3.0 Introduction
Stories sell newspapers and so it is in the interests of the mass media to sensationalise. This is equally true whether reporting the private life of a public figure or reporting on matters of public health.
      In the late 1970s, when doctors expressed concern over the safety of whooping cough vaccine, massive press coverage spread alarm about the risk of permanent brain damage or death from vaccination, which in turn caused a substantial reduction in vaccinations. The result was a terrible whooping cough epidemic five years later, when those unvaccinated children started school. They carried infection home to their infant brothers and sisters and mortality rates among babies, due to the disease, were vastly higher than the predicted death rate from vaccination. The press was blamed for its irresponsibility in inflaming public fear with headlines and not presenting proper statistical analysis of relative risk factors.
      Similarly, when AIDS cases were first reported, the press sold newspapers through doom and gloom stories of the new "Gay Plague" (emotive words), untreatable and unthinkable. Personal tragedies about "innocent victims", whose moral standards were impeccable, titillated a ghoulish public - the death of a virgin treated by an HIV positive dentist, the wife of a haemophiliac etc. Undoubtedly, media coverage was a significant factor, first in raising public awareness and then in causing public anxiety. So the press could be blamed, at least in part, for causing the ensuing disaster of a rushed scientific response.
      Once HIV was generally accepted as the cause of AIDS, abbreviated headlines and advertising slogans such as the "Don't die of ignorance" campaign, linked the words "HIV" and "AIDS" in the public consciousness, to a point where many writers and readers used them interchangeably. After all, anyone with HIV was destined to die of AIDS. It was simply a question of how long it would take. So there was no need to be precise. To draw any distinction was merely a matter of semantics. No one bothered about the potentially devastating effect of this sloppy language on those individuals who had tested HIV antibody positive. Only now are we seeing the tragedies caused by those healthy, but desperate, people turning to AZT for help. The first legal action against Wellcome was reported by Neville Hodgkinson in the Sunday Times, 30.1.94. The case is being brought by the widow of a haemophiliac HIV carrier, who was healthy until his doctor prescribed the drug as a preventative measure. His health then went into rapid terminal decline, but the range of symptoms from which he died was not entirely consistent with AIDS (as manifested in homosexual patients).
      During the period of this research project, there has been a dramatic turn-around in the subject of newspaper articles about AIDS, from the original panic-provoking features concerning the scale of the epidemic, to headlines casting doubt on the whole AIDS industry. You shouldn't believe everything you read in the papers is an old adage and the new stories are no more likely to be completely reliable than the early ones. However, the fact that reports have shifted and are shifting, suggests that we don't yet fully understand the whole story about AIDS. Table 1 lists, in chronological order, the main articles that have appeared recently, with a summary of their content. The table shows how the story is unfolding, with "conventional wisdom" declining and increasing debate about the controversies in the scientific literature, identified in Chapter 2 emerging. The most concise summary to date of dissident views appeared in the Neville Hodgkinson article in the Sunday Times, 3.4.94.
      During the same period, TV coverage has addressed some of these issues too. (Radio coverage is not included in this analysis, nor the popular scientific press such as New Scientist and Scientific American.)
      Interestingly, the student survey conducted in April 1993 showed virtually no awareness of any of the controversial issues (see Chapter 7), whereas in January 1994, a group of students I was teaching, initiated a discussion on the causality of AIDS and demonstrated, during the ensuing dialogue, some knowledge of the doubts about HIV as the sole cause, having read about it in the papers. It seems the media are beginning to have an effect in broadening the debate.

      3.1 The first controversy - Who discovered HIV?
The court case over patent rights between Gallo and Montagnier and the discrediting of Gallo, which it caused, attracted considerable media coverage. The Horizon Documentary, BBC1, broadcast on 11th May 1992, "Taking the Credit", used the dispute to demonstrate how, justifiably, public confidence in science is being undermined.

      3.2 The second controversy - Does HIV cause AIDS?
Neville Hodgkinson, Science Correspondent for the Sunday Times, began his campaign to bring this issue to public notice, with a question mark, in an article entitled "AIDS: Can we be positive?", 26.4.92. Table 1, p32, shows how he has pursued this and other issues relentlessly ever since. (Sean French, writing in New Statesman and Society, on 6.5.94, questions whether scientists are capable of being objective in general and, in particular, accuses Hodgkinson of being highly subjective.)
      At first the other papers ignored Hodgkinson. In August 1992, the Guardian was still reporting estimates of "One million HIV carriers and 50,000 AIDS sufferers" by the Indian Health Organisation, as AIDS rampaged through the red-light district of Bombay. The journalist, Derek Brown seemed totally unaware that Duesberg, as reported by Hodgkinson, would attribute the ill health of this group to a combination of drug abuse, malnutrition, poor sanitation and other STDs. By 4th May 1993, however, following a conjunction of questions about the predicted "AIDS epidemic", Virginia Bottomley was reported by the Times to be reducing funding to AIDS support groups and prevention campaigns, principal among which was the Terrence Higgins Trust. The factors that influenced her decision would appear to include:
      - Hodgkinson's article in the Sunday Times, 18.4.93 "Experts confounded on AIDS as grim reaper fails to strike", supported for the first time by a second newspaper, the Independent, which published a powerful synthesis of the current situation by the philosopher of science, Brian Appleyard, three days later, on 21.4.93, "Just an illness with big ideas".
      - the disappointing results of AZT trials and consequent plunge in Burroughs Wellcome share prices, reported widely in the press during April 1993.
      - the reporting in Newsweek, 26.4.93, of the findings of the Guttmacher survey of sexual behaviour in American men, which found that only 1% are homosexual, as opposed to 10%, as previously supposed since the Kinsey report. (The original publication of the results of the survey, conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, appeared in the March/April 1993 issue of Family Planning Perspectives.)
      By December 1993, other newspapers were beginning to publish "me too" articles, casting doubts on the HIV causes AIDS hypothesis, e.g. "The shocking cost of AIDS", Sunday Express, 19.12.93, by journalist Roger Wilsher.
      In "The Late Show", TV Channel 4, 30.11.93, Sunday Times Assistant Editor, Jonathan Miller, and Steve Connor, Science Correspondent of the Independent, confronted each other in a discussion about ethics in journalism. The Sunday Times was accused of acting irresponsibly, in suggesting that HIV may not cause AIDS, on the grounds that readers might be encouraged to engage in unsafe sex and so contract the disease. In another chat show, in September 1993, Edwina Curry, champion of reducing the age of consent for homosexuality, vehemently accused the Sunday Times of homophobia, for stating that homosexuals continue to be the predominant high risk group for contracting AIDS, because of their life-style. The Assistant Editor responded that this was simply a statement of fact, which readers were entitled to, regardless of issues of political correctness. He was vindicated by a letter published in the Sunday Times, 28.11.93:
      "I fully endorse Jonathan Miller's stance that the gay life-style and drug abuse contribute to AIDS. As a gay man, I can hardly be called homophobic for taking this view. ... The Sunday Times is doing what the gay press should be doing: telling us what we should be hearing rather than what we would like to hear. Political correctness is killing us."

      3.3 The third controversy - What is HIV?
In September 1991, Andrew Tyler, free-lance journalist, author of "Street Drugs" and active campaigner for animal rights, suggested in the Evening Standard, that early oral polio vaccination programmes might have introduced SV40 into humans (the view of Snead).
      The Economist, 14.3.92, p123, developed the idea in line with Pascal's and Kyle's view, that the transmitted virus was SIV.
      On 19.9.92, the Independent Magazine carried an illustrated feature article, by Tyler, tracing the whole history of polio vaccine development and its possible implication as the link between monkey and human immunodeficiency viruses.
      Meanwhile, Nigel Williams, writing in the Guardian, 28.11.91, p1, had published the possibility that early experiments to develop a vaccine against malaria could have introduced monkey viruses similar to HIV into humans, through injection of malaria-infected monkey blood into human volunteers.

