Scientists & Physicians Call on WBAI Board to Stop AIDS Denialist Return
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- Published: Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:18
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|Seth Goldberg, M.D.
WBAI Local Station Board Member
Dear Dr. Goldberg,
We have learned of the recent developments at WBAI which could lead to the reinstatement of AIDS denialist Gary Null's show at the station. We are writing to you as fellow physicians and scientists to express our grave concern about Null’s dangerous messages being given air time and to urge you to do everything possible in your position as a Local Station Board member to promote effective and accurate public health information on WBAI.
As a physician yourself, you know that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that
a retrovirus known as HIV exists, is transmitted by bodily fluids, and destroys the immune system of infected people, leaving them vulnerable to opportunistic infections. Without antiretroviral treatment, advanced HIV disease (AIDS) almost invariably results in death. Despite these clear medical facts, some individuals have waged disinformation campaigns, making sensationalist claims that HIV is not connected to AIDS. Frequently, these are linked to shameless self-promotion and the sale of untested and useless nostrums.
HIV denialism isn’t a harmless opinion or a legitimate critique of mainstream medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. A recent Harvard study documented that government-sponsored HIV denialism blocked HIV treatment access in South Africa and resulted in the needless infections and deaths of some 365,000 people. It would be an outrage for WBAI, a station with a social justice mission that is located in the U.S. city most devastated by HIV/AIDS, to cede precious programming time to such deadly messages. But Gary Null is a leading HIV denialist who consistently uses his show to disseminate HIV denialist disinformation. This is irresponsible journalism and, more urgently, it constitutes a major threat to public health, especially in the low-income communities of color most affected by HIV.
Your vote approving the WBAI "Mending Fences" resolution in September 2008 unfortunately advanced WBAI down this pathway of promoting HIV denialism and pseudoscience. However, at the upcoming Local Station Board meeting you will have the opportunity to take a stand in line with your duties as a medical professional and vote to rescind the "Mending Fences" resolution.
When evidence-based medicine is dismissed and our communities and our lives are endangered, clinicians and researchers must take action and set a powerful example of scientifically-informed, ethical action to effectively protect public health and promote social justice. We strongly urge you to rise to that role now and stop the spread of HIV denialism on WBAI. Please vote on June 10th to rescind the “Mending Fences” resolution.
Helen Azzam, M.D., MPH – Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Laura S. Boylan, M.D. – New York University School of Medicine
George M. Carter, Director – Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR)
Adrienne Chan, M.D., MPH, FRCP(C) - Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Toronto
Jennifer Cohn, M.D. – Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Andy Ellner, M.D., M. Sc.- Brigham and Women's Hospital
Dorothy A. Fallows, Ph.D. – Public Health Research Institute, New Jersey Medical School
Ian Frank, M.D. – University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Robert Gallo, M.D. – Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland Medical School
David Hoos, M.D., MPH – Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Seth Kalichman, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut
Daniel R. Kuritzkes, M.D. – Harvard Medical School
Daniel L. Labovitz, M.D. - Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Evan Lyon, M.D. - Harvard Medical School
John P. Moore, Ph.D. – Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Robert Murayama, M.D., MPH - Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA)
Mary O’Brien, M.D. – Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons
Laura Pinsky, Director – Columbia University Gay Health Advocacy Project
Margaret Polaneczky, M.D., FACOG – Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Steven A. Siegelbaum, Ph.D. – Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, Columbia University
Robert Staudinger, M.D. – New York University School of Medicine
Patricia L. Toro, M.D., MPH - Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Mark A. Wainberg, Ph.D. – McGill University AIDS Centre
Catherine M. Wilfert, M.D. – Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation