TED Conversations

Lena Gorska

Translation | Communication, ATD - Le Quart Monde


This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Should we support national legislations for mandatory, free of charge and confidential HIV testing of everyone who does blood test?

Considering the tragic magnitude and destructive power of AIDS and the general welfare of the society, as well as people who suffer from AIDS or who are HIV positive, should we support national legislations for mandatory, free of charge and confidential testing of everyone who does blood test?

progress indicator
  • Jan 14 2013: Social stigmas should never prevent people from getting the health care they need. Testing for STDs should be free of charge and available at anonymous clinics, for the safety of all of us.
    • thumb
      Jan 14 2013: Absolutely! I support this idea as well. But since AIDS is the deadliest one of all of them I think we should give it a priority
  • Jan 16 2013: I have worked on HIV and made computer models that fit the epidemic in Luxembourg. You can see my thesis here: files.figshare.com/97984/Thesis_Final20120824.pdf. I specifically tested several strategies, including yearly testing of the whole population, which appears as the most efficient one, at least in a mature epidemic like in Europe or the US (see figures 3.18 and 3.19).
    The conclusions of my analysis on the whole population of a developed country point to the fact that the people participating most to the dissemination of the virus are the ones who stay undiagnosed and therefore fail to change their sexual behavior, rather than the ones having at-risk behaviors like highly sexually active people, male homosexuals and injecting drug users (note: this was not the case in the early epidemic, where these last two populations fueled the spread of the virus). I would therefore be supportive of such a strategy, but with strong restrictions:
    - the test should not be legally mandatory, but the option to be freely tested should be presented to the patient by the doctor. The doctor should point to the benefits both for the individual and the community of an early diagnosis.
    - everything should be done to ensure the confidentiality of the results. The patient still has the choice to be treated or not.
    My analysis showed that virtually all other strategies are ineffective in the long-term, with the recently FDA-approved preventive antiretroviral having devastating effects on the levels of resistance, even with conservative assumptions.
    I will not provide AIDS denialists with the evidence they could easily get from thousands of peer-reviewed litterature and three decades of research. I understand that such litterature demands some background knowledge in biology and I direct them to a more accessible version here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misconceptions_about_HIV_and_AIDS
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2013: Should this vary, perhaps, by country depending on what proportion of the population is actually at risk? Does it make sense to have mandatory testing for people who have essentially a zero risk?
    • Jan 17 2013: Fritzie,

      People lie to their doctors. People rarely admit to take injecting drugs, as long as they can hide it and it poses no other problem in their life. People go to the doctor with their wives and husbands. People have sometimes the same doctor as half of their families and are concerned that he would not keep the secret about their concurent relationships. People deny, sometimes to themselves, their homosexuality. So how do you REALLY assess that somebody is at zero-risk?
      • thumb
        Jan 17 2013: I understood the question to ask whether HIV testing should be mandatory for everyone. Lena meant, rather, that anyone should be able to be tested on request.

        Which are you envisioning?
        • Jan 17 2013: I think the problem is in the contradiction: 1) it is desirable that everyone gets tested for HIV and 2) you cannot force people to get tested against their will.
          So I would propose that whenever visiting a doctor, a HIV test would be systematically proposed to all patients, emphasizing the benefits for them and the community. If the patient does not opt out of the test for privacy reason, the test will be conducted.
  • Jan 18 2013: Ultimately, it is not the fault of any willful misconduct but of our individual willful ignorance that is my point. I am doing my research based on all these professional sources but doing my own thinking. It is morally debatable whether those who willfully neglect truth and the responsibilities of freedom deserve to be given either. About all these hard-working scientists, it is not about what is directly within their control but the hierarchical system which finances and restricts what they are allowed to know and control. You could very well have found proof to the contrary of an 'established' hypotheses, but there is now no medium of expression that will tolerate it and not expell you from your scientific circle. Prestige and funding is now more important than Truth, since the truth will make your entire scientific department immediately irrelevant. There's too much money involved already for that. But we all know or suspect this much. The world is not perfect. But those outside this system have nothing to lose in exposing Truth. This forum cannot support scientific essays to prove either side of the coin. Nor do I aim to offend anyone. I aim just to inspire someone else to wakeup!

