Letter: The Sunday Times's rejection of the connection between HIV and Aids

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was disappointed to read the letter from John Witherow, the Acting Editor of the Sunday Times (30 June), regarding that paper's stance on the connection between HIV and Aids. His five statements, as presented, are largely opinion and are certainly not a simple reporting of 'evidence'.

The connection between HIV and Aids is supported by the vast body of facts available. Indeed, the fact that the Sunday Times's coverage of the topic has chosen to ignore the 'growing evidence' that supports the HIV/Aids 'theory' and rejects other theories, has greatly puzzled those of us working in the field.

Our daily work with patients and in laboratories, here and abroad, provides compelling and, for us, unignorable evidence for this connection, together with the vast scientific literature. Other hypotheses, some of which were worth considering in 1981- 82, have been overwhelmingly rejected because they are not compatible with the data. Science requires hypotheses to be rejected if they are irreconcilable with the data - all the data.

Of course, there are many unanswered questions, many controversies about how HIV wreaks its terrible havoc and how best to deal with it. There is plenty of room for debate and iconoclasm within the Aids field, but it must encompass the whole body of data and work within that framework.

I find a ray of hope in some of the phrases in Mr Witherow's letter, which I have deliberately shaken out of their context: he will '. . . report the facts . . . however unacceptable . . ' and they will not '. . . stick our heads in the sand, ignore uncomfortable facts . . .'. If he means to embrace all the facts and is willing to accept the challenge to be found in the existing body of data to their views about HIV and Aids, then there is hope for those who read a once respected newspaper.

Yours sincerely,

ANTHONY J. PINCHING

Professor of Immunology

Medical College of St

Bartholomew's Hospital

London, EC1

30 June

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