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Journal of No. 118

June 27th, 2012

"The Social and Symbolic Power of AIDS Denialism" @ 03:08 pm

Fascinating/Horrifying article by Nicoli Nattrass in the current Skeptical Inquirer.

Either I missed this when it happened, or my brain blocked it from my memory for my comfort:

Christine Maggiore
an HIV-positive activist who promoted the view that HIV is not the cause of AIDS
Christine Maggiore chose not to take antiretroviral drugs or other measures which reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV during her pregnancies. Maggiore also breast-fed her children, despite evidence that breast-feeding can also transmit HIV from mother to child.
In April 2005, Eliza Jane became ill with a runny nose. She was seen by two physicians, one of whom reportedly knew of Maggiore's HIV status. Eliza Jane was not tested for HIV, and was diagnosed with pneumonia. When Eliza Jane failed to improve, Maggiore took her to see Philip Incao, a holistic practitioner and board member of Maggiore's AIDS-denialist organization Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, who claimed Eliza Jane appeared to be only mildly ill, and prescribed her amoxicillin for a presumed ear infection. On May 16, 2005, Eliza Jane collapsed and stopped breathing. She was rushed to Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, California, where, after failed attempts to revive her, she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy revealed that Eliza Jane was markedly underweight and underheight, consistent with a chronic illness, exhibited a pronounced atrophy of her thymus and other lymphatic organs, and that her lungs were infected with Pneumocystis jirovecii, a common opportunistic pathogen in people with AIDS and the leading cause of pediatric AIDS deaths. The post-mortem examination of Eliza Jane's brain showed changes consistent with HIV encephalitis; protein components of HIV itself were identified in Eliza Jane's brain tissue via immunohistochemistry. The coroner concluded unequivocally that Eliza Jane had died of Pneumocystis pneumonia in the setting of advanced AIDS.
On December 27, 2008, Maggiore died at the age of 52. She was under a doctor's care and was being treated for what was originally reported as pneumonia.

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Date:June 27th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
I remember her. There was a fawning article about her in the now-defunct CityBeat before she died.
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Date:June 27th, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC)
Interesting that you mention the fawning. The SI article describes the organization of the denialist movement as being the confluence of four elements:

the "hero scientists" like Duesberg
the "cultropreneurs" who offer quack remedies and therapies
the "living icons" like Maggiore
and finally... the '"praise singers," sympathetic journalists and filmmakers who publicize the movement.'
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Date:June 27th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC)

Your brain blocked this from your consciousness because it's so horrifying.

Journal of No. 118