      3.4 The fourth controversy - What is AIDS?
Neville Hodgkinson opened the debate about the African AIDS epidemic in the Sunday Times on 21.3.93 "Epidemic of AIDS in Africa a tragic myth". On 3.10.93, a powerful article pursued the subject further in the Sunday Times, "The plague that never was" (Hodgkinson again). It told the story of Phillippe and Evelyne Krynen, a couple who, unable to have children of their own, founded an orphanage in Uganda for the orphans of "AIDS patients". 40-50% of the children were thought to be HIV antibody positive. There have been few deaths at the orphanage (and all of these were attributable to known causes, not AIDS related), which at the time of the article cared for 7,000 children, and the children's health improves as they grow up. As confidence rose, the villagers of Bukwali volunteered for HIV testing. Only 14% tested positive. With time, it also emerged that not all the children were orphans. Some had been abandoned by prostitute mothers or left by parents in the care of extended families, who could ill afford to keep them.
      Dr Harvey Bialy, Scientific Editor of "Biotechnology" is the main proponent of the view that the African AIDS epidemic is not in any way related to the syndrome that kills drug users and homosexuals in the USA and Europe. His views were broadcast in an extended edition of Dispatches, "AIDS in Africa" on Channel 4, 23.3.93, and contrasted with the gloomy predictions of Roy Anderson, of massive death rates before the end of the century.
      Equinox "HIV and AIDS", shown on TV on 22.11.92, was one of the most balanced programmes about AIDS. A wide range of scientific opinion was broadcast and the programme sought to consider objectively the difficulties and uncertainties about the subject, which have yet to be resolved.
      Many of Hodgkinson's articles include sections about AIDS in haemophiliacs and the contributing factors to their illness and he has also pointed out, as AZT has been increasingly discredited, that this may be a causative factor in some AIDS cases. He has also consistently pointed out the variation in symptoms between the various groups of patients.

      3.5 The fifth controversy - Is the test for HIV reliable?
On 1.8.93, on the front page of the Sunday Times, "New doubts over AIDS infection as HIV test declared invalid", Hodgkinson reported the findings of an extensive survey, conducted by an Australian team, and published in the journal "Biotechnology". The survey concluded that both of the tests most widely used are invalid. Malaria, malnutrition and even influenza can cause false positives, with devastating consequences for the individual's life and happiness.
      On 3rd and 4th April 1994, three newspapers, the Independent, the Sunday Times and the Times, reported that a new strain of HIV had been discovered in France, which could not be detected by the standard tests, used for blood transfusion screening:
      "Health officials in Britain and France have asked manufacturers of blood tests for the HIV virus to re-evaluate them, with one French test having already been withdrawn.""

      3.6 The sixth controversy - How efficacious is AZT?
In a letter to the Sunday Times, 24.4.94, "AZT Scandal", John Lauritsen claims to have been the first critic of AZT internationally:
      "My analysis of the phase II AZT trials appeared on October 19, 1987 in the New York Native. I demonstrated that these trials, the basis for marketing approval in America, were seriously flawed"
      There have been two bursts of media coverage about the relative efficacy and toxicity of Retrovir (AZT), coinciding with the publication of results of two phases of clinical trials by the manufacturers, Burroughs Wellcome. The first was around April 1993 and the second February 1994 (Concorde trials). Because of the effect on share prices, there was wide publication in the financial press also. The debate has been in two phases. Firstly, about the use of the drug as a preventative agent in healthy HIV antibody positive individuals, including children, and secondly, its use in AIDS patients, to delay the progress of the disease and so increase life expectancy. With the test case of Threakall about to open the way for other claims from families of patients treated with AZT, against Wellcome (see above), there is clearly more to come.
      Before the doubts about AZT hit the headlines in a big way, in June 1990, a Channel 4 TV "Dispatches" programme broadcast the results of research by an independent investigative team, Meditel, into the use of AZT. The programme was bitterly attacked by Wellcome, the Terrence Higgins trust and the Medical Research Council. The team was reported to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission and the programme divided the establishment.

      3.9 Summary
After a lengthy delay, media coverage of doubts about the conventional view of HIV and AIDS is spreading. The press may have been partly to blame for the initial public panic over AIDS, but as the complexity of the subject and its impact on society develops, this is reflected in the breadth of media coverage.
      The next chapter explores the extent to which scientific knowledge, which is filtering into the mass media, is being incorporated into educational literature used by teachers in the delivery of preventative HIV/AIDS education programmes.




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