A Shooting Gallery and an Hour Glass – Part Two

RTB is presents part two from a long-term observer and participant in the AIDS war, who has written an explorative, insightful essay in two parts for ReduceTheBurden.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Shooting Gallery and an Hour-Glass Part Two
One HIV Skeptics Continuing Journey

By William A.
for RTB

The Hour-Glass

Over the years, I began to notice the feeling that AIDS dissidents–particularly those with an ‘HIV’ diagnosis aimed at their head–seem almost shackled invisibly together… joined like some godforsaken chain-gang on a remote, dusty highway: When one of us stumbles, we all seem to lose our footing. When one of us falls we all feel vertigo. Someone else’s illness can beckon almost unconsciously, dancing off in the distance like a dark mirage…promising…shimmering…waiting. We seem to obsess about the health of other dissidents, revealing, in our often slightly mad speculation about what might be going on, this invisible connection to each others’ wellness. Or illness. An umbilical cord of wary hope. Or suppressed despair. As though someone else’s ability to survive the rain of death and hopelessness falling on us every day can make it more likely that we will defy the odds ourselves. Like anyone would, we find strength in numbers.

Nothing revealed this more powerfully to me than Christine Maggiore’s death. All these years she had soldiered on through a sea of hatred and vitriol, somehow not going completely mad from the intense scrutiny from the AIDS machine. Yet equally intense, if not more, was the almost unconscious scrutiny of many dissidents. We often live immersed in fear: this diagnosis is like being cast out into a sea of anxiety, a sea that can seem to extend beyond the horizon and it swallows people whole. Though many of us find ways to subdue the monstrous anxiety, I did notice how often others around me would ‘point’, somewhat nervously, to Christine as evidence that one could stay healthy, their trembling finger betraying the fear they felt that it was all somehow going to go pear-shaped anyway. There was a watchfulness about it. A kind of expectant waiting.

Unconsciously, many of us seemed to keep looking at her and then ‘looking at our watches’. I often wondered if she felt pressure to be the exception, or if she felt the many quiet, lonely hands clinging to her for reassurance and hope. I can’t see how it wouldn’t have been an enormous burden, however unintended it may have been by those who so understandably needed some signal, some sign of hope in a world awash with the expectation of early death that comes with this diagnosis.

I can’t help but be reminded of that, creepy scene in The Wizard of Oz, where the Wicked Witch of the West traps Dorothy in the tower-room and gingerly turns the Hour-Glass over and places it on the table, starting it flowing and saying evilly:

“Do you see that?  That’s how much longer you’ve got to be alive!  And it isn’t long, my pretty!  It isn’t long!”

For many, Christine was a kind of Hour-Glass and her death pushed a number of my dissident friends right back into the arms of AIDS, Inc. This knee-jerk, irrational response astonished me until I recognized a kind of …‘survival co-dependence’ I’d call it. As though their survival actually depended on hers in some unconscious way. All the while she was carrying boldly on in life, there was this quiet chanting in the background: ‘Please don’t die please don’t die please don’t die’. And when she passed, I heard more than a few whispers of: ‘I guess we all were wrong about HIV after all’. Without ever really trying to look at the facts of her passing, her continued survival became such a shining symbol of hope, that her passing blinded some. Like staring at the sun and looking away: it leaves a huge dark spot in your vision.

It seems to me now that, being attached to each other by this invisible thread of hope-beyond-hope, makes us dangerously vulnerable. Like drowning passengers on a sinking ship, we thrash around looking for the one with the life jacket. But god help us if they succumb under the weight of all the terror and desperation, as any one in the frigid, lonely world of AIDS dissidence can at any time. To illness. To hopelessness. To despair. We are so focused on their survival we forget that we must find our own lifejacket.

Very sadly, like Kim Bannon, like Christine, like my friends Brent, Kate, Sophie, Chris, Terry, Jeff and Rob, some of us are going to face health challenges, and some of us will die. We are, much to our apparent surprise, human after all. Some of these challenges may be related to being HIV positive, and some of these, clearly, will not be related at all.

