The dictum that HIV causes AIDS has been as thoroughly impressed on our minds
as an engraving on a coin. A small group of scientists is challenging the HIV
theory, however, using a solid pack of arguments and evidence. They claim AIDS is
caused by something entirely different. Here are their claims.

By Brian Hammer (People's News Service)In the 1993 movie Philadelphia Tom Hanks plays a homosexual man stricken byAIDS who gradually collapses into disease and death. He is a warm guy loved byfamily and friends, and it is inevitable that we feel sympathy for him. His death seemsalmost accidental, a modern tragedy with the role of antagonist played by a virus.
Ask anyone on the street these days what causes AIDS, and you will almost alwaysget the answer, "HIV". So thoroughly has the verdict of the medical researchcommunity and governments penetrated popular consciousness that it is almostunheard of to think differently.
Yet, a growing school of scientists, physicians, political leaders and AIDS activists ischallenging the HIV theory, and rejecting it in favor of a theory that says that AIDS iscaused not by a virus, but by—drugs. In this scenario Tom Hanks' character may havebeen lovable, but he did not confess how much he was into the drug scene.
"Recreational" drugs like nitrite inhalants, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD andeven Ecstasy cause AIDS diseases, says this theory—and so does AZT, one of themain drugs prescribed to combat AIDS. HIV is merely a passenger virus, and not evenpresent in all AIDS cases, though prescribed opinion would have us think it is. Moreover, AIDS is unlike any other infectious disease, and affects only very clearlydefined groups, not, as in the case of normal viruses, the general population. Thisdissident theory presents other arguments as well.
The fair conclusion, say proponents of the "drug-AIDS theory", is that AIDS is not aninfectious, sexually transmitted disease, but something else. And they have loads ofscientific data to support them. The HIV theorists, surprisingly, do not.
For the sake of downsizing huge research budgets, eliminating billions unnecessarilyspent on AIDS treatments, restoring peace of mind, and saving lives by focussing onthe true causes of AIDS, a fundamental re-evaluation of the HIV thesis is in order. Peter DuesbergSpearheading the attack on the HIV thesis is Peter Duesberg, Ph.D., originally fromGermany, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Professor Duesberg is a recognized scientist in his field. In 1968-1970 hedemonstrated how the influenza virus is able to recombine to form new influenzastrains. He isolated the first cancer gene in 1970, and mapped the genetic structure ofretroviruses. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1986 forthis and later work. He has received several scientific awards in several countries. Because his drug-AIDS theory conflicts with the HIV theory of the American medicalestablishment, the U.S. government is refusing him funding for the study of thistheory. The prestigious scientific journal Nature in the United Kingdom has refused topublish both his articles and replies to attacks on his theory for reasons known only toits editor [This has changed since the original writing of this article – author.]. But histheory makes a lot of sense; the arguments are convincing. A closer look at it is theonly way to determine whether Professor Duesberg and his supporters are right orwrong.
HistoryLike nations, cultures and individuals, theories have histories. The HIV theory ofAIDS was born in the early 1980s, when AIDS was first discovered. The first fivecases diagnosed as AIDS in 1981, before HIV was known, were male homosexualswith pneumocystis pneumonia and cytomegalovirus infection, two diseases nowlumped together under AIDS, who had all used nitrite inhalants "recreationally". Data like this and scientific studies led the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta topropose in 1982 that nitrites indeed caused pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma, anotherAIDS disease. Cytomegalovirus and various bacteria were also proposed as causes ofAIDS.
Other early CDC data from 1981 and 1982 show that 75 percent of male homosexualswith AIDS had used oral drugs at least once a week and 97 percent occasionally, andthat every one of 20 Kaposi's sarcoma patients had used nitrites.
From 1981 to 1984, epidemiologists and toxicologists, including some from the CDC,considered recreational drugs such as nitrite and ethylchloride inhalants, cocaine,heroin, amphetamines, phenylcyclidine, and LSD as the causes of AIDS. The reasonfor the early suspicion about drugs was simple. Nearly all AIDS patients were eithermale homosexuals who had used these drugs as aphrodisiacs and psychoactive agents,or were heterosexual intravenous drug users.
Former CDC head James Curran was among the early drug-AIDS theory proponents.
In 1981-2 he stated, "At this point our best clue to the cause of the disease was'poppers' [nitrite inhalants]". He based his conjecture on informal reports such as those from Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien, professor of dermatology at New York University. Two Kaposi's sarcoma patients who showed up in his office were male homosexuals who "had a multiplicityof sexual partners over an extended period of time as well as using a variety ofrecreational drugs – cocaine, marijuana, LSD, THC, MDA, and amyl nitrite." Said Friedman-Kien at that time: "…as [AIDS] patients started coming in, it turnedout that all of them, 100 percent, had been using amyl nitrite". Viruses appeared as an explanation in 1983. Then Luc Montagnier in France and andRobert Gallo in the U.S. proposed what came to be known as humanimmunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS. Gallo held a press conference toannounce his theory, patented an AIDS test, and the HIV doctrine was on its way.
Psychoactive drugs were still retained by some as an explanation for Kaposi sarcomaand pneumonia in homosexuals, however. In April 1984 the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services announced at aninternational press conference that HIV was the cause of AIDS. Still no Americanstudy on HIV had yet been published, however. By 1986 most medical scientists andvirologists had accepted the HIV-AIDS theory. Peter Duesberg launched his criticismsin 1987.
In 1996 more than 400 persons signed their names to a letter demanding a reappraisalof the conventional view. They state that the HIV theory is at best unproven; some goso far as to state that it is already disproven. More than 70 PhDs, dozens of medicaldoctors, scientists and AIDS patients and activists were among the signatories, mostof whom were American, though 23 countries were represented.
It is already accepted by mainstream science that HIV does not directly kill immunesystem cells, though this was the original claim, a claim upheld until evidence to thecontrary proved too overwhelming. In other words, one pillar of the HIV theory hasalready fallen, though other explanations have been put up to defend the theory inother ways.
The Drug-AIDS TheoryThe basis of Peter Duesberg's drug-AIDS theory is one simple fact: that over 95percent of (American and European) AIDS patients use recreational drugs.
