All posts by Jonathan Barnett

Pharmaceutical Solutions To AIDS Are Not Enough

by Jonathan Barnett

A recent phone conversation with a friend is helping me to continue to refine what I want to focus on as an AIDS dissident activist. In a passionate outburst that revealed a new side of his character, he blurted out his dismay that our society in general and our gay community in particular seems to be willing to settle for a solution to AIDS that relies exclusively on drugs from the pharmaceutical industry.

It is no secret that despite a massive marketing campaign promoting improved tolerance for and reduced adverse reactions from new drugs and dosages, sometimes researchers buck the marketing department with the alarming reality that today’s AIDS drugs still cause serious health problems, including death.

For example, one such study was recently presented at the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC).

Before even getting to the study, observe that the name of the conference combines the terms: “antimicrobial agents” and “chemotherapy”. AIDS drug promoters bristle whenever someone compares ARVs (anti-retrovirals) to chemotherapy, yet apparently this particular conference has no difficulty making the same association.

Back to the study report that caught my eye, “Bone Loss Evident in Nearly Half of HIV-Positive Patients on Antiretroviral Therapy”, by Alice Goodman of Medscape Medical News. Kudos to the headline writer for making it explicitly clear that the study participants were on ARVs. Too often the headings of reports like this suggest findings are specific to those with an HIV-positive diagnosis alone, glossing over the fact that most study participants are taking the drug cocktails. Continue reading Pharmaceutical Solutions To AIDS Are Not Enough

Quitting Drugs Is Not Enough

Some folks who have read my story about quitting AIDS drugs and nearly two dozen other prescription drugs seem to think I attribute my improved health to that choice alone.

It isn’t that simple.

There is no doubt in my mind that taking so many prescription drugs, even under the care of physicians, was damaging me and my health. Quitting them was one essential step–among several–that I had to take just to recover my wits enough to move forward.

Good health, or improving one’s poor health, also requires attention to what we put into our system and how we maintain it. In my case, it also led me to rethink just about everything I thought I knew about medical care and health.

I’m only going to summarize here some highlights of the path I’ve followed to address my seriously declining health. The details and sequence of actions are vague, because each individual’s plan must be customized to fit their needs. Do as much research as possible for yourself (thank goodness for the Internet).

Good alternative or wholistic practitioners can be difficult to find, but may prove invaluable, especially early on. Seek out healers, not just doctors. When dealing with serious illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune disorders (including auto deficiencies), MS, “AIDS”, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and others, it is important to make significant changes immediately to halt the decline of health. Once recovery is underway there will be time to review and evaluate each of these areas of change to determine which ones should be made permanent.

What follows is based on my personal experience. While it is not intended as medical advice, I do hope some readers might find some valuable suggestions to improve their health. Continue reading Quitting Drugs Is Not Enough

Quitting AIDS drugs OK, say Italian researchers

LOTTI stands for the LOng Term Treatment Interruption study, which recently reported that “Scheduled Treatment Interruptions” (STI) for toxic AIDS drug cocktails do work.

Although some results from the LOTTI study were first reported back in November, 2008, the complete report wasn’t published in the journal AIDS until April, 2009 and was finally published on Medscape this month.  In an industry that often falls over itself rushing to trumpet breaking news to the media, this sluggishness to report good news (for people on HAART, if not the pharmaceutical industry) is certainly suspect.

The randomized, controlled, prospective  LOTTI study concluded that those patients who took vacations from their HAART drugs fared as well clinically as those who took their drug cocktail continuously. “The two strategies may be considered clinically equivalent,” stated the study’s authors. Even more importantly, more than a fourth of those who quit their cocktail of drugs never had to restart them, even though the mean length of time in the study was more than four years!

What is so exciting about this scientifically controlled study is that it offers hope to those people who are currently taking anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, but are concerned about long term effects, or are already experiencing illness because of toxicity. Based on the study’s results, there are not only no good reasons for HAART patients to stay on the drugs continuously and indefinitely, there are several advantages to stopping them:

  • Reduced toxicity – Not surprisingly, the LOTTI trial found that those patients randomized to the  continuous HAART arm of the study experienced more cardiological problems due to the effects of drug toxicity. These problems are well known, and modern clinical practice is to attempt to “manage” them with… yep, more pharmaceutical products. Other known effects of continuous use of HAART include disfiguring body effects called lypodystrophy, liver disease, bone problems, aberrant blood levels such as lipids, enzymes and hormones, and more.
  • Drug “resistance” – The boogeyman most frequently used to discourage patients from considering drug interruptions–was also higher in the continuous HAART cohort. Of those in the STI arm who developed resistance, all but one did so after viral suppression was achieved, and while on HAART. In other words, being off the drugs did not cause resistance, but being on them did! This contradicts the “common wisdom” pronounced by most HIV practitioners.
  • CD4 counts – While about the same number of patients from each arm reached one of the primary end points (death or disease), those in the continuous arm had a mean CD4 count of 891, compared to 557 in the STI arm. So much for the protective power of higher CD4 counts.
  • Cost effectiveness – Daily treatment cost for patients on STI was less than half that of the continuous HAART group. Cost alone should not be the determining factor in treatment, but there never seems to be enough money to fuel the AIDS machine, so this is an important finding.

LOTTI results challenge SMART study

The largest study of the STI treatment strategy to date, the SMART study, was sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and was terminated early, supposedly because early results showed virologic failure and deaths for those on STI’s. The design (and execution) of SMART has been challenged and the study may serve better as an indication of the tremendous influence of pharmaceutical interests on the U.S. health research industry than on STI itself. Current treatment guidelines are based on lifelong adherence to what might best  be described as chemotherapy.

One question raised by LOTTI is: if so many people do well once they stop taking the toxic drugs, why should otherwise healthy people start taking them in the first place?

(Note:  this report is a summary of a longer discussion of the LOTTI results on my blog here.)

Mandatory “voluntary” testing and drugging healthy people will end epidemic. Maybe.

RTB: Where to start with deciphering this study, which isn’t really a study at all?

The headline shouts “voluntary” testing, but the researchers admit that the “mathematical models” (another red flag for AIDS research studies) used would require that “all persons 15 years of age and older [be] tested annually,” with those testing positive then required to take toxic AIDS drugs when cd4 counts drop below 350, an only slightly lower than normal cd4 count for many healthy people.

Findings in the report are based on numerous other assumptions, including a “10-fold increase in transmission during the acute infection” as well as “a reduction in transmission by 99% with successful ART” (drugs). No citations are given either assumption. Continue reading Mandatory “voluntary” testing and drugging healthy people will end epidemic. Maybe.

Hit Hard, Hit Early Redux

RTB: A retrospective study and editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday is once again pushing for early intervention with toxic drugs for those testing positive on flawed tests, based on questionable markers.

Most people will not read beyond the headline or the one-sentence conclusion. If they did, they would realize that this “study” is more about promoting drugs than saving lives. The abstract of this report is already showing up on blogs with no references to critical information, such as this from an editorial in the same issue (emphasis added): Continue reading Hit Hard, Hit Early Redux

Hitching TB to the AIDS bandwagon

RTB: Tuberculosis is one of dozens of conditions that can cause a so-called HIV antibody test to react “positive”. In Africa the symptoms of TB can be easily misdiagnosed as “AIDS”, based on the Bangui definition which defines African AIDS as a collection of symptoms caused by poor nutrition and lack of clean water, including diarrhea, fever and weight loss.

Now the World Health Organization only adds to the confusion by blaming TB rates on HIV infection. One of the consequences of increased HIV testing with the imperfect test will of course be more of these “false positives”. Further distorting the significance of the flawed tests is yet another attempt to increase support (funding) for even more AIDS drugs.

Treating tuberculosis with AIDS drugs makes little sense, unless you are a pharmaceutical manufacturer or dependent on the Global AIDS Initiative for your livelihood. Continue reading Hitching TB to the AIDS bandwagon

AIDS Drugs Make Patients Older, Faster

RTB: This 2009 study reports that people who test HIV-positive, and who take AIDS drugs show characteristics of advanced aging in their T-Cells  – in other words, these people were older than their calendar age. All of the ‘positive’ trial participants are on a multiple-drug “cocktail” of FDA Black Box label drugs, meaning any of the drugs that they’re taking can and have caused death, or permanent injury, including organ damage and failure.

  • “HIV-infected subjects (median 56 years) with good immune reconstitution and viral suppression had immune changes comparable to older (median 88 years) HIV-negative subjects.”

The researchers don’t count this as a factor – they simply don’t consider drug toxicity in people given the AIDS diagnosis. Even these researchers cannot see beyond the intense weight of the overly-certain “HIV Positive” stigma, which is based on poly-reactive HIV testing.

The study notes that the Viral Load has been lowered considerably; the researchers don’t refer to major studies that demonstrate that Viral Load does not correlate with healthy T-cell production, or with clinical health. But this remains the goal of standard AIDS care.
Continue reading AIDS Drugs Make Patients Older, Faster