A petition organized by advocacy group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) has been delivered to publisher Simon & Schuster. The petition alleges that the forthcoming The Real AIDS Epidemic: How the Tragic HIV Mistake Threatens Us All (March 28) by Rebecca Culshaw is factually incorrect and carries a risk to public health.
The ACT UP statement read in part:
The thesis of Culshaw’s book is that HIV does not conclusively cause AIDS, but that this was a ‘mistake’ made in the 1980s and never amended or corrected. To the contrary, that HIV causes AIDS was demonstrated first in the 1980s, when the virus was discovered, and subsequently research has only strengthened that causal link in the subsequent decades, including via in vitro systems, in animal models, including non-human primates, via molecular phylogenetics, and in human samples.
The statement called for the publisher to “create a public health working group to assure community members that this will not happen again” and also characterized Culshaw as a “recognized AIDS denialist.”
The United Nations estimates that around 650,000 people died in 2021 from AIDS-related illnesses, and that more than 40 million people have died since the beginning of the epidemic. There were 38.4 million living with HIV in 2021. The National Institutes of Health notes that antiretroviral drugs have increased the lifespan of people living with HIV from one year in the 80s to a normal life span today.
As of Monday morning, March 20th, the book’s page was missing from the Simon & Schuster website.
This follows the withdrawal by Simon & Schuster of the forthcoming The Book of Animal Secrets earlier in the month after the author acknowledged accusations of plagiarism.