THE BIG LIE ABOUT AIDS
THE BIG LIE ABOUT AIDS
By Gary Null
Penthouse April 1994
Ten years ago Dr. Duesberg was a lone voice in the world of AIDS research. At that time, the molecular biologist, world renowned virologist, and U.C.L.A. professor began asking a question that seems like heresy to this day: Is it possible that we were wrong when we equated HIV with AIDS? While any scientific discussion should allow such a challenge, others have tried to silence Dr. Duesberg. AIDS research continues to be driven by the hypothesis that HIV is its cause, with virtually all our medical and scientific resources invested in this hypothesis. But several outstanding scientific voices are joining Dr. Duesberg in denouncing this approach. Witness the report published in mid-1993 by a group of Australian researchers led by Dr. Eleni Papadopoulos-Eleopulos. In this break-through report, the scientists raise serious questions about the accuracy of HIV-antibody tests and, more important, the very relationship between HIV and AIDS. They show that the HIV tests produce inconsistent results, both within one laboratory that tested a sample twice and between two labs that tested the same sample. What's more, it's nearly impossible to determine the rate of "false positives" because there is no "gold standard" to independently verify test results, as reported in the New York Native.
And that's not all. Among other things, the researchers also found that HIV cannot be isolated in all AIDS patients, but HIV can be found in people who are HIV-antibody negative. They found that people with non-AIDS diseases have antibodies that can register a positive result on the HIV-antibody test. They found that the p24 antigen is not, as is widely believed, an indicator of HIV infection or AIDS. Indeed, people with multiple sclerosis, T-cell lymphoma, generalised warts, and other diseases have the p24 antigen.
In short, it's time to face the disturbing notion that much of what we've been told about AIDS is incorrect. Here are some of the factors that have led scientists to challenge the well-entrenched hypothesis that HIV equals AIDS:
AIDS remains in high-risk groups. The claim that HIV is the sole cause of AIDS has a lot of holes, says Dr. Robert S. Root-Bernstein, a professor of physiology at Michigan State University and the MacArthur Prize-winning author of Rethinking AIDS; The tragic Cost of Premature Consensus. The most striking flaw in the logic is that AIDS has not spread to the general population; it continues to be concentrated in high risk groups such as subsets of the homosexual population, IV-drug users; and their sexual partners.
In the heterosexual population, the percentage of people with HIV or AIDS who are not drug users is "extremely low" according to figures from the Centres for Disease Control, points out Dr. Charles Thomas, president of the Helicon Foundation in San Diego, a former Harvard professor, and a member of the Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis.
"Two-thirds of the people who come down with AIDS admit to being homosexuals. One-third do not," says Dr. Thomas. "To date, the C.D.C. lists almost 300,000 people with AIDS. That leaves 100,000 people over an 11-year period, not a very great number. And within this group, a very large proportion are drug users and, in particular, intravenous-drug users."
The scientific proof is lacking. According to Dr. Thomas, proponents of the HIV-AIDS connection have yet to offer any "genuine scientific proof " that the virus causes AIDS. "Any time scientists propose that a micro-organism causes a disease, it's incumbent upon them to come up with the proof that it does. So far they have failed to supply that proof," he says.
Remember, it's been nearly a decade since HIV was first deemed the cause of AIDS, so scientists have had plenty of time to offer compelling, foolproof evidence. "It was on April 23, 1984, that Margaret Heckler announced too the world that the cause of AIDS had been found, namely, HIV. Robert Gallo's colleagues said that his research made possible a blood test for AIDS and a vaccine could be ready for testing in two or three years. That was in 1984, and nothing has happened in almost 10 year."
In addition, certain rules of science must be followed for any agent to be considered a causative factor in the disease, adds Dr. Roger Cunningham, an immunologist, microbiologist, and the director of the Ernst Witsky Centre for Immunology at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
"The first rule is that an agent that's going to be blamed for a disease should be able to be isolated from each and every case of disease," says Dr. Cunningham. "That is not true with HIV and AIDS. It's very, very difficult, in many cases of AIDS, to isolate the virus at all from these individuals. The second step is that you should be able to transmit the agent that is [causing] the infectious disease to another animal and have the disease develop in that animal. To the best of my knowledge, that has never been done with the agent we call HIV. The final step, of course, is to remove the agent from the animal which has been infected, put it into another animal, and transmit the disease this fashion. This, too, has not occurred with HIV."
Dr. Arthur Gottlieb, chairperson of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Tulane university School of Medicine, agrees that too little is known about HIV to conclude that it causes AIDS on its own. "This is a very complex disease that is poorly understood, at best," states Dr. Gottlieb. "We know a lot about the HIV virus; it's probably been the most extensively studied virus ever. But in spite of that, we know relatively little about how the virus acts to cause disease."
Continues Dr. Gottlieb, "When HIV was isolated from people who had the disease we call AIDS, the immediate presumption was that this was the causative agent. It became a very popular idea that this 'new virus' must be causing the disease by itself because it was isolated from the patients with the disease and caused damage to cells in the test tube. This ignores the likelihood that there are many other factors involved in determining how this virus causes disease."
Says Dr. Gottlieb: "The viewpoint has been so firm that HIV is the only cause and will result in disease in every patient, that anyone who challenges that is regarded as 'politically incorrect.' I don't think - as a matter of public policy - we gain by that, because it limits debate and discussion and focuses drug development on attacking the virus rather than attempting to correct the disorder of the immune system, which is central to the disease."
Professor Richard Strohman, a biologist for 35 years and professor emeritus of cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, believes that HIV may be completely unrelated to AIDS, but that we have no way of knowing this because scientists will not even entertain the possibility that their HIV theory is incorrect. "In the old days it was required that a scientist address the possibilities of proving his hypothesis wrong as well as right. Now there's none of that in standard HIV-AIDS program with all its billions of dollars," says Strohman.
Dr. Gottlieb concludes that it's best to keep an open mind when so little is yet known. "If you firmly believe that HIV is the sole causative agent, you're going to try your best to show that it's true. I think, at the moment, we're all best off if we keep our minds open. Nothing has been ruled out at this point."
Being antibody-positive protects against disease. No infectious agent causes disease in every person who's infected, assuming natural immune responses are at work, says Professor Steven Jonas, professor of preventive medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "Native American Indians in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries were decimated by smallpox because their immune system couldn't produce antibodies to the virus. But that's a different situation. With HIV, the only way we know that people have been infected is because they develop the antibody - a chemical that the body makes to fight off an infectious agent, such as a virus, bacteria, or fungus - to HIV.
"When the body produces an antibody to a disease, there is no historical precedence for it spreading uniformly throughout the population and killing everybody that gets infected," Jonas continues. "For example, look at the Black Death that hit Western Europe around 1365. Most people focus on the fact that it killed a third of the population of Western Europe. What they don't consider is that two-thirds of the population didn't die. They survived despite the fact that no measures were taken to prevent infection or treat disease."
Jonas concludes that when the average healthy person is infected with HIV, he or she is highly unlikely to develop AIDS in the absence of cofactors. The basis for this reasoning comes from his personal experience with tuberculosis bacillus.
"As a medical student in the late fifties and early sixties," he says, "I was exposed to tuberculosis. Although I became infected with the tuberculosis bacillus, I never got tuberculosis and I never will get it. The only thing that changed was that I developed the antibody to the tuberculosis bacillus. Otherwise, my body functions in a healthy way. Similarly, when people become HIV-positive, all that means is that they've got the antibody on board. If their immune system functions in a healthy way, it kills of the virus.
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