Prayer Won’t Help When You Live with HIV

Positively Aware is an HIV treatment education journal. I’ve never read it, but given their latest cover, which asks “Can faith help sustain us when living with HIV?” maybe I don’t need to…

Perhaps it wouldn’t be a big deal if it was only talking about religious people with HIV who can use their faith as a crutch… but it’s not. The issue focuses on how religion can help everyone deal with it.

Mark at The Honest Atheist is HIV positive and he offers this quick rebuttal:

I’m living on 300 mg of AZT, 600 mg of 3TC, 300 mg of Abacavir, and 600 mg of Sustiva every day (and trust me: luckily, for now, that’s enough). But no: I’m not living on any prayers.

Mark actually read the entire issue and rebutted it, article by article, explaining where they got it right and where they got it wrong.

You can read his responses here, here, and here.

In the next few days, Mark plans to post (and respond to) rebuttals from the magazine’s staff.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with crises, but turning to religion will introduce a whole host of additional problems. You don’t need god to get through tough times. You need good friends and a loving family or potent medicine and skilled doctors, etc. God isn’t necessary.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Mark Panzarino


    Thank you so much for sharing my work here.  This is an important story and I’m so glad that you were able to get the word out.  I appreciate all that you do, as always!


  • Mark Panzarino

    Responses from Positively Aware Magazine have been posted at

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Looking at the cover that you posted, I don’t think I would describe this mag as a treatment education journal.  If you look at the “p” in it’s title, the cut out is in the shape of a cross. I think this is a christian mag.

  • Mark Panzarino

    The “cross” inside the P is for HIV+.  It’s a medical journal for the HIV/AIDS community, not a Christian mag.

  • JenniferT

    I think it’s actually a plus sign, playing on “positive”.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Sorry, my mistake.

  • Mark Panzarino

    No worries.  Easy mistake.

  • W Semerenko

    AIDS truth exposed: Un-cut exclusive footage from House of Numbers
    Shocking un-cut footage from Brent Leung’s documentary “House of Numbers” reveals truth about AIDS as told by Dr. Luc Montagnier. AIDS can be reversed. Nutrition is the answer. Hear it straight from the co-discoverer of HIV.Bonus link:

    Chemical in Bananas Identified as Potent Inhibitor of HIV Infection (Mar. 16, 2010)

  • Marty

    Wow — That set off my BS detector without even looking it up. 
    And… yup. AIDS denialism and conspiracy theory. What a surprise. 

  • W Semerenko

    That set off my BS detector without even looking it up.”

    lol, why don’t ya look up Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit and start getting on to work!

  • Ndonnan

    truth is faith can sustain you, with or without aids

  • Mark Panzarino

    “House of Numbers” has been rejected by virtually every legitimate scientist. 

    In fact, an HIV-positive denialist included in the film whose 3-year-old daughter died of untreated AIDS, died HERSELF with pneumonia and several AIDS-related infections several months before the film’s release.

    The New York Times
    described the film as “a weaselly support pamphlet
    for AIDS denialists”, “willfully ignorant”, and “a globe-trotting
    pseudo-investigation that should raise the hackles of anyone with even a
    glancing knowledge of the basic rules of reasoning.”

  • Mark Panzarino

    When you’ve got AIDS, truth doesn’t make a lick of difference if you’re not taking your medication.

  • W Semerenko

    Dr. Luc Montagnier isn’t a legitimate scientist?  Remember he’s the one who discovered the HIV virus and is saying something completely different from what I’ve heard through my years of public schooling.

    As Carl Sagan would say:  In science there are no authorities just experts.  And when this particular expert is saying something different:

    Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
    Mark I hope you can look into this further and not just write this off, important information here that can give you an alternate way of dealing with your problem.After about a year of casual research and questioning HIV activists (many who respond with the argument of silence), I believe that HIV is no more harmful than the influenza virus (which kills 40K americans a year).  A strong immune system can purge the virus, and what causes AIDS is probably the pharmaceutical drugs.
    Anyways thanks for sharing your story.

  • Mark Panzarino

    Luc Montagnier ISN’T behind this film.  You’re a brainwashed fool who is clearly steeped in confirmation bias.  Just because you want something to be true doesn’t make it so.