What I’ve started to realize is that it can be dangerous to hang-on to others too desperately–their own crises can pull our souls closer to the precipice. It’s important to know when to take a step back, before you are pulled into a swirling vortex of speculation and fear, a maelstrom in which many of us can easily drown. “That’s how much longer you have to be alive…”

Magic Bullets

Through all of this, I have found it deeply frustrating to try to reconcile the many dissenting scientific viewpoints with each other. I think I bought into the pervasive and very seductive reductionist world view and kept expecting some kind of unifying theory to tie it all up into some neat little ball. Over time, it became obvious that such a worldview had everything in common with the One Virus/One disease model of HIV/AIDS: It led nowhere, and required oversimplification of just about every facet of the available evidence to make any sense. It has grown ever clearer to me that AIDS is likely multifactorial in genesis, and multifactorial in prevention and in treatment. This is a daunting prospect and I resisted it at first. The preponderance of evidence eventually wore me down and I embraced the now seemingly obviously complex nature of the phenomenon of AIDS.

This now obviously complex nature makes taking preventative measures equally daunting. I kept coming back to the question: How does one find a balance between doing nothing and doing too much?

I found myself testing the waters of immune enhancing therapies, like antioxidant therapy, dietary support, intestinal flora support in the form of fermented foods and the like. At what point would I consider HAART or other conventional approaches? What are my boundaries around it? I do struggle with the uncertainties that abound when sifting through the many approaches both real and rumoured that may be beneficial. What is a measure of benefit? What is a measure of health? I teeter on the brink of discarding the whole ‘HIV’ meme and taking the chance that I can afford to just let go of the idea that these antibodies must have predictive meaning for me. Yet somehow I can’t …quite…do it. And so I stay tuned-in to those ideas that might provide some benefit, without causing trouble themselves. Am I just empowering the diagnosis? Possibly. Sometimes it all seems way too much, and sometimes not nearly enough. The pendulum swings back and forth, back and forth.

It’s been like threading my way through a series of mazes, encountering one new theory after another, and trying to see how it all might come together: HHV6; Syphilis; HAART Toxicity; Oxidative stress; Multiple Semen exposures; Inhalants; Nutrition; Gut flora. These alternative theories often seemed like a whole other series of bullets to be dodged, adding to the already overwhelming stream of information waiting for anyone brave enough to open the Pandora’s Box of AIDS dissent, or unlucky enough to have the ‘HIV’ label slapped onto them.

At times, the many competing ideas have swirled around me and I found myself darting from one to the other hoping against hope for the evasive, reductionist, final answer. The One. Magic. Bullet. Like an exhausted bird, I’ve sought refuge in an ever-changing series of scientific theories of causation or prevention, only to feel myself again ‘in the sights’ of some new threat, flushed out into the open –  exposed, shivering and vulnerable –  by some new perspective, some new angle on immune suppression. What to do? What to do?

Thankfully, sanity always returns, and for ever-longer periods. In the end, I calm down, read a little more, and make a decision about what therapies I can live with; what therapies or lifestyle choices I can stick to. I’ve learned to focus on asking: what will improve the quality of my life? In the end, that’s all that really matters. That’s the question that really separates the wheat from the chaff.

This is why am effectively indifferent to all the in-fighting that began to occur some time ago within the AIDS dissident community about how we define retroviral isolation (Has ‘HIV’ been isolated? If not, what are the implications for our understanding of AIDS and retroviruses in general?). I admit to keeping-up with the back and forth about it, but the passionate efforts to persuade people to ‘take sides’ leaves me entirely cold. We can spend energy arguing the existence of ‘HIV’; we can analyze ‘HIV’ science until we can’t think anymore; but all of it is in vain if we can’t offer patients a way to treat their real illnesses–today. The back and forth of it starts to look to me like a kind of ‘fiddling while Rome burns’.

As fascinated as I am by the implications of the arguments about the existence of ‘HIV’, and by extension the way we actually define retroviruses and understand the role they play biologically, it is, in the end, all far removed from the realities faced by people who are facing illnesses. Although, I do remain deeply supportive of, and grateful to, both the Perth Group (who argue in favour of HIV’s non-existence), and Peter Duesberg (who argues against it). They have both, through their contributions to science, improved the quality of my life enormously.