Approximately sixty percent of American AIDS patients are male homosexuals whouse various drugs as aphrodisiacs and psychoactive stimulants. One-third areintravenous drug users, both male and female. The remaining few percent arehemophiliacs and transfusion patients who suffer AIDS diseases at a normal, pre-HIVrate. In other words, aside from a small percentage of patients already extremely illfrom other causes, AIDS strikes only fringe groups who engage in behaviourconsidered extremely risky from a medical viewpoint. The degree of drug use among homosexuals, for example, is phenomenal, settingthem apart from all other social groups in this regard except intravenous drug users. In the largest study of its kind, cites Duesberg, a 1990 survey of 3,916 self-identifiedAmerican homosexual men reported that 83 percent had used one, and about 60percent two or more drugs regularly with sex during the previous six months. Thesedrugs included nitrite- and ethylchloride inhalants, cocaine, amphetamines,methaqualone, lysergic acid, phenylcyclidine, and others. In 1987 a study of a group of 359 homosexual men from San Francisco reported that84 percent had used cocaine, 82 percent alkylnitrites, 64 percent amphetamines, 51percent quaaludes, 41 percent barbiturates, 20 percent injected drugs and 13 percentshared needles. From these statistics it is clear that multiple drug use was the norm. Itwas this same group from which the 10-year incubation period of HIV wasdetermined—and assumed relevant for all people, including heterosexuals.
Similar statistics can be found in Germany.
The repeated evidence of drug use in AIDS patients would make even the averageperson, uneducated in the intricacies of medical science, suspect a strong link betweenrecreational drugs and AIDS. In other words, if virtually all AIDS patients use drugs,it would seem that there would be no problem for the medical community to see theconnection. But this has not proved the case. The "HIV orthodoxy" only denies or downplays theconnection. Its claim is still that HIV causes AIDS. A closer look will show that thisclaim is based on weak evidence. The link between HIV and AIDS is fragile indeed.
AIDS Without HIVIf HIV is the cause of AIDS, it will be present in all AIDS diseases. Prof. Duesberg'stheory, however, since it proposes that drugs cause AIDS, should show that peoplecan have AIDS without being infected with HIV. In Duesberg's formulation: "the drughypothesis predicts (a) HIV without AIDS, (b) AIDS before HIV, and (c) AIDSwithout HIV." It also predicts that (d) discontinuation of drug use either stabilizes orcures AIDS except for those whose diseases have progressed too far. According toDuesberg, "Each of these predictions is confirmed." HIV without AIDS: The typical life span for someone with AIDS is about ten years.
Yet, a number of people infected with HIV have lived for 15 years or more! Worldwide (as of 1998), no more than 6 percent of the 17 million people with HIVhave developed AIDS over the last 7 to 10 years. Thus, the risk of AIDS to an HIV-carrier is less than 1 percent per year. Hardly the sign of a deadly virus. Moreover, there is not a single controlled study in the vast AIDS literature provingthat HIV-positive people who are not drug users have a higher morbidity or mortalityrate than HIV-free controls. In addition, scientific testing shows that drug users develop AIDS diseases in the absence of HIV. Duesberg cites a Dutch study showing that lymphocyte reactivity andabundance were depressed by long-term drug use in both 111 HIV-positive and in 210HIV-free intravenous drug users. Depressed lymphocyte reactivity and abundance isone example of the "deficiency" in "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome".
Finally, discontinuation of drug use can halt AIDS. One study showed, for example,that over a period of 16 months AIDS diseases appeared among 297 HIV-positive,asymptomatic intravenous drug users at a rate three times higher than in those whostopped injecting drugs.
Another study showed that typical AIDS diseases like lymphadenopathy, weight loss,fever, night sweats, diarrhea, and mouth infections were observed in 49 out of 82HIV-free intravenous drug users from France who had used drugs for an average of 5years. Additional studies could be mentioned also.
AIDS before HIV: Prospective studies have demonstrated that the number of T-cells ofmale homosexuals using psychoactive drugs and sexual stimulants may decline priorto infection with HIV. T-cells are small lymphocytes that mediate the immuneresponses of body cells, and a significant decline in their number indicates seriousproblems in the immune system, the basis of the body's defense system.
An Italian study showed that a low number of T-cells was the highest risk factor forHIV infection. In other words, a decrease in T-cells indicates increased chances forHIV infection. The HIV theory, which makes HIV out to be the agent of death inAIDS, predicts that T-cell counts should drop AFTER HIV infection, not before. Thissupports the hypothesis that something other than HIV is the cause of AIDS.
HIV-free AIDS: Intravenous drug users, their babies, male homosexuals consumingaphrodisiac and psychoactive drugs, hemophiliacs, and poor Africans develop thesame diseases called AIDS whether HIV is present or not. In support of the HIV-free theory of AIDS, Duesberg cites the following: In one study scientists observed severe immunodeficiency in 6 of 14 HIV-free and 9of 15 HIV-positive hemophiliacs. Another study described a group of 15 hemophiliacswho had acquired immunodeficiency before they were infected with HIV. Recently, CDC workers have postulated a Kaposi agent other than HIV, because of thealmost exclusive occurrence of Kaposi sarcoma in homosexuals among AIDS riskgroups.
In more than half the deaths of a group of intravenous drug users in New York with a"spectrum of HIV-related diseases" HIV was absent. There was no HIV in 26 of 50pneumonia deaths, 15 of 22 endocarditis deaths, and 5 of 16 tuberculosis deaths. The ratio of helper to suppressor T-cells in a group of 21 heroin addicts was found tofall within 13 years from a normal of 2 to less than 1. This is typical of AIDS, but only two of this group were infected with HIV. Professor Duesberg also cites data showing that up to 1989 only about 73 percent ofall American AIDS cases were confirmed HIV-positive. In New York the figure wasonly 39 percent, and in California 61 percent. Moreover, "statistics are biased in favorof HIV-positive cases because AIDS is reportable whereas most HIV-free indicatordiseases are not". In other words, it is natural that HIV-free AIDS cases are unreportedor underreported in the AIDS literature if HIV-free cases are intentionally ignored.
