Document:Crack in the Wall

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A Crack in the Wall
by Celia Farber

Impression magazine
July 1999


After six years as an AIDS educator, Mark Pierpont resigned because he could no longer participate in what he feels "may one day be seen as the greatest violation of the principle of informed consent in the history of Public Health."

"Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn." – Resistance to Civil Government, Henry David Thoreau

A most astonishing letter has been making its way around AIDS dissident cybercircles recently. It positively sparkles with Thoreauian ethics and is a major jolt to the AIDS establishment's smug certainty that only awful, warped people who don't "work with AIDS" would ever doubt the HIV/AIDS paradigm.

I've always fantasized about what it might be like if one of them were suddenly seized by a crisis of the intellect, by the ever widening chasm between popular AIDS science and common sense. Last week my existential hero materialized. His name is Mark Pierpont, and for six years, he was an AIDS educator.

Until, that is, he began to truly educate himself about HIV and AIDS. Following a line of linear questioning, attempting to resolve all that did not make sense to him in the world of HIV/AIDS science, Pierpont found that all roads of rational thinking led away from the HIV belief system and the career that had sustained him for six years; When he came out of the labyrinth, he found himself on the other side and resigned from his job in June.

Here is his letter in full:

June 3, 1999

Robin Keene, SCHNS, Communicable Disease Supervisor
Manatee County Health Department

Dear Ms. Keene,

Please accept my resignation from employment with the Health Department, effective two weeks from today, June 17, 1999.

After months of struggle and extensive research, I regret that I can no longer fulfill the Public Health mandated requirements of this position in good conscience. As you know, over the past year I have investigated scientific material that calls into question the very foundations of the Public Health response to AIDS. After careful consideration, I find that I can no longer promote HIV/AIDS Education or HIV Testing as mandated by the State of Florida, Department of Health. In addition, I cannot present AIDS education according to Public Health mandates. In doing so, I would be violating my own conscience, as those mandates acknowledge and promote only one scientific opinion regarding the cause of AIDS.

Upon careful investigation, it is woefully apparent that a grand schism has existed in AIDS research since Robert Gallo's politically charged announcement to the world that HIV is the probable cause of AIDS (1984). Unfortunately, only one side of the scientific data has been made readily available to the public. This side is far more powerful, backed by the financial storehouses of federal government agencies like the CDC and the NIH, who fund most public information campaigns and research programs. This dominant science is promoted and even manipulated by pharmaceutical giants, who have an obvious profit motive. The Public Health system and the pharmaceutical companies are the main source of information regarding AIDS for health care providers, and limit their information to one side of the scientific debate, ignoring and even suppressing contrary scientific research. Aided by a willing media, the Public Health Service has all but silenced contrary scientific opinions and thus denied the people their fundamental right to informed consent.

I hereby withdraw my participation from what may one day be seen as the greatest violation of the principle of informed consent in the history of Public Health.

Most sincerely,

Mark Pierpont
HIV/AIDS Prevention Program Coordinator

CC: Dr. Gladys Branic, Director, MCHD
Alice Gross, Nursing Director, MCHD
Wayne Walker, Human Resources, MCHD
Lisle House, HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator, Area 6

How do you like them apples?

I tracked Pierpont down, mainly to ensure that he was for real and not some magical dream I was having. Sure enough, he answered his phone, literally while packing his stuff over at the Manatee Health Department.

"I'm not the only one in here with serious questions about all this," he said. "We all talk about it, and I can tell you there are several more who may follow me."

He said he was abandoning wholesale his career in AIDS education and wasn't sure what he was going to do next.

Pierpont was hired as the HIV prevention educator at the Manatee County Health Department in 1993. Like most people who enter the field, he was driven by a desire to make a difference. He shot to the top quickly and was soon conducting AIDS education courses and training staff for HIV counseling and testing.

Then in 1998, after happening upon some articles that raised some of the now well-known inconsistencies to the HIV/AIDS hypothesis, Pierpont began an investigation of his own.

Despite the fact that his bosses had already told him how to "deal with" notable HIV critics like virologist Peter Duesberg and Nobel laureate Kary Mullis, and their "followers" (say that they're crazy, wrong, dangerous, and LSD users, when all else fails), Pierpont was not so easily dissuaded. Instead, the problems with the HIV paradigm haunted him more and more. "How could some of the leading scientists in the world (including a number of Nobel Prize Winners) challenge the very foundation of HIV science and it not be big news?" Pierpont wondered in a paper he wrote.

He discovered some unsettling facts, such as that when Robert Gallo, in 1984, made the announcement that would change the world – that the retrovirus HIV was the "probable" cause of AIDS – he only ever found it in 26 of the 72 patients studied.

This bothered Mark Pierpont. How can we make sense out of the tens of thousands of AIDS professionals who are not in the least bothered by this titanic bit of illogic?

Pierpont wrote letters and emails to several of his colleagues, asking, with a hint of despair in his tone, for answers to some of the questions raised by the "lunatics."

In a June 2, 1999 letter to Tom Liberti, chief of the Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS, in Tallahassee, Florida, Pierpont comments on a "disturbing video" he saw, featuring three establishment AIDS figures versus two AIDS dissidents.

"The team representing the Health Department position appeared unorganized, confused and defensive," Pierpont wrote. "[The dissidents] Mr. [Paul] Philpott and Mr. [Jason] Nusbaum were at times overzealous, but were well-prepared and provided documentation from scientific journals for all their major points. In addition, referring to files that were present, they claimed to be able to provide documentation for everything they said. After being accused of lying, they pled with the opposing panel to show them specific examples of these lies or inaccurate data. No one did."

He goes on to state that after a close examination of the dissident material, he found himself "... unable to identify any lies, misinformation, or inaccurate statistics."

"You are probably aware," Pierpont coolly continues, "of the growing international movement calling for the reappraisal of AIDS science. The specific questions raised by the reappraisers in this debate, and many others throughout the world, are being brought to the forefront in the media, news articles, and scientific journals."

And in a rather touching passage, Pierpont writes, "AIDS educators like myself are in urgent need of answers to satisfy our moral duty as messengers to the public, and to enable us to provide accurate information and honest answers to those who question us. The principle of informed consent demands that people know when something we tell them is unresolved in the scientific community. Please assist us in this!"


Proto-dissident Charles Ortleb, former publisher of the New York Native, the paper that broke the Duesberg story back in 1987, spent days faxing the Pierpont resignation letter to journalists at publications from The New York Times to Le Monde to Der Speigel. One editor, at Science magazine, told him it wasn't a story because it's only one man, one defector.

And I think that's exactly why it is a story. Ortleb agrees. He said, "I think this could be the Rosa Parks moment of the AIDS dissident movement."

© 1999 by Celia Farber
Originally published in Impression magazine