Refugees from Terror

In the last few years, from more and more people I communicate with, I began to hear: “I was a dissident until I got sick”. I’ve heard it countless times now. Yet I wasn’t getting what that really meant. Why were so many dissidents so horribly unprepared to deal with the illnesses that affect so many ‘HIV’ positive people? What were we doing that contributed to this lack of preparedness? Personally, I just have never felt that the many dissenting views of AIDS causation suggest AIDS isn’t real, however complex it may be, nor have I ever been left with the impression that its causes were neatly wrapped-up and easy to avoid. If anything, my experience of dissenting AIDS science was that it was all much, much more complicated than the mainstream was admitting, and not at all a simple matter to completely understand, prevent or avoid. Yet somehow, for example, there was this large group of dissidents, often Gay men, who had found solace in some facets of AIDS dissent, like the Drug-AIDS Hypothesis, and taken from it that drug-use explained all cases of AIDS – something I don’t think Duesberg has ever claimed. Many of them were totally blindsided by illness. How was this happening?

Then I suddenly realized: Oh my God – could it be that many of these people were like refugees? Refugees from all the AIDS terror raining down on them? Maybe they weren’t all just coming to AIDS dissent hoping for some real, proven alternative to ‘HIV’- based science or treatments. Maybe they were fleeing emotional persecution. Clearly, explaining to emotionally fatigued and fleeing people that, although the mainstream view was full of  holes, acknowledging that fact didn’t automatically mean there was one clear answer or approach to the problem of AIDS treatment or prevention. Nor was there any solid, good news that would apply to everyone. Did any of us prepare for this? It didn’t even occur to me to consider this at the beginning, and I confess to some surprise about that in hindsight. It seems so obvious now.

Indeed, some of these people do become ill, and end-up leaving AIDS dissent, broken, sick, angry and disillusioned, blaming AIDS dissidents for lying or misleading them. I’ve wondered sometimes whether we have been unclear or misleading somehow. I’ve wrestled with the questions: Have we all been scrupulously clear about what dissenting science is saying? Have we been? And why do so many former dissidents leave dissent feeling they’ve ‘failed’ somehow when illness creeps into their bodies, as though wellness were somehow a prerequisite for ‘membership’ in AIDS dissidence?

I think all ‘HIV’ skeptics are wise to pause and look hard at those questions.

I think that the reality of so many former dissidents falling away “because I got sick” communicates something vital, something that I think has been missed, about what, at least for some,  motivated their dissent in the first place, and about failures in the way dissidents present dissenting views.  For many would-be dissidents, maybe it was not just curiosity, not just innate skepticism or a search for a deeper understanding of immunity and what else testing positive might mean, other than, or in addition to, infection with a single, sexually transmitted retrovirus that motivated their interest. Maybe it wasn’t as simple as just wanting to be as informed as possible in order to stay well. No, maybe some were searching simply and desperately for a way out. Perhaps, like me, they found themselves in the Shooting Gallery, or staring at the Hour-Glass, and they were filled with an overwhelming, eye-clawing need to just… Get. Away.  To hide.  And who could possibly blame them? Is this denial of a sort? Maybe. Maybe this almost refugee-like mindset does involve a kind of denial. Certainly, the way some people absorb dissident ideas leaves them horribly unprepared if they become ill. And when something like that does come up they feel…well…ambushed and betrayed. And abandoned.

I’m not sure just what that says about dissident messages, but just as “AIDS Drugs Save Lives” dismisses to the dust-heap of unimportance the experiences of those who died while taking them, or whose health disappears shortly after beginning them, so too can those dissident sound bites like: “‘HIV’ tests are meaningless” disregard a whole group of people, whose subjective experience tells them quite frankly that the test tells them, well… something. Neither do chants of “AIDS is Over!” exactly endear us to those for whom AIDS is most certainly not ‘over’.

Not to press the point too hard, but ‘Just Wear a Condom’ and ‘Poppers Cause AIDS’ are equally problematic in that they don’t address the obvious complexities around us either. All of these statements exude a kind of simplistic, albeit very attractive certainty, which just isn’t to be found anywhere. I’d wager we haven’t always been as careful about over-simplification as we should have been. If there’s one big lesson in AIDS dissent it’s that none of this is a simple matter. None. And I think we need, as a movement, to acknowledge and take ownership of over-simplification when it happens.

I also see clearly the dependent, disempowered relationship to health and medicine that our culture encourages, regardless of what scientific viewpoints people have access to. Our relationship to medical care seems to me to be one of almost complete dependence. We ‘give ourselves over’ to the authority of Doctors and Scientists because, in my view at least, we fetishize authority and power. We love, as a species, to be told, what to think, where to stand, and what to do. We love it. It is, undoubtedly, easier in a way.

