by Emily Koch
There is a surprising amount of those around the world who are considered to be HIV/AIDS deniers, and they are usually people who have been diagnosed with the disease or who are close to someone that has been diagnosed. These people are also, to begin with, wearier of western medicine than the general public. AIDS was first recognized as a disease in the 1980’s and AIDS denialism gained a large number of followers following the release of Peter Deusburg’s 1996 book “Inventing the AIDS virus.” In his book, Deusberg expressed that HIV is harmless, a passenger virus. He believed that AIDS was spread through things such as drug abuse, sexual intercourse, poor sanitation and health, etc.
But, AIDS denialism does not have a set definition; some believe that it is a hoax made up by pharmaceutical companies to make money and that the treatments for AIDS are instead poisonous causing the patients to develop the same symptoms that AIDS is said to cause. Others believe that AIDS is just a name for cases where there are multiple diseases present. According to Bruce Mirken in “Answering the AIDS Denialists: Is AIDS Real?”, this multitude of diseases can include cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and yeast infections to name a few. And then there are those such as Deusberg who believe that AIDS is real but not infectious, although they don’t think there is a correlation between it and HIV.
Those who do not believe that HIV is a direct cause of the AIDS virus have many reasons as to why they believe so. First of all, they claim none of the Koch Postulates that “…establish a causal relationship between a microbe and a disease” are met. Because none of them are met, there is no way that HIV could possibly cause AIDS according to this fact. They also say that those who have been diagnosed with the disease, and are given medicines to combat it, only seem to feel worse after taking the medicines. Due to this, they believe that there is a conspiracy within drug companies to create a deadly disease that doesn’t exist only so those who have been ‘diagnosed’ will buy their medicines leading to a profit gain for those companies. On the other hand, the evidence that supports the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS is extensive and seems to disprove all of the deniers’ claims. There have been extensive peer reviewed studies published that do in fact show the connection between HIV and AIDS. Many doctors and researchers have studied the progression of HIV and have stated that the last stage of the disease is AIDS- affecting your immune system which allows you to catch other diseases that the deniers say is what is being misdiagnosed as AIDS. There is also the explanation as to why patients feel better when they quit taking the AIDS medications. Because they have been told that the medications are poisonous and quitting them will lead to being cured, the placebo effect kicks in. They think it will work, and it does for a while, until the disease catches up to them and they continue to get worse.
AIDS denialism is an extraordinary belief that is believed by seemingly normal persons in our society. They are those who so badly want to believe that this disease isn’t real, so they make up reasons as to why it isn’t. Because AIDS is a deadly disease, it is emotionally difficult to be diagnosed with it or see someone you love be diagnosed. Because of this, those people long to believe that it really doesn’t exist and that there is some bigger conspiracy- they can’t possibly bear to face the truth. This leads them to deny the disease and the causal relationship between HIV and AIDS. Although they have been presented with the true evidence and facts, they are true believers who cannot face the reality they are trying to avoid. They are also presented with reasons as to why the disease is not real, and when it comes from someone similar to them, they are more likely to believe what those people say rather than others with opposing viewpoints.
In conclusion, AIDS deniers are easily convinced due to their extreme desire for it not to be real. Whether themselves or someone close to them has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, their first reaction would mostly likely be to question why they are the ones in this situation. They so badly want to believe that it is not happening to them, so when they are presented with a theory that fulfills their desire to make it not real, then they will not stop denying the disease no matter how much evidence against it is shown to them. This extraordinary belief is one that is quite dangerous, as deniers who have the disease will most likely refuse treating, ultimately leading to their death. Lastly, those who deny their diagnosis and refuse treatment also put those around them at risk because they refuse to believe it exists, which in their minds makes it impossible for them to infect others.
“AIDS Denialism.” AIDS Action Committee, www.aac.org/aachealth-library/aids-denialism/.
“Debunking Denialist Myths.” AIDSTruth, 26 July 2015, www.aidstruth.org/myths/#m2.
James, John S., and From AIDS Treatment News. “AIDS Denialists: How to Respond.”
TheBody.com, 5 May 2000, www.thebody.com/content/art32141.html.
“Koch’s Postulates.” Wikipedia, Wikepedia Foundation, 12 Feb. 2007,
Mirken, Bruce and From AIDS Treatment News. “Answering the AIDS Denialists: Is AIDS
Real?” TheBody.com, 1 Dec. 2000, www.thebody.com/content/art32028.html.
“What are HIV and AIDS?” AVERT, 2 Jan. 2018,