Discussion:
From Poppers to Protease Inhibitors
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PaulKing
2004-05-09 23:49:19 UTC
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QUEER ADVERTISING
From Poppers to Protease Inhibitors

By John Lauritsen

Jan. 2000


This talk was delivered at the Queer Studies Symposium, McMaster
University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on Saturday, 15 January 2000.
(click on images for bigger ones)

When I use the word "queer", as in "queer advertising", it is intended to
be negative. My leading thesis is that it is queer -- odd and deplorable
-- that in the past 30 years much of the advertising in ostensibly gay
publications has been for poppers, AZT or the protease inhibitor
"cocktails". I shall argue that these drugs are harmful; they have been
and continue to be the cause of suffering and death for tens or hundreds
of thousands of gay men.

Let's start with the premier gay drug, "poppers". It is curious, that
almost all gay men, but very few others, even know what "poppers" are. So
it's necessary to begin by defining them.

Poppers in their present form are little bottles containing a liquid
mixture of volatile nitrites. When inhaled just before orgasm, poppers
seem to prolong the sensation. Poppers facilitate anal intercourse by
relaxing the muscles in the rectum and deadening the sense of pain.

From a biochemical standpoint, the volatile or alkyl nitrites (amyl-,
butyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-, and other nitrites) are powerful oxidizing
agents. If spilled on the skin, they cause severe burns. The liquid is
highly flammable; one of the worst fires in San Francisco history occurred
when a poppers factory exploded.
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Since 15 February 1989 poppers have been a "banned hazardous product" in
the United States. It is illegal to manufacture, distribute, import or
sell any isobutyl nitrite substance or any consumer product "used for
inhaling or otherwise introduced into the body for euphoric or physical
effects". The ban is part of the Drug Omnibus Act of 1988.

The initiative for regulating poppers came from the gay community itself.
West Hollywood, the gayest city in the world, took the lead in banning
poppers. In San Francisco in 1983, lobbying for the regulation of poppers
was led by a group of gay doctors, the Bay Area Physicians for Human
Rights, together with the Committee To Monitor Poppers, founded in 1981 by
gay activist Hank Wilson.

The original poppers were little glass ampules enclosed in mesh, which
were "popped" under the nose and inhaled. Manufactured by
Burroughs-Wellcome, they contained pharmaceutical amyl nitrite, and were
intended for emergency relief of angina pectoris (heart pain). Amyl
nitrite was a controlled substance until 1960, when the prescription
requirement was eliminated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). From
1961 to 1969, a few gay men, primarily those with sadomasochistic
proclivities, began using amyl nitrite as a "recreational" drug. The
prescription requirement was reinstated by the FDA in 1969.

In 1970, a new industry stepped into the breach, marketing brands of butyl
and isobutyl nitrite. One of the most brilliant advertising campaigns of
all time commenced. Within only a few years hundreds of thousands of men
were persuaded that poppers were an integral part of their "gay identity".
The ads conveyed the message that nothing could be butcher or sexier than
to inhale noxious chemical fumes. Bulging muscles were linked to a drug
that is indisputably hazardous to the health.
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image... Click for bigger image...

At its peak, the poppers industry was the biggest money- maker in the gay
world, grossing upwards of $50 million per year. Gay publications were
delighted with the revenues they received from running full-page,
four-color ads for the various brands of poppers. In a 1983 letter to the
Advocate, poppers manufacturer Joseph F. Miller, President of Great Lakes
Products, Inc., boasted he was the "largest advertiser in the Gay press".

For gay men who came out in the '70s, poppers appeared to be as much a
part of the gay clone lifestyle as mustaches or flannel shirts.
Accessories were marketed: for leather queans, there were little metal
inhalers on leather thongs. One magazine had a comic strip entitled
"Poppers"; its hero, Billy, was a child-like but sexy blond, whose two
main loves in life were sex and poppers.
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By 1974 the poppers craze was in full swing, and by 1977 poppers were in
every corner of gay life. At gay discotheques men could be seen shuffling
around in a daze, holding little bottles under the nose. At gay gathering
places -- bars, baths, leather clubs -- the poppers miasma was taken for
granted.

Some gay men became so addicted to poppers that they snorted nitrite fumes
around the clock. For some, poppers became a sexual crutch, without which
they were incapable of having sex, even solitary masturbation.

A number of factors help explain why poppers became a mass phenomenon
among gay men:

Poppers were legal. So long as they were labelled "room odorizers" and
marketed only to gay men, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looked
the other way.

