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June 8, 2001

AIDS Miracle Drugs

Actual Consumption Not Necessary

The following observations questioning the common belief, widely promoted by the media, that the introduction of "miracle" Protease Inhibitor drugs was responsible for the reduction in AIDS mortality in the 1990s were sent to me by Christine Maggiore, Director of "Alive & Well."

(1) Throughout 1996, the year in which the drug combinations known as Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) were declared the absolute cause of decreased AIDS deaths, less than 20% of HIV positives actually held prescriptions for HAART.

(2) Studies show that treatment containing Protease Inhibitors is no better or worse than treatment with combinations of nucleoside analogs such as AZT and ddI. In other words, according to mainstream AIDS researchers, adding a PI to an AZT+ ddI combo doesn't seem to do much.

(3) Improved survival rates attributed to the PI combinations conflict with statements that the greatest percentage reductions in mortality occurred in 1995, the year before the new drugs had been approved for general use, and in 1996, the year that less than 20% of HIV positives had prescriptions for PI cocktails. In other words, the miracles ascribed to the PI combos all happened before just about anyone had access to Protease Inhibitors. In 1993, the definition of AIDS was (again) expanded by the US Centers for Disease Control when four new conditions were added. The new definition caused an explosion in the number of people that could be called AIDS patients. One of the new conditions for an AIDS diagnosis was having a CD4 T-cell count of 200 or less at some point during a given year. From 1993 forward, the majority of AIDS cases have been occurring in individuals with no clinical illness. When you suddenly label large numbers of illness-free, symptom-free, HIV positives as 'AIDS patients,' this must result in increased survival in the overall AIDS patient population. This has to do with the labeling, not with the effects of any treatment.

Those interested in a comprehensive yet easy-to-read summary of the other side of the story might inquire about Christine's book, What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong? Available from "Alive & Well," The American Foundation for AIDS Alternatives, 11684 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604, Tel. 877-92-ALIVE, E-mail AFAA@aliveandwell.org

 
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