Does HIV cause AIDS? How much more evidence do you need?

It beggars belief that a decade after Thabo Mbeki and other AIDS denialists were completely discredited by a mountain of evidence (see a good summary here if you must), respectable media outlets still question whether the virus is caused by HIV. The latest in this shameful line is The Spectator, which at least has the (probably false) humility to ask whether it should be questioning the link (the answer is no, because it puts people’s lives at risk if they believe this garbage).

According to the Spectator, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist has said that you can shrug off HIV infections if you have a healthy immune system. This is the argument put forward by South Africa’s disgraced former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (who reckoned eating raw garlic would sort you out if you got infected). In all my time working in the HIV/AIDS field in Africa and the West (intermittent but over quite a long period), I’ve met one person who contracted HIV but didn’t end up needing antiretroviral drugs.  The Spectator would have it that this person (a scientist himself, as it happens) is one of multitudes.  Surprising, then, that he describes himself as a “human pincushion,” as so many researchers have tested him to find out what stops HIV turning into AIDS. If people like him were so numerous, you’d think the scientists wouldn’t have to subject him to painful jabs so often.