Celia Farber

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Celia Farber is an American writer and journalist who has been chronicling the HIV debate since 1987. She was one of the original signatories to the letter establishing the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV/AIDS Hypothesis.


In 1987, Farber began writing and editing a monthly investigative feature column in SPIN magazine, entitled "Words From The Front" [1987-1995], focusing on the earliest critiques of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis, the AZT blight, and all facets of the dividing HIV culture – medical, sociological, political, and economic, both in the West and in Africa.

Her articles, translated into many languages, have been used as course material at universities in discussions about critical science reporting. Farber has also been a vocal and persistent critic of political correctness and the McCarthyism that reigned in sexual harassment law in the 1990s. In 1999, she co-founded the non-profit organization Rock The Boat, which had as its aim to use rock music to stimulate independent thinking, by arranging concerts around particular subjects that had been darkened by media censorship. She has written for Harper's, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Salon, Gear, the New York Press, Red Flags, and others.

Farber authored a book, Serious Adverse Events: An Uncensored History of AIDS, published in 2006 by Melville House Press.


In March 2006, Harper's Magazine published a 16-page article by Farber entitled, "Out of Control: AIDS and the Corruption of Medical Science" (PDF) PDFsmallicon.gif (Farber 2006). The article was originally commissioned to cover Peter Duesberg's cancer research specifically, but Farber and Harper's editor Roger Hodge decided to shift the emphasis of the story to Jonathan Fishbein and the HIVNET 012 Uganda trial of nevirapine. The article attracted an enormous amount of media exposure, including coverage of the article by the New York Times (Miller 2006) and by National Public Radio (Gladstone 2006).

A rebuttal to Farber's article was prepared by the Treatment Action Campaign and several AIDS researchers including Robert Gallo: Gallo rebuttal, and in response, a rebuttal to Gallo et al was prepared by Farber and Rethinking AIDS: Rebuttal to Gallo. Gallo et al have refused to respond to this rebuttal, claiming "it does not merit any further response". (AIDStruth 2006)


Farber's March 2006 article in Harper's Magazine
  • "They call HIV the AIDS virus, and it's this generation's symbol of terror. It has come to rule us, our lives, our relationships, our sexuality. A microscopic dictator. We have erected buildings, organizations, conferences, and global programs in an attempt to placate it. It is a demon, and we worship it with our terror." (Farber 1992)
  • "If you call up scientists asking simple, intelligent questions about the cause of AIDS you get a kind of irrational fury.... It is like holding a cross to a vampire. If you give any credence to these ideas you lose your contacts in the medical establishment and for a full-time medical reporter this is a problem. Investigative journalism and science haven't met before.... What we are up against is a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure." (Hodgkinson 1996)
  • "I doubt whether any single idea has had such a meteoric impact on the global human psyche as the 1984 announcement by Robert Gallo that the 'probable cause of AIDS' had been found, that it was a virus, and that it was spreading sexually. To equate sex, which begets life, with death, was to turn humanity on itself. It would become the most defining psychic characteristic of the end of the century." (Farber 1998)
  • "What we mean when we say 'AIDS' is not a fixed reality or unified entity, but rather a boundlessly complex matrix of perception, projection and assumption. The 'truth' about AIDS (like the retrovirus itself) cannot be isolated from its surrounding tissue. It is inextricably bound within this tissue, which is made up of an inchoate roar of mass media and mass emotion, stretched across almost 20 years, distorted by innumerable passions and most chillingly, trapped inside a language that only permits the repetition of its own foregone conclusions. ('The AIDS Virus', for instance.)" (Farber 1999)
  • "Attempts to rigorously test the ruling medical hypothesis of the age are met not with reasoned debate but with the rhetoric of moral blackmail: Peter Duesberg has the blood of African AIDS babies on his hands. Duesberg is evil, a scientific psychopath. He should be imprisoned. Those who wish to engage the AIDS research establishment in the sort of causality debate that is carried on in most other branches of scientific endeavor are tarred as AIDS 'denialists,' as if skepticism about the pathogenicity of a retrovirus were the moral equivalent of denying that the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews.... Similarly, it was known in advance that AZT was a 'magic bullet' against HIV; the word was out that it was a 'life-saving drug' before anyone could possibly verify this, and so scientific controls were compromised. Journalists (myself included) who reported at the time that the drug apparently was killing patients were labeled 'AZT refuseniks' and even 'murderers.'" (Farber 2006)
  • "Nutritional answers excite me very much, especially in Africa, where the idea drives most people insane. How can we have a world where the left is opposed to clean water, core nutrition and basic health care to poverty-stricken Africans? It just boggled my mind. If anything, it’s a traditionally left-wing position that people poor, marginalized, and starving are going to get sick – as they always have." (McNeil 2006)

See also

Documents and external links


Serious Adverse Events




  1. AIDStruth website, 2006. "Harper's Magazine's Out of Control by Celia Farber".
  2. Farber, Celia, 1992. "Fatal Distraction", Spin magazine, June 1992.
  3. Farber, Celia, 1998. "AIDS as Metaphor", Impression magazine, November 1998.
  4. Farber, Celia, 1999. "Panic Attack", Impression magazine, March 1999.
  5. Farber, Celia, 2006. "Out of Control", (PDF) PDFsmallicon.gif, Harper's, March 2006.
  6. Gladstone, Brooke, 2006. "Harper's Bizarre?", an interview with Roger Hodge, On the Media, National Public Radio, 5 May 2006.
  7. Hodgkinson, Neville, 1996. AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science, p. 347.
  8. McNeil, Joanne, 2006. Interview with Celia Farber, Bookslut, September 2006.
  9. Miller, Lia, 2006. "An Article in Harper's Ignites a Controversy Over H.I.V.", The New York Times, 13 March 2006.

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