of the “AIDS Myth Exposed” message board on MSN. Anderlini died in April of 2007. Denialist David Crowe from the “Alberta Reappraising AIDS Society” wrote an announcement of his death, saying: “Over the past couple of years his health had declined rapidly with a strange neurological disease for which nobody could pinpoint the cause (except doctors who claimed it was HIV related, of course).”
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the great Nigerian music star, “died in 1997 of a disease he claimed didn’t exist, and certainly not in Africa: AIDS. No matter that Fela’s older brother, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, had served as the country’s health minister and launched Nigeria’s much-lauded early AIDS program. . . . There was hardly an illness African herbs couldn’t cure, Fela maintained, and he dismissed condoms as unnatural, unpleasurable, and a white plot to reduce the black birthrate. He believed, says Olikoye, that “all doctors were fabricating AIDS, including myself.” Fela was 58.
(Mark Schoofs, “A Tale of Two Brothers Part 2: Fela Didn’t Believe AIDS Existed. But then he died of the disease. His brother is still trying to convince Fela’s fans that HIV is real.” Village Voice, November 10 – 16, 1999.)
A member of the denialist ACT UP/San Francisco, Michael Bellafontaine died on May 10, 2007. He was 41. His Bay Area Reporter obituary said that “According to Andrea Lindsay, a friend and fellow activist, Mr. Bellefountaine died of a sudden systemic infection, though the exact cause has not been determined.”
Sophie Brassard, a Canadian, was the HIV-positive mother of two HIV-positive, perinatally-infected sons. Citing the influence of HEAL, Alive and Well, Duesberg and Mullis, she refused to allow her children access to medical care when the became ill and fled the country with them. She consequently lost custody and parental rights. She died of AIDS on September 16, 2002, at age 37.
Ronnie Burke was a member of the dissident group ACT UP/San Francisco (which has been denounced by other legitimate ACT UP groups). He died from AIDS in March of 2003 at the age of 47.
Jerry Colinard, a board member of San Diego HEAL, died on July 4, 2009, at the age of 55, of AIDS. His webpage recalls that “Jerry supported the HIV community and was honored by a San Diego agency, ‘Being Alive,’ for his commitment. However by 2001 he had rejected traditional Western drug centered HIV medicine. He referred to himself as an ‘AIDS dissident’ thereafter.”
Sylvie Cousseau contributed to a list of testimonials from people who tested HIV positive but embraced AIDS denial and rejected HIV treatment. This list of testimonials features on several different websites, including HEAL Toronto and the personal web pages of Rudolf Werner, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Miami:
- http://healtoronto.com/testimonials.html http://www.garynull.com/documents/Continuum/LustForLifeLeapOfFaith.htm
Sylvie Cousseau was the partner of Mark Griffiths. Sylvie died in 2001 at age 41. Cousseau’s death was reported in postings to AIDS denial message boards in France.
Boyd Ed Graves
Boyd Graves was an HIV-positive lawyer who promoted the false view that HIV was developed by the US National Cancer Institute as part of a military programme to develop biological warfare agents for use against targeted communities. He found an NCI “flowchart” which he misinterpreted as demonstrating the existence of this programme, and initiated several unsuccessful lawsuits against the US government. While he believed that this manufactured HIV causes AIDS, he questioned the science of antiretroviral therapy and instead promoted as an “AIDS cure” a substance called “Tetracyl” or “Tetrasil” — a silver compound with no known medical benefits and no evidence to support its use in HIV. According to an email circulated by his supporters he died in June 2009, apparently of AIDS, after several “Tetracyl” injections failed to reverse his illness. As far what we are aware he never took antiretrovirals.
Mark Griffiths ran a denialist website called Altheal (along with a French version, Sidasante), until he died in October 2004. In the article linked below, the AIDS denialist Liam Scheff ponders the cause of his death, suggesting Griffiths may still have been using heroin (because he seemed a “bit groggy” sometimes); this is despite the fact that Griffiths had undergone successful recovery in the late 1980s. Scheff ultimately concluded that Griffiths died because he was abusing alcohol.