    To answer your question more clearly, I am reminded of Albert Einstein's famous quote, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
  • Jan 17 2013: Robert Gallo made his public claim that "HIV Causes AIDS" before any of his peers were able to independently review and repeat his method and result. Requests to do so afterwards were also ignored and his hypotheses became official medical education and profitable patented practice outside of required scientific standards. And when it was finally audited it was concluded that it was contaminated, and included technically "stolen" research from an earlier study which did not conclude "HIV Causes AIDS". I would hardly call that "a well-established theory". Well, financed, yes. But it is well worth revisiting given the failure of so many of the claims' predictions and the abundance of common sense answers.Gays also did not and do not want to be blamed for a lifestyle choice issue. That's politics and marketing, not science.
    • Jan 17 2013: Antonio,

      I do not want to give the impression that your skepticism is not welcomed. Science is, to me, professional skepticism. But you are not very professional. By browsing the web, your research was probably skewed towards websites propagating false information (in the sense: opposite to the truth), understandably more thrilling to read than boring epidemiological records.
      First, you should understand that in the eighties, knowledge of the disease was very limited, and that there was indeed a debate in the scientific community to know if AIDS was really transmissible: transmission rates are very low, symptoms are non-specific and take many years to manifest, and molecular biology techniques were limited. This debate however resolved quickly when confronted with increasing evidence, so stop with the Gallo thing. It is not the first or last time researchers stole each other results or Nobel prizes were questionably attributed.
      I will respond to your comments about the epidemiology, because it is my domain. Africa has much higher levels of sexual concurency than western countries, this is well documented. More partners, more acts per person per year, more overlap. Your comment that "marriage commitments insulate from cross-infection" ignores the reality of widespread liberal behaviors, and western countries are much more conservative on this point. In many African countries, women marry earlier than men, and marriage does not equate sexual commitment (for both partners). This results in a gender imbalance where more women are infected with HIV than men. In western countries, HIV has been driven for some time by male homos (the transmission rate is about ten times higher for anal sex than vaginal sex) and drug injection. This first resulted in a gender imbalance where much more men where infected than women, but as the virus spread to the heterosexual population, this imbalance reduced. Your stats are outdated.
      You can access all peer-reviewed articles on PubMed.
    • Jan 18 2013: And still, you do not adress my main argument. Your hypothesis about non-viral cause for AIDS postulates that all scientists working on HIV (researchers, professors, virologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, technicians, pharmacologists, doctors) are either incompetent, either bribed or otherwise willing to disseminate lies to complete an obscure agenda, either brainwashed to the point that in three decades, none of them discovered the truth. Or maybe is it that some secret organisation is spiking just every sample in the world with synthetic RNA without anyone knowing, actually reproducing the genomic evolutionary pattern of a virus? Oh wait, maybe it is the same devil antechrist that buried fossils in the ground so that we could come up with darwinian evolution?
      Please realize all these theses are ridicule. If you have another explanation for the blindness of millions of people, let me know. I do not say this ironically, I am really searching to understand your line of reasoning.
  • Jan 17 2013: This just in!:

    5. The French lab team that was first to isolate the retrovirus and did not conclude "HIV Causes AIDS" fought for patent-sharing rights with Gallo after Gallo used their research to claim the very opposite. But the Nobel Prize went to the French Lab "for discovering HIV Causes AIDS" while Gallo got NO Nobel recognition although he was the one who made the claim using their work AND... ... wait for it... ... the French Team STILL do not make the claim that HIV Causes AIDS but that they helped Gallo's research. So the French Lab endorse the investigation but not the conclusion and get a prize for both the investigation AND the conclusion while yet categorically distancing themselves from such conclusions. What semantics!

    And what a waste of a Nobel Prize!
  • Jan 17 2013: Thanks for taking the time to contribute! I do not claim to be an expert, just a regular guy with access to the internet and a hunger for truth. There is so much information available to the average person to the contrary of the official propaganda linking HIV with AIDS that I find it amazing that we swallow the propaganda when the experts cannot even always agree.

    I can't counter debunk what you said point by point all in one post. My purpose for stating these things is for common people like me to search the internet for themselves on each of these controversial topics. Hopefully you will see a pattern that repeats in history every other generation. Where there is money there are lyers. There is information to the contrary to what you said easily found online, but it's not about me or you but rather the issue at hand. At least we agree that "finding an immediate cure" is not the priority when there's so much money to be made in between.

    My point is that arguing over the aftereffects of the lie is irrelevant. The lie must be addressed. It's like going on an expedition to see the bottom of a rainbow. The whole expedition is futile and must be re-examined.

