About the Author
A successful entrepreneur in international business, Christine Maggiore unexpectedly tested HIV positive during a routine medical exam in 1992. Shortly thereafter, she was drafted into public service by several prominent AIDS groups including AIDS Project Los Angeles, LA Shanti Foundation, and Women at Risk, and became a very passionate and popular speaker and educator on their behalf.
In 1993, at the request of an AIDS specialist, Christine took a series of HIV tests that fluctuated inexplicably between positive, negative and indeterminate. This unsettling experience compelled her to take a closer look at the “awareness” she had been taught to teach as part of her work in AIDS education. Following a trail of unanswered questions eventually led Christine outside the confines of conventional wisdom and into a body of scientific, medical and epidemiological data that challenged everything she thought she knew about HIV and AIDS.
In 1995, Christine established a monthly public forum in Los Angeles for the discussion of unanswered questions about HIV and AIDS. This effort evolved into Alive & Well, a non-profit education and peer support network that raises questions about the validity of HIV tests, the safety and effectiveness of AIDS drug treatment, and the foundation of most popular beliefs about HIV and AIDS. Alive & Well’s mission is to inspire dialogue on these subjects and enable people worldwide to make truly informed choices about their life and health.
In 1996, while trying to summarize 10 key questions about AIDS in a simple brochure, Christine created the first edition of her book, “What If Everything You Thought You Knew About AIDS Was Wrong?” which quickly became an important contribution to the international debate on the HIV hypothesis.
Over the next nine years, Christine’s persistent questions and tenacious pursuit of answers aroused both admiration and animosity, evoked invitations to debate and dialogue at various universities and medical schools around the country, and led to countless speaking engagements in a variety of venues ranging from the Rand Corporation to Reverend Al Sharpton’s Action Network. Her work and life story inspired a number of news segments (CNN, NBC Nightly News, ABC’s 20/20, Court TV,), magazine articles (Newsweek, Mothering, SPIN, GQ, Elle) television episodes (Judging Amy, ER), book reports, dissertations, and documentary films (The Other Side of AIDS, This Child of Mine).
In May of 2005, tragedy struck when Christine’s three year-old daughter, Eliza Jane Scovill, died suddenly and unexpectedly following treatment with an antibiotic for a simple ear infection. Four months later, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office declared the child’s death was due to AIDS. News sources around the world reported on the announcement and followed the events of a 12-month criminal investigation into Christine (see www.justiceforej.com for details). Critics of her controversial work expressed hope that Christine would be arrested and silenced. Instead, after a year of inquiry, the police investigation was closed, a civil suit was filed against the coroner’s office, and the third reprinting of the fourth revised edition of her book was published.
More than 16 years after testing HIV positive, and despite life’s many challenges, Christine continues to enjoy remarkable good health without the use of AIDS treatments or other pharmaceutical interventions. She lives in a suburb of Los Angeles, California with her husband and partner of 12 years, Robin Scovill, a filmmaker and real estate investor, and their son Charlie, age 10.
Christine is currently writing on a book about Eliza Jane and the witch hunt inspired by her death while running Alive & Well, working as supervised visitation monitor for family court, and heading up The Shaken Justice Project, an effort designed to provide legal, medical and peer support to innocent parents and caretakers wrongly accused of crimes against children.
A Message to Readers from the Author
In 1992, I took what is commonly referred to as an HIV test. I had no symptoms of illness, no particular risks or fears, just a new doctor who insisted the test should be part of a regular medical exam. What began as a simple check up turned from routine to life altering when my results came back HIV positive.
Putting aside my shock and shame, I immediately sought out an AIDS specialist. This doctor declared that my test was not positive, not enough to be considered conclusive, anyway. Frightened and confused but hopeful, I followed his recommendations to take the test again along with other lab work to evaluate everything from my cholesterol to T cells.
According to the specialist, the results of this second HIV test were indisputably positive and my progression from somewhat positive to conclusively positive indicated a recent infection with HIV. I accepted his explanation even though the circumstances of my life excluded the possibility of a new infection.
Despite my positive diagnosis, the doctor declared me exceptionally healthy. He also told me that despite my exceptional health, there was nothing I could do to prevent devastating disease and an eventual death from AIDS. According to official estimates, I had between five and seven years to live.