- Another associate, Emma Hollister, suggests Griffiths’ death was related to a course of antibiotics taken several months before for dental work: http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/
Robert Johnston was a co-founder of HEAL Toronto and a co-author of the self-described “rebuttal” of the Durban Declaration that was posted to HEAL Toronto’s website in 2000. At the time, he wrote: “Robert Johnston is a co-founder of HEAL Toronto, and has been HIV-positive since 1985 yet has suffered no unusual illness since that time. He attributes his good health to not taking any anti-HIV medications and to not believing that his positive antibody test has much significance.”
Johnston died three years later on April 3, 2003. As with all other similar cases, Johnston’s colleagues claim his death was not caused by HIV infection. David Crowe wrote that he died of “liver failure completely unrelated to AIDS.”
John Kirkham, an HIV+ denialist who managed the altheal website, died of pneumonia in 2008. His friends attribute his death to having survived lymphoma, a difficult personal relationship, and a chilly, damp house.
Kelly Jon Landis
We regret to report that Kelly Jon Landis died December 3, 2007 in Santa Monica, CA, at age 39 after suffering for several months with lymphoma and other AIDS symptoms. Self-described as the “dissident saint,” he was a health food fanatic and avid bicycle rider who avoided standard medical care and sought alternative therapies. He felt that simply leading a drug-free healthy lifestyle would protect him from disease.
Although a “dissident” himself, Kelly Jon Landis vocally opposed the homophobia rampant among HIV/AIDS denialists.
Sandi Lenfestey, a member of HEAL San Diego, died on January 11, 2009. She was 47, and had two children. To understand the real cost of denialism, see her young son’s shattering message to his mother.
Jack Levine was a regular poster to the “Virusmyth” message board. When he became sick and began to question denialism, the other board members turned on him, which eventually led to the Virusmyth message board being taken permanently offline in order to hide the appalling record of what happened. Levine died from AIDS in March of 2002 at the age of 47.
Raphael Lombardo was a gay man who believed Peter Duesberg’s claims that HIV was harmless. Lombardo wrote to Duesberg on May 30, 1995, noting that he had never used any recreational drugs or pharmaceuticals and was not sick, despite testing HIV positive (the letter was titled “Life without AZT !”). Duesberg published the entire letter in his book “Inventing the AIDS Virus” and wrote of Lombardo: “His letter proves that true science does not depend on institutional authority.” (The letter is posted at http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/data/pdazt.htm.)
Raphael Lombardo died of AIDS a little over a year later, on June 11, 1996. When asked about Lombardo’s death, Duesberg wrote: “In hindsight, I think his letter was almost too good to be true. I am afraid now, he described the man he wanted to be [e.g. that he did not use recreational drugs] and his Italian family expected him to be, but not the one he really was. I think he died from Kaposi’s.” (Source: Email to Richard Jefferys from Peter Duesberg, Wednesday, April 05, 2006) When this correspondence was published on the internet, Duesberg was contacted by Raphael Lombardo’s sister, Regina, who was incensed by Duesberg’s claim that her brother had covertly used poppers or other recreational drugs (as Duesberg was implying). Duesberg wrote back to her and told her that she was wrong, too.
Peter Makoba, a senior politician in South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, and a prominent denialist, died in 2002 at the age of 43 from AIDS-related pneumonia after a “long illness.” He denied that he had AIDS and rejected antiretroviral drugs as poison.
Christine Maggiore was an HIV-positive denialist who founded the “Alive&Well AIDS Alternatives” denialist organisation. She wrote and self-published the book What If Everything You Thought You Knew about AIDS Was Wrong? Her 3-year old daughter Eliza Jane Scovill died of AIDS-related pneumonia after Maggiore had refused to take medication to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV or to have the child tested for HIV. Christine Maggiore died at the age of 52 in December 2008. She died of AIDS. Read AIDSTruth’s editorial on her death: Christine Maggiore’s Death: Lessons from a Tragedy. (Note 2009-12-15: Maggiore’s death certificate states that no autopsy was performed. However, a document by the discredited pathologist Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati recently published on denialist websites appears to be a secondary interpretation of an autopsy performed by Dr David Posey. The autopsy report has not been released, and the coroner’s office apparently never notified that it took place. It is not known why Maggiore’s family commissioned a private autopsy and then withheld the report and findings of the licensed pathologist who performed the autopsy. You can read more here.)
