HIV-POSITIVE MOM IN HIDING, FEARING FORCED TREATMENT OF KIDS
She believes drug treatments for virus are more deadly than
By Marnie Ko
The Globe and Mail (Calgary) 25 Oct. 1999
Somewhere in Alberta, a 29-year old mother is in hiding with her two
infant sons. She's on the run from authorities in British Columbia who have
demanded she produce her children for HIV testing.
The mother is HIV-positive, a result, she says, of a relationship with
a hemophiliac 15 years ago when she was just 14.
The woman says she fled after being told by a doctor that social
workers could remove her children from her custody if she breast-fed her
newborn. When she checked with officials to see if that could be done, she
says social workers ordered her to stop breast-feeding her seven-day-old
son and to present herself and her children at an AIDS clinic that day to
be tested for the human immunodeficiency virus.
HIV-positive mothers are strongly discouraged from breastfeeding. It is
generally believed that HIV can be passed from mother to infant during
feedings--but that view is not unanimous. A recent South African study
published in the medical journal Lancet concluded breast-feeding does not
transmit HIV from mother to baby, the researchers surmising that immune
factors in breastmilk act to "neutralize" the passage of HIV.
In the Alberta woman's case, social workers insisted that if the
woman's children tested HIV-positive, they would be administered powerful
anti-HIV drug cocktails, regardless of parental consent. Even though
testing had not yet been performed, she says she was threatened by doctors
and child welfare workers: put the kids on AZT, or we'll take them away
Drug therapies for HIV are legally considered voluntary, but in cases
involving children child protection officials often take custody of the
kids, loathe to deny them conventional treatment, regardless of parental
The Alberta woman says that, in fear, she stopped breast-feeding and
The stay-at home mother, a former-hairdresser, vows that she'll "pick
up and leave the country" before ever consenting to drug therapy for her
When she had her first child in 1996, he wasn't tested for HIV. With
the exception of a few colds, and the mumps and chicken pox, the
blond-haired, rosy-cheeked three year old has been happy and healthy.
She says does not believe HIV causes AIDS, and that anti-HIV drugs are
themselves a death sentence. She believes that the drug cocktails
prescribed to treat HIV, such as AZT, are toxic and untested; that they
ravage healthy cells in the body. Moreover, she believes parents should be
given the final say in medical decisions about their children.
She's not the only dissenter questioning the theories that make up the
multi-billion dollar AIDS industry. A growing number of scientists
world-wide dispute the science that HIV equals AIDS.
The group includes scientists such as Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel
Prize for chemistry in 1993 for inventing the polymerase chain reaction
used to test for HIV.
University of California at Berkeley molecular biologist Peter
Duesberg, the first man to map the gene structure of retroviruses,
maintains that HIV is a harmless passenger virus, which is associated with,
but not the cause of, AIDS. Prof. Duesberg is convinced that AZT causes
"poisoning" by destroying bone marrow and blood cell production system.
The president of the International AIDS Society, who first identified
3TC, the most widely used anti-viral drug in the world, does not agree.
Mark Wainberg, a scientist at McGill University in Montreal, told ABC
News.com in October that "those who deny that HIV causes AIDS are for the
most part ill-informed, confused individuals who either do not or cannot
understand the issues involved."
There are currently nine legal cases underway, one in Canada, where
parents are fighting the state to make their own decisions about
HIV-related drug therapies.
The Alberta mother, meanwhile, said: "I've been HIV-positive, and
healthy, for 15 years," adding that the only time she felt sick, was when
she took anti-HIV drugs, at her doctor's insistence, for about a month.
"I've never been so sick... the drugs made me nauseated all day long
and constantly exhausted. I stopped taking the pills and I felt better
almost immediately. I've been healthy ever since. And I'm still alive."
"There's no way I'd give my kids anti-HIV cocktails so they can get
sick and die. I'm not giving healthy children, even if they test
HIV-positive, drugs that come in a bottle with a skull that has an X
through it. It's crazy. AZT is poison."