Verdict back in Australian HIV denial case

I wrote a post back in February about HIV’s “Kitzmiller vs. Dover” trial. The trial was appealing the sentence of one Andre Chad Parenzee, a native of South Africa who’d been convicted in Australia back in 2004 of infecting one woman with HIV (and exposing two others). Parenzee knew of his HIV+ status, telling the women he had cancer instead and not disclosing his infection nor using condoms. In the appeal, the HIV “dissidents” led the way, with Valendar Turner and Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos of the Perth group taking the stand and denying that HIV even existed. Papadopulos-Eleopulos also uttered this memorable line:

She was asked by prosecutor Sandi McDonald whether “you would have unprotected vaginal sex with a HIV-positive man”.

“Any time,” replied Ms Papadopulos-Eleopulos.

Well, the decision is in…
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Another reason to vaccinate

Of all the vaccines in a child’s repertoire, perhaps the most controversial is the vaccine against Hepatitis B virus. It’s not because of concerns about the vaccine’s safety necessarily; parents tend to be more worried about the MMR vaccine, since that has received so much press. But many parents feel that the HBV vaccine is unnecessary. HBV is transmitted primarily via exposure to blood or other body fluids, or by sexual transmission. Because they assume their kids will be smart, stay away from drugs, and not have sex with the “wrong” people, they assert that the vaccine is a waste and an unnecessary risk for their children. However, recent research suggests that there is reason to be extra cautious, describing HBV transmission between dental patients.
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Happy ending

If you’ve been reading Scienceblogs over the last 24 hours or so, you’ve probably seen reference to Shelley’s legal issues regarding Wiley publishing and their accusation that her use of one panel of one figure of a scientific paper violated copyright. Well, after the story was featured at Boing Boing and elsewhere around the blogosphere, Wiley has now apologized:

“We apologise for any misunderstanding. In this situation the publisher would typically grant permission on request in order to ensure that figures and extracts are properly credited. We do not think there is any need to pursue this matter further.”

What constitutes “fair use” of scientific material has long been a thorny issue, especially in the blogosphere, so it’s good to know that at least in this case, the publisher agrees that the original use would have been fine. However, as noted in the comments, the publisher still mentions “permission on request”–so they’re still not giving carte blance for use of their figures. Still, it’s better than a lawsuit threat against a graduate student…

Well, isn’t this interesting…

As pointed out by Dale in the comments over at Orac’s post on Duesberg and aneuploidy, Duesberg and fellow HIV “dissident” David Rasnick are marketing a new cancer detection system, AnuCyte Cancer detection system, based upon his aneuploidy-basis-of-cancer ideas. And guess who else is on the company’s Board of Advisors? Our old friend, Harvey Bialy, also a HIV “dissident” and author of a biography on Duesberg: Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS. Very interesting….

Now, I don’t besmirch anyone’s ability to make a profit from their research if that’s their angle. Certainly other biomedical researchers patent their ideas and make money from new diagnostics they’ve developed. But it certainly smacks of hypocrisy to me, given all the time the HIV “dissidents” spend criticizing mainstream researchers and pharmaceutical companies for profiting off of HIV (and suggesting therefore that their research conclusions are financially, rather than scientifically, motivated). Think this will make any of them change their tune?

Yeah, me either.

Edited to add: oh, it gets better. They’re doing all their testing in the Bahamas to get around “bureaucratic interference”:

Relocating to Freeport, Grand Bahama allows us to offer our services free of bureaucratic interference and to “leapfrog” countries that continue to use entrenched, antiquated screening techniques for detecting common cancers.

Duesberg on cancer, deconstructed

A few readers have asked me what I thought about HIV “dissident” Peter Duesberg’s recent article in Scientific American, entitled Chromosomal Chaos and Cancer. Duesberg’s cancer ideas–and his claim of novelty for researching how chromosomal abnormalities, rather than more simpler gene mutations, cause cancer–are something I wanted to write about months ago, after I came across an interesting reference in this post over at Panda’s Thumb, where it was noted that “…in certain kinds of cancer, chromosomal instability prevents tumourogenesis, the exact opposite of what Wells [and Duesberg–TS] predicted.”

