Monday, April 4, 2011

No HIV epidemic in Italy

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/04/03

Italy has never experienced an epidemic of AIDS
Nor has Italy ever experienced an epidemic of “HIV”
Those facts are reflected in documents issued by the Italian Ministry of Health. By 2009, the Ministry had not required notification of cases of “HIV” — “HIV” was not regarded as a threat to public heath — and AIDS could be diagnosed in absence of “HIV”. Thus the Ministry did not accept HIV/AIDS theory, and this was described appropriately as “Aids denialism at the Ministry of Health” by Ruggiero et al. in Medical Hypotheses, accepted 3 June 2009 and published on-line shortly afterwards.
Elsevier, however, publisher of Medical Hypotheses, under harassment by John P Moore and other HIV/AIDS vigilantes, could no more countenance this remaining in its journal than it could allow Duesberg to point out that HIV/AIDS true-believers were claiming 20 times as many AIDS deaths as the official South African agency, Statistics South Africa, was actually reporting on the basis of death certifications. Accordingly, the article by Ruggiero et al., like that of Duesberg et al., was withdrawn as “potentially damaging to global public health”:
That the Italian Ministry of Health does not regard something as a threat to public health was evidently seen at Elsevier as a potential threat to global public health.

Elsevier tried to recover from its precipitate, ill-considered withdrawal of the Duesberg and Ruggiero articles through an elaborate set of internal investigations that included “a peer-review process managed by The Lancet editorial team” [an in-house process since The Lancet is also an Elsevier publication].
Even these in-house “investigations” and “peer review”, attempting to justify the unjustifiable, could find nothing seriously wrong with the Ruggiero article — though that did not lead to a rescission of the unwarranted withdrawal. Still, the revised withdrawal notice does not mention any threat to public health, it only implies some failure to be “coherent and clearly expressed”, hardly a legitimate reason for independent reviewers to reject an article outright:
Given that matters of expression and presentation were the only specific faults found with the article, Ruggiero et al. revised the article to make it clearer and more coherent, relying on the expert assistance of a professional writer whose native tongue is English; and the re-submitted manuscript was accepted for Medical Hypotheses by Editor Bruce Charlton. But Elsevier was in process of firing Charlton, and held up publication until a new Editor was on board. That new Editor acted as judge, jury, and executioner, as well as delivering a veritable exemplar of incoherent, unclear writing:
“Reviewers’ comments on your work have now been received. You will see that they are advising against publication of your work. Therefore I must reject it.
For your guidance, I append the reviewers’ comments below.
Your manuscript is not suitable for publication in Medical Hypotheses. The arguments are more or less direct to “the Italian Ministry of Health” and you conclude that they i.e Italian Ministry of Health “seems to be unaware of the existence of an AIDS skeptics movement that could interpret its policies, guidelines, definitions and data as if they supported the thesis that HIV is not the cause of AIDS”
I would NOT like Medical Hypotheses to be channelled as media to discuss polices of Italian Ministry of Health. You should use other means available to you. I would like to keep clear of such topics. I am sorry to have to reject your paper.
Many thanks
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work.
Yours sincerely”
[This is the same Editor who marked his assumption of the job by saying that he would "not get into controversial subjects" but will publish "radical new ideas" --- Enserink, ScienceInsider, 25 June 2010]
Ruggiero et al. later incorporated the “AIDS denialism” of the Italian Ministry of Health as part of anarticle pointing out that Italian anatomy students need have no fear of contracting “HIV” even when they dissect cadavers of unknown provenance; that article was published in the mainstream peer-reviewedItalian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology. The work of Ruggiero and his students also gained theimprimatur of the Italian Public Health Service,  which makes available at its website copies of thestudents’ dissertations.
Data from Italy as a whole, as well as from particular regions, continues to show the lack of any “HIV/AIDS” epidemic (see, for example, “Italy: Demographics of HIV and AIDS”).
These facts were the subject of a contribution to the recent Conference on AIDS and Retroviruses:
PO 87
J. J. V. Branca* [2], S. Pacini [2], M. Ruggiero [3]
[2] Department of Anatomy, Histology and Forensic Medicine, University
of Firenze, Florence, Italy; [3] Department of Experimental Pathology
and Oncology, University of Firenze, Florence, Italy
The Regional Public Health System of Tuscany recently achieved remarkable successes in fighting AIDS with fewer than 10 deaths per year of diagnosis in 2008 and 2009 in a population of almost 4 million residents. Of the many factors that contributed to this success, here we shall focus on results obtained by accurate epidemiological surveillance conducted by the Regional Agency for Health (Agenzia Regionale di Sanita`). It is worth noting that a regional registry of new HIV infections is not yet available; therefore the data reported here refer only to new AIDS cases. However, the very low numbers of AIDS deaths (2 in 2008 and 7 in 2009) seem to indicate that surveillance of new AIDS cases is probably the most effective epidemiological tool in fighting AIDS. In fact, data from the regional registry of new AIDS cases reveals that the male-to-female ratio for the incidence of AIDS has been essentially constant from 1985 to 2008 at ~3.6, whereas the purported mode of transmission changed drastically: from ~8% of HIV being transmitted heterosexually in 1985–1990, to ~44% being transmitted in that way in 2006–2008. Consistent with these data, in recent years (updated to 2009), 44.5% HIV-positive heterosexuals reported being aware of their serostatus before the diagnosis of AIDS, and 17.8% had been treated with antiretroviral drugs prior to the diagnosis of AIDS. Conversely, about 90% HIV-positive intravenous drug users reported knowing their serostatus before the diagnosis of AIDS, and 57% of them were treated with antiretroviral drugs before the diagnosis of AIDS. Regrettably, however, the probability of survival in the HIV-positive intravenous drug user population has been constantly lower than that observed in the other categories since 1996. Drug- associated multi-organ toxicity might have contributed to this phenomenon. Also the age trend for new AIDS cases shows interesting changes that might have contributed to the decline in AIDS mortality in Tuscany. In 1988, the mean age for new AIDS cases was 31 for males and 28 for females, whereas in 2009 the mean ages were 44.5 and 40, respectively. We believe that information strategies focussed on risky sexual behaviours might have contributed to this trend. In fact, a recent survey of teenagers’ sexual behaviour (Indagine EDIT 2008) showed that 43.5% of teenagers had had actual sexual intercourse and only 37.9% (males) and 26.4% (females) teenagers reported more than three partners. Among female teenagers reporting more than three partners, 45% reported using condoms. Taken together, these most recent data are consistent with previous observations on AIDS epidemiology (Ital J Anat Embryol. 2009 Apr–Sep;114 (2–3): 97–108. Oct–Dec;114 (4):179–91), and may suggest that further improvement in AIDS patient survival could be achieved by focussing efforts on reducing or eliminating drug-associated toxicity.

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