Both Dr. Peter Duesberg and Michael Fumento responded to my article, “AIDS: The Untold Story” (Medical Sentinel, Summer 1997). Both writers shrugged off my suggestion that standard public health measures were needed to slow further spread of the HIV epidemic, and both writers disagreed with my contention that AIDS will soon begin to depopulate Africa.
Dr. Duesberg wrote...“Monteith does not tell us why antibodies against HIV predict viral disease rather than protect against it....” The answer should be apparent to anyone acquainted with basic immunology. There are many factors involved in the response to infection, including both the antibody and cellular responses. In the case of HIV infection, an individual’s T4 cells are progressively diminished to the point where they have no effective cellular response. At that point, even though patients may have an adequate antibody response, they become incapable of combating infections.
Dr. Duesberg went on...“Monteith does not tell us why Africa enjoys the fastest population growth in the world...despite HIV.” The answer is self-evident. Since there is a 10-year latency period between HIV infection and terminal-stage immunosuppression, it will take many years for most of those currently infected to progress to AIDS and death. The rate of population growth in Africa has already slowed significantly, and in the coming decades Africa’s population will decline precipitously as countless millions progress to death.
It was interesting to note that Dr. Duesberg did not attempt to counter any of my objections to his contention that HIV infection has nothing to do with AIDS. Please reread my article, “AIDS: The Untold Story,” and note the points I raised. I can only assume that Dr. Duesberg chose to launch an attack on my position rather than defend his position because he recognized that his contentions are indefensible.
Michael Fumento concentrated his rebuttal on (1) my scientific integrity, (2) my suggestions that standard public health measures must be introduced to bring the epidemic under control, and (3) my contention that there is a major HIV epidemic in Africa.
Mr. Fumento contends that measures such as “premarital HIV testing were carried out in some states, did prove worthless, and were halted.” I beg to differ. Immediately after legislation requiring mandatory premarital HIV testing was introduced in Illinois and Louisiana, the AIDS lobby set out to block implementation of that legislation. It wasn’t that mandatory premarital testing didn’t save lives, but rather that the AIDS lobby was intent on blocking any and all attempts to utilize effective public health measures to bring the HIV epidemic under control. Every politician who dared support needed public health measures was targeted, and, in the following years, many outstanding public servants were forced from office. Subsequently, most of the public health laws needed to stop further spread of the HIV epidemic were either blocked or repealed.
In reference to my concerns about the coming depopulation of Africa, Michael Fumento first ridiculed my sources of information on the African epidemic, then stated: “If Dr. Monteith had more reliable sources for his data he would have used them.” Finally, he mocked my warning by para- phrasing Mark Twain, stating “...the news of Africa’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.”
What is the true incidence of HIV infection in Africa today? Could it be that I am lying about the magnitude of the HIV epidemic in Africa, or could it be that Michael Fumento and his associates are intent on concealing the truth from the American public? One of us is obviously wrong...but which one?
In January 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau released two sets of figures documenting the incidence of HIV disease in the major cities of Central and Southern Africa. The first set of figures dealt with the incidence of HIV infection among low risk (LR) citizens in each nation’s capital/major cities. The second figures revealed HIV infection rates among high risk (HR) populations, i.e., bar girls, soldiers, and those attending STD clinics.
The following figures denote the percentage of LR and HR populations found to be HIV infected in some of the capital/major cities of Africa...as of January 1997:
Botswana, LR 32.4%, HR 41.6%; Burundi, LR 20%; Malawi, LR 32.8%, HR 70.4%; Kenya, LR 18.1%, HR 85.5%; Nambia, LR 17.6%; Rwanda, LR 25.4%, HR 73.2%; South Africa, LR 18.2%, HR 20.1%; Swaziland, LR 21.9%; Uganda, LR 18.5%, HR 38.5%; Zambia, LR 27.9%, HR 58%; Central African Republic, LR 16%, HR 31%; Zimbabwe , LR 32%, HR 86%.
I would suggest that those who are concerned with this greatest of all human tragedies contact the Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau at (301) 457-1406 to determine if my figures are accurate. If they are, I hope you will question why both Michael Fumento and Dr. Duesberg continue to insist that there is no significant HIV epidemic in Africa. Perhaps we should re-paraphrase Mark Twain’s quotation to read: “The news of Africa’s coming demise has been carefully concealed.”
Stanley K. Monteith, MD
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1997;2(4):117-118. Copyright © 1997 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).