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Denying AIDS


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Table of Contents

HIV/AIDS Denialism Is Alive and Well.- Peter Duesberg and the Origins of HIV/AIDS Denialism.- AIDS Pseudoscience.- Denialist Journalism and Conspiracy Theories.- Politics of Denialism.- Getting Out of Denial.

About the Author

Seth C. Kalichman is a Professor at the University of Connecticut. He has previously edited the volume, Positive Prevention: Reducing HIV Transmission among People Living with HIV/AIDS, also published by Springer.


From the reviews:

It's a slender and punchy book, engagingly written and sharply observed, a fascinating insight into what the author describes as a "wacky and destructive world".... Kalichman is generous and thoughtful company, he assiduously attends to the denialist creed, thoroughly debunking their theories without bitterness or rage. An epilogue posits that all forms of medical denialism-whether cancer, AIDS, or autism-could be "part of one movement to promote public mistrust in science and medicine."

-Talha Burki, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 9, Issue 10, October 2009

"Seth Kalichman has superbly captured the contradictions inherent in AIDS denialism. He has deftly captured its religious-like fervor, its vociferous proponents and passionate opponents as well as its destructive force when legitimized by the South African President. AIDS denialism has left confusion in its wake as it undermined public health efforts to curb the greatest health challenge of the 20th century. Kalichman vividly shares his experiences, understanding, and dilemmas as he unraveled this phenomenon piece by painful piece."

-Salim S. Abdool Karim, Member of the 2000 South African Presidential Panel on AIDS, Professor at University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Director of Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)

"Significant advances in the prevention and treatment have lead to fewer numbers of new infections and extended and improved the lives of those affected by the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS. However, myths and misunderstandings about HIV/AIDS still abound and pose a real threat to our progress. In Denying AIDS, Seth Kalichman provides a fascinating look into the thinking of those who propagate AIDS myths and the negative impact it has on our response to a deadly disease. He shows us how AIDS pseudoscience has at times confused the public and threatened sound public health policy. Anyone who cares about the global HIV/AIDS pandemic should read this book."

-Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO CARE USA and former Director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Assistant Surgeon General, and Member of the 2000 South African Presidential Panel on AIDS

"Seth Kalichman is an excellent scientist passionately committed to saving lives through the prevention of HIV/AIDS. This excellent volume examines the detailed history of HIV/AIDS denialism as well as its damaging impact throughout the world. HIV/AIDS denialism and its proponents have created confusion when the clear provision of scientifically accurate communication was most needed. At all levels, denial of AIDS results in a failure to face up to one of the greatest health threats of the century."

-James Curran, Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Coordinator of the 1981 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Task Force on Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections" and former Director of the CDC HIV/AIDS Division.

"AIDS denialism is destructive and rides on the back of mistrust in science and medicine through our internet world. Seth Kalichman brilliantly uses a psychological lens to expose the wacky world that creates and maintains its presence despite the untold numbers of deaths and suffering it has caused. The book is a wake up call to policy makers and scientists, particularly in places most affected by the pandemic, that denialism must be confronted if we want to bring it under control. A must read for those who want to know more about the power and influence of pseudoscience."

-Michael Merson, Director, Global Health Institute at Duke University and Former Director of the World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS.

"Inadequate health policies in South Africa have reportedly led to some 330,000 unnecessary AIDS deaths and a spike in infant mortality, according to estimates by South African and US researchers. This carnage exceeds the death toll in Darfur, yet it has received far less attention. Seth Kalichman, a US clinical psychologist, shows in Denying AIDS how words can kill."

-John P. Moore, Nature 459, 168 (14 May 2009)

"In this important book, Seth Kalichman provides important insights into the convoluted world of AIDS denialism ... . It is ... directed at HIV scientists and care providers, and at journalists who cover HIV-related health issues. ... This book is a superb and unique examination of a fascinating and important phenomenon. It is also an excellent read and will be interest to all who have an interest in the HIV pandemic ... ."

-Ronald C Hershow, Doody's Review Service, May, 2009

"Kalichman has recently written a book about the denialist movement, entitled Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy, which outlines the history of denialism as well as its consequences. ... Kalichman ... book will help people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. ... the book will help sort out the misinformation that exists on the topic of HIV and AIDS and can cause such harm to newly diagnosed people just looking for legitimate information."

-Bryan Birtles, Vue Weekly, Issue 717, July, 2009

"Kalichman's book is well-written, timely, thoroughly researched ... . serve as a resource for anyone interested in critical thinking ... . It's also the best work I've seen ... in evaluating the psychology of the believers causing all the trouble. ... So buy it! All royalties go to the purchase of anti-retrovirals for people in Africa, so you not only help yourshelf but you help undo some of the damage done by denialists ... ." (MarkH, Science Blogs, May, 2009)

"Kalichman's most impressive accomplishment is ... globally understood the denial discourse. ... Denying AIDS includes six chapters. ... Kalichman's book is a major accomplishment. He points us in the direction where our work must go next. We must do as he recommends, confront our denials knowing that we will never conquer them." (Anthony Lemelle, Journal of African American Studies, Vol. 13 (3), September, 2009)

"Kalichman (Univ. of Connecticut; The Inside Story on AIDS, 2003) has written a poignant and well-documented expose of the scientific and sociopolitical forces involved in the organized movement of AIDS 'denialists' ... . These naysayers reject science, contradict medical advice, and actively spread myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings to refute reality. Their malignant distortions can result in more individuals refusing to be tested, ignoring their diagnoses, or rejecting lifesaving treatments. ... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers." (P. Wermager, Choice, Vol. 47 (1), September, 2009)

"The book focuses on AIDS denialism and people who do not believe that HIV causes AIDS. ... 'Denying AIDS' will help create more awareness of denialism and that his event at the Co-op was just a start." (Kira O'Grady, The Daily Campus, December, 2009)

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