These articles provide further details on Maggiore and the death of her daughter:
- The HIV Disbelievers: Christine Maggiore is a different kind of AIDS activist—one who tells people to forget safe sex and stop taking their lifesaving drugs.
- A Mother’s Denial, a Daughter’s Death:“The HIV-positive mother of two laid out matter-of-factly why, even while pregnant, she hadn’t taken HIV medications, and why she had never tested her children for the virus… Seven weeks later, Eliza Jane was dead.”
- A report on Eliza-Jane Scovill’s death, in rebuttal to that of Mohammed Al-Bayati
- Coroner’s Report regarding Eliza-Jane Scovill’s death
Marietta Ndziba was used by the vitamin salesman Matthias Rath to market multivitamins as an alternative to antiretroviral treatment. In a pamphlet distributed by Rath and his agents in Cape Town, South Africa in September 2005, she was quoted as saying that her CD4 count rose from 365 to 841 due to Rath’s vitamins. She implied that these vitamins treated boils on her arm, her grey skin, diarrhoea and vomiting. She said “I just thank God that he brings vitamins here to South Africa to help our lives.” As far as the South African AIDS activist organisation Treatment Action Campaign could ascertain Ndziba never took antiretrovirals. She died in about October 2005. One family member reportedly claimed that she died of a stress headache. Rath’s vitamins clearly did not help Ndziba. She should have been treated by qualified doctors in the public health system, not Rath or his agents.
Astoundingly, a video recording of Ndziba claiming the benefits of Rath’s vitamins continued to be available on the front page of Rath’s South African website until January 2006. (Source: TAC)
David Pasquarelli, a leader of the denialist group “ACT UP San Francisco” developed PCP, anemia, thrush, meningitis, mycobacterium and disseminated CMV before he died in March of 2004. He was 37.
Casper G. Schmidt
Casper G. Schmidt was a psychiatrist who published “The Group-Fantasy Origins of AIDS” in the Journal of Psychohistory in 1984. The article, which claimed that AIDS was not a real disease but a product of “epidemic hysteria,” is still regularly cited by AIDS denialists. Schmidt died from AIDS in 1994.
Karri Stokely was a prominent denialist, member of Rethinking AIDS and active on a number of denialist websites. She was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1996 and died on April 28, 2011 after receiving hospice care, apparently for a serious pneumonia infection. Stokely’s AIDS denialism is on display in her own words at the following links:
- Stokely on being diagnosed HIV-positive at “Living without HIV Drugs”
- Video of Stokely speaking at the 2009 Rethinking AIDS Conference – Part 1 and Part 2
- Stokely’s blog (last post: January 10, 2011) and her website.
Tony Tompsett wrote for the denialist newsletter Continuum from 1993 until just before his death in 1998 at age 39 from Kaposi’s sarcoma, toxoplasmosis and possible pneumonia.
Huw Christie Williams
Huw Christie (Huw Christie Harry Williams) was an editor of Continuum, a long-running AIDS denialist newsletter from the UK that folded when all the editors died. Huw Christie developed Kaposi’s sarcoma and died in August of 2001. He was 41.
In an email, Peter Duesberg described Christie’s death as follows: “Did you know Hugh* Christie? Also a gay friend of mine from London, filmmaker and editor of the very popular British gay-interested journal, Continuum. Christie campaigned actively against the health and AIDS hazards of poppers in Continuum. Like me, he was invited by Mbeki, to discuss the causes of AIDS in Africa in 2000. And a year or two later he passed away with Kaposi’s, from long-term over-use/addiction to poppers!”* (Source: Email to Richard Jeffreys from Peter Duesberg, Wednesday, April 05, 2006. *Name misspelled and exclamation point in the original.)
Jody Wells was the founder of the U.K. denialist newsletter Continuum. He had multiple bouts of PCP before he died in August of 1995.
Scott Zanetti, Morristown NJ, died October 6, 2002 at age 52. Scott Zanetti is another contributor to the list of testimonials mentioned in the entry on Sylvie Cousseau, above. Zanetti also wrote to POZ magazine about being inspired by the writings of Celia Farber, and contributed to the “personal stories” on the HEAL San Diego website.