I’m not sure the consequences of this kind of passiveness should be laid at the feet of dissidents any more than they should be laid at the feet of mainstream medicine or science. In the end, there are consequences for believing that someone else knows what’s best for us. It’s a problem built right into the way we’ve structured our relationship to medicine and to science.

This isn’t to say that people who find themselves ambushed and unprepared for illness should be blamed for it, or that it is a simple as letting others have power over them. On the contrary: it seems to me that broad assumptions and mistakes have likely been made all around. Yet I would offer that one is less likely to feel misled in life if one leads oneself–something that not everyone is really prepared to do as it takes an almost herculean effort, and brings with it a whole host of other uncertainties.

Without a doubt, we can’t control what people will do with scientific ideas, and there will always be a difference between what we objectively broadcast as a movement and what people subjectively receive. Some people just will run with things no matter how clearly they are presented, whether they are making decisions on mainstream ideas, or dissenting ones. I’ve seen both countless times. So, if there is something I’ve learned, it’s that subtlety is really important, and none of us are qualified to decide on, or recommend, a path for others. We are wise to remember our humility.

All of the disillusionment and blame from former dissidents I keep encountering completely reinforced my growing focus on finding or supporting research into treatment options that are based on dissenting approaches to the maintenance or restoration of immunity. People come to AIDS dissent desperate for alternatives, and they are not so easy to find here.

Indeed, we all seem to have thought that disproving ‘HIV’ theory with some brilliant scientific argument would bring the whole thing crashing down. I no longer think that. After 15 years, it’s clear to me that we need to cure a patient. We need to restore an immune system. Then we need to restore 100. That would get the AIDS edifice a-crumbling.

But maybe now it’s me who’s oversimplifying.

And perhaps such work has already been happening somewhere–I have my cheque book at the ready.

AIDSTruth

It’s been a real eye-opener to discover that many of the most vociferous defenders of ‘HIV’ theory seem actually kind of glad when an AIDS dissident gets sick or dies. AIDSTruth is at the core of efforts to discredit AIDS dissidents by ‘setting the record straight’, as they see it. They practically crow when one of us fails to dodge a bullet. They just can’t wait to bulldoze our bodies into the great AIDS pits. They keep updated lists of those of us who die on their website, AIDSTruth.org, then wave these deaths in the faces of those who might dare to ask questions themselves, parading our stiff corpses around the internet village, as medieval warning to the world of the price of disobedience and of asking questions. The dripping ugliness of it leaves me breathless…the finger-pointing glee and the grave-dancing.  Having heard recently that another dissident, Kim Bannon, is now struggling with serious illness, they gather around their blogs, waiting for her to go, nodding knowingly to each other and circling like vultures hungry for fresh meat. They virtually tear at her flesh even as she breathes.

As horrified and baffled by this behaviour as I am, I can only imagine some of these people truly feel angered and devastated by illnesses and losses they see as avoidable. I’ve tried to understand them, and the difference to me lies in that they seem convinced that the science is settled, and ‘HIV’ drugs are the way for everyone, while I have seen too many people dry-up and die on these drugs to accept that it’s quite so simple, and I have read too much about science to ever accept it as completely settled. Am I giving them too much credit? Maybe.

They are like missionaries to me – convinced of their own truth and somehow certain that they must save us from misinformation, from false hope and from untruth. From ungodliness, and from superstition. They plan their assaults – on freedom of speech, on journalistic freedom, on the freedom to choose, and on the freedom to forge one’s own path with this diagnosis – based on the assumption that they know better what our journey should be. They will guide us. They will help us to be gathered up in the loving arms of AIDSTruth. They will save us from the evil-doers and from ourselves. And they are absolutely certain about it.

