Joan Shenton, 'Positively False; Exposing the myths around HIV and AIDS' I.B. Tauris, London / St Martin's Press, New York 1998, 310 pages, ISBN 1-86064-333-7.
HIV is an infection. HIV leads to AIDS. AIDS kills. This is the hypothesis. All AIDS researchers of whatever persuasion accept this as no more than a hypothesis.
Investigation of the HIV = AIDS = Death hypothesis, which has wrongly acquired the force of certainty, has been riddled with flaws leading to distorted results, wrong conclusions and needless suffering, claims Joan Shenton. Worse, research has been driven by pharma-ceutical companies anxious to protect enormous investments in drug treatments like AZT and by the ambitions of some unscrupulous scientists equally anxious to protect their research funding, patented HIV test kits and ultimately their egos. Worse still, these combined interests have succeeded in blocking off research in other directions. The result, according to Shenton, has been bad science.
Joan Shenton, a prize-winning medical journalist, was caught up in the dramatic David and Goliath battle between the AIDS orthodoxy and dissenters who have questioned the hypotheses of the orthodoxy. What startled Shenton, during her investigations for Channel 4 TV, was the shrill vehemence with which the scientific orthodoxy dismissed the work of other AIDS researchers who postulated the possibility that HIV was a harmless retro-virus, that AIDS was not an infectious condition and that, even if it were, it was not HIV which broke down a body's immune system but rather the toxic assault from drug abuse, drug 'treatments' for AIDS and, in haemophiliacs, impurities from repeated clotting factor transfusions.
In this book Shenton introduces scientists who maintain that HIV has never been isolated and that the HIV test is simply picking up proteins said to be specific to the virus, but which reside in all of us and happen to become raised when the body's immune system is compromised for other reasons. She has recorded an extra-ordinary account of the tyranny of orthodoxy imposed by some scientists and the pharmaceutical industry which, according to Shenton, has distorted and derailed the process of scientific inquiry, cost billions of misspent dollars for 'treatment' and mis-directed research funding, and condemned tens of thousands of individuals with the stigma and anxiety of an HlV-positive label. In the Third World, according to Shenton, millions of unfortunates are being falsely classified as HIV and AIDS victims who, because they 'are going to die anyway', are being denied treatment for their true ills brought on by poverty, deprivation and malnutrition.
Through her attempts to investigate AIDS research Shenton paints a fascinating picture of collusion between science and commerce. Her book makes a real contribution to our understanding of the debates surrounding HIV and AIDS and raises disturbing questions about the relationship between scientific analysis, public health and commercial interest.
Joan Shenton's medical journalism has included the production of 49 documentaries on health issues for network television, 7 on the HIV / AIDS issue. Two of her films on AIDS have received the Royal Television Society Journalism Award and a British Medical Association award. Shenton's programmes have been made for the BBC, Channel 4, Thames TV and Central TV.