AIDS DENIALIST GARY NULL


AIDS DENIALISM = SEEING WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE      


January 17, 2006

Interim General Manager
Indra Hardat
WBAI/Pacifica
120 Wall Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10026

Dear Ms. Hardat,

We are deeply concerned that WBAI local station board member Steve
Brown and a minority of others on the local station board are urging
you to bring back former health programmer Gary Null to WBAI's
airwaves. They claim that it would be a sound business decision and
bring listeners back to the station. We in the AIDS Coalition to
Unleash Power (ACT UP/NY) differ; we believe his return would be a
huge mistake and violation of WBAI's social justice mission. ACT UP
is a direct action AIDS organization dedicated to ending the AIDS
crisis. We have chapters in many cities around the United States and
in several countries and have successfully used nonviolent protest to
pressure the US government and greedy corporations to stop dangerous
policies that worsen the epidemic and to make life-extending
treatments available to all people with AIDS who desire treatment. We
have never taken drug company money.

Over the years, we have been repeatedly distressed about the
life-threatening misinformation conveyed in Gary Null's programming
on HIV/AIDS. Mr. Null is an HIV/AIDS denialist, meaning he denies
that HIV is the cause of AIDS, in spite of a mountain of evidence to
the contrary. In the four years prior to Mr. Null's cancellation, he
brought these viewpoints about AIDS to the air dozens of times; in
the overwhelming majority of cases, he did so in an unbalanced way.
His repeated programming denying that HIV is the cause of AIDS is
dangerous in a metropolitan area where HIV/AIDS is epidemic.
Similarly, his broadcasts stating that AIDS is not spread to sexual
partners of people with AIDS could lead people listening to him for
advice to fail to use condoms or safer sex techniques, thus exposing
themselves to a deadly infection. We believe that Gary Null should
not be returned to WBAI's airwaves as a host.

AIDS: A Second Opinion, a video documentary made in the late 1990s,
illustrates some of Null's problematic presentations on AIDS. He
presents Christine Johnson, whom he identifies as a science writer,
saying, "There is absolutely no AIDS epidemic anywhere. Unless you
define an epidemic as a few cases trickling in here and there, which
I don't. It certainly has never lived up to the gross exaggerations
and hysteria that has been generated on the issue of AIDS."

But the facts of the matter show Ms. Johnson to be wrong. In 1995,
AIDS became the eighth leading cause of death and the leading cause
among all Americans aged 25 to 44, according to data from the Federal
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a National
Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) fact sheet, at
the end of 2000, 36 million people were living with HIV worldwide.
Additionally, the fact sheet reports that in the United States, "as
of December 31, 1999, 733,374 cases of AIDS and 430,441 AIDS-related
deaths had been reported to the CDC. AIDS is the fifth leading cause
of death among all adults aged 25 to 44 in the United States. Among
African-Americans in the 25 to 44 age group, AIDS is the leading
cause of death for men and the second leading cause of death for
women." In 2005, UNAIDS, the UN agency charged with dealing with the
AIDS crisis, estimated that 3.1 million people had died in that year
alone, with more than 40 million infected. Even when the documentary
was made, the facts clearly showed Mr. Null's guests to be wrong, and
since then, the evidence is even stronger against his case.

Similarly, Mr. Null misrepresents the risks of HIV infection from
sexual contact. In the same documentary, he presented Joan Shenton,
director of Meditel Prod. saying, "There are so many things that are
completely wrong about the HIV, the virus AIDS hypothesis. For
example, if HIV is such a deadly infectious virus, why is it that the
partners of people who are positive don't get HIV and don't get AIDS?
It is very, very rare that anyone living with a person living with
AIDS or HIV gets infected, so to speak, and the wives of hemophiliacs
who are HIV/positive, a tiny proportion were said to have become
infected, which was less than what you would normally expect in that
group of people in the community as a whole." Yet there are many
scientific articles, whose abstracts are available at
http://www.pubmed.gov, written in the early and mid-1990s that refute
this claim and instead demonstrate HIV transmission rates to female
sexual partners of hemophiliacs of 10-20%. Rates of sexual
transmission of HIV to uninfected male partners of men with HIV/AIDS
are much higher.