I can’t help but notice that these people really are the same as that righteous, zealous bunch from the 1980’s who took it upon themselves to make all the most unequivocal pronouncements early on like: ‘HIV Causes AIDS’, AIDS will kill millions of Americans before 2000’, ‘AZT saves lives’, and my personal favourite: ‘We will have an AIDS vaccine by 1990’. There is irony in the fact that in their panicked desperation to get their flawed, distorted and even deadly  messages out, they actually created AIDS dissidence. They created it, not some band of religious zealots bent on turning people away from Western Medicine. We all saw what AZT did, and we took note. We all saw the apocalyptic predictions of world-wide, cataclysmic, mass-death fail to manifest and we all took note. AIDS, Inc looked into its crystal ball and made absurd, baseless pronouncements one too many times, and we all dutifully took note. And we all are still taking notes.

Well, after 25 years of having the idea that ‘HIV’ is the absolute, unequivocal, single cause of AIDS beaten into our heads, I’m afraid that I still see nothing attractive, compelling, or believable about the warm, fuzzy, self-congratulatory group-hug of Consensus that has become the accepted substitute for proof these days. I really will have to continue to beg to differ that ‘HIV’ has been proven to have the ability to cause even one case of AIDS.

Finding Love

In 2004, I was amazed to discover that the biggest changes in my relationship to this diagnosis, and what I might do about it, were not to be about science at all in the end. Instead, it was meeting my life-partner and discovering what his boundaries around ‘HIV’ were. It was a huge eye-opener. Although he accepts my decisions and my choices around the diagnosis, his major concern was that it not all become central to our life together. He wanted our life together to be about our Life, not my anticipation of my own death, or my wrestling with unanswered scientific questions. It’s not that my struggles are off the table in our life together, it’s that he is supportive without getting all tied-up in the issues. But the most significant gift from him is that when he looks at me he sees a healthy, vibrant man, and that helps me to see that too. It is a powerful antidote to the fear and uncertainty. Perhaps the most powerful antidote of all.

Facing his perspective on what our relationship to ‘HIV’ could be together was more effective at taking power out of the diagnosis than all the science I’d read combined. I realized I could live without trying to figure it all out. I could live without final answers. And I had company: Loving, devoted company at that. Combined with the unwavering support of my closest friend, and a few trusted others, this was the final push towards truly letting go of all the fear. Well, at least most of it. No amount of reading or research had accomplished that for me. I feel very fortunate, very loved. I realize how much power there is in being perceived by those around you as healthy. As well. Not that it’s a cure for anything, but it certainly is a balm for the soul. And that has great power.

This experience with my Partner inspired me to think about how much the way we are perceived by people can shift how we perceive ourselves. Just as being perceived as empowered, or confident, or – dare I say? – healthy, can shift the view we have of ourselves, so too can negative expectations influence us. God knows there has been an enormous amount of research that has been done on children who are raised with negative expectations of their abilities or intelligence. Libraries are full of research about how positive reinforcement affects us when we are healing. Just look at the placebo effect.

Perhaps it has been my unconscious understanding of this that has left me so reluctant to trumpet to the world all these years that I am diagnosed ‘HIV’ positive. Maybe it’s self-protection. That’s certainly how it feels. I’ve chosen to be, well, “HIV’ invisible’ to all but a very close circle of friends, family – and  my MD. I have thought occasionally that I might be simply trying to exert control over something that is not to be controlled in the end, but I am too ill at ease with the idea of some disease ‘spotlight’ shining on me all the time. Is this a kind of denial? Perhaps… but if so, it’s more like the kind of denial that allowed me to tune out the chants of ‘Faggot’ that pursued me everywhere as a teenager. I think self-defense describes it better. And so here I am, writing this piece under a pseudonym. Protecting my invisibility, dodging the spotlight. Hiding from the ‘evil eye’ like some determined Frodo out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Facing the Unknown

When I look back on how being diagnosed ‘HIV’ positive affected me, and ponder all the dissident and mainstream literature I’ve read as a result, all the people I’ve met, all the questions I’ve asked, and all the demons I’ve struggled with, the thread that runs through the whole journey isn’t really about finding answers, or knowledge at all in the end. It’s turned out to be about something else, something quite unexpected. It’s turned out to be about making peace with uncertainty and the unknown.

At the centre of the whole business I found: the uncertainty of Life itself.

Don’t get me wrong, the questions will always remain and they are compelling: Will the world finally wake-up and realize that ‘HIV’ cannot explain AIDS? How can I stay well in the meantime? Will I, just like so many of my ‘HIV’ positive friends, end-up facing some bewildering illness? Are ‘HIV’ treatments the way to go if that happens?

