I find a lot to admire about the fearlessly iconoclastic Nina Hagen, but if there’s one place where she’s really fucked up, it’s her support of the ‘alternative’ AIDS movement. Hagen wrote the songs Hand Grenade and Hollenzug based on the ideas of activist and AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore, and has supported Maggiore’s Alive & Well organizations. The AIDS denial movement claims that AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus, that AZT and other antiretroviral drugs do more damage than good and the whole thing is a conspiracy between drug companies and the government to swindle, oppress and exterminate undesirable populations. While it’s true the pharmaceutical companies have a lot to answer for, and have made a killing (haha) on antiretrovirals, only making the drugs cheaper and more readily available to the impoverished after enraged worldwide political pressure, the science behind those drugs is valid. There is no ‘natural alternative’ AIDS treatment that’s been proven to work on a more than anecdotal level, and there’s no scientific doubt that HIV does cause AIDS, and the miserable deaths of millions of untreated sufferers offer pretty clear proof AIDS and HIV are a death sentence unless antiretroviral drugs are administered. Those things are accepted as fact by the NIH, WHO and practically every scientist, doctor and politician on the planet. The activism of Maggiore drew a lot of publicity in the 90′s and gained a bit of a popular following, but she lost many supporters when she allowed her HIV-postive infant daughter to go untreated. The child died of an AIDS-related illness. Maggiore contested the autopsy findings, but the doctor she hired turned out to be a veterinarian, further damaging her credibility. Maggiore, HIV-positive since 1992 never took ‘the deadly pills’ and in 2008 she herself died of an AIDS-related disease. As new research leads to greater understanding of the AIDS virus and leads to more effective therapies, Maggiore’s cause moves further and further into the outer fringe of insanity. When the disease was poorly understood and available therapies truly were risky and prohibitively expensive, there was room for doubters and promoters of their own ‘alternatives’, but today such ideas are simply in the realm of bigfoot hunting and alien abduction. Not to mention damaging and irresponsible. Supporting and publicizing such beliefs is on a moral plane somewhere below Holocaust denial, more irresponsible but somehow less controversial. I don’t know whether or not Nina Hagen still supports the cause, or if she has moved on to saner pastures, nor do I know the precise extent of her activism. It seems like a case of a pop star latching onto a cause that seems to suit her own ‘outsider’ self-image without bothering to learn the full extent of the issue. She is also someone who does believe in UFO’s and alien abductions and is known for picking through popular religions for bits she likes and agrees with, without being able to commit to just one fully. In other words, she’s kind of a flake, so maybe we shouldn’t judge her too harshly for her misguided and ignorant ‘activism’.