Additionally, Mr. Null promotes the views of those who say HIV
medications are dangerous. One of Mr. Null's guests says, "AZT and
so-called antiviral therapies cause the very disease they are
supposed to prevent." Yet the evidence is clear that these drugs,
while having toxic side-effects in many, still extend lives and
improve quality of life. In the first year these drugs became
available on a widespread basis, mortality rates fell by 75% in the
United States and by 85% in Europe, where access to health care is
more available. Newspapers serving the gay community throughout the
United States found a drastic reduction in the number of obituaries
due to AIDS. For Mr. Null to present guests that overstate the
problems with these drugs, in the context of an overall argument that
HIV does not cause AIDS, encourages people with AIDS to not take
their drugs.

Scientists and activists have been increasingly concerned about
misinformation of the type spread by Mr. Null on HIV/AIDS because of
its disastrous effect on public policy in countries such as South
Africa that have large HIV/AIDS epidemics. The influence of these
denialists on South Africa's President Mbeki caused that government
to ignore the epidemic in the years in which it could have been more
easily contained. Concerned scientists responded by making a public
statement refuting the claims of the denialists. In July 2000, five
thousand scientists and physicians working on HIV/AIDS signed the
Durban Declaration, which was presented at the international AIDS
conference held there and which stated: "The evidence that AIDS is
caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous.
This evidence meets the highest standards of science. The data
fulfill exactly the same criteria as for other viral diseases, such
as poliomyelitis, measles and smallpox."

Over the years, Mr. Null brought his incorrect information to his
listeners in a variety of ways. He brought on guests who promote
these discredited views and also used the show to direct his
listeners to his commercial website, where more inaccurate
information is presented. Some of this so-called "information" is
also available for purchase. He also uses his website to sell
vitamins, which he says are important to treat AIDS. While vitamins
are useful for people with HIV--scientists have documented that they
slow the rate that people with HIV develop AIDS--the same scientists
are clear that vitamins can't cure AIDS, nor treat advanced AIDS the
same way antiretroviral drugs do.

WBAI's listeners deserve accurate information, especially about
preventable, life-threatening diseases. Returning Gary Null to the
air for financial reasons would be unethical profiteering, because he
gives out information that can cause people to become infected with
HIV or fail to treat the infection properly. For all these reasons,
we think it is irresponsible for WBAI to return him to the air. We
hope you will hold WBAI to its social justice mission and not let
monetary motivations override public health concerns.

     
Sincerely,
      ACT UP/NY
      For more information, contact Eric Sawyer at 917-951-5758

        cc. Bernard White, Program Director
        cc. Vajra Kilgour, Local Station Board Chair


May 17, 2005

New questions raised about Gary Null's credentials. Dr. Stephen Barrett has updated his exposé of Gary Null, whom he considers to be "of the nation's leading promoters of dubious treatment for serious disease." In 1989, Null acquired a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition and Public Health Sciences from The Union Institute, which is accredited but lets students select and chair their own Ph.D. committee. In January 2005, Null's attorney David Slater demanded that Quackwatch remove a 1999 article which said that Null's Ph.D. thesis was based on an invalid diagnostic test and had "contributed nothing" to the world's scientific literature. As evidence of an alleged contribution, Slater stated that two updated versions of the thesis were accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. It turned out, however, that the articles to which Slater referred were published in 1981 and 1984 in obscure journals and had multiple authors, and that Null was not listed as lead author of either one. When Barrett asked Slater to clarify the time frames and authorship and to state where Null got an "M.S." degree listed after his name in the articles, Slater replied: "My client has instructed me to cease all further communications with you." Slater also declined to provide information about the nature and timing of any courses Null had had in nutrition and public health. [Barrett S. A critical look at Gary Null's activities and credentials. Quackwatch, March 13, 2005]

http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/null.html


  see also:  Errors in Farber Denialist article in March 2006 Harpers

 


 



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