Robert Maver, consultant to healthcare and insurance industries and former vice-president and director of research at the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, goesso far to say that incorporating HIV into the definition of AIDS is "tautologicallycontrived". It's like saying "HIV causes AIDS because HIV causes AIDS"—ameaningless definition by any standard of logic.
The Duesberg literature reports one summary of AIDS studies describing over 4,621AIDS cases who were not infected by HIV.
Discontinuation of drugs can cure AIDS: If HIV was truly a killer, HIV-infectedbabies would become more ill, not better. HIV-positive babies born to mothers whoused intravenous drugs during pregnancy find their illness decreasing and theirimmune systems strengthening, however, once they are free of the umbilical cord andits deadly cargo of drugs—even though HIV is present. In one study over three years researchers observed 71 HIV-positive newborns who hadshared intravenous drugs with their mothers prior to birth. After three years, 61 ofthese HIV-positive children were healthy. During their first 18 months some evendeveloped diseases from which they recovered. Only 10 of these children developed encephalopathy and other AIDS diseases in this18-month period; nine died. "The study," says Duesberg, "points out that the baby'srisk of developing AIDS was related 'directly with the severity of the disease in themother at the time of delivery'." In other words, it had nothing to do with HIV. These children's T-cells increased afterbirth from low to normal levels—despite the presence of HIV and contrary to theHIV-AIDS theory. If HIV were the cause of AIDS these children would have gottensicker, with lower T-cell counts, not better. In addition, those who did die did so in amuch shorter period than the ten years that the HIV theory predicts.
Thus, people with HIV don't die when they should, people without HIV get AIDSdiseases, and discontinuation of drugs cures people of AIDS even though they haveHIV. In light of such facts, how deadly is this virus, really? A very popular television commercial flooded American homes during the 1980s thatmay characterize the true value of the HIV-AIDS theory. In this commercial (for theWendy's hamburger chain) a short, old lady with a beat-up face and a voice like a drill sargeant enters a rival fast-food chain restaurant and orders a hamburger. Upon beingserved she examines her hamburger and exclaims loudly: "Where's the beef?! Where'sthe beef?!", threatening the clerk with angry looks and her umbrella.
These words became an American catchphrase in the 1980s. It means something lackssubstance, and has only the frills or trappings of something substantial, like a thinhamburger buried in a lot of lettuce, tin plated with gold, or plastic pearls. Based on facts like the above, saying HIV causes AIDS seems to fit the phrase. IfProfessor Duesberg and his supporters are right, as studies seem to show, fast-foodchains would go out of business if their hamburgers had as much content as the HIVtheory. Nor is this the end of the case against HIV. The number and kind of facts andarguments raised by scientific dissidents against it are several. But before turning tothe rest of them, a look at what the HIV establishment says about the drug-AIDSthesis is in order.
Why Drugs Are IgnoredA main reason why the HIV establishment rejects the drug-AIDS theory is simple: Inreporting AIDS cases they ignore data about drug use. That is why studies like thoseabove showing HIV-free AIDS cases and AIDS-free HIV infections are relatively few.
It is not that such cases do not exist: Rather, they simply are not studied. Contrary to the scientific method, studies of the "progression" of HIV to AIDS fail tostudy drug-free groups. According to Duesberg, "there is not a single epidemiologicalstudy in the bulging AIDS literature that ever described a group of HIV-positivepeople, without confounding health risks like drug use or hemophilia, progressingfrom HIV to AIDS". In other words, though all study subjects chosen have HIV, they also all use drugs orhave a serious non-AIDS disease. Yet, like the prospector who searches for gold butignores the uranium he finds, American and European scientists fail to study thedestructive effects of long-term drug use while they research HIV. This fact aloneshould be enough in scientific terms to question the validity of such studies, though ithas not been. At least 100,000 American PhDs and MDs are engaged in this research. Many studies do acknowledge "bewildering" drug use in AIDS patients however.
One investigator probably speaks for them all: At a 1994 conference on the role ofnitrites in Kaposi's sarcoma, asked if he knew of one drug-free AIDS patient, he said,"I never looked at the data in this way". This investigator was involved in the largeststudy of male homosexuals and AIDS that had ever been conducted. Called the MAC study, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergies andInfectious Diseases (NIAID), it has reported heavy drug use amongst homosexual AIDS patients for over ten years but denies any connection between drug use andAIDS. It has stated: "No evidence [is found] for a role of alcohol or otherpsychoactive drugs in accelerating immunodeficiency in HIV-1 positive individuals".
This is even though it had never identified a single drug-free, HIV-positivehomosexual with AIDS in 10 years. The MAC study even virtually contradicts itself about the role of drugs in AIDS. TheJournal of Substance Abuse, publishing a report from the study, states: "Men whocombined volatile nitrite (popper) use with other recreational drugs were at highestrisk both behaviorally and in terms of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV)seroconversion throughout the study." All of the study's 500-800 homosexual men at"highest risk" had used nitrites plus combinations from amongst 12 other recreationaldrugs. But drugs are still ignored as the cause of AIDS. The role of drugs in AIDS is not only presumed to be nonsense, and factsmisrepresented, it is suppressed. Robert Gallo, HIV's co-discoverer, for example, has implied that since "everyone"accepts the HIV theory, anyone with a contradictory theory must be unscientific.
Nature refused to allow Duesberg to set out his case in their pages even though itattacked Duesberg's theory numerous times. The journal also refused Duesberg theright to reply to its attacks. [As noted, the journal has since changed its stance –author.] After the discovery and announcement of HIV in 1983, the U.S. Centers for DiseaseControl decided to abandon the drug hypothesis it had been entertaining. It had to dothis, however, with the knowledge that highly convincing correlations existedbetween drugs and AIDS.
Breaking standard protocol, the CDC commissioned its own study of the effects ofnitrite inhalants on the immune system of mice. Published as an anonymous one-pagepaper in the CDC's house journal, the study reported that the mice showed noevidence of toxic reactions even though there was "some evidence of thymic atrophy,possibly stress-related". Duesberg found several abnormalities with this study.
Most important was the fact that the dosage of nitrites given to the mice was severaltimes weaker than that taken recreationally by humans. So of course the mice wouldnot show toxicity.
Higher doses, more like those humans imbibe, were evidently studied initially,however. Interviewing one of the study's investigators in 1994, a journalist reported,"Lewis explained that, in determining the dose, they had to adjust it below the levelwhere they were 'losing' the mice.".
Furthermore, calling thymic atrophy (the thymus is part of the immune system) "stress-related" is only begging the question, since the important issue is what causedthe stress if not the nitrites.
Finally, the study was published before "detailed . examinations [had been]completed", a curious step to take considering scientific procedure and the seriousnessof AIDS.
This study was the basis of the CDC's decision to reject drugs as the cause of AIDS.
Other examples of poor science and scientific reportage could be mentioned. Re-investigation of a Nature commentary on HIV, for example, "revealed that 45drug-using, HIV-free patients had been omitted from the paper, although they hadAIDS defining diseases".
In addition, "the Nature commentary also omitted the fact that 73 percent of the HIV-positive AIDS patients were on AZT". Duesberg says that AZT, a drug used againstAIDS, also causes AIDS diseases, as will be seen below.
Based on these examples of "scientific reporting" Duesberg and associates go so far asto say that "the role of drugs is divorced from AIDS by unscientific manipulationsincluding misrepresentations, double-standards, omissions of facts and controls andoutright censorship". "Scientific correctness" may characterize the HIV theory more than real science.
Super-virus or Harmless as a Lamb?Such an enormous amount of publicity about the dire effects of HIV has been spreadaround that it has created an attitude toward this little virus permeated with hysteria,like a modern Black Plague. HIV is claimed to be capable of producing 30 differentdiseases, and even is said to cause different illnesses in the West than it does in Africa.
Professor Duesberg and his associates, however, claim that HIV is no invincible killerof men, but is on the contrary—harmless, as weak and innoncent as a newborn lamb.
HIV is said to work by destroying the T-cells that are essential to the immune system.
Studies of AIDS patients, however, show that HIV infects on average only one out of1,000 T-cells. This makes it weaker than the flu, says Prof. Duesberg, which attacksabout one in three lung cells. This extent of infection is no threat to the body's recuperative mechanisms.
Retroviruses like HIV take two days to replicate, and in this time the body reproducesfive percent of its T-cells. This is much more than the one-tenth of one percent of T-cells that ever get infected by HIV.
Finally, neither Kaposi sarcoma nor dementia, two AIDS diseases, has any relation toHIV. Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer, and HIV is not found in the cancer tissue. Similarly with dementia: there is no HIV infection of neurons. Professor Duesberg—and scientific studies—are quite clear that viruses acting at thelevel of HIV cannot be pathogenic. If viruses or microbes were harmful at the level ofHIV, he states, most Americans would have pneumonia, cytomegalovirus disease,mononucleosis from EBV and herpes. The pathogens for all these diseases are latentin the U.S. population in varying, relatively high degrees (80-100 percent haveimmunosuppressed pneumonia pathogens, for example).
Some scientists contend that HIV functions through other agents, or "cofactors". Thisis still unproven, and is thus in essence a confession that HIV is still unproven as thecause of AIDS for those who try to modify the HIV theory in this way. It is alreadyscientifically accepted that HIV does not kill T-cells directly, contrary to HIV'sdiscoverers' initial claims. In light of Professor Duesberg's arguments, the search forcofactors might be best characterized as a dog trying to catch its tail—it will neverhappen.
HIV is also claimed to have other powers other viruses lack.
The normal process for disease-causing viruses is to overwhelm the body's defenses.
However, standard HIV testing reveals no HIV, but rather only HIV antibodies. Theabsence of a virus plus the presence of its antibody in normal science indicates thatthe virus has been controlled and rendered impotent. Vaccination works on a similarprinciple. The 10-year latency period claimed for HIV is also highly original. Pathogens thatcause disease long after infection exist, says Duesberg, "but only when they areactivated from dormancy by rare acquired deficiencies of the immune system". Inother words, immunodeficiency comes first, then the viral activity, not the other wayaround as the HIV theory claims.
Finally, no virus of the HIV type ("retroviruses") has ever been shown to bepathogenic in people. HIV, however, is generally thought to be 100 percent fatal, farmore than any other kind of virus. Many special, wholly unique powers are attributed to HIV. If this were politics, HIVwould be like a king who is above the law. Nature, however, operates according tolaws, and according to Duesberg the HIV theory of AIDS seems intent on breakingseveral of them.
When an Epidemic Is Not an EpidemicThe willingness of HIV theorists to bend the facts to their theory does not stop ataltering the characteristics of viruses. According to Duesberg, HIV, in supposedlyspreading through the population, does not even act like the epidemic it is said to be.
For one thing, sexually transmitted diseases are normally about equally distributed between the sexes. AIDS, however, occurs in (American) males at a ratio of aboutnine to one compared to females, even though no AIDS disease—like pneumonia oranemia—can be said to be a male disease.
Secondly, in all other epidemics, like the flu, one person has the same disease as thenext. This is not true of HIV, which is said to cause 30 quite different diseases, from aform of cancer to dementia. Moreover, HIV is claimed to cause different diseases in different countries. Forexample, "53 percent of American AIDS patients have Pneumocystis pneumonia and13 percent have candidiasis, whereas 90 percent of the African AIDS patients haveslim disease, fever, diarrhea, and tuberculosis but not pneumonia and candidiasis,although Pneumocystis carinii and candida are ubiquitous in humans". Duesberg saysthat African "AIDS" can be explained as normal African diseases that have alwaysexisted and are due to malnutrition and lack of disease-specific vaccinations.
Also, AIDS diseases of American children differ from those of adults. Thirdly, AIDS breaks Farr's Law for epidemics. Normally, says Duesberg, "a newinfectious disease spreads exponentially in an uninfected population, like a seasonalflu—but American and European AIDS lingers in fringe groups, spreading slowly, butnon-exponentially, over years". In other words, AIDS does not choose its victimsquickly at random, as does any normal epidemic; it remains confined to specificgroups and spreads more like glue than fire.
As mentioned, the prime common characteristic for over 95 percent of persons withAIDS is "the many illicit sexual and mental stimulants" used by homosexuals andintravenous drug users. The remaining few percent are typical diseases ofhemophiliacs and transfusion recipients at normal incidence for these groups. Norhave the wives of 15,000 American hemophiliacs gotten AIDS even though thiscontradicts the normal workings of a sexually infectious epidemic. These and other facts, says Duesberg, "confirm that AIDS is not infectious," contraryto prescribed opinion.
HIV TestingMoreover, whether HIV is actually present in a person is subject to uncertainty. HIVtesting, it turns out, is significantly unreliable.
According to a (London) Sunday Times article by science correspondent NevilleHodgkinson in 1993, many illnesses can show HIV-positive results even if a person isnot infected by HIV. Malaria, malnutrition, multiple infections, tuberculosis, multiplesclerosis and even flu jabs and heavy exposure to sperm can all give what are called"false positives".
The reason for these false positives is because standard HIV testing does not look for HIV itself, but for a related protein called p24, part of the virus's genetic material.
This protein, however, can be found in several immune system disorders, as well as atiny percentage of healthy people: 13 percent of people with warts show p24, as do 41percent of people with multiple sclerosis. It is therefore unsurprising that people withother forms of weakened immune systems—like drug users, hemophiliacs andmultiple transfusion patients—test positive also.
Hodgkinson based his article on a 10,000-word article in BioTechnology, a sisterpublication of the journal Nature.
Finally, HIV antibodies are not the only antibodies present in AIDS patients in greaterquantity than in a healthy population. AIDS patients carry antibodies not only to HIV,cites Duesberg, but also to "cytomegalovirus, hepatitis virus, herpes simplex virusHTLV, parvovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, genital papilloma virus, Treponema, Neisseriaamoebae, candida and mycoplasma". "Because AIDS patients carry antibodies to many more viruses and microbes, inparticular, rare ones such as HTLV, than the general population," states Duesberg, "itis arbitrary to delineate HIV as an etiologic agent of AIDS by the presence . ofantibody alone." And, the HIV antibody, though the most prevalent in AIDS patients, is present in only73 percent of the American AIDS population.
If HIV is not a catastrophic killer, then what is it? The proper way to describe HIV,according to Duesberg, is as a "marker" or "harmless passenger virus". It is a virusthat appears, along with others, after damage to the immune system has already beendone. Moreover, HIV is a marker to other stimuli. A study of nine subjects published lastyear in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (U.S.) reported that HIVinfects the blood of subjects inoculated with tetanus vaccine much more easily thannon-inoculated subjects. Here a vaccination is the facilitator of HIV, not, as the HIVtheory predicts, sexual transmission.
And because of the presence of HIV antibodies, it is not only a marker or harmless tobegin with, it is a virus that has been neutralized years before AIDS diseases begin toappear.
The Physiology of “Recreational” DrugsThe drug-AIDS hypothesis proposes that drugs, not HIV, cause the various AIDSdiseases. If Professor Duesberg is right about the fundamental normality and benignityof HIV, then there must be something pathogenic about recreational drugs. The "drug epidemic", as Professor Duesberg calls it, has been seen before. Heroin, cocaine and nitrite inhalants, says Duesberg, were all legal and in use prior toWorld War I, widely in use as prescribed medicines and recreational drugs. The Westsaw its first drug epidemic from the mid-1880s until the 1920s, when concern overthe diseases and effects on society of drug use led to anti-drug legislation.
As early as 1909 a scientific study in Paris reported the immunodeficiency caused bymorphine addiction. In 1921 American pathologist Willis Butler reported that "mostaddicts suffered from a serious illness, such as syphilis or tuberculosis". Since then, states Duesberg, "numerous scientific studies . have documented thedrug diseases of long-term drug addicts and their babies. These diseases includeimmunodeficiency, pneumonia, tuberculosis, dementia, candidiasis, weight loss,diarrhea, fever, night sweats, congenital abnormalities, mouth infections, impotence,epileptic seizures, paranoia, lymphadenopathy, hemorrhages, hypertension and manyothers". "The pathogenicity of cocaine and heroin is exhaustively documented." It isonly a short step to conclude that these same diseases can be found in unaddicted drugusers like homosexuals, and thus in all AIDS cases. An orthodox AIDS specialist now director of an AIDS foundation in France saysabout amphetamines: "Studies have shown that crystal [amphetamines] eats T-cellsfor breakfast, lunch and dinner." A New York specialist has said that intravenouslyinjected amphetamines lead to death in two years.
Nitrite inhalants ("poppers"), in turn, says Duesberg, "react with all biologicalmacromolecules, mutating and inactivating DNA and RNA, diazotizing proteins,killing vitamins and oxydizing hemoglobin to inactive methemoglobin. .In additionto their cytotoxic potential, nitrites are among the best established mutagens andcarcinogens." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made nitrites legally available only byprescription in 1969, and in 1982 the U.S. National Research Council listed them ascarcinogens. A 1988 U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse paper called "HealthHazards of Nitrite Inhalants" warns about the AIDS risks of nitrite inhalants,especially Kaposi's sarcoma. Regular, longterm drug use is a virtual death sentence, as is AIDS. ProfessorDuesberg's argument is that there is so much overlap between drug diseases and AIDSthat there is no point in separating the two.
AIDS by PrescriptionThe HIV theory plows ahead in spite of its critics and the drug-AIDS hypothesis. Inits wake have appeared a host of drug treatments directed against HIV. The first andmost notable of these is AZT, or Zidovudine. According to Duesberg, AZT is neither a cure for AIDS nor a drug that prolongs the life of AIDS patients: It itself is a cause of AIDS, and is lethal rather than life-giving.
Several studies Duesberg cites show just how lethal this drug, once hoped for as thesaviour from AIDS, really is. For example: Out of 308 Australian AIDS patients, 172 developed one or more new AIDS diseaseswithin 48 weeks on AZT. Likewise, in a study of 365 French AIDS patients, about 50percent got leukopenia (a decreased number of white blood cells), others developedother AIDS diseases, and 20 percent died within nine months on AZT. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the rate of lymphoma (a cancer) inAZT-treated AIDS patients over three years was 50 percent. This is about 50 timeshigher than the rate in untreated HIV-positives, who developed lymphoma at a rate ofonly 0.9 percent in the same period.
The British-French Concorde trial, the largest controlled study of its kind, reported in1994 that AZT is not only unable to prevent AIDS, it even increases the death rate ofrecipients by 25 percent compared to those in the study untreated with AZT.
In 1994 an Indian-English study of 104 babies of AZT-treated pregnant women, "8aborted spontaneously, 8 were aborted 'therapeutically' and another 8 were born withserious birth defects, including holes in the chest, abnormal indentations at the base ofthe spine, misplaced ears, triangular faces, heart defects, extra digits and albinism.
Zidovudine users in this study may have experienced more rapid CD4+ celldepletion", something said also about a study of AZT in American intravenous drugusers.
The American MAC study of 5000 homosexual men observed that HIV dementia was97 percent higher among those using antiretroviral drugs (including AZT) than amongthose not using them.
In other, separate studies, nearly all HIV-positive AZT-treated AIDS patientsrecovered cellular immunity, recovered from myopathy (a disease of the muscles), orrecovered from severe pancytopenia (a reduction in the number of blood cells) andbone marrow aplasia (marrow cell development failure) after discontinuing AZT.
Myopathy redeveloped in two patients put back on AZT.
AIDS patients on AZT do not live long. Duesberg cites the fact that about 1.8 millionAmericans and Europeans had been on AZT for an average of only one year as of1996 even though AZT has been prescribed for AIDS since 1987. He says that "theone-year-average on AZT is derived from the fact that within one to two years theaverage AZT recipient succumbs to the toxicities of AZT and of recreational drugs,and that many drop out after only a few months due to unbearable drug intoxication".
The explanation of the HIV orthodoxy, however, is that the virus "becomes resistant"to AZT.
AZT BiochemistryLest it be misunderstood, AZT is an extraordinarily powerful drug that works byinterfering with one of the basic processes of life itself.
AZT is similar enough to thymidine, a constituent of DNA, that it can be incorporatedinto a cell's growing DNA chain instead of thymidine. Because AZT lacks a specificcomponent of thymidine, DNA synthesis stops and the cell dies. Not only HIV-infected cells are killed. "Since AZT cannot distinguish infected fromuninfected cells and only 1 in 500 T-cells is infected in AIDS patients andasymptomatic carriers, it kills 500 uninfected cells for every infected cell. Thus AZTis inevitably toxic, killing 500 times more uninfected than infected cells." It is for this reason that AZT and other drugs in its class also used in the war againstHIV, are called DNA "chain terminators", though since DNA and body cells areessential to life itself, they could be called "life terminators". This includes ddI, dd,3TC and d4T. It seems to be a clear case of killing the patient in order to cure thedisease for those who stay with the therapy more than a year. Moreover, DNA chain terminators were not even invented to combat AIDS. Most,according to Duesberg, were designed over 30 years ago for cancer chemotherapy. Bystopping cell reproduction in all cells, they stop the proliferation of cancer cells too.
Thus, their original purpose was not to kill viruses, but body cells. Duesberg statesthat this is contrary to the information provided by the manufacturers of chainterminators like AZT.
If Not AZT, then Protease Inhibitors?A new, experimental class of drugs was launched in 1996 called protease inhibitors.
By being mixed with AZT or similar drugs it was said (with added mass mediaapproval) that these "cocktails" would be more "effective" than AZT in helping AIDSpatients. Duesberg cites the popular press to show some of the effects of a few months on thisnew class of anti-AIDS drug: "suicidal thoughts, twitching, central nervous disorders… extreme nausea, hallucinations, intense trembling". HIV-AIDS researcher JeromeGroopman of the Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston has stated that after a fewmonths on protease inhibitors even the "viral [loosely, HIV] load" increases again,"and no one knows why". According to an Economist article, nor are patients' T-cell counts much better withprotease inhibitors than they are with the AZT class of drugs, indication that theimmune system fails to recover.
Some homosexual organizations have protested both AZT-class drugs and the newprotease inhibitors vehemently. At the opening of the XIth International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver, Canada, in July 1996, ACT UP San Francisco and other AIDSactivists carried a banner reading "AIDS Drugs Kill. Ban Toxic AZT. Sue Glaxo!" toemphasize the seriousness of their opposition to DNA chain terminators as well as thenew drugs.
ACT UP SF claimed that the new protease inhibitors "impair the creation andfunctioning of important immune system cells, especially . T lymphocytes (CD8s)".
(CD8s must be at high levels for a person to overcome AIDS.) They also claimed that "AZT and other AIDS drugs have been approved on the basisof fraudulent data from short-term clinical trials paid for and conducted by theproducts' manufacturers". Professor Duesberg and supporters say the same thing indifferent words.
Protease inhibitors are said to function by lowering the HIV count in the blood. Inresponse to this, ACT UP SF member Michael De Hart warned, "lowering blood viralload with immune suppressive treatments has not been associated with any clinicalbenefit including extension of or improvement in quality of life." (All ACT UP SFquotes are from the Vancouver conference ACT UP SF press releases.) ACT UP SF further "cited numerous scientific studies that cast serious doubt on thepredictive value of viral load testing in determining clinical outcome, diseaseprogression or the effectiveness of AIDS treatments on overall health of PWAs[people with AIDS]".
The problem is that "viral load testing" measures viral products like RNA, viralprotein and "virions", not infectious HIV itself, and uses a technique that magnifiesthe amount of viral products in order to detect them. Infectious HIV is normally very difficult to detect, and has been from the beginning ofthe AIDS crisis, which is why various tests over the years have been developed. And,as mentioned, infectious HIV will be even more difficult to detect (actuallyimpossible) if it has been neutralized by antibodies.
For one thing, viral load testing measures any and all HIV products. This includes,acknowledges one of the pioneers in the viral load theory of AIDS detection,"substantial proportions of defective or otherwise non-infectious virus." One word forthis is viral "debris".
In addition, the test for viral load—the polymerase chain reaction test—requiresmagnifying the number of viruses in order to detect them. This is done, saysDuesberg, outside the body in laboratory conditions: "Infectious virus was onlyobtained by activating latent HIV from a few infected cells out of millions of mostlyuninfected cells from a given AIDS patient. Such virus activation is only achieved bygrowing cells in culture away from the hyperactive immune system of the host".
In other words, this test makes HIV infectious, it does not find it infectious.
According to David Rasnick, Ph.D., Chairman of the Group for the ScientificReappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis at the University of California/Berkeleywhere Professor Duesberg works, "A person with a viral load of 500,000 viralparticles per ml of blood plasma has at most 0.2 percent infectious virus particles.
That is, 99.8 percent of the viral load is for non-infectious virus. The viral load testessentially counts dead viral carcasses, which have nothing whatever to do withpathogenesis." Kary Mullis, 1993 Nobel Prize winner, who developed this test, has rejected the HIVtheory of AIDS.
The AZT class of drugs was, until the idea of viral load was advanced, postponed foruse until AIDS diseases appeared. The new class of anti-HIV drugs, proteaseinhibitors, has in some countries been directed against HIV when it is said to behighly active replicating itself. They can thus be used as soon as a person is HIV-positive. If Duesberg's science is correct, this means that protease inhibitors are being sentagainst what is, once again, a pathogenic non-entity—a very low number of aharmless virus.
Being combined with AZT-class drugs, this means that the new "cocktail"prescriptions can make people ill with AIDS even sooner. And this is even when thecapacity of protease inhibitors to cause their own illnesses is relatively unknown.
There is no scientific literature on controlled human or animal studies of the longtermmortality of protease inhibitors.
In addition, says Duesberg, "most if not all American HIV-positives at risk for AIDSalso take other 'concomitant medications' that have known immunosuppressive andother detrimental effects, such as cortisones, dapsone, pentamidine and others". Thevariety and quantity of medicinal and recreational drugs that those engaged in AIDS-risky behaviour pour into their bodies is enormous. To refer to the 1987 study of 359 San Francisco homosexuals and the 1990 study of3,916 American homosexuals again, their "drugs of choice" included nitrite- andethylchloride inhalants, cocaine, amphetamines, lysergic acid, phenylcyclidine,quaaludes, barbiturates, and injected drugs. Duesberg calls people with AIDS and atrisk for AIDS "walking pharmacies" because of the "bewildering" combinations oftoxic recreational and toxic medical drugs consumed.
In addition, these people were already less than healthy. About 74 percent of the SanFrancisco group had past or current infection by gonorrhea, 73 percent hepatitis Bvirus, 67 percent HIV, 30 percent amoebae and 20 percent syphilis. It is from the samegroup, to repeat, that Duesberg says the ten-year "incubation period" of AIDS and the100 percent HIV-to-AIDS progression rate was calculated and said to be "relevant forthe population as a whole".
The rational question at this point, if Duesberg is right, would seem to be not whichanti-HIV drug the HIV establishment (and pharmaceutical companies) will startpromoting next, but when they will abandon the HIV theory altogether. Ideé fixé donot crumble easily, however, even in science.
The Next StepProfessor Duesberg's drug-AIDS hypothesis is rational and meets several scientificcriteria better than the HIV hypothesis. 1) It takes into account that virtually all AIDSpatients are longterm users of recreational drugs or AZT class drugs. 2) It has no needto twist the definition of a viral epidemic. 3) It takes into account that stopping druguse ends AIDS in patients whose diseases are not too far progressed. 4) It takes intoaccount the documented diseases that develop from drug use. 5) It does not rely on theunproven mechanisms of HIV pathogenicity. 6) It does not require a common class ofviruses (retroviruses) to perform the stupendous feat of producing 30 diseases andkilling 100 percent of people infected. 7) It predicts who will get AIDS (ie, longtermdrug users and those put on AZT-class drugs).
The HIV theory, to compare, ignores near-universal lifestyle data of AIDS patients(drug use), has still not proven HIV pathogenicity, disregards the laws of epidemics,and has failed to cure a single AIDs patient, among other things.
To test the drug-AIDS hypothesis, says Duesberg, would be simple, using animals andhuman cells in tissue culture. More studies involving stopping drug use (includingAZT) in those infected with HIV and in those with AIDS diseases could also beconducted to see if either AIDS fails to develop or if AIDS diseases are cured.
Duesberg further states that AIDS would be "entirely preventable and at least partially curable if: 1) AZT and all other anti-HIV drugs were banned, 2) illicitrecreational drug use was terminated, 3) AIDS patients were treated for their specificdiseases with proved medications, e.g. tuberculosis with antibiotics, Kaposi's sarcomawith conventional cancer therapy, and weight loss with good nutrition". For thoseaverse to conventional drug treatments altogether, alternative therapies likehomeopathy, ayurveda and special diets could be considered.
Thousands of lives could be saved yearly if Duesberg's theory were proved correctand his socio-medical policies implemented. Significant financial savings would alsobe realized. An AIDS education campaign could succeed where the HIVestablishment and the war on drugs have failed if homosexuals and intravenous drugusers knew that their lifestyle led directly to AIDS.
Behind the Combination Therapy HooplaThe drop in the number of AIDS cases, and to some extent the shorttermimprovement on the new combination therapies, seem to indicate that AIDS is being beaten. A closer look shows that the situation is more complicated.
Professor Rasnick says that the number of AIDS cases was falling anyway, evenbefore the introduction of combination therapies. This drop started the year beforecombination therapies were started. The HIV-AIDS establishment acknowledges this.
The peak number of AIDS cases occured in 1989-90.
