ATLANTA– On January 13, 2014, the trial of Craig Lamar Davis begins in Clayton County, Georgia, and the stakes are high. If convicted of aggravated assault for not disclosing his alleged HIV-positive status to a sex partner, he could spend up to 10 years in prison. Accused in 2012 of engaging in unprotected sex with two different partners in the Atlanta area, Davis, 44, was arrested after two women allegedly tested positive for HIV and filed police reports. One woman claimed Davis was “a married pastor” but, through his attorney, John Turner, Davis denies he was ever a pastor and disputes his HIV positive status. Additionally, he was separated from his wife during this time, Turner says. (see also press release)
Other inaccuracies abound and like most stories, there is much more to this one, and it begins to unravel from the very beginning. Starting in 2009, Davis had his blood tested using various HIV tests, and all concluded that he was positive. To his various clinicians, that meant Davis had the deadly virus. This is when things first went way off track.
With support from the Office of Scientific and Medical Justice, a non-profit investigative agency comprised of legal and scientific experts, Davis’ defense will center on medical records and tests that do not establish whether he is – or ever was – infected with HIV.
JUST AN ILLUSION
The test themselves are the problem, says Rodney Richards, Ph.D., the Amgen senior chemist who designed the first HIV test in 1985.
“None of the 39 HIV-related diagnostic tests or devices currently approved by the FDA claim to confirm the actual presence of HIV in any sample with any degree of accuracy,” Richards explains.” In fact there is no test for HIV. It’s just an illusion.”
Richards, an associate of OMSJ, worked at the biotech giant for 13 years and he will testify for Davis’ defense at trial. During the early days of the AIDS scare, Richards supervised the development of the first HIV ELISA diagnostic test. Originally intended only to rule out HIV in blood donor banks, HIV tests proliferated into mainstream medical practice and became the standard used to diagnose actual HIV infection. In actuality, the tests rely on identifying antibodies—or proteins—alleged to be associated with the virus.
“On the surface,” adds Richards, “the fact that the CDC would recommend the use of antibody tests for the purpose of telling people that they are with certainty infected with a deadly and contagious virus—when the manufacturers of these tests warn that they cannot be used to establish with any degree of certainty that this is the case—may seem so incredulous that it simply cannot be true. I didn’t realize this when I first started developing HIV tests. I thought that we were actually going to detect HIV but as I went along, I realized that the tests that are today called ‘HIV tests’ do not detect HIV.”
THE UNREPORTED STORY
You have to wonder why that story never gets out in the press when the evidence is ample, clear and readily available. Manufacturers of HIV tests clearly warn, in the fine print of each label, that the tests are not intended to be used to diagnose HIV without a clinical—or physician’s–diagnosis. All say the significance of a positive or reactive result in asymptomatic patients is unknown.
For Davis’ defense, Richards will be joined by OMSJ associate Donna Banks, M.D., a board certified gynecologist and sexually transmitted disease specialist, who will challenge the accuracy of the HIV tests administered to Davis during 2009 to 2012.
“All HIV tests are an assumption, made by clinicians, but not direct proof. A direct, reliable method would be to culture the virus from blood or other body tissue. However, this has never been accomplished.”