Yet these questions are just as unanswerable as: Will I be hit by a truck tomorrow? Develop cancer? Find meaning, get food poisoning, be yelled at, hugged, hated or loved? Will I live long? Die young? There are no answers, only these questions… only these maybes…

The real lesson has been about making peace with the background rain of chaos that is life, and accepting that uncertainty really is central – no, necessary –  to the life experience. Certainties in this world are, in the end, ultimately just an illusion. A popular one, to be sure, but an illusion nonetheless.

This is what members of the AIDS Orthodoxy forget, their perception distorted by an absolute, righteous certainty, in their sometimes earnest, sometimes vitriolic chanting about the dangers about AIDS “Denialism’. They seem so…certain, when there is no certainty. It’s true that choosing self-determination after an ‘HIV’ diagnosis, or any diagnosis for that matter, has its own inherent risks and pitfalls, but following the orthodox protocols without question has a whole host of its own risks. No matter what one chooses, those choices will bring you smack-dab, face to face with uncertainties–with Life itself.

I’ve learned to be extremely wary of those who speak with absolute certainty. When I see them or hear them, I take note, because these are the same people who, like Nazi Soldiers, or any soldiers really, will claim that ‘we were just following orders’, when the scientific regime, or the rules, change – as they have already so many times, and will again. These are the people who now, 15 years later, finally acknowledge that high-dosage AZT killed many, many people. I often wonder how many thousands of names would be on the list of the AZT Dead, and how it would compare to the lists of dead AIDS dissidents those compassionate and loving people at AIDSTruth just absolutely adore keeping. But ‘we were doing the best we could’ is all they can offer those of us who survived the AZT disaster, when faced with the outrage, distrust and betrayal we carry with us daily as a result. Ah yes, Absolute Certainty: When you see it, I advise you to run. I don’t care if it comes from the mainstream or from within the AIDS dissident community. Just run!

Now, instead of simply asking what this diagnosis means with absolute certainty, I ask: What does this diagnosis mean… for me? Why do I think I’m ‘HIV’ positive? Ultimately, it doesn’t  matter what scientists think. It doesn’t matter what the AIDS orthodoxy thinks. Or AIDS dissidents. It matters what I think. What do I think about my health? What do I want to do about it? What choices feel true and honest? How do I find peace with the uncertainty of life? How shall I face my fears?

Where am I in all of this?

Those are the real questions.

I realize now that it isn’t really the information that matters the most: it’s what we do with it. This is what defenders of the AIDS orthodoxy really don’t get. They think there is actually good information and bad. I disagree. Information only has power when we imbue it with power. Only the choices we make really matter, only our relationship to the information, and no amount of control can or should be exerted over what we choose to do with what we learn. Neither should there be any censorship of what we can learn. Does that have consequences? Of course it does. Yet it was absolute certainty and fear that drove thousands of people to take high dosage AZT, and nearly every one of them is dead. I do also see that fear drives people to go into avoidance about their health, or to look for simplistic answers. But fear itself is the problem, not the information. We can choose to have a dependant relationship with it or an independent one. The choice is ours alone. Facing that can be terrifying in itself, but liberating as well, if we can just remember ourselves and remain calm.

All these years and reams of papers later, I can see that life is the shooting gallery, and life is the hour-glass. We are bombarded every day with conflicting ideas and unforeseeable events. We face the flowing sands of the Hourglass every minute of our lives. Those minutes – they are the grains of sand. Dealing with this diagnosis and its implications for my health is a microcosm of life itself. The trick is to make peace with the chaos, find some serenity in not knowing what lies beyond today, and move forward as best I can anyway.

I realize I have a choice: I can exhaust myself dodging bullets – be they health worries, scientific ideas, a fear of being labeled a ‘denier’, or the fear of the many unanswered questions around it all – I can squint at the horizon, madly trying to see if some potential danger is drawing closer until I go blind from staring; I can tune everything else out so I can focus on the inexorable hissing of the sand in the Hour-Glass. Or, I can take a deep breath, and just accept that I don’t know what is coming. I just. Don’t. Know…

And neither does anyone else.

In those moments, I find humility. I find myself. I get up, dust myself off, and leave the shooting gallery entirely. I finally stop staring at the Hour Glass and I become free.

