- A platinum-selling alt-rock group may be endangering
their fans by promoting a dangerous myth.
- Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl wants you to forget
what you think you know about AIDS.
- Some rock stars want to free Tibet. Others want to save
Mumia. The Foo Fighters, on the other hand, want their fans to ignore accepted
medical wisdom about AIDS.
- The multimillion-album-selling alternative rock outfit
has thrown its weight behind http://www.aliveandwell.org
Alive and Well, an "alternative AIDS information group" that
denies any link between HIV and AIDS. In January, Foo Fighters bassist
Nate Mendel helped organize a sold-out concert in Hollywood to benefit
the group. Foo fans were treated to a speech by Alive and Well founder
Christine Maggiore, who believes AIDS may be caused by HIV-related medications,
anal sex, stress, and drug use, and implies that people should not get
tested for HIV nor take medications to counter the virus. Free copies of
Maggiore's self-published book, "What If Everything You Thought You
Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?," in which she declares "there is
no proof that HIV causes AIDS," were also passed out to the concert-goers.
- HIV experts are alarmed by the possible impact of the
Foo Fighters' embrace of Maggiore's theories on their potentially gullible
- "Clearly, more research is needed on the factors
that contribute to HIV infection and the development of AIDS," says
Dorcus Crumbley of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National
Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention. "However, the conclusions
of more than two decades of epidemiologic, virologic, and medical research
are that HIV infection is transmissible through sexual contact, injecting
drug use, perinatally, and from receiving blood or blood products ... (and)
the scientific evidence is overwhelming that HIV is the cause of AIDS."
- Adds Crumbley: "The myth that HIV is not the primary
cause of AIDS ... could cause (HIV-positive people) to reject treatment
critical for their own health and for preventing transmission to others."
- "When it comes to such a complex health topic, it
behooves the band to have really researched what they are endorsing,"
says Diane Tanaka, an attending physician at the Children's Hospital of
Los Angeles, where she works with a large population of high-risk and HIV-infected
low-income youth. "(The Foo Fighters) have a big responsibility in
terms of (their) public role and the impact that they can have on young
people. Is this band willing to take responsibility for a young person
engaging in risky, unprotected sex because of information they've gotten
from the (Foo Fighters) or from Alive and Well?"
- Alive and Well is one of several fringe groups that deny
a link between HIV and AIDS. Similar theories have been put forth over
the years by various far-right groups and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists,
and other so-called "HIV-refuseniks."
- "Your risk of being hit by lightning is greater
than that of contracting HIV through a one-time random sexual contact with
someone you don't know here in America," says Maggiore, an HIV-positive
Southern California resident with no formal training in medicine or the
sciences. "And if (a young person) were to get a positive diagnosis,
that does not mean they've been infected with HIV." The HIV-AIDS connection,
maintains Maggiore, has been promoted by greedy drug companies.
- Mendel says he was won over by Maggiore's book, and passed
it around to the rest of the band, which includes former Nirvana drummer
Dave Grohl. Mendel says that he would steer anyone considering an HIV antibody
test toward Maggiore's group.
- "If you test positive, you are pretty much given
a bleak outlook and told to take toxic drugs to possibly ward off new infections,"
- With the other band members on board, Mendel aims to
use the Foo Fighters' celebrity to get the message out to a broad audience.
The Foo Fighters plan additional benefit shows, and have placed a banner
ad on their Web site (http://www.foofighters.com) linking to Alive and
Well. Mendel says that he does not have HIV, nor does he have any friends
with HIV besides Maggiore, who has remained asymptomatic.
- The most recent numbers from the Joint United Nations'
HIV/AIDS Program estimate that 16.3 million people worldwide have died
of AIDS-related causes since 1981. Medical research in the United States
indicates that as many as 25 percent of the nation's estimated 40,000 annual
HIV infections occur among 13- to 21-year-olds. Maggiore, however, maintains
that worldwide HIV infections and AIDS deaths are exaggerated by the CDC
and the World Health Organization, even in regions like sub-Saharan Africa,
where two-thirds of the world's HIV-infected people live.
- Maggiore's message has apparently penetrated the minds
of at least some Foo aficionados. She says she has heard from many Foo
fans since the show -- one of whom, she says, now works at the Alive and
- "AIDS is a toxic disease caused by either long-term
recreational drug abuse or short-term anti-HIV medications," writes
a 22-year-old member of the Alive and Well-affiliated Students Reappraising
AIDS on the Foo Fighters' Web-based message board. "HIV is not spread
sexually, nor is it the cause of any disease."
- Other fans are less impressed. Damian Purdy, a 21-year-old
Winnipeg, Canada resident and devoted Foo Fighters fan, is outraged by
the band's position. "By supporting this, the Foo Fighters have entered
an arena that they have no business being in. The truth is that a rock
concert is not the appropriate platform for these views to be expressed.
I think the Foo Fighters have more influence than they realize," he
- For his part, Mendel remains convinced that the media
and the medical establishment are keeping the truth about HIV and AIDS
from the public. The Foo Fighters, he insists, will continue to use their
celebrity to bring "light to the issue."
- Is he worried that the group might be endangering the
lives of some of its listeners?
- "I'm absolutely confident that I'm doing the right
thing," Mendel answers. "No, I wouldn't feel responsible for
possibly harming somebody. I (feel) I'm doing the opposite."
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
Site Served by TheHostPros