    I'd just like to mention on point 11 and 13 that emphasizes the total corruption through financed monopoly of the medical system: at least you can contradict evolutionary theory and quantum physics without losing your medical license. Our well-meaning doctors are therefore incentivised to not challenge big pharma or use common sense. Therefore, I consult my doctor but make my own judgement. And polygamy and early marriage are deterrents to the spread of AIDS since marriage commitments insulate from cross-infection. The US definition of "freedom" now includes free sex and gender identity from the moment you have something and someone to do it with. The US is arguably more "highly sexual" than Africa. And you enforce my point with homosexuality and drugs corroborating US stats for male infections.
  • Jan 14 2013: I just also replied to Lena. It's great to have great minds applied to important issues!

    I first questioned "HIV Causes AIDS" when the epidemic prediction failed to end the world or be much of an issue outside those already affected. It is not spreading like a viral epidemic should.

    Furthermore, when we study history we see a series of similar professional goof-ups where science gets it wrong but yet marches on and sometimes by applied force. Worry when the insurance costs more than the threat of injury. Mandatory law for fears unjustified are just like preemptive strikes against another nation who has done no wrong - guilty until proven innocent.

    The body doesn't go around spraying chemicals onto everything it is near to. It waits for an attack then draws an equal and adequeat defense. We seem to love spraying laws that strip our freedoms onto every fear that is preached to us by the media. Direct loss of (responsible) liberty is more troubling than the remote threat of fear. No scientific study has been commissioned to seriously look for alternative causes for AIDS... maybe it's not in their best interests since this hypotheses (which is all that it is) is a cash cow that can be enforced. Well, it is in my best interest to find out what is best for me.
  • Jan 14 2013: Sorry for SHOUTING at everybody. I apologize. I get so worked up about wilful public deception.

    This is not about you nor me. And evidence is equally lacking for the official viewpoint. I am an individual concerned about the reality that people are dying. I am also concerned for my own personal safety which apparently is not the primary concern of the companies and agencies we depend on some of the time. This requires public scrutiny of both the information provided and the source. Is this not the purpose of TED.com?

    Similarly, anyone medical professional who opposes the now established and well-financed claim that HIV Causes AIDS is not commended for his "personal" research but is equally ridiculed and ostracized by his professional peers. Therefore no "respectable HIV/AIDS related institution" can be trusted for unbiased information anymore... at least not with so much money to go around whenever the "flu" is called "AIDS" instead.

    Here is the most compelling evidence to me so far: scientists are now finding people naturally immune to AIDS. Does this not break the HIV Test if it is the same antibodies that would get you tested "positive" are producing the immunity. And did they just become immune or weren't they immune all the time? I'll start with that.
    • Jan 16 2013: Antonio,

      Medical professionals or any scientist who opposes a well-established theory has to provide an alternative theory, and evidence that supports it. Otherwise indeed, they face the ridicule of their peers. Scientific research does not exist for everybody to give his personal opinion, but to try to determine what is the absolute truth. You think you are a hero defying the worldwide conspiration of big pharmas? What about the millions of researchers who have conducted research on HIV? They are all in the conspiracy? I have personally amplified HIV DNA and compared sequences from patients. I searched databases, draw conclusions from evidence gathered after long months of painful research. If there was bribe money, me and my colleagues did not see the color of it.

      For HIV to enter an immune cell, it needs to "hijack" one of two surface proteins: CCR5 or CxCR4 which are proteins your immune system normally uses to sense chemokines, a type of immune messenger. People who have a certain version of the CCR5 receptor (called delta-32 because it consist in a deletion of 32 amino acids in the protein sequence) are not immune to infection, but take much more time to progress to clinical AIDS. So much that they actually get old or die from something else before developping the disease. They have very low levels of virus in their blood, meaning they are unlikely to pass it to their partners. So yes, they were "immune" all the time (but not in the same sense that immune from a vaccine), and yes, they still develop antibodies that can be detected with a HIV test if they are infected. They do not develop these antibodies if they are not infected.
  • Jan 14 2013: Sorry for SHOUTING at everybody. I apologize. I get so worked up about wilful public deception.

    This is not about you nor me. And evidence is equally lacking for the official viewpoint. I am an individual concerned about the reality that people are dying. I am also concerned for my own personal safety which apparently is not the primary concern of the companies and agencies we depend on some of the time. This requires public scrutiny of both the information provided and the source. Is this not the purpose of TED.com?