Toronto, 2010

Recently, I had that same dream from when I was 13. Once again I was in that chilly, eerie room. The door loomed menacingly at the top of the stairs. But this time, rather than dread and terror, I felt calm. I was curious, but unafraid. I walked up the stairs exhilarated and ready, knowing fully that I could face what lay behind it. I flung open the door…

And there, on the other side of the threshold stood a young boy, his red hair ablaze in bright sunshine. I was filled with triumph and love. After years punctuated by grief, regret, shame and fear, I rushed through the door, and finally embraced…

Me.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .


Born in 1965 in Toronto, Ontario, “William A.” currently lives with his Partner in rural Ontario. He has worn many hats, from working in theater to running a restaurant. He has had a successful, small business for coming-up to 25 years now. His interest in ‘HIV’ and AIDS was piqued by conversations with friends in the late 1980’s, then numerous articles and books fuelled the fire, as did his own experience of being diagnosed ‘HIV’ positive in 1996.

He loves time at home and in the garden with his Partner of 6 years, loves languages, speaks German and some Italian, French and Spanish, and has a hope of learning Mandarin. In addition to a love of travel, he loves good food, music of all kinds, architecture, heritage preservation, film, and the company of friends.

8 thoughts on “A Shooting Gallery and an Hour Glass – Part Two

  1. This is an amazing essay and a must read for AIDS dissidents.

    Like any good work, it leaves the reader with questions. The one that comes to my mind at the moment is: how do we know that that first “cure” hasn’t already occurred? Or even a dozen cures? Death cannot be considered an indicator of failure, or else there can be no cure at all.

    I hope there is more to come from William in the near future.

  2. Thanks Jonathan.
    You ask a good question. There may already have been such a recovery or recoveries. Would that we lived in a society where such a story made the front page everywhere. Sadly, such joyous news is likely sidelined by the next great ‘HIV’ vaccine story. Or by the dubious news of even better, but still crappy ‘HIV’ drugs getting approval.

    However, hope springs eternal, and my hope is that somehwere, someone is beating AIDS permanently as I write, and that many more find their way out of the AIDS quagmire.

    My best,
    William.

  3. This speaks to what I’ve come to see as central to the whole thing: hysteria. Hysteria is fear of death. Against that backdrop, we see a dance against time and various rituals to assert “control” over death. Drug regimens must be taken on time or death itself will develop “resistance.” I hear reassuring statements, as they must be to those who watch and worry, that he or she would be alive today “if only . . . .”

    But there’s no rhyme or reason to death. Beyond some obvious odds-builders in our favor, it’s pretty random, actually. A scary thought.

    We all die. Life is a terminal condition.

    The AIDS story just holds us hostage to that fact instead of setting us free to live.

  4. Undoubtedly, the best written work to come about in a long time. Thank you William A.

    This needs inclusion in every HIV/AIDS 101 study class.

    “If there’s one big lesson in AIDS dissent it’s that none of this is a simple matter.” Precisely! Forget about trying to break it down into sounds bites. It simply cannot be done. I should know. God, how I’ve tried.

  5. Love the article! Puts many things into perspective-most importantly how we view life and what our expectations of life are and what they should be. It is a beautiful, hearfelt piece.
    Thank you.

  6. You nailed it, in my opinion. Sound-bites are polarizing. HIV tests, whatever it is they actually measure, aren’t meaningless—but nor should they have the power to push anyone up against a false wall of choosing between a lifetime of highly risky medication or death. There are so many causes behind a syndrome as broad as AIDS, and there are equally as many ways to live well and be healthy. The dissident community needs to hear this message; thanks for writing.

  7. This is required reading for those that are part of the Absolute Certainty on both sides of dissent and on the Orthodoxy side. I felt so great reading this calm appraisal of it all.

    I, too, think that finding lots of antibodies and/or finding HIV by PCR must indicate some stress on the immune system. I’ve felt for a long time that HIV, however it’s measured, is a messenger and AIDS, inc. has been trying to kill the messenger for 26 years. I hope everyone with an HIV+ diagnosis reads this, remains calm, and focuses on their immune system and how they can make changes to strengthen it.

    Thank you!

  8. Outstanding stuff. I hope this will shake up some of the more stubborn members of the dissident community. For too long we’ve trotted out messages that are at odds with the reality of those of us who are Affected and on the front lines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *