For Immediate Release
March 7, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, March 7, 2007--Rethinking AIDS, a global organization of more than 2,300 scientists, medical doctors, journalists, health advocates, and business professionals, asked the BBC today to reject a call for censorship of the 2004 documentary film Guinea Pig Kids. The film, coproduced with NDR, German public television, exposed drug experiments on poor, mostly Latino and African-American New York City children presumed to be HIV positive, conducted at Incarnation Children's Center (ICC) in Manhattan.
In a March 7, 2007, letter to the acting chair of the BBC Trust, RA president Dr. Etienne de Harven wrote, "Thanks to the BBC exposé and other investigative reports in the U.S. and Europe, the disturbing practices at the ICC came to the attention of human rights organizations and local government agencies, prompting hearings, investigations and media coverage that continue to this day."
On January 10, 2007, several AIDS researchers sent a complaint letter to the BBC asking it to remove "editorial support," which includes a transcript of the film, from the BBC Web site and that an apology for "false and misleading" portrayal of the children as "guinea pigs" be posted in its place. The documentary investigators found, however, information from ICC’s own former Web site, as well as the Web site of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), indicating that ICC used children to test not only unusually high numbers of highly toxic drugs (mixtures of up to eight drugs) but also at doses that were significantly higher than normal. (See also, the BBC’s follow-up story.)
RA has urged the BBC to "refuse censorship of this vitally important film, continuing the courageous stance that led to the pursuit of this story." It requested that coverage of Guinea Pig Kids remain on the BBC Web site and that no apology be issued for what is an accurate report.
The February 2007 issue of Essence magazine contains a feature article inspired by the film, originally aired November 30, 2004. Initial stories ran in the New York Post, New York Press, Fox News and the British Observer. There is evidence that such abusive practices persist in New York, the U.S. and around the world.
RA’s letter, and the letter of complaint to which it responds, are available here.
Rethinking AIDS: The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis (“RA” or “the Group”) was formed in 1991 to express the concerns of a growing number of renowned scientists and medical doctors about HIV research and the resulting human rights abuses. In 1995, by a letter published in The Lancet, the Group called for a thorough reappraisal of the existing evidence for and against the HIV/AIDS hypothesis and recommended that critical epidemiological studies be undertaken.
Among RA’s founders are Harvard microbiologist Dr. Charles Thomas; 1993 Nobel laureate for chemistry Dr. Kary Mullis; Nature Biotechnology co-founder Dr. Harvey Bialy; University of California at Berkeley molecular biologist Dr. Peter Duesberg and the late Yale mathematician Dr. Serge Lang, both members of the National Academy of Sciences; professor of medical physics at the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia Dr. Eleni Papadopulos; and Glasgow University professor emeritus of public health and World Health Organization consultant Dr. Gordon Stewart.
The Group’s current president, Dr. Etienne de Harven, is a professor emeritus of pathology at the University of Toronto and a former cancer researcher at Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York (1956-1981). He produced the first electron microscopic studies of a retrovirus (the murine Friend leukemia virus) and was director of the Electron Microscopy Laboratory at the Banting Institute, Department of Pathology, University of Toronto.