Poppers were affordable. A bottle could sell for as little as $2.99, a lot
less than heroin, cocaine, or whisky.
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Poppers were assumed to be harmless. The name "poppers" sounds amusing,
innocuous. There had been no word in the gay press that poppers were
harmful.

But poppers are harmful. They damage the immune system. They injure the
lungs. They can cause severe or fatal anemia. Poppers are strongly
mutagenic, and have the potential to cause cancer by producing deadly
N-nitroso compounds. Poppers can cause death or brain damage from
cardiovascular collapse or stroke. Poppers have been used successfully to
commit suicide (by drinking) and murder. (The victim was gagged with a
sock soaked with poppers.)

There are strong epidemiological links between the use of poppers and the
development of AIDS illnesses, especially Kaposi's sarcoma (or KS), an
affliction of the blood vessels. In AIDS cases, KS is found almost
entirely among gay men who used poppers, not among members of other "risk
groups". For at least five years the top AIDS experts, including Robert
Gallo, have known that HIV is not the cause of KS. This was admitted
publicly at a 1994 meeting of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. (see
ref..)
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image...

At present, the nitrites-KS hypothesis is as strong as any, from the
standpoints of both epidemiology and biochemistry: poppers are a potent
mutagen and affect the blood vessels. It is suggestive, that many gay men
who used poppers developed KS of the upper lips, nose, and lungs -- the
route of poppers inhalation.

Beginning in 1981 San Francisco activist Hank Wilson, founder of the
Committee to Monitor Poppers, regularly sent out packets of medical
reports to the gay press. These were ignored. In 1982 a scientist sent a
letter to the Advocate, describing research which demonstrated that amyl
nitrite strongly suppresses the immune systems of mice. The Advocate's
editor, the late Robert McQueen, said: "We're not interested." Still in
1982, the Bay Area Reporter (BAR) in San Francisco ran the longest
editorial in its entire history, attacking Hank Wilson for criticizing
poppers. In 1983, at the request of a poppers manufacturer, the Advocate
ran a series of advertisements ("Blueprint For Health") which falsely
claimed that government studies had exonerated poppers from any connection
to AIDS.
Click for bigger image... Click for bigger image... Click for bigger
image...

For most of the gay press advertising dollars were more important than the
lives of gay men. Among the few exceptions were the New York Native and
Christopher Street, which ran articles on the dangers of poppers. For
doing so they were attacked by the late Nathan Fain, "health critic" of
the Advocate.

I began collaborating with Wilson in 1983. We published a series of
pamphlets and, in 1986, a little book, Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS. In 1983
I spoke out publicly against poppers for the first time, at a meeting of
the New York Safer Sex Committee. I was savagely attacked on the spot by a
gay physician (now dead from "AIDS"), who waved his arms and screamed at
me like a maniac. That evening I received a death threat. The phone rang.
It was a woman who said, coldly and professionally: "Don't be surprised if
you don't wake up in the morning. [CLICK]"

Now it's 2000, eleven years after poppers were outlawed, and not much has
changed. Poppers are no longer advertised in the American gay press, but
they are readily available and sold over the Internet. The largest circuit
party of all, the Black & Blue, held annually in Montreal, has "Zee-Best
Leather Cleaner" as a major sponsor. (I would not recommend using this
product on your leather jacket.)

Banning poppers isn't the answer. Our task is to get the word out, that
poppers really are dangerous. We have to counteract the disinformation
that has been disseminated -- not only by the poppers industry, but also
by government agencies and AIDS organizations.
Click for bigger image... Click for bigger image...

I'll close the poppers portion of my talk with three words: Don't use
poppers!

Gay publications in the U.S. no longer carry ads for poppers. Their place
has been taken by AIDS commodities: condoms, viatical settlement
companies, funeral services, and drugs. The most prominent advertising in
the late '80s, the "Living With HIV" campaign, promoted the drug AZT (also
known as Retrovir and zidovudine). Now we see ads for protease inhibitors,
part of the drug "cocktails" that are touted as HAART ("highly active
anti- retroviral therapy").

In a typical ad -- for Crixivan -- a young man is shown clinging to the
sheer face of a cliff, ready to plunge thousands of feet to his death; the
header says: "In the battle against HIV..." On the opposite page the same
young man is standing on a level place, calmly surveying the vista below;
the header says: "there's a change in outlook." The change is from anxiety
at imminent peril to calmness and hope, thanks to Crixivan. The third page
of the ad consists of fine print, mostly devoted to the drug's
toxicities.
Click for bigger image... Click for bigger image...

However, overt advertising plays only a small role in the promotion of the
current AIDS drugs. Far more important are the public relations (PR)
firms, which do their work surreptitiously. (On this topic I recommend
John Stauber's book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies, and
the Public Relations Industry).

The world's largest PR firm, Burson-Marsteller has for clients SmithKline,
Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Glaxo-Wellcome -- and the giant pharmaceutical
firms undoubtedly use other PR firms as well. The PR campaign on behalf of
the protease inhibitor drugs, which began in 1996, represents a triumph
for the industry. Within a short time almost everyone came to believe that
AIDS deaths were falling because of the new drugs. The media were filled
with "Lazarus" stories: thanks to the new HAART cocktails men would get up
from their deathbeds to return to work, play tennis, or perhaps climb
mountains. (Stories that contradicted this propaganda -- healthy people
who took the drugs and then died of liver failure -- were rigorously
suppressed.)

There is no basis in reality for the claim that protease inhibitors have
reduced AIDS deaths. A sharp drop in new "AIDS diagnoses" and in "AIDS"
deaths began several years before the protease inhibitors were put on the
market. Further, according to American "AIDS expert" Anthony Fauci of
NAIAD, no more than 10% of the eligible "HIV-positive" population have
ever taken a protease inhibitor, and half of them must stop taking the
drugs because they can't tolerate the toxicities. Therefore, the protease
inhibitors are absurdly being given credit for reducing the death rate
among the 95% of eligible HIV-positive people who are no longer taking
them, or who never did in the first place. Further, the protease inhibitor
propaganda -- instant recovery, immediate drop in AIDS deaths --
contradicts a basic tenet of HIV mythology: that a long latency period
(from 8 to 12 or even 15 years) lies between HIV infection and the
appearance of "AIDS" symptoms; that HIV is a slow virus (lentivirus),
which takes a long, long time to do anything. Finally, there are
objectively healthy people who took the cocktails and then died before
developing one of the 29 "AIDS-indicator" diseases; these "deaths before
diagnosis" are not counted as "AIDS deaths".

In a leading hospital in Massachusetts, deaths from liver failure caused
by protease inhibitor drugs are the leading cause of death among those
with an "HIV-positive" diagnosis. Many of the victims had no symptoms
before taking the drugs.

In fact, no clinical study has ever demonstrated that the protease
inhibitor cocktails improve the health or survival rates of those taking
them. The success of the drugs is gauged entirely through two surrogate
markers, CD4 counts and the "viral load" test, both of which are
worthless.

Protease inhibitors are entirely harmful. They attack the liver, kidneys,
and pancreas. They cause severe headaches, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
They damage the nerves. They cause muscular pain and atrophy. They cause
diabetes and high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

The effects are not pretty. The arms and legs waste away, and the face
begins to look like a death's head. Veins protrude on the limbs and side
of the face. The eyes look glassy. Fat accumulates on the belly ("Crix
belly") and the back of the neck ("buffalo hump"). The complexion acquires
an unhealthy dark red hue, and sometimes, as the liver and kidneys are
failing, a grayish putty color.

One drug found in many cocktails is AZT, a highly toxic drug, which was
approved by the FDA on the basis of fraudulent research. The drug's
biochemical mechanism of action is simple: it kills cells by terminating
DNA synthesis, the life process itself. And it kills people; 94% of all
AIDS deaths in the United States occurred after AZT was approved for
marketing in 1987.

In the American gay press, Christopher Street and the New York Native were
alone in criticizing the premier AIDS drug. The rest of the gay press
carried the "Living With HIV" ads and suppressed all information that was
not favorable to AZT -- just as a decade before they had carried the ads
for poppers and suppressed information about their toxicities.

We gay men are in a bad situation indeed, if what is supposed to be our
press is controlled by those who are indifferent or even hostile to our
welfare. Why were these deadly drugs foisted on us? The profit motive, of
course, but I think the main reason lies in hatred of gay men, including
self-hatred. The belief that men who have sex with each other are worthy
of death is not new; it goes back to a taboo formulated 2500 years ago by
the Levites, the priestly class of the tribe of Judah, as part of their
Holiness Code. The history and ramifications of that horrible taboo are
the core of my latest book, A Freethinker's Primer of Male Love.

Gay men must recognize the war that is being waged against us, and must
fight back. We must stop the poisoning of our brothers. We must defend
Free Speech, with no holds barred. Somehow, we must reclaim, or establish
from scratch, an honest and healthy way of communicating with each other.
Click for bigger image...

