Can you believe that in today’s world with the medical advances we have to treat the human immunodeficiency virus that causes Aids, there are still non-believers! Denialists! Sceptics! People who actually believe that HIV does not cause Aids!

Some adamantly reject that HIV exists, others accept it exists, but does not cause Aids and some…well… attempt to acknowledge Aids as a disease, but one attributed to drugs, sexual behaviour, poor sanitation etc.

Denialists come dressed in good clothes, working in good jobs, with a good intellect…. denialists are oftentimes smart people. I have a friend who is a denialist! There are even a few renowned scientists amidst Aids denialists. There are parents amongst these denialists who deny their children treatment.

American Christine Maggiore founded an organisation to help mothers living with HIV avoid taking ARVs. Even when her own three-year-old daughter died of Aids-related pneumonia, she still continued to believe HIV does not cause Aids. She later died of pneumonia.

Research studies suggest that Aids denialism in South Africa during 2000-2005 is responsible for 340 000 Aids deaths and 171 000 other HIV infections and 35 000 infant HIV infections.  Denialists deny the South Africa death toll figures. A few weeks ago, a paper was published in an Italian scientific journal. The article challenged the Aids death toll in South Africa; members of the editorial board, in protest of the article’s publication, resigned.

So, Aids denialism is costly; it has an overwhelming human, economic, social and ethical cost! And at times, denialists are the ones to benefit, some denialists deny Aids, but will for example sell you vitamins and herbs that they have developed “to treat your condition”.

But over to you…..seated in a minibus on the way to Limbe with someone who vehemently argues that HIV does not cause Aids, but is caused by witchcraft or sexual behaviour….what can you say to correct him.  Unfortunately, denialists talk the loudest and argue the most…they are like those preachers who yell scriptures by the market.

How would you go about debunking or correcting a denialist? What denialists do is they either use conspiracy theories, faulty reasoning or find out-of-date scientific studies that back their arguments.

Denialists may even state some statistics and quotes to throw you off your game, stand resolute in your conviction that HIV causes Aids, because according to the scientific consensus from “As long ago as 1983, researchers first isolated HIV from people with Aids. By 1985, they had developed a test showing that the overwhelming majority of people with Aids had antibodies to HIV in their blood. They also showed that people who test HIV-positive and initially appear healthy, go on to develop Aids the vast majority of the time unless they are treated.” So denialists what do you have to say to that?

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