Continuum (London) Spring 1998; Vol5 n°3
by Huw Christie
Damaging, non-specific HIV testing at the hands of the medical
industry must soon prompt large financial compensation for ‘the diagnosed’.
It’s time to sue!
Changes to the system of public access to justice in Britain dating back to 1995 open further the door for people to sue in court for substantial compensation if tested positive on tests for HIV, the suggested virus expected to cause aids, (hereinafter referred to as ‘HIV’).
British law introduced the option of Conditional Fees for solicitors’ work. When a solicitor enters into a Conditional Fee Agreement with a client, in the unlikely event that a case is not won, no fee is paid by the client - ‘no-win no-fee’. The client may be liable to pay the opponent’s court costs, and insurance is sold by several insurance companies to meet this, which can be taken out once a Conditional Fee Agreement is signed with a solicitor.
Conditional Fee Agreements, which are considered risky business by many solicitors, can currently be used in Britain for cases relating to personal injury, and for cases taken to the European Court of Human Rights. Either of these is already an appropriate area to seek compensation for an invalid ‘HIV-positive’ diagnosis (1). There are well-advanced plans to extend the new fee system to other areas of the law in the near future.
A legal case for compensation against (i) a Health Authority and/or (ii) a test kit manufacturer and/or (iii) the British Department of Health would probably take account of the following:
As medical devices no ‘HIV-test kit’ has had to be licensed for use in Britain, as a medicine has to be. They still are not.
Since 1992 it has been thoroughly on the record in major scientific literature that there is no known specificity and accuracy for so-called HIV-antibody tests (1), (or “viral load” tests). (2,3)
In 1992 all Britain excepting Scotland ceased using one type of antibody test kit - the Western blot - which is the preferred type in most of the rest of the world due to what is considered its superior specificity. (4)
Different countries use significantly different types of ‘HIV’/antibody tests, the results of which frequently conflict, and even when the same test is used in different countries, there are seriously differing criteria between countries for how the result should look in order to be positive. On the internationally preferred Western blot design of test kit, a person can be positive in Africa and negative in Australia or Scotland. The Head of the Virus Reference Laboratory of the British Public Health Laboratory Service, Dr Philip Mortimer,
wrote in 1992, “It may be impossible to relate an antibody response specifically to HIV-1 infection.” (5)
The only way to prove the specificity of an ‘HIV test kit’ - i.e. how frequently it tells the truth about ‘HIV infection’ - is to run a check of a positive result in a person against isolating some actual human immunodeficiency virus from the person, and to do it in thousands of people, many of them from the ‘risk groups’ where such antibodies are most frequently found in high levels. If the antibody test is positive when, and only when, isolation is positive, the test is 100% specific. The more times the antibody test is positive when isolation is not, the less specific the test is.
These checks have never been performed in Britain or indeed successfully anywhere. When the defining work designing ‘HIV’ antibody tests was done by Robert Gallo and his colleagues in the US in 1984, using principles and assumptions that have not changed, they achieved a match between positive-for-‘HIV antibodies’ and positive-for-‘HIV-isolation’ of only about one third. Substandard criteria for isolation were used that would not be acceptable today. In other words, nearly two thirds of people testing antibody-positive were virus-isolation-negative under conditions that maximised claims of isolation.
The more than sixty conditions - some of them AIDS defining - already known in scientific literature to induce antibodies that can turn ‘HIV-antibody’ tests positive include: PCP, candida, MAI, TB, hepatitis B and C, flu vaccines, Herpes simplex I and II, and autoimmune diseases. There are many more. (6,7)
To date it has been impossible effectively to validate ‘HIV’ tests - antibody or PCR or antigen – because actual isolation of an HIV by the standards of virology has never been achieved, and it may never be. In March 1997, two independent teams, one at the Robert Koch Institute, Berlin (8), and the other at the Aids Vaccine Programme in Maryland, USA (9), published hitherto missing electron microscope pictures of their state-of-the-art attempts to purify and so isolate ‘HIV’. The leading Berlin pictures were instead captioned ‘purified microvesicles’, because these mini-cell particles - that look a bit like viruses - were all that could be collected where ‘HIV’ should have been.
The trauma of a positive antibody test result for ‘HIV’, the suggested virus expected to cause AIDS, is for the individual often the beginning of a gruelling and dangerous process of toxic prophylaxis, experimental ‘anti-HIV’ medication, biological and emotional stress and psychological decline. Suicide is a known response too. If treatment is needed for an illness, it is most often interpreted in light of the patient being ‘HIV-positive’, with assumptions about AIDS clouding the approach and placing the patient at greatly increased risk. Anybody given a positive ‘HIV-antibody’ test result has been medically abused in a highly vulnerable situation. Professional pre- and post-test counselling promotes belief in a high reliability for these tests, and a patient is told to accept the results as secure, particularly if he or she has elicited two positive results. But of course reproducibility is most definitely not specificity - the two results could both be positive (reproduced) due to the same non-’HIV’ cause.
Solicitors are as likely as anyone not to have understood the inevitability and dimensions of such lawsuits; one leading solicitor who is already aware of some of the issues remains sceptical, responding that a client would have a case only if he or she had tested negative after testing positive i.e. their first result was a ‘mistake’. However, legal perceptions may begin to clarify soon, when for the first time ever at a World Aids Conference (12th International, Geneva, June 28 - July 3), there will be an official public scientific meeting
on fundamental problems with ‘HIV-tests’, entitled ‘HIV Testing: Open Questions Regarding Specificity’. This critical and historic conference session takes place on the opening day of the conference.
These unlicensed tests with no biological gold-standard and no consistent criteria for interpretation have been inflicted on individuals and populations despite clear evidence of their inadequacy and danger, and at immense profit to test makers, and drug makers. Recent compensation cases against tobacco sellers and mining interests over undeclared health risks have resulted in very large payouts to those abused.
Experimenting with unvalidated ‘HIV-tests’ should be immediately terminated, and appropriate compensation awarded to those misled, abused, damaged - and/or to the families/partners of those who have died during this scenario. Research into therapies and medical protocols for genuine illnesses, immune suppression and health risks should be funded without delay.
References - a brief guide only
1. Baumgartner et al. Information Dossier: United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland. Int. Forum for Access. Science. April 1998
2. Papadopulos- Eleopulos E, Turner VF, Papadimitriou JM. Is a Positive Western Blot Proof of HIVinfection? Bio/Technology 1993; 11: 696-707
3. Papadopulos-Eleopulos E, Turner VF, Papadimitriou JM. Has Gallo proven the role of HIV in AIDS? Emerg. Med. [Australia} 1993; 5: 113-123
4. Mortimer P et al. Towards error free HIVdiagnosis. Public Health Laboratory Service, UK. 1992
6. Papadopulos-Eleopulos E, Turner VF, Papadimitriou JM, Causer D. HIV antibodies: Further questions and a plea for clarification. Current Medical Research and Opinion 1997; 13: 627 634
7. Johnson C. Whose antibodies are they anyway? Continuum 1996. vol 4. no. 3. References 1 - 64
8. Gluschankof P, Mondor I, Gelderblom HR, Sattentau QJ. Cell Membrane Vesicles Are a Major Contaminant of Gradient-Enriched Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Preparations. Virology; 230: 125-133. 1997
9. Bess JW, Gorelick RJ, Bosche WJ, Henderson LE, Arthur LO. Microvesicles Are a Source of Contaminating Cellular Proteins Found in Purified HIV-1 Preparations. Virology; 230 : 134-144. 1997.
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