John Lauritsen is a Survey Analyst, and covered the AIDS war as a
Journalist for the New York Native. Lauritsen is the author of 'The AIDS
War; Propaganda, profiteering and genocide from the medical-industrial
complex' and 'Poison by Prescription; The AZT Story'. He is the co-editor
of 'The AIDS Cult'.
Gary Stein
2004-05-10 21:33:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by PaulKing
QUEER ADVERTISING
From Poppers to Protease Inhibitors
By John Lauritsen
First things first Lauritsen is a long time propagandist for the denialist
movement. If you notice he makes many claims in the article bellow yet does
not back any of them up with references for even attempt to establish any
sort of factual basis for his he claims he just drops his little turds and
moves on.
Post by PaulKing
Jan. 2000
This talk was delivered at the Queer Studies Symposium, McMaster
University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on Saturday, 15 January 2000.
(click on images for bigger ones)
(snip).....................
Post by PaulKing
But poppers are harmful. They damage the immune system. They injure the
lungs. They can cause severe or fatal anemia. Poppers are strongly
mutagenic, and have the potential to cause cancer by producing deadly
N-nitroso compounds. Poppers can cause death or brain damage from
cardiovascular collapse or stroke. Poppers have been used successfully to
commit suicide (by drinking) and murder. (The victim was gagged with a
sock soaked with poppers.)
The above may be true for the chemicals being sold today but it is not true
when talking about amyl nitrite's the original chemcal that made up Poppers
when they started and that is still available in the EU and on the internet.
Post by PaulKing
There are strong epidemiological links between the use of poppers and the
development of AIDS illnesses, especially Kaposi's sarcoma (or KS), an
affliction of the blood vessels. In AIDS cases, KS is found almost
entirely among gay men who used poppers, not among members of other "risk
groups". For at least five years the top AIDS experts, including Robert
Gallo, have known that HIV is not the cause of KS. This was admitted
publicly at a 1994 meeting of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. (see
ref..)
Click for bigger image... Click for bigger image... Click for bigger
image...
There is no such evidence that poppers are in anyway associated with the
development of AIDS. The study that the denialists like to claim as there
own proof on this subject does not show any relationship between AIDS and
Popper use. It does show a relationship to Popper use and KS but only if you
read the report as carefully edited by the denialist so that they can make
the claims they do about the reports results.

Also relevant is the fact that immune problems haven't been reported with
the medical use of amyl nitrites or nitrates in nearly 150 years of use.
There was also a huge exposure to people, tens of thousands of whom worked
in industrial settings from the 1900's to 1970's, especially those working
in the manufacture of nitroglycerin explosives and no immunity based
problems were ever reported for those groups either.


That report is;

Unique Identifier
93196687
Authors
Ascher MS. Sheppard HW. Winkelstein W Jr. Vittinghoff E.
Institution
Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory, California
Department of Health
Services, Berkeley 94704.
Title
Does drug use cause AIDS?.
Source
Nature. 362(6416):103-4, 1993 Mar 11.
Local Messages
At Medical Library, see MEDCAT for holdings

Abstract
A hypothesis identifying substance abuse as a main cause of
AIDS has naturally excited much publicity. But such claims have
no basis in fact.


In a subsequent letter Duesberg accused ascher of fabricating
data asher responded...

Sir,- Professor Duesberg's report contains a charge of fabrication with
respect to our publication in Nature [1], to which we feel obliged to
respond. He refers to our Table IIin which we divided the study subjects
into "heavy" and "light" users of amyl nitrites. Since the body of the Table
didnot include a "none" category, Duesberg concludes that the subsequent
presentation in the Figure ofa non-drug-user group "is therefore a
fabrication". However, we clearly state that the two groups shown in Table
IIactually consist of "men who reported heavy use of amyl nitrite" and "men
reporting none or less than weekly use of amyl nitrite".

We acknowledge that it might have been clearer, for someone who failed to
read the text, if we had labelled the latter group as "none/light" in the
table, but a conclusion of fabrication on Duesberg's part cannot be
justified on the basis of our data.

Duesberg also claims that we have confirmed his hypothesis "because heavy
drug users were twice as likely to develop AIDS as light users".

In this claim, he fails to grasp the significant epidemiological fact that
heavy drug-users were 1.56 times as likely to develop AIDS because they were
1.43 times as likely to be HIV-infected than light drug users. Further, it
is of critical importance that HIV-positive individuals were equally likely
to develop AIDS irrespective of their drug use pattern (51.4% AIDS among
heavy-users versus 47.4% among non-users or
light-users), which is hardly a robust affirmation of a drug-dose dependent
hypothesis; this and the failure of even 1 of the 39 seronegative heavy drug
users to get AIDS is inconsistent with Duesberg's prediction that the
incidence of AIDS should be drug-dose dependent and unrelated to serostatus.


Gary Stein

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