Response by Valendar F Turner to Geffen and Bergman

June 15th 2006

This is a response to an article posted on June 4th at by Nathan Geffen and Jeanne Bergman. The article is at Those who maintain this site state “We will not Engage in any public or private debate with AIDS denialists”. Hence my response is posted at the Perth Group website.

Nathan Geffen and Jeanne Bergman say of me “He looked for and found an article…”. I did not choose one paper. Our group [1] has critically analysed all the papers which claim to prove mother to child transmission (any omissions are inadvertent). As well as the studies which claim that nevirapine and AZT decrease mother to child transmission (HIVNET 012 and the ACTG 076). If these authors wants to know more about this they must read our monograph [2] as well as view our presentation on the HIVNET 012 study [3]. After they have completed this task we would welcome their scientific criticism. As far as the Ladner paper is concerned, here is the response I sent to Nature which was promptly rejected without explanation.



Francis Bacon observed “The human understanding is not composed of dry light, but is subject to influence from the will and the emotions, a fact that creates fanciful knowledge: man prefers to believe what he wants to be true”. Hence it is understandable that perinatologist Glenda Gray and her HIV protagonist colleagues (Nature 441: 406; 2006) are uncomfortable with the data published by Ladner et al that the mother to child HIV transmission rate in African women and children given no antiretroviral treatment is 1% less than that reported from the administration of nevirapine in the HIVNET 012. Or half as much as those given AZT in the same study. To overcome this problem Gray and her colleagues state that had the Ladner et al data not been interrupted by a civil war the transmission rate “would almost certainly [have been] much higher”. However, Ladner et al do not claim their results were invalidated by the Rwandan civil war and if Gray and her colleagues are able to divine a “much higher” transmission rate then how “much higher”? If 25%, over double that reported by Ladner et al, they are still left with the problem that no antiretroviral therapy is as effective as the “harmless” AZT treatment given in HIVNET 012. How does Gray and her colleagues know the transmission rate would not have remained at 12%? Or would not have been “much lower” (even lower that the 10.5% reported in the subgroup of mothers free from chorioamnionitis)? Gray and her colleagues are engaging in speculation and cannot possibly know what might have occurred.

Gray and her HIV/AIDS activist colleagues also claim I have been rebutted by Brooks Jackson and Fleming (Nature 434, 1067; 2005). However, these authors do no more than document the consensus of four institutions and assert a placebo can be substituted by the “harmless” drug AZT. As reported in the Johns Hopkins Medical News,1 this consensus frustrated Brooks Jackson's plans and ran contrary to his own reported reasons for including a placebo arm in his HIVNET study. As Galileo famously observed, consensus is not the way of science.

Gray and her colleagues state I have not followed “accepted academic standards”. In this light perhaps they might contemplate the scientific basis of their clinical practice. HIV infection and the HIV theory of AIDS is predicated on the fact that cultures of tissues of AIDS patients contain a number of proteins that react with antibodies present in AIDS patient sera. Gray and others interpret these data as proof that (a) the proteins are those of a unique retrovirus; (b) the antibodies in question are specifically induced by such a virus. If this is an example of “accepted academic standards” then the path to enlightenment lies far from academia.

  1. Swingle, A. B. The pathologist who struck gold. Hopkins Medical News Spring/Summer 2001 (2001).

Valendar F Turner
The Perth Group