Monday, June 20, 2011
Big Brother Is Testing You
by MARK GABRISH CONLAN, Editor
Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved
LISTEN TO THIS EVENT!
Reading of this article with Dr. Little’s recorded quotes available for download: https://rapidshare.com/files/3813969296/01_Dr._Susan_Little__HTC_radio_edit.mp3
Dr. Susan Little’s complete presentation available for download: https://rapidshare.com/files/3248424568/Dr._Susan_Little___HTC__5_10_11.wav
On May 10 I attended a meeting of the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) to hear a discussion of the current redistricting process for the San Diego City Council — only that wasn’t the main event of the evening. The main event was a presentation so dramatic and shocking I am still reeling under the outrageousness of it all. It was 22 minutes long and was delivered by Dr. Susan Little of the Antiviral Research Center (ARC) at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center, and dealt with a new, stunningly intrusive and threatening program called “Lead the Way” designed essentially to force everyone between the ages of 18 and 64 in the 92103 and 92104 Zip codes — Hillcrest and North Park, the parts of San Diego with the greatest concentration of Queer residents — to take the HIV antibody test and go on immediate “treatment” with anti-HIV medications if they test “positive.”
The program Dr. Little outlined was so broad, and its scope so sweeping, that even before she was finished I had renamed it in my head, “Big Brother Is Testing You.” It uses most of the familiar tactics of the AIDS establishment — engendering guilt, shame and fear in people who don’t “go with the program,” aggressive propaganda and unscrupulous marketing — along with some new wrinkles. The first step in the program was a series of “teaser” ads on bus shelters (why do these people always target bus shelters? Are they just available and cheap, or do they figure people who take buses in the U.S. are poor and therefore less educated and more gullible?) asking the question, “I would — would you?,” and encouraging people to visit a Web site called leadthewaysd.org.
The second step was to set up a testing office at the corner of Park and University, which opened the day after Dr. Little spoke at the HTC. The third step was to post, both on the bus shelters and on the Web site, the photos of what Dr. Little called “representatives from all walks of life” who live in Hillcrest or North Park and are “leader[s] in this community,” answering the initial “teaser” question with the refrain, “I would — would you?” In an example of surrealistically bad marketing, the first person ARC picked as their community role model to encourage HIV antibody testing was … Father Joe Carroll, a venerable Roman Catholic priest who’s achieved both fame and controversy as the proprietor of a series of tough-love programs for homeless people based on the principle that what they need to get off the streets is quasi-militaristic discipline and regimentation.
But it’s the fourth step in the program that takes it beyond just another annoying self-promotion from the AIDS establishment and puts it in the realm of Big Brother. Dr. Little and her staff will be sending out mobile testing vans and having people go door-to-door in randomly selected census tracts in Hillcrest and North Park to offer on-the-spot tests. “People always kind of recoil at that,” Dr. Little admitted to the HTC, but “if we [just] put banners up everywhere and advertise, and bring people in to test, we will, I think predictably, being in people who are already believers in the importance of HIV [antibody] testing. We’re actually very interested in getting feedback from people who don’t want to test. … The goal is to walk around the census block and try to approach every residential household in that region, and simply ask people to answer our questions; and then, if they want, they can have the HIV test.”
There’s a cheery little button called “say hi” on the leadthewaysd.org Web site promoting the mobile test program. They’ve already set up a testing area in Old Town and at press time are scheduled for two others: in Normal Heights between El Cajon Boulevard and Meade Avenue east-west, and Wilson Avenue and 36th Street north-south; and in the heart of Hillcrest between Robinson and Pennsylvania east-west, and 6th and 7th Avenues north-south. “We will be trying to visit everyone in this area to ask you to Lead The Way!,” says their Web site, in that annoying combination of infantilism and chipperness with which medical marketers usually address their target audiences.
And Dr. Little’s objective for the program shows the kind of megalomania often associated with the AIDS establishment in particular. “The goal is that we would identify people who are infected [sic] and link them into care, so that we can (a) reduce transmission in this community, and (b) we’re trying to make this part of a multi-year project,” she told HTC — even though at present their funding, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is for only one year. “There is at least theoretically the possibility that if we could test an entire community, and provide access to treatment for those who were infected [sic], we could reduce the rate of new transmissions potentially to zero.”
The biggest problem with “Lead the Way” is that it’s based on lies. Some of them are the standard lies the AIDS establishment has been putting out for years, including the basis of the test itself. The standard test does not measure live, infectious virus; instead, it tests for antibody reactions to the nine proteins that, together, are presumed to make up HIV — though they’re also found in normal human bodies. That’s why I put [sic] above next to the statements by Dr. Little that say a positive antibody test means you are “infected.” It doesn’t. For virtually all viral infections, antibodies mean immunity. They mean you’ve been exposed to the germ and, lucky you, have developed resistance against it. That’s why doctors urge you to vaccinate: by giving you something similar to the germ they’re vaccinating against, vaccines are supposed to teach your immune system to make antibodies that will protect you if you then encounter the real deal.
