A coalition of more than 30 organizations and 70 public health advocates have sent a letter to Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp demanding that the publisher drop its plans to distribute The Real AIDS Epidemic: How the Tragic HIV Mistake Threatens Us All by Rebecca V. Culshaw, a person members of the coalition say is a known AIDS denialist. The book is set to be released on March 28 from S&S distribution client Skyhorse.
The letter, written by ACT UP NY members, says that the book pushes AIDS denialism and misinformation about HIV/AIDs and that the such misinformation does “material harm to “HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment.”
Culshaw is a mathematician who has published several journal articles regarding mathematical modeling of HIV immunology, and The Real AIDS Epidemic is an updated version of a book she first published in 2007. In the book, Culshaw “focuses on the politics of the changing definition of AIDS and the flaws in all HIV testing,” according to a description of the book, which adds that those flaws have led to “a mistaken understanding of AIDS.” She also warns, the description continues, "that the toxic drugs being foisted on the Black and gay communities constitute one of the worst medical violations of human rights since the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.” Culshaw insists that her book “does not deny the AIDS epidemic.”
In its letter, ACT UP NY says Culshaw’s claims in the original book were “debunked” by experts from Johns Hopkins and the University of New Mexico. The letter notes that “AIDS denialism poses real health risk to people living with HIV and their sexual partners,” and says that the release of The Real AIDS Epidemic “would be encouraging vulnerable people to ignore medical directions and to stop their medications, which is dangerous to their health and is likely to lead to a higher amount of virus in their bodies."
In addition to stopping the distribution of the book, the coalition wants S&S to reassess “other future releases to ensure that other books won’t assist similar damage to public health” and to “create a public health working group to assure community members that this will not happen again.”
In a post, Culshaw said her book doesn't deny the AIDS epidemic, but is rather "a plea to return informed consent to patients."
Skyhorse publisher Tony Lyons also said the book doesn't deny AIDS, but "analyzes issues that have been raised by many prominent scientists, including Nobel Prize winners Kary Mullis and Luc Montaigner." He said doubted that the people who are signing the letter to S&S have even read the book. "Real science requires ongoing dialogue and debate and people who believe genuinely that they have better, stronger, more convincing arguments don't need to stoop to cancel culture or censorship. Censorship, at its core, is anti-science," Lyons said.
The pending publication of The Real AIDS Epidemic is the latest in a string of controversial books published by Skyhorse that includes the bestselling The Real Anthony Fauci by Robert Kennedy Jr.; The Great Reset by Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, who faces more than $1.4 billion in legal damages for defaming the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims; and Woody Allen's autobiography, Zero Gravity.
S&S had no comment at press time.
This story has been updated to include comments from Tony Lyons.