Not only that, the numbers of AIDS patients has been manipulated. Centers forDisease Control data show that there have been three different definitions of AIDS:one pre-1987, one in 1987, and one in 1993. According to Professor Rasnick, eachnew definition came after a fall in the number of people with AIDS as defined underthe previous definition. Under the 1987 definition, for example, there would be only4000 AIDS cases in the U.S. today. What is happening, says Rasnick, is that "People with the worst form of AIDS aredying out. What is left are the vast majority of HIV positive people who are perfectlyhealthy." Because the number of AIDS patients is dropping anyway, and because these patientsare already healthy and don't die, this "has allowed some physicians and scientists andtheir drugs [HIV protease inhibitor 'cocktails'] to take credit for saving these lives." In fact, however, these people are "more tolerant of the toxic effects of those drugs, atleast in the short term," and don't die as quickly as people with developed AIDSdiseases only because they are more healthy to begin with. People with AIDS diseaseswho stayed on AZT-class drugs, to recall, had short lifespans.
According to Rasnick's analysis, their healthy status on combination therapies isbecause they are healthy, though he predicts this to change.
The viral load may decrease, but the real test, says Professor Rasnick, will only comewhen the toxic effects of these therapies start showing. Then there could be a newround of AIDS disease and death.
Professor Rasnick also says that protease inhibitors are far from effective. Publishedscientific literature states that the toxicities of these drugs are so severe that 30-50percent of patients cannot take them.
Moreover, he says, "there is no data published (or unpublished as far as I can tell)anywhere that has convinced me or the FDA [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration]that these drugs reduce the morbidity or mortality of AIDS patients. All you have todo to confirm this statement is read the inserts provided by the drug companiesrequired by the FDA as to how effective their drugs are." The Merck company's disclaimer for Crixivan, for example, reads: "Crixivan is not acure for HIV or AIDS. People taking Crixivan may still develop infections or otherconditions associated with HIV. It is not yet known whether taking Crixivan will extend your life or reduce your chances of getting other illnesses associated with HIV.
Information about how well the drug works is available from clinical studies up to 24weeks." Only 24 weeks, it could be added, considering toxic buildup.
In addition, these drugs can have unexpected effects. The Abbott pharmaceuticalcompany drug, for example was found to toxify the liver; high levels of Merck'scompound (Crixivan) cause kidney stones. Drug ResistanceFinally, the common notion that if protease inhibitors fail it is because HIV mutatesinto a strain resistant to a particular drug, does not stand up under close scrutiny, saysRasnick. In a paper submitted to the United Nations he writes that HIV goes through eightsequential "cleavages" in its maturation. Though mutation may or may not create drugresistance, any mutated virus must also retain its ability to perform these eightcleavages in order to maintain its supposed infectious power.
This does not happen, writes Rasnick. "None of the inhibitor-resistant mutant HIVproteases reported so far (even in the absence of inhibitors) has come anywhere nearthe minimum level of overall catalytic activity necessary for infectious, viable virus." Drug resistance is just one more near-impossible task HIV is expected to perform.
All protease inhibitors were approved under the FDA's "accelerated approvalprocess". Their longterm effects are thus unknown. People in other countries infectedwith HIV are thus potential victims of a probably panicky hurry-up process in the U.S.
Professor Rasnick also revealed that since 1990, in the U.S. at least, steroids werebeing added to the drug mix prescribed to AIDS patients. Steroids, as many bodybuilders know, are a quick way to add muscle mass and body weight. They are used inorder to counteract the "wasting" that is part of AIDS. They can also be quite harmful.
Steroids are powerful hormones that increase metabolism throughout the body. Theycause cancer among other diseases and are also "powerful depressants of the immunesystem", along with . recreational drugs, AZT-class drugs and everything else theHIV establishment says does not create the immune deficiency syndrome calledAIDS.
Professor Rasnick suggests that in the longer term protease inhibitors will also fail tostamp out AIDS, as have AZT-class drugs. Rather, "due to the increased use of drugsin the population, especially among young gay men, we could see a resurgence ofAIDS [in the U.S.] after the turn of the century". An increase in drug use would show the same result—in spite of—and because of— any existing or new combination drug therapies, if the Duesbergian hypothesis iscorrect.
David Rasnick has his doctorate in chemistry and has over 20 years' experience withproteases and their inhibitors.
The ChallengePeter Duesberg's thesis has strong logical and scientific merit. As such, it should betested, if the HIV theory is not rejected outright after unbiased review of his booksand articles. Human lives and a great deal of money are at stake. Still, no government or medical establishment has fully adopted the drug-AIDStheory. In fact, no matter how strong its arguments are, it might still be denied andsidestepped publicly in countries like the U.S. for a variety of reasons, includingpressure from anti-AIDS drug producers and an unwillingness of the AIDS lobby toface facts.
Assuming that honesty and scientific integrity prevail elsewhere, other countries thanthe U.S. could play a pivotal role in the AIDS crisis in at least two ways. First,funding could be allocated for research into Professor Duesberg's theory, probably atlow cost. Second, keeping in mind whose theory this is, other governments could fundProfessor Duesberg and his team directly as well. The only question is which will bethe first country to reject the HIV theory and adopt the drug-AIDS theory if theresearch forces that conclusion. The deeper issue of course is why people engage in regular drug use in the first place,but that is another story having to do with culture, self-indulgence, and the emptinessof modern commercial values when it comes to satisfying deep human needs.
Peter Duesberg is the author of several scientific papers as well as the booksInventingthe AIDS Virus; Infectious AIDS: Have We Been Misled?; and AIDS: Virus- or Drug-Induced? The source of much information in this article and more information aboutthe drug theory of AIDS can be found at
Special thanks to David Rasnick for help with the more difficult scientific points ofthe HIV- and drug-AIDS theories.
[Author's note 2001: President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has recently heroicallytried to support the drug theory of AIDS but has either been ignored or faced ridiculeand opposition for his efforts. He deserves support and praise for his refusal tosurrender fully to scientific dogma.] [Author's note 2005: This article was posted in 2001 at and is being reposted at this website asthe HIV AIDS myth continues to flourish in spite of its debility as a scientific theory.
In addition, poor countries like India and South Africa, with their large proportion of“AIDS” patients, and wealthy countries with bloated medical costs, would stand tobenefit if unnecessary expenditures on HIV drugs and associated research werestopped and this funding diverted elsewhere. As of March, 2005, Professor Duesberg'swebsite still supports the toxicological (drug-induced), not virological (virus-induced), theory of this disease syndrome.]


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