However, I simply haven’t had a lot of time to delve into this issue, since while I do actually have some training in the molecular pathogenesis of cancer, it’s not an area where I routinely keep up with the literature. However, the recent article also intrigued Orac, who, for those unfamiliar, is a cancer surgeon and carries out research into the molecular biology of cancer. He has a post up on the article today, and while he gets much more deeply into it, his general conclusion is in agreement with my first impression. A few money quotes:
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Would you give your baby someone else’s breast milk?

“Wet nursing,” or the practice of allowing a woman other than the mother of a child to provide milk to an infant, has been practiced for millenia. Two hundred years ago, wet nursing was common for a variety of reasons. Upper-class families could hire a wet nurse to enable the mother to more quickly become pregnant again, ensuring adequate nutrition for the newborn infant without the associated decrease in fertility that accompanies breast-feeding. In middle class families, employing a wet nurse allowed the mother to return to her job in the factory or in the field. This practice began to decline in the 1800s in the United States and Europe, as the use of animal milks and milk-based infant formulas began to increase in popularity.

Use of formula increased throughout the first half of the 20th century, as formula-feeding was heavily marketed and became the norm, leaving breast-feeding mothers in the minority of the population in many industrialized nations. The pendulum began to swing back the other way, however, in the 1960s and 1970s, with increasing numbers of new mothers using their own milk to feed their baby. Currently, approximately 70% of mothers in the United States breastfeed their infants for at least a short period of time.

While numerous studies have shown that breastfeeding is preferable to formula feeding for a number of health reasons, nursing isn’t always possible or practical for every woman. Some women find themselves unable to nurse for a variety of reasons: prior surgery, working outside the home and being away from the baby for extended periods of time; adoption of the child and not being the biological mother, etc. A new Time article notes that one solution to this problem is the resurrection of wet nursing and milk banking in developed countries.
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Yet another study shows no link between abortion and breast cancer

Last summer, I mentioned that groups receiving federal funding were providing misleading information about abortion, including the unsupported statement that having an abortion increases the risk of development of breast cancer. As I noted, this “link” has been refuted by a number of analyses, including a 2004 Lancet paper and a 2003 National Cancer Institute report. As if those weren’t enough, a new study comes to the same conclusion: yep, no link. More after the jump.
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Influenza and masks, redux

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been over a year since I last wrote a post on the use of masks in the event of an influenza pandemic. Since then, there’s been a virtual glut of information out there, and from what I’ve seen at least, people, businesses, organizations, government, etc. interested in preparation seem to be taking more of a structured approach, rather than a knee-jerk reaction that we saw last year with Tamiflu hoarding and stockpiling masks, which, as I mentioned in the post linked above, have uncertain effectiveness in the event of a pandemic.

I also noted that one big problem is that the masks (typically recommended is the N95 mask) often don’t fit properly, greatly reducing their effectiveness. Additionally, people simply don’t know how to use them correctly and consistently. A new paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases confirms these statements, after observing individuals use N95 masks in post-Katrina New Orleans.
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Vonnegut dies at 84

As I’ve mentioned on here previously, I recently moved. Now that I’ve painted every room in the house, I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y unpacking things, and today I started on my non-essential books (aka, the ones I don’t need on a day-to-day basis for classes). One of the boxes I dragged in from the garage just happened to have all my Vonnegut books; except for my old yearbooks, they’re all that’s sitting on one bookcase in my room right now. I’m a relative latecomer to his novels; we never read Cat’s Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five in school, and I somehow missed out on him during college as well. Then my brother handed me “Galapagos” for its nerd-evolution (and, well, misanthropy) themes that he thought I’d enjoy. Of course, he was right, and I was hooked. Alas, though Vonnegut spent time teaching here in Iowa at the writers’ workshop, I missed his stay by a good 40 years. And now (via Evil Monkey) Kurt Vonnegut has died–a sad day for fans everywhere. So it goes.