For some viruses — notably herpes-class viruses — antibodies don’t always mean permanent immunity. Age, stress or other factors can weaken the immune response antibodies provide — which is why there’s currently a campaign to get older people to vaccinate against shingles, which are caused by the same herpes-class virus that causes chickenpox. But there is no virus other than HIV for which the medical establishment says, not only that antibodies don’t always mean immunity, but quite the opposite. Once you test (antibody)-positive, you’re told it’s only a matter of time before you will get AIDS and will die prematurely — unless you start highly toxic drug regimens that in the real world (as opposed to the fantasies of the AIDS establishment) are likely as not to speed your death by trashing your liver and/or screwing up your digestive system.
What’s more, there are over 60 documented causes of false-positive results on the HIV antibody test, including hepatitis, herpes, lupus, malaria and flu. (In Britain they warn you not to take the HIV antibody test for a week after having had a flu shot, lest the flu antibodies cross-react with the test and create a false positive. Alas, they don’t tell people that here.) You can also test false-positive if you’re pregnant, and the more often you’ve been pregnant before the more likely a new pregnancy is to trigger the test and make it read “positive.” And the “early” and “rapid” tests UCSD is using in Lead the Way so they can hand out results immediately are, according to their manufacturer’s Web site, 10 times as likely to generate false-positives as the tests for which you have to wait a week for the results.
Dr. Little told HTC that they’re going to guard against the possibility of a false-positive antibody test by offering them what, in the AIDS world of cutesy-poo acronyms, they call “NAT,” or Nucleic Acid Test. “That detects virus,” she said. Another lie: the NAT detects exactly what its name says it detects, the nucleic acids — either RNA or DNA — that supposedly make up HIV’s genetic core. There’s no way of knowing whether those nucleic acids are part of intact, infectious HIV, or whether they’re genetic flotsam and jetsam floating around in the bloodstream. What’s more, if you “pass” the NAT and they find what they think is HIV genetic material, they’re going to measure the “progress” of your infection with something called the viral load test, based on a technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). That’s supposed to tell you how many HIV’s are swimming around in your blood — but Kary Mullis, Ph.D., who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for inventing the PCR, says it can’t do any such thing.
There are still more lies behind “Lead the Way.” Dr. Little told the HTC that there was no intention to target the Queer community by picking the 92103 and 92104 Zip codes for her study area. “We are not targeting anyone,” she said. “We are specifically not even asking about risk.” She said the reason they picked the parts of San Diego with the biggest Queer populations was “if you’re going to try and demonstrate an effect, prove a principle, many people would start with that group that stands to benefit the most. … What we’re trying to do is engage a community that is affected by HIV — Gay, straight, injection drug [users], I don’t care — and get everybody to come together and say, ‘If we have the opportunity to reduce HIV in our community, we want to show that it can be done without a vaccine.’” But they’re not targeting anybody. Yeah, right.
Dr. Little also made a big deal about the confidentiality of the tests. She said that both the questionnaires administered on the Lead the Way Web site (as part of the door-to-door campaign they’ll be loaning people iPads on which to fill them out) and the tests themselves will be “encrypted and locked,” and that blood draws from the test won’t be labeled with people’s names, just identifying numbers. But according to Matt Potter of the San Diego Reader, that’s the same promise she made the last time ARC did a major testing study — and she broke it.
According to Potter’s “Under the Radar” column in the June 2 Reader, Dr. Little announced a study in November 2007 offering “free and confidential HIV testing” to people who might have recently been exposed to the virus. It may have been free, but it certainly wasn’t confidential. Both the federal government and Dr. Little’s bosses at UCSD investigated and found that every single sample from that study sent out to a private lab for testing went out with the patient’s name and address attached. There was, said UCSD’s internal audit, “100 percent noncompliance” with Dr. Little’s promise of test confidentiality. As a result, UCSD essentially put her on probation, stating that for the next two years they would “conduct random audits of all active research protocols” she was running “for compliance with approved procedures and all aspects of managing patient confidentiality.”
So “Lead the Way” is revealed as the brainchild of a megalomaniacal researcher with a history of breaking patient confidentiality, who’s asking us to trust her as she sends out staff members with test kits in vans to go door-to-door to shame people into taking a test for which a “positive” result, accurate or not, can stigmatize them forever and screw up their chances of employment, relationships and proper health care. Would I take an HIV antibody test offered by Dr. Susan Little and her minions? I sure as hell wouldn’t — and I hope everybody reading this decides that they wouldn’t either!