    Similarly, anyone medical professional who opposes the now established and well-financed claim that HIV Causes AIDS is not commended for his "personal" research but is equally ridiculed and ostracized by his professional peers. Therefore no "respectable HIV/AIDS related institution" can be trusted for unbiased information anymore... at least not with so much money to go around whenever the "flu" is called "AIDS" instead.

    Here is the most compelling evidence to me so far: scientists are now finding people naturally immune to AIDS. Does this not break the HIV Test if it is the same antibodies that would get you tested "positive" are producing the immunity. And did they just become immune or weren't they immune all the time? I'll start with that.
  • thumb
    Jan 14 2013: Well, Antonio nice theory... but there's way too many people investigating HIV for such a thing to have gone through unnoticed. it's really simple.
    • Jan 14 2013: You sound like an American (not trying to offend... just throwing that observation out there). You seem to have excluded yourself from those investigating your personal risks, therefore deferring your personal judgement and inaliable right to take care of your own self to those getting paid to do so without personal liability when they are wrong. That sounds like a conflict of interest easily exploitable under well-meaning pretexts created by either self ignorance or imposed fear.

      "Try this. If it kills you, well..."

      You may have just discredited her entire presentation if not every TED "idea worth spreading".

      An interesting fact, a breathalizer does not test for alhocol in the blood (the definition of drunkardness) but rather alhocol in the breath. Using Listerine can get you arrested for drunk driving. But I'm sure the law enforcement officer is right in saying there's way too many people investigating that for such a thing to have gone through unnoticed.

      It's really simple. AIDS suddenly "explodes" wherever HIV testing suddenly begins. The truth must stand the rigor of evidence. I see more advertising and, more importantly, money hoarded than evidence. In fact, the longer it takes to find a cure, the richer Big Pharma gets... hmmmm... we should trust them. That is an idea worth spreading?

      Love the healthy conversation.
      • thumb
        Jan 14 2013: Please show me this evidence! I Google you up and you're name is not mentioned in any respectable HIV/AIDS related institution! You seem to be a self-proclaimed expert screaming to people on TED forum and more importantly, disseminating groundless information and accusations.... I am not an American and moreover I see nothing wrong in being one. And I care for myself, my sexual partner and other people in my society equally. Thus I am searching for solution.
  • Jan 14 2013: Why not? That would make a few people very very rich while condemning many to a miserable death thanks to our ignorance!

    1. Corelation of HIV with AIDS was used to 'prove' causation that HIV Causes AIDS.
    2. The chemical AZT was banned from cancer treatment for inducine AIDS-like symptoms and death.
    3. Robert Gallo announced "HIV Causes AIDS" without his research passing the medically required peer-review process.
    4. Robert Gallo started patenting the detection method for HIV during this announcement which would make him rich.
    5. Robert Gallo's research was proven to be contaminated from samples from a similar French study which could not prove HIV Causes AIDS.
    6. The lethal chemical AZT is now approved and is the common treatment for AIDS victims CAUSING DEATH and justifying the lie. Enforcing this would perpetuate this self-fulling nightmare.
    7. The most popular detection method of the HIV virus cannot detect the virus itself but the presence of good HIV antibodies.
    8. HIV Tests are 71% accurate.
    9. The common test cannot distinguish HERV's produced by common stress.
    10. The false HIV Causes AIDS propaganda has succeeded in making us believe that our body's own natural antiboties - if detected - are bad, no longer means that you are immune, and should not be passed from mother to child for similar immunity anymore.
    11. The yet unproven "HIV Causes AIDS" claim is now a standard part of formal education and medical practice - separating otherwise good-hearted doctors and patients from reason and common sense since challenging the myth results in professional ridicule, drop of funding, and now legal enforcement.
    12. This false propaganda also preaches that the HIV retrovirus "kills T Cells" which contradicts retroviral reproduction.
    13. It also preaches "HIV Knows No Borders" yet Africa is 50-50 males to females infection and over 80-20 male in the US dubbed HIV1 & 2. Sounds more like malnutrition and drug abuse respectively.
    14. Why should this be critized:
    • thumb
      Jan 14 2013: AIDS denialism is the actual dangerous willing ignorance, and its impact is causing real deaths. I'm sure some groups will always be tempted to link AIDS to some behaviours, while the fact that monkeys were close enough to us genetically to transfer the virus is uncomfortable to the same interests.

      More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_denialism
      • Jan 14 2013: AIDS (a temporary condition of having a relatively weak immune system) is real.The unscientific claim that this condition is "caused by HIV" is false and at best questionable against known science.

        AIDS epidemic predictions have failed and statistics remain constant yet different among different populations. It is no longer "going to destroy the world" and is not spreading like an epidemic. Most prostitutes that do not even use condoms do not have it. The explanation that it hybernates has to be constantly extended to explain healthy HIV "victims". "HIV Causes AIDS" yet AIDS can be found without HIV. Now they are finding people "immune to AIDS". No, AIDS is real. It is also potentially easily curable. "HIV Causes AIDS" is false. Denialism and personal examination of facts is the difference between delusion and common sense.Keep the comments coming on this important issue.

        Here's my own copy-paste:

        Clearly a correct medical hypothesis might not produce a cure or the prevention of a disease, as for example theories on cancer or sickle-cell anemia. However, a correct medical hypothesis must be able to (1) identify those at risk for a disease, (2) predict the kind of disease a person infected or affected by its putative cause will get, (3) predict how soon disease will follow its putative cause and (4) lead to a determination of how the putative agent causes the disease. Since this is not true for the virus-AIDS hypothesis, this hypothesis must be fundamentally flawed. Further, it seems particularly odd that an AIDS vaccine cannot be developed, since HIV induces highly effective virus-neutralizing antibodies within weeks after infection (Clark et al., 1991; Daar et al., 1991). These are the same antibodies that are detected by the widely used "AIDS-test" (Institute of Medicine, 1986; Duesberg, 1989c; Rubinstein, 1990).
    • Jan 17 2013: Antonio,

      You seem to confuse two things. You are right to point that the financial interests of big pharmas do not necessarily serve public health. However the fact that governments failed to give appropriate response for three decades and that some companies are making billions out of patients does not mean the fundamental research about the disease is false. At worst, you could argue that it is misdirected, that instead of searching another antiviral to sell they could fund more comprehensive strategies. I took the time to debunk your point-by-point affirmations:

      1. Yes indeed that's how it works. Please provide us a risk factor that correlates better with AIDS than HIV infection?
      2. AZT is a potent drug with strong side-effects. It was used in retrovirus-induced cancers. Now we have better drugs.
      3. Robert Gallo published in Science, vol. 220, no. 4599, pp. 865–867, 1983
      4. That's what they all do...
      5. The French team published at about the same time. The debate was about who to give the Nobel.
      6. Most patients are not treated with AZT anymore. Do you mean that ALL retrovirals are lethal weapons from the big pharmas? How come nobody dies when the same compounds are used to treat another virus?
      7. That's how most test work. When a test is positive the DNA of the virus is analysed, to know the strain and level of infection of the individuals.
      8. HIV Tests are 99% accurate and performed in duplicate with different sets of reagents, on different machines, by different technicians and on different days. We rarely misdiagnose someone.
      9. True, they are some cross-positive. See point 8.
      10. The variability of the virus is huge. Vaccines are not yet efficient enough, nor are maternal antibodies.
      11. Same as, for example, evolution theory or quantum physics.
      12. The HIV mechanism is well understood. it does not contradict any part of biology.
      13. Africa has polygamy, high sexual activity, early mariage, much less homosexuality and no injecting drugs.
      14. Good reflex.
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2013: No dentist? It's barely possible in modern times. If so, that would still make a population of such small size that there would no real impact on the financial costs for the state, and bare in mind that it would be only mandatory for those who decided to take blood test of their own accord and the HIV testing would be a state sponsored bonus. Afterall, in my country the cost of testing is the main reason people resist to take it, number two is of course fear...
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2013: I misunderstood you when you said mandatory. I thought you were suggesting HIV testing would be mandatory for everyone.

      I did not realize people might worry about contracting HIV at the dentist.
  • thumb
    Jan 10 2013: Fritzie who would we classifiy as zero risk population?
    • thumb
      Jan 10 2013: Not sexually active, no blood transfusions or needles...
      • Jan 14 2013: HIV is not your worst enemy. The top 11 causes for an equally lethal immune system weekness include Chronic Stress, Improper Diet, Lack of Rest, Lack of Exercise, Obeisity, Alcohol Abuse, Smoking, Chemical/UV Exposure, (legal) Drugs, No Hygiene, and Dehydration. These are far more common than a virus.

        The temporary condition called AIDS is not about HIV which requires billions of dollars to make Big Pharma rich. It's more about lifestyle... but not just sexual activity, needles and blood transfusion.
        • thumb
          Jan 14 2013: Lena was asking about HIV, as I read her question.