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AIDS skeptic Christine Maggiore dies in US at 56

AIDS skeptic Christine Maggiore dies in US at 56

Christine Maggiore, an activist who vehemently denied that HIV causes AIDS, declined to take anti-AIDS drugs and sued Los Angeles County for stating that her 3-year-old daughter succumbed to AIDS-related pneumonia, has died. She was 52.
Maggiore died at her home on Saturday. She had been treated for pneumonia in the past six months, but her official cause of death was pending, county coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter said Tuesday.
He said it was unclear whether her death was AIDS-related. She was diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus in 1992.
A call to her home seeking comment from her husband, Robert Scovill, was not answered.
For a year after her diagnosis, Maggiore was a volunteer at AIDS shelters and spoke about the risks of the virus at health fairs and schools. She began to change her views in 1993 when she had more HIV tests that gave contradictory results, some negative and some positive.
"The more I read, the more I became convinced that AIDS research had jumped on a bandwagon that was headed in the wrong direction," she wrote on the Web site of her nonprofit organization, Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives.
She was heavily influenced by Peter Duesberg, a biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Duesberg argues that AIDS is caused not by HIV, but by long-term consumption of recreational drugs or even AZT, a compound used in AIDS treatment.
Maggiore founded her nonprofit organization, which challenges mainstream medical views about the causes and treatment of AIDS. She wrote a book, "What If Everything You Thought About AIDS Was Wrong," and appeared on national television to promote her view that pregnancy, alcoholism, drug use and even common viral infections could cause false positives on HIV tests.
Maggiore refused to take anti-retroviral drugs. She breast-fed both her children, despite the accepted view that it increased the risk of spreading HIV.
In 2005, her daughter, Eliza Jane Scovill, died at age 3. The girl had never had an HIV test. The county coroner's office concluded she died of pneumonia related to an advanced case of AIDS.
The county district attorney's office in 2006 declined to file criminal charges, noting that the girl's parents had taken her to several doctors.
A toxicologist who served on the advisory board of Maggiore's group concluded the girl died as a result of an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Maggiore sued the county last year, contending that the conclusion of the autopsy lacked proper medical and scientific evidence. The case is pending.
In addition to her husband, Maggiore is survived by a son, Charles. Both have tested negative for HIV.