The doctor warned me against wasting money on vitamins and other “foolish” attempts to save my immune system. Instead he advised I wait to become sick and then take AZT, a drug with severe side effects that could possibly make me sicker. I went directly from his office to a health food store in search of the forbidden vitamins. The following day, I began to look for a new AIDS specialist.
Life as I had lived, planned and hoped came to a grinding halt. I lost interest in my job running a clothing company I started in 1986 and had nurtured into a multi-million dollar enterprise. I gave up my goal of earning an MBA and dropped out of business school. Big Sisters of America immediately dropped me from their mentorship program when I confided to having tested HIV positive. Feeling like a cross between a leper and a total loser, I decided to keep my tragedy a secret. I stopped spending time with family and all but a few close friends. Instead, I attended AIDS seminars and joined a support group for HIV positive women where once a week we were encouraged to compare notes on our fears and frustrations, mention any potential symptoms, and lament the lousy deal we'd all been handed.
My AIDS activism began by accident when a friend, moved by my plight, tried to volunteer at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) and was turned away. Incensed that a warm, intelligent woman with the sincerest of motivations would be treated with such disregard, I complained to the men in charge. Before I could finish my reprimand, I had been drafted into their public speaker's bureau.
Almost immediately, I was touring local high schools and colleges on behalf of APLA. I appeared as the person that HIV should never have happened to—a white, heterosexual, non-IV drug using business professional. APLA booked me for a year's worth of engagements before I'd even finished their training course. I made audiences laugh, cry, and most importantly scared since I seemed to embody the slogan that everyone is at risk for AIDS.
My suggestions for improving the women's HIV support group at LA Shanti turned into an invitation to speak for that organization which led to a position on the founding board of yet another AIDS group, Women At Risk.
Although my involvement in AIDS work began unintentionally, I took on my assignments with great passion and deepening sense that these efforts would give meaning to the tragedy that was now my life. I never for a moment imagined a future that might deviate from where I believed I was headed.
But then a year or so into my diagnosis and public service, and after interviewing half a dozen AIDS doctors whose recommendations ranged from immediate drug therapy to world travel, I found an anomaly among AIDS specialists—a doctor who didn't routinely fill people with toxic pharmaceuticals and lethal predictions. She treated me as an individual rather than an impending statistic, and in doing so noticed my good health. She said I didn't fit the profile of an AIDS patient, and urged me to take another HIV test. Afraid to raise my hopes, at first I refused. When I finally found the courage to retest, the result was inconclusive. Further testing produced a series of unsettling, contradictory diagnoses: a positive, followed by a negative, followed by another positive.
Confused by a personal situation that defied all the rules I'd been so passionately preaching as a public speaker, I turned for help to the AIDS groups where I worked. Instead of finding answers, I found my questions were dismissed and that persisting with my line of inquiry resulted only in meaningless explanations.
My desire to learn finally led me outside the confines of the AIDS establishment and into a body of scientific, medical and epidemiological data that defied everything I had been taught about AIDS, and everything that I had been teaching others. The more I read, the more I became convinced that AIDS research had jumped on a bandwagon that was headed in the wrong direction.
When it became clear that the information I had found, however life-affirming, was not welcome among the AIDS organizations I belonged to, I decided to start my own. In 1995, together with a few friends gathered from various support groups and other places along the way, I started Alive & Well to share vital facts about HIV and AIDS unavailable from mainstream venues.
In 1996, while trying to write a simple threefold brochure, the first version of my book “What If Everything You Thought About AIS Was Wrong” emerged.
In the 16 years since receiving my death sentence, I have taken an unexpected journey from frightened victim to AIDS activist to HIV dissident to spokesperson for new views about HIV and AIDS. I have abundant good health and live without pharmaceutical treatments or fear of AIDS.
The most surprising aspect of my story is that it is not at all unusual—I know hundreds of HIV positives that are alive and naturally well many years after receiving their own dire prognoses. Contrary to popular claims, what we have in common is not some unique genetic quality, but the ability to liberate ourselves from unfounded fears and embrace our natural ability to live in health.
Through Alive & Well and my book, I hope to share vital facts, inspire essential dialogue and give other people who test HIV positive the chance to consider a destiny that differs from the one we are taught to expect.
Thank you for visiting this web site and